A Paltering I Will Go…

I’m not sure where I first heard this word. I don’t do crossword puzzles often, so it wasn’t there.

Paltering is defined as a true statement meant to mislead the listener.

The first known use of palter to describe acting insincerely or deceitfully was in the 1580s. It is often used in negotiations.

A person selling a car might say, ‘I drove it yesterday in 10-below temperatures, and it drove well,’ even if he needed to jump the battery before driving it.

‘He doesn’t use drugs just before going to work’ is an example. It is true, but it implies he uses drugs other times.

Here’s another, just because I can. ‘A beauty company advertises a skin care cream, claiming it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by up to 50%’. Well, this statement may be based on a study. The advertisement doesn’t mention that the study had a small sample size or that the effect was observed in only a minority of participants making the claim somewhat misleading.

Paltering can be entertaining, hurtful or even dangerous.

‘I’ve never heard of anyone dying from eating that.” But failing to mention, I know many people hospitalized from consuming the item in question. Think of the recent cinnamon-eating craze.

It works similarly when turned into a question. I remember hearing, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife,’ when I was much younger and revelling in the trap left for the responder – yes or no will sink his ship.

I can’t recall consciously paltering with anyone, but I crossed paths with a few people I wanted to palter -but I digress.

Having this word at the ready helps me understand a conversation, advertisement, or political audio clip. It helps me process when looking for the truth.

Please give this a bit of a think. Do you have any words or phrases that you keep at the ready to help you make sense of the world around you?   When I hear someone say, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ I convert that to ‘We give a reason to everything that happens.’ Usually, I keep that thought to myself, but I have been known to speak it out loud.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

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2 thoughts on “A Paltering I Will Go…

  1. Gail Benshabat says:

    I never heard of the word “palter” until you mentioned it. Now that you’ve brought it up, many examples come to mind. It’s a great word that explains an interesting concept.

    There’s a lot of paltering going on but do we really pay much attention to it? I didn’t until you made it a topic to think about.

    My first thoughts on who the biggest palteters are – politicians (top of the list), presidents, government officials, advertisers, and everyone else. I’ve paltered. Many times. I believe I’ve done it almost without thinking. It’s like a defence mechanism. You want to say the truth but you can’t disclose everything for various reasons. You’re not exactly telling a “lie” and but you’re not exactly telling the truth either. It’s a fine line of giving a little and holding back a little bit.

    Paltering is a variation of lying I suppose (without the heavy guilt). It’s a technique that can work in pinch but it’s not something we’d want to make a habit of doing. Otherwise we’d lose our reputation or something worse.

    How many times have we said “I’m on the road – be there soon” when the wheels have barely touched the road. Another one is “The check is on its way.” Sure, it might be true but in reality the check might be in your hand still. A classic example is the one involving Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. His claim was true but not completely true.

    I remember applying for a job as a waitress in a restaurant that served food and alcohol when I was in university. I didn’t have any experience serving alcohol but I figured it can’t be that difficult to learn. The manager asked me “Do you have serving experience?” I unabashedly replied “Yes, I have serving experience.” It was true that I had “serving experience” but not the kind of serving experience they were looking for. I served coffee and donuts, not alcohol! I got the job but had to learn on-the-job – very quickly.

    I can think of one phrase that I used to say to myself when I was a teenager. My friend’s mother gave me a little notebook with a quote on it. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The phrase stuck in my mind until it didn’t. It lost its appeal when I read about the true story behind it.

    Charles Dederich is the man who coined the phrase around the time that he formed an organization for people with opiate addictions. He told people untruthful things about themselves in order to wear them down. He was a master manipulator and was able to get people to do things against their will. I guess it was a form of mind control back in the late 1950s.

    Dederich ran one the most dangerous and violent cults in America.

    I find myself saying out loud or in my head “Everything happens for a reason.” I tend to hold onto this phrase because the words, for me at least, offer a spiritual underpinning that open my mind to things we don’t exactly know the answers to. I believe there’s a reason for every occurrence in life, even if we don’t exactly know what that reason may be.

    The words are also a source of comfort, even after great pain. When bad things happen, I tend to look at what I am expected to learn from it and grow from it.

    Great topic Glenn!

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