The Beehive Encyclopaedia: What Is Paltering?

Paltering is a type of misinformation where the audience is misled by the truth (yes, you’ve read it right!). It usually happens when someone tells a story that, albeit factually correct, is incomplete in content or in angle. Many stories give the audience an incomplete and cherry-picked selection of true facts, omitting any or most information that could contradict the point being made (for example, saying “the man pushed the lady into the freezing river” might be true, but “the man pushed the lady into the freezing river to save her from an out-of-control truck” could hypothetically be a more complete account of the same event). Often, the specific angle chosen to tell a story might distort our sense of magnitude over a fact or event, hence making us think it is more or less critical than it may actually be (for example, saying a company “fired one thousand people” might seem horrendous, but saying “amidst global crisis, company fires 0.5% of its workforce – less than its direct competitors” gives you more context around what share of the company’s workforce a thousand people actually represent and why they were let go, and allows you to compare it with other companies in a similar position). See is fake news really fake? to understand how news articles mislead you with the truth with real life examples.

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