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the truth problem November 2, 2009

Posted by Bradley in : truth , trackback

Reading about writing about the trust problem I am struck by the regularity of news stories about lying. The UK’s Office of the Schools Adjudicator has published a report on fraudulent or misleading applications for admission to schools (parents lying about their address to obtain places for their children in desirable schools). The report concludes that this is a real problem which does cause harm:

fraudulent or misleading applications only arise when there is competition for school places. It is therefore also obvious that every school place obtained by deception is unfair as it deprives another child with possibly a higher legitimate call on the place to be deprived of it

The deceptive parents and their children may not suffer any real sanction (although younger siblings may not be given access to the same school), even when they are found out, as some local authorities

reported that their authorities were reluctant to apply the sanctions in the Code and withdraw places after the beginning of the school year … after the child had started at the school, as it would not be in the best interests of the child. In one instance an LA reported that they would not want the ensuing negative publicity! LAs and appeal panels were reluctant to ‘punish’ a child for the actions of the parent.

It’s harder to understand why people would cheat in a marathon race. I’d have thought the thing to celebrate there would be having managed to complete the race in a certain time frame, rather than that others might erroneously believe that you had done so. But I’d apparently be wrong. And it’s not like people can really get away with this, as there are electronic timing records. People are sometimes caught and they seem to use the language of fraudsters when they are caught:

two California women [had] suspicious times in last year’s race. There was no electronic timing record of them from Miles 17 to 25. Discussing in a telephone interview whether she had run the whole race, Ms. Savinar said, “I technically hadn’t.”

There’s nothing technical about this. Either you run the whole 26 miles or you don’t. If you don’t, you haven’t run a marathon.

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