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Not Lying Until Pressed?

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UK civil servants like most of us prefer not to lie when asked a direct question. This applies even when they cannot tell the truth for various reasons. When faced with such a question one tactic often employed is deflection. Deflection entails either answering a different question which appears to the casual oberver to be that asked, or to reply with a question.

The reason for this post is the recent allegations about Gordon Brown and bullying of Downing Street junior staff. A very senior civil servant has replied to questions which are equivalent to “have you had a word with the PM on the QT about his bullying junior staff”. The first two or three times the person in question replied each time with different deflections. Eventually the person in question had to give a direct answer and they denied that they had done so.

If that straight answer were in fact the truth there was no reason for deflection so we may conclude that it was probably a lie. They could not tell the truth if the answer were yes so eventually must lie, and we all know that. Now the questioners knew what deflection meant from the start. So instead of pursuing this question they could just have observed that the answer given was a deflection and we would draw the appropriate conclusions from that. There was and is no need to drive the subject to lying.

I suppose that just observing that the interviewee was deflecting etc would be considered bad television and so the Jeremy Paxmans would never adopt this approach.


Written by CaptainBlack

February 24, 2010 at 07:15

Posted in Blogroll

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