Lying by omission

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You told the truth up to a point, but a lie of omission is still a lie.
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (cautioning Starfleet Cadet Wesley Crusher)[1]
A half-truth is a whole lie.
—Yiddish proverb

Lying by omission, otherwise known as exclusionary detailing, is lying by either omitting certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception. In the case of the former, an example of this would be a car salesman claiming a car to have amazing fuel economy while neglecting to mention that it has no engine and is completely immobile. In the case of the latter, it could be a situation in which a misconception exists that the claimant is aware of but fails to correct, such as a person who wanders around a hospital dressed as a doctor, offering treatment while failing to mention that she is in fact just getting a kick out of pretending to be a doctor.

Front groups[edit]

A fossil fuel company wishing to persuade us that generating CO2 is actually good for the environment would struggle to be taken seriously if they themselves were the public face of such a campaign, so in order to get around this a front group may be created. The front group could seem to be a grassroots movement, or at least one with no obvious connections to the fossil fuel industry, yet behind the scenes there are clear vested interests.

In 2009, Irish citizens voted on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty (again), and during the campaigning a number of groups sprung up for and against the treaty. A group named "Coir"[note 1] campaigned vigorously against ratification of the treaty, attracting controversy with regards to the veracity of their claims.[2] Although there was certainly a motley collection of anti-EU groups campaigning, Coir seemed somewhat suspicious, because while they were campaigning for ostensibly secular goals relating to human rights, their postal address was found to be shared with the extremist Roman Catholic group Youth Defence — known for their strong anti-abortion stance and allegations of homophobia. The workforce at Coir, oddly enough, was claimed to be a number of people also working for Youth Defence.[3]

Selective reporting in the media[edit]

Media outlets are under pressure to make money, and an easy way to do this is by breaking sensational stories. This can encourage the media to overplay news stories or leave out information that would detract from an otherwise great story. The Daily Mirror, a UK newspaper, has a reputation for scare stories — with immigration and health scares figuring highly on their list of things that really should shock and disgust you! An example this would be to claim that immigrants are taking their jobs away from the native population while neglecting to mention that the jobs are low-paid, unpopular, and difficult to fill if not for immigrants.

Political leanings may lead to lying by partisan reporting, in which scandals involving one party as front page news while similar incidents among another are relegated to bylines buried towards the back of the newspaper. Whether or not this is lying by omission depends on the stated goal of the outlet in question.

See also[edit]


  1. Which can mean "crime" or "twisted things," though neither is what they were likely going for.


  1. Shut up, Wesley!
  2. Coir campaign posters Here are some samples of the posters Coir used during their campaign to defeat the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty
  3. Youth Defence/Coir is telling lies, says minister