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Misleading the public ever be justified?


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#1 Strixer

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 10:37

I am doing some research on whether misleading the public can ever be justified.

I am looking for both sides of the argument and any ideas any of you have about this would be helpful.

Can politicians ever justify a lie?
Can businesses ever justify false advertising? etc etc..

Any input would be appreciated. :)


#2 TheDogsBed

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 10:53

No, but it always have and always will. Since time began, those in a position to do so have always done so. It's now become such an accepted practise that we almost rely on those in authority to do it, as though they are somehow more learned than us, and therefore more able to make the decisions as to what we should and should not be told. Such is our thirst for information, we'll readily accept lies over nothing at all. As though we somehow feel more respected and valued if we're kept "in the loop" as it were.

In my personal opinion, you need only look at the bible, and indeed the churches, for leading examples of conditioning through experience. The same is now true of misleading the masses through misinformation, holding back of information, and so forth. It's accepted as part and parcel of everyday life.

The problem with it, even if justified (which I clarify again, I don't believe it ever can be) is that often, an individual, or a collective, take it upon themselves to determine what is and what isn't in my best interests. There is only one person qualified to make that distinction and that is me. With authority comes responsibility. It is not responsible to withold information, lie, or mislead when in any position of authority.

#3 Tomo

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 11:06

You should never mislead the public, they WILL bite back!

#4 OP Strixer

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 11:24

Couldn't you argue that during time of war misleading the public to increase moral, for example, is justifiable?

Or perhaps a doctor telling a patient there is still hope, when perhaps there isn't.. Or perhaps placebos?

#5 peacemf

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 18:40

in the case of a doctor, its part of the rule book to say that there is hope even if you think there isnt.
saying there isnt will make them do stupid crap like shooting friends, drink drive and kill.
And you will be blamed!

#6 macro

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 18:45

I am doing some research on whether misleading the public can ever be justified.

I am looking for both sides of the argument and any ideas any of you have about this would be helpful.

Can politicians ever justify a lie?
Can businesses ever justify false advertising? etc etc..

Any input would be appreciated. :)




My opinion is there are things we don't need to know, or things that are better that we don't know. It's common knowledge that the government knows more than we do. That's not limited to information only for security reasons, it's just common sense. The public in any case, like advertising and with businesses and government, is always shown only what "they" want to show.

#7 vetFred Derf

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 18:52

in the case of a doctor, its part of the rule book to say that there is hope even if you think there isnt.
saying there isnt will make them do stupid crap like shooting friends, drink drive and kill.
And you will be blamed!

No, doctors will pretty much tell you that you are going to die when they know you are going to die. They will allow you to continue treatment if that is what the patient wants but they will discuss quality of life issues (i.e. is it worth living for 18 months all in poor conditions or 12 months of good condition).

My opinion is there are things we don't need to know, or things that are better that we don't know. It's common knowledge that the government knows more than we do. That's not limited to information only for security reasons, it's just common sense. The public in any case, like advertising and with businesses and government, is always shown only what "they" want to show.

While it's true that some people cannot handle the truth (likely the same people that can't be bothered to vote), there are some people who read the papers, have some sort of education/IQ and know how the world works. I say that governments should release the information because the people who can't handle it will probably never hear more than a passing mention of it anyway.

#8 snyper

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 18:53

Lie to prevent mass hysteria in the event of possible catastrophie?

ufos are coming?!

#9 trashpickinman

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 19:13

I think Lincoln said it best,

...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.



The moment the U.S. government starts lying to its people, it spits in the face of Lincoln. It fails to be "for the people" and only exists for its own purposes.

#10 Ferret

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 19:15

I don't believe it could ever be justified.

I say that governments should release the information because the people who can't handle it will probably never hear more than a passing mention of it anyway.


I have to agree with Fred on that one !

#11 macro

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 21:50

I say that governments should release the information because the people who can't handle it will probably never hear more than a passing mention of it anyway.


I don't know, I would personally like to know, but I think there is a good reason we don't know what they do. True there are the people who will only believe what they are capable of, or want to believe, no matter what, but there are others who will react negatively. There's a reason the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the masses, it hasn't changed since the beginning of civilization with good reason.

#12 vetFred Derf

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 22:37

[Thread Moved from GD to RWI]

#13 lav-chan

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 08:25

In an ideal world, where the government does nothing but provide defence and protect rights, there would be no need for secrecy. What would the government have to hide if it didn't make research and design and construction and interference its business? Protecting human rights certainly requires no deception.

Governments don't work like that though. No government in the world does. Given that that's the case and there's not a lot anybody can do about it at the moment, i would say that it could be appropriate for governments to hold back information or even lie. I mean, i don't think the government should be building aircraft and missiles, for example, but since it's decided to make that its business i guess i would have to admit that i'd rather they operate secretively than have them share the US Government Official Plans for Building Nuclear Bombs with the entire world.


As far as businesses, doctors, politicians (when it comes to their own non-national-security interests), et cetera, no, i don't really think they could ever be justified in lying. Justified in refusing to provide certain information (like trade secrets), but not lying.

#14 macro

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 00:55

In an ideal world, where the government does nothing but provide defence and protect rights, there would be no need for secrecy. What would the government have to hide if it didn't make research and design and construction and interference its business? Protecting human rights certainly requires no deception.

Governments don't work like that though. No government in the world does. Given that that's the case and there's not a lot anybody can do about it at the moment, i would say that it could be appropriate for governments to hold back information or even lie. I mean, i don't think the government should be building aircraft and missiles, for example, but since it's decided to make that its business i guess i would have to admit that i'd rather they operate secretively than have them share the US Government Official Plans for Building Nuclear Bombs with the entire world.
As far as businesses, doctors, politicians (when it comes to their own non-national-security interests), et cetera, no, i don't really think they could ever be justified in lying. Justified in refusing to provide certain information (like trade secrets), but not lying.



Well said lav-chan