Suspiciously Specific Denial is very common in people who have been arrested, and the trope is so firmly established that people may assume you're lying even when you're not if you tell them ANYTHING they haven't told you or asked about first. Which is why it is safer to use your right to remain silent until a lawyer can advise you further, as it's harder than it seems to not volunteer extra information, which will be interpreted as suspiciously specific. When they warn you that anything you say can be used against you in court, they really mean it.
Police will sometimes ask an off the wall question like, "So, you don't have anything like guns, or drugs, or dead bodies in your car, do you?" And the suspect will earnestly respond, "Oh, no sir, no dead bodies." Why would they latch onto that unless it's the one thing they're certain they're innocent of? Which means they're likely guilty of the other things.
Sadly, all of the above is true in countries where they don't warn you about your right and "everything you say..." (France, for example).
Amusingly, Miranda Rights are a case of Suspiciously Specific Statement: when they say "everything you say can be used against you" not only do they really mean it, they mean it absolutely literally: anything you say can be used against you. But never for you. Any disculpatory comment you might make cannot be used in court, even if it's cast iron proof that you didn't do it somehow it'll fall under hearsay and be dismissed by the prosecution. (This is the other reason you should remain silent, so you can give the statement as testimony.)
Or, more technically, statements made by the defendant cannot be entered into evidence by the defense. Doing so could allow the defendant to testify on his own behalf without being sworn in or facing cross-examination; i.e., it's hearsay. On the other hand, a very strong case can often be made that a defendant's statement upon arrest is an "excited utterance" and therefore excepted from the rule against hearsay. If the statement does meet this exception, the statement can be used in the defendant's favor (under the rules of evidence prevalent in common-law countries).
Some people like to subvert this trope as an act of protest against what they view to be unjust searches, by (for instance) telling a police officer that they have permission to search their entire car, except for their glove box. The intent of this is to arouse suspicion and frustrate the officer without giving them real probable cause for a search.
A particularly horrific criminal example of this trope from John Straffen, a British murderer. The first thing he said to the police when arrested for the third murder he committed was "I did not kill the little girl on the bicycle."
On some real life cop show a cop just walks up to some guy and he starts yelling: "Hey man, I didn't steal these shoes!"
Many children do this at first when they are lying.
After Pol Pot died, Khmer Rouge military Chief Ta Mok, who arrested him, described that his death was due to heart failure: "He was sitting in his chair waiting for the car to come. But he felt tired. His wife asked him to take a rest. He lay down on his bed. His wife heard a gasp of air. It was the sound of dying. When she touched him he had already passed away. It was at 10:15 last night." Nonetheless, his insistent assertion that "no one poisoned him" has encouraged speculation that this was exactly what did happen.
US homebrewer folklore holds that during Prohibition, when the popularity of canned malt extract and fruit concentrates shot through the roof for some reason, such products regularly carried "warning" labels describing what not to do with the sweet syrups and a packet of yeast in order to prevent the production of a batch of beer or wine (curiously, while recipes abounded, mailed out under the table by maltsters and vineyards like hardcore porn, the actual labels don't seem to show up much on GIS).
Currently seen with legal highs in the UK, which can't be sold as recreational drugs. As such, they're sold as plant food, bath salts, cleaning solutions, and so forth, with "warnings" such as "ingestion may cause euphoria".
In the same line, American 'head shops' will sell "water pipes" and similar as "tobacco smoking accessories", and kick out (and sometimes even ban) people who refer to weed,hashish or any other illegal substance. This is a legal fiction/CYA policy to protect the store.
The 15th century book Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches") is a handbook written to help Inquisitors spot witches. The descriptions of witchcraft were so detailed that the book caused some people to take up witchcraft (or at least the kind described in the book). The book also claims that witchcraft does not exist. It also claims that denial of witchcraft is a mark of a witch. The whole thing was so ludicrous the church and Inquisition immediately condemned it and censured the author, but unfortunately the idea caught on with the general population.
A nasty little self-help book called The Courage to Heal did this for child abuse survivors in the '80s and '90s.
