Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny

confirmI used to get tongue tied when friends would ask certain questions. However, I have learned a thing or two from my rather quiet friend LordQuantum Velaystar. Whenever anyone asks my friend Lord a silly question he takes the CIA approach and responds with “I can neither confirm nor deny that.” People laugh, he looks clever, and best of all he manages to get out of answering the question.

If you think about it, this is a great response to those questions that can put you in hot water no matter how you respond to them. The CIA knew what they were doing when they started this catch phrase!

There are times, however, this response will not work. If a partner asks “Are you cheating on me?” neither confirming or denying might put an end to the relationship. If a boss asks “Have you stolen money from the company?” is also not a good time to use it or if a cop asks “Did you kill this person?”

There’s a time and a place for the CIA response. If used with intelligence you come off charming, mysterious, and it gets you out of trouble. If used stupidly – jail time.


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  1. I generally am too honest for my own good and have often blurted out the truth before I have really thought about it! But you are right Shauna, Lord’s response is a wise one if you do not want to disclose personal or sensitive information to people you don’t know too well… I am sure this will become Slate’s new catchphrase for 2016! lol

  2. Thank you for your kind comments and analysis, Shauna. As you suggest: one should use “the phrase” with caution. I also think of the words of Uncle Ben in the film Spider-Man from 2002: “Remember, with great power. comes great responsibility.”


  3. There’s a corollary query/response to those other questions. The ones you can’t avoid with “I can neither confirm nor deny…”

    “Why do you ask?”

    In this manner you can suss-out just what is on the mind of the questioner. No wild flyers, no talking your way around…and no talking your way out of an answer to the question that was never asked.

    …and of course, the answer to any ‘either/or’ query is always, always, always, and emphatically, “YES!”

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