Is it dishonest to let someone leave a conversation with a false conclusion?

Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2014 05:04 pm

What is a word for allowing someone to arrive at the wrong conclusion?

Also, is doing so dishonest?

I think everyone would agree that knowingly communicating something false (ie lying) is a form of dishonesty. However, if one party in a conversation has not lied but clearly understands that another party in the conversation has come to an incorrect conclusion (for whatever reason), is it dishonest for the first party to leave it alone?

I have been comparing some words related to this topic and their definitions. For example:

• use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself
• use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment or in order to mislead

• speak or act in an evasive way
• to speak falsely or misleadingly;
• deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.

• render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible
• to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy

Tergiversate (ter-JIV-er-sate):
• make conflicting or evasive statements; equivocate
• to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc

• intentionally communicate a false statement
• to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.

There are others of course but it seems that each of them is located somewhere on one or more scales or spectra with the following extremes (which I'm sure contain some overlap or redundancy):

Passive — — — — — — — — — — Proactive
Unintentional — — — — — — — — — — Intentional
Inaction — — — — — — — — — — Action

Of the above words and others I found, it seems that "equivocate" is the one furthest from actually lying but the definition still implies some degree of proactive intent and action to mislead. The concept I'm describing and the word I'm looking for (if it exists), would reside at the far left of the above scales.

In other words, nothing was said or done by the communicator — and perhaps there was not even any intent — to deceive or mislead. However, there is a recognition that, unless corrected, the "communicatee" will leave with a meaning or understanding which is inaccurate or false.

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Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2014 05:20 pm
Am I sensing that someone has been fibbing to you, Toady?
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2014 05:29 pm
Not at all. My question is purely academic.

Does my post give the impression I'm trolling for ammunition for an upcoming fight?
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2014 05:31 pm
Whatever would give me such an impression?
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Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2014 05:43 pm
It is simply a case of being misunderstood.

If the presenter thinks that the information has been wrongly interpreted, it would be the honorable thing to seek out the other person and make sure the information is presented in such a way that there can be no misunderstanding.

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