O.J. Simpson: If I Did It. The Goldman family seized all profits for the book and released statements saying that they considered it a confession (the later covers notably print the "If" part of the title in such a small font size that it reads like "I did it" in all but high close-ups, which is followed by the mention of a "He Did It" commentary further down the cover). Interestingly, even if Simpson did confess, he could not be tried again due to "double jeopardy" lawsnote Even if OJ had taken the stand and said, under oath, that he didn't do it, his acquittal still couldn't have been challenged, but if provably false he could have been charged with perjury. Even if new evidence is found proving beyond a shadow of a doubt he committed the crime, his acquittal still cannot be challenged. An acquittal cannot be challenged under any circumstances in the United States unless it is obtained fraudulently, which means only one thing, bribing or intimidating the trier of fact (such as the jury, in most cases; in some cases it's the judge, as it was in the only instance in which an acquittal of murder from an American court was vacated).. The only way his conviction could ever have been challenged is if someone could prove he or his lawyers bribed or threatened the jury to throw the verdict.
Veered into Implausible Deniability as the invasion continued. At one point he specifically denied that American tanks were anywhere near the area, when said tanks were visible in the background, no more than a couple hundred yards away from where he held the press conference.
"POMPANO BEACH, Fla.– In response to rumors circulating the internet on sites such as Fox News.com, Fast Company.com and CNET News about a “flesh eating” robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets:CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian."
The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR, a prototype military recon robot was designed to fuel itself in the wild by burning biomass for power. Cue Fridge Logic about the kind of "biomass" that you're likely to find lying around in a war zone, and you've got some serious nightmare fuel. Then top it off with the statement from the company a few days later: "We completely understand the public's concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission."
The FBI does not have the original plans for Tesla'sDeath Ray. In fact, those have been seized by the alien property office.
Since 1943, we have told a consistent story to all who have asked.
This FAQ posted as part of North Korea's official website. 10 through 18 especially.
Ted Haggard: "I've never said that I'm perfect, but I haven't had sex with a man in Denver."
In the mid-2000s, bassist Michael Anthony left Van Halen amongst rumors that he'd been fired. Several years later, Anthony and fellow VH alum Sammy Hagar formed a new band called Chickenfoot with guitar god Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. When VH guitarist Eddie Van Halen was asked on camera if he'd heard Chickenfoot's debut album, he made no comment about the album but denied firing Anthony or Hagar. In a subsequent interview, they pointed out that Eddie ignored the reporter's question and instead answered something that hadn't even been asked.
When a corporation registers, it has to state the nature of its business. To allow for expansion, some simply use some variation of "any lawful activity," which sounds an awful lot like this, and sometimes is.
First you start out with the legal stuff, then you diversify.
This gem, from a 1932 Nazi paper denying they were planning to overthrow the government:
The next lie aimed against the Nazis will probably be that the Nazis are preparing a march on Switzerland to hang all speculators who fled from Germany and betrayed the German nation!
What's hilarious is that this was Metaphorically True - Switzerland was their only neighbor they didn't invade. Although, this was mainly because of three rather unrelated reasons: 1) Hitler held the freedom-loving Swiss in contempt, barely worthy of the name "German"; 2) Switzerland is notoriously resistant to invasion; and 3) what with the Allied Forces vehemently objecting to the invasions of all their other neighbors, they simply never got around to it before the Nazi regime was toppled.
George W. Bush, when asked about Cocaine use, replied "I could have passed the [FBI] background check on the standards applied on the most stringent conditions when my dad was president of the United States — a 15-year period", as opposed to Bill Clinton, when asked about an affair with Gennifer Flowers, responded by simply saying "she's lying" without referring to what she was lying about.
On The Other Wiki, it's been a Running Gag almost since day one that "There Is No Cabal". Generally, the people saying that are presumed to be part of the non-existent Cabal that they're denying the existence of.
"No one has the intention of erecting a wall!" ("Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!") was uttered by General Secretary Walter Ulbricht of the Communist Party of the GDR on June 15 1961 in an international press conference. The subject of the conference was the Berlin sector border, but no one had mentioned anything about putting up a wall on that border before. Two months later, guess what happened!
As seen on The Daily Show's "This Week in God" segment from the CEO of the NASCAR Dianetics car team: "Dianetics has allowed me to be happy in my life... There was one source to all my problems. It wasn't a million answers, it wasn't a million different possibilities. It wasn't mommy, it wasn't daddy, it wasn't what my twin brother did to me when we were six." Cut to Rob Corddry's horrified reaction.
"I don't want to do this story anymore. Please, God, make it go away!"
The CAPalert.com website used to have the following disclaimer:
NOT associated with Landover or Westboro Baptist in any way.
A few years ago there was an ad on TV in America for a product that quickly applied plastic straps. The idea was that if you had a loose collection of unwieldy items, sticks for example, you could use this product to quickly tie them up into an easy-to-carry bundle. The commercial gave some examples of other possible uses for the product, including "law enforcement", accompanied by an image of a man using the product to bind another man's hands behind his back. A reporter from the Chicago Tribune called the company to ask if they were trying to encourage this kind of use from the product. A spokesperson for the company responded, "We do not endorse or encourage that particular use of the product by anybody who is not a police officer. And I do not torture cats." No one had mentioned cats before then...
The contraceptive pill used to be illegal for contraceptive use. It was, however, allowed to regulate heavy periods and other things (such as correcting endometriosis). Some doctors and some women would invoke this trope to prescribe/get a prescription.
Similarly, many media outlets won't let commercials and ads for condoms actually say why most people use condoms, to avoid complaints from people opposed to any form of contraception. But hey, they're great for preventing transmission of communicable disease or infection! (To be fair, this is an incredibly important use, and the reason they're free in many countries.)
Likewise, before the Food and Drug Administration was around to regulate medicine, pills were sold to cure headaches, with the disclaimer "for married women": Warning: May cause miscarriage.
I leave aside those times in which Cicero used this very technique to mention the disgraces of his enemies' private affairs and then claim the moral high ground by not dwelling on them; indeed, I pass them by and readily allow silence upon them lest such a suspiciously specific denial should be seen to have been used or, what is worse, that he was not called out on it.
This can be a great way to discreetly insult people if you can't get away with doing it blatantly (and if they hopefully deserve it).
The Chinese idiom which literally means "there is no silver buried here" refers to this trope. The origin story is that someone who wanted to make sure no one could find his silver made a sign on top of where he buried it, and you can guess what happened later.
The quote in question is "There aren't 300 taels of silver buried here." Tradition also has that the thief put up another sign that says "Wong from nextdoor didn't steal it". The guy took Wong to court, except the judge wasn't too bright, so he took the denials literally and ruled for Wong. Yeah.
This was referenced in the MMORPG Perfect World, which is partially based on Chinese mythology. At about level 20, when you first get to Archosaur, there's someone in the western district whose money has been stolen. You need to find it for him. In a small clearing nearby, you find a sign saying... "Wong didn't steal." It's pretty easy to figure out where to go from there. (Here's a hint: you go talk to Wong.)
Failblog now has a whole tag because so many Suspiciously Specific instructions have been found. Can be viewed here.
Oddly Specific used to be its own site before just being a tag.
During the 1960s the Norwegian government issued two statements saying that Crown Prince Harald had absolutely no intention of marrying a commoner. Then in March of 1968 the palace announced that the Crown Prince was engaged to...Sonja Haraldsen, a Norwegian commoner.
During World War II, British commander Claude Auchinleck wrote a letter to his commanders saying of how the troops were so afraid of Rommel that they were attributing him with superpowers. After several sentences saying how silly these things were, Auchinleck ended the letter with "I am not jealous of Rommel." Sure he wasn't.
Almost averted in the tale of the Youth Communication Award. A teenager comes to the front door selling magazine subscriptions for patients at St. Jude Children's Hospital and a chance at a communications scholarship for himself. The fuzzy fine print on the receipt: "No verbal agreement recognized. SYN, Inc. is a for profit company who's (sic) agents are not affiliated with any military, local school, or hospital." Lesson learned.
The correction at the end of this New York Times article: "No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig."
Articles in the magazine 2600 have disclaimers that they're only for educational purposes, and clearly not for scamming phone companies or hacking into computers.
In an impromptu press conference in 1983, Baltimore Colts owner Bob Irsay ranted against accusations that he was about to move the team out of Baltimore. He angrily denied that he was moving the team to Phoenix or Memphis. There was a third rumor which Irsay pointedly never mentioned: Indianapolis. The Colts moved to Indy four months after Irsay's statements.
Congressman Anthony Weiner ran right into this trope while trying to wheedle out of a sex scandal involving sending explicit pictures of himself to women through Twitter. Every single statement he made just dug him in deeper and deeper and deeper...Really, he should have known better.
In the 70's, Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton said, right out of the blue, on a live TV interview, "I haven't sold a single pardon." Granted he was tipsy, but still...
Any email that states "This is not spam" most likely is spam. Same goes for anything claiming to be not a pyramid scheme, 419 scam or similar.
In the same way, if a religious group says, "We are not a cult," you may want to do some more research on them before you join.
Any classified job ad that says said job is genuine and legal, or anything similar. Heck, some job companies use this to describe what they're about.
Similarly, some "work from home" businesses in the US will tell prospective employees why they have "ethical objections" to registering with the Better Business Bureau - the fact that the BBB would object to the way the companies (mis)treat their employees has nothing to do with it.
The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper and government mouthpiece, released this headline after China refused to extend the visa of Melissa Chan, an Al-Jazeera correspondent in Beijing: "Chan case not a sign of growing tensions with journalists". Phew! That is so good to know.
A certain brand of potato chips (X-tra, sold at least in Finland) have "not produced in Poland, but in Germany" written as their country of origin in the bag.
Ten minutes into this interview, Paula Broadwell, author of All In: The Education of David Petraeus, says, apropos of nothing else whatsoever, "I'm not in love with David Petraeus!" Eight months later, it came out that she had been having an affair with him.
Jimmy Savile said that he didn't have a computer at home, because he didn't want anyone to think he was downloading child porn. Now, why should anyone think that....?
The Swedish military's recruitment letters of the spring 2013. First paragraph reads as follows (translated) We do not know what you have done today, we do not know what you like to do with your spare time, what your interests are and we do not know what you think is important in life.
During the leadup to its activation, spokespeople for the Large Hadron Collider assured the public there was only a very, very small chance they would create a black hole which would destroy the Earth. Funny, guys.
Senator Rand Paul told an Iowa reporter that he hasn't decided whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but "I am traveling to a lot of states that just coincidentally have early primaries."
US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota declares, in May 2013, she won't be seeking reelection in 2014. Her statement reads, “This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff.”
More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops describes a customer at Ripping Yarns asking for a picture book for her daughter, saying she thinks the writer was E.L. James. When the bookseller delicately explains what E.L. James actually wrote, the flustered customer blurts out "I don't know why that name came into my head! I've never read those books! Never!"
UKIP, a UK political party which is seen as on the edge of the mainstream right-wing (and deeply resents being compared to the fascist British National Party, which has actual Neo-Nazis among its most prominent members) often describes itself as a "libertarian, non-racist party". Some people haven't found this as reassuring as UKIP may have hoped, considering that it advocates a ban on immigration. They retort that they mean ALL immigration, so they're not racist; it's just coincidence that Britain is 87% white, and the overwhelming majority of immigrants are non-white.
They don't advocate a ban on immigration - they advocated a five suspension of unskilled immigratiion and wanted overall immigration reduced back to pre-1998 levels, which was about 50,00 a year.
Toronto mayor Rob Ford produced a gem during a city council meeting after he admitted smoking crack "in one of [his] drunken stupors": "I've said it would never happen again, and it has never happened again at Air Canada Centre." The council voted to relieve him of his mayoral powers. Which was the most they could do, because there's no provision for impeachment of the Toronto mayor.
"I'm not a prude, but [person expresses prudish opinion]."
Conversely, a frequent utterance in the 1970’s and later was “I’m not a feminist, but [expresses some feminist belief].”
"I don't believe in censorship, but [person advocates censoring something]."
"[person says mean thing] I mean that in a nice way, though."
Anyone who's worked in customer service long enough has probably heard some variation of "I don't mean to take it out on you," in the midst of a diatribe by a customer over something that the customer service rep didn't do and has no control over.
Some of the "Radio Yerevan" jokes from the Soviet era, meant as a parody of a question-and-answer format apparently used on Armenian radio at the time (and often made fun of Communism) went a bit like this for example:
Q. What is chaos? A. Sorry, we don't answer economic questions.
In response to internet rumors that his strikingly youthful appearance is caused by being a vampire, Pharrell Williams told a reporter, "I’m willing to go on record as saying that I don’t drink people’s blood." Which, as some news reports jokingly pointed out, is exactly what a vampire would say.
The official names for the 1989 US military invasion of Panama (Operation Just Cause) and its aftermath (Operation Promote Liberty) had a whiff of this trope, since the invasion had a cool reception from the international community.
A warrant canary is a sign by which an organization informs its users that it has not received a secret government subpoena (like a sticker saying "The FBI has not been here", as illustrated in the Wikipedia article). This happens because if the organization actually did receive a secret subpoena, it would be forbidden by law from disclosing this fact, but it still can inform its users of such an event in a roundabout way: by removing the sign.
In 2013 there was a rumor going around that Joss Whedon had gotten a $100 Million contract from Disney for Age of Ultron. He quickly dismissed the rumors, saying the he was absolutely not getting paid $100 million FOR AGE OF ULTRON. Considering he had basically been hired to run the MCU, this was a long shot from denying he'd gotten a $100 million contract.
In 2015 a Lincoln driver was arrested after police found a plastic sour cream container labelled "not weed" under the passenger seat.
In 1993, after complaints about last year's performance, the Auckland University Students' Association decided to cancel the annual pub crawl. As a result, there was not a pub crawl that year. It did not start from the quad at 12:30, and it certainly did not include the establishments shown on the map in the campus newspaper. And indeed, because it did not happen, there weren't the marshals and other volunteers to contain matters and help pick up the pieces.
As it installs itself over your old version of Windows, Windows 10 wants you to know that "All of your files are exactly where you left them." And they are - other than also being shoved into another "windows.old" folder.
According to Henry Kissinger, this is sometimes deliberately invoked in international relations; giving another nation a formal reassurance that you don't intend to do X can be more unnerving than a direct threat to do X, with the added bonuses that the other party has no idea what you actually intend and, as far as anyone else is concerned, you haven't actually threatened anything.
In the 2016 affair around an insulting poem by comedian Jan Böhmermann about Turkish leader Erdogan, the government (who for some arcane reasons had to sign off on criminal prosecution) was quick to point out that their behavior had exactly nothing to do with an important agreement regarding refugees that Turkey and the EU had signed just weeks before.
The poem itself was introduced as "something that would be in no way legal to say, which is why I'm not saying it". It's still unclear whether this will get him off he hook in court or not.
Most women know that a man who tells you that he is not trying to hit on you ... is trying to do exactly that. But in a stealthy way.
John F. Kennedy kept his Addison's disease a secret until after his election to the U.S. presidency in 1960. At one point during the election, his opponents leaked reports of his illness, but Kennedy's doctors released a (true) statement that JFK did not have Addison's as a result of tuberculosis. As it wasn't yet widely understood that 80% of Addison's cases - Kennedy's included - are not TB-related, the opposition's claim didn't damage his "fit young candidate" image.
In responding to a Gawker piece on how shoddy its journalistic practices had become, the Mail Online denied that it cavalierly ripped off photos from the Today show's website — an allegation that, as Gawker noted, it had never actually made in the original story.
In another Daily Mail example, a 2017 comment piece said that "neither the [Prime Minister] nor the paper supports genocide". Nobody had really said they did.
Jeff Sessions, during his confirmation hearing for Attorney General in 2017, emphatically denied having any contact with the Russians when Senator Al Franken asked him what he would do if there was improper communication with the Russians. In the following weeks he admits that he had contact with Russians (along with others in the campaign) and recused himself from an investigation into the Russian allegations.
The straddling bus scandal in China blew up after a reporter visited the headquarters of the company promoting the bus and noticed a stream of investors leaving the office with gifts and bags of cash. "We are just a private tech company. We are not a briefcase company for illegal fund-raising," Zhang Wei, the director of development and planning for TEB Tech, the Huaying Kailai subsidiary that developed the bus, told the reporter.
The Boring Company's flamethrower, having encountered potential problems with Customs regulations around the world, has changed to calling it "Not A Flamethrower", with one of Elon Musk's suggestions being "Temperature Enhancement Device".