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In re the term 'honest mistake', would a 'dishonest mistake' be synonymous to something like irresponsibility, negligence or lazy/not doing due diligence?


Part 1. My thoughts

  • Thought 1.1: Honest mistake vs dishonest mistake

We apologise for dishonest mistakes. We don't apologise for honest mistakes. We can instead say like 'My bad' or 'My mistake.' Of course in everyday terminology we say 'my apologies' to mean 'my (honest) mistake' instead of course necessarily admitting to any guilt. Just like how we say 'sorry' for your loss (similar to condolences) or 'sorry' to hear that.

Quote from The Phantom Tollbooth:

You must never feel badly about making mistakes ... as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.

Presumably the mistakes that are being talked about are honest mistakes. For example for a student: Don't be (unreasonably) afraid of making a mistake on an exam to the point of cheating on the exam. But do be (reasonably) afraid of neglecting your studies by spending more than allotted recreation time.

  • Thought 1.1.1: I believe it boils down to whether or not you should have known better. I think it's like the difference between naïveté and ignorance. You're at fault for ignorance but not for naïveté. i think it's like fool vs student in the arabian quote that goes:

“He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; shun him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a student; Teach him. He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; Wake him. He who knows, and knows that he knows, is Wise; Follow him.”

  • Thought 1.2: Dishonest mistake vs intentional wrongdoing

Going back to the student example earlier, if a student extends allotted recreational time like 'Oh just 5 more minutes' and then ends up spending 1 hour more, then the student has committed a dishonest mistake through negligence of time management. If as a result of this the student decides to cheat, then this is no longer mere negligence but really intending something wrong. The 'Oh just 5 more minutes' did not have any intention of anything wrong, which in this case is losing a significant amount of time for study.

  • Thought 1.2.1: I kinda have this analogy in homicide legal terms:
  1. Manslaughter/humanslaughter <--> dishonest mistake

  2. Murder <--> intentional wrongdoing

Not the best analogy, but the point is I believe the idea why we have the concept of humanslaughter in the first place is that there are homicide cases where the perpetrator isn't 'not guilty by reason of insanity' but at the same didn't commit the act with forethought/premeditation/whatever. Like they just lost their temper (voluntary) or didn't do their due diligence (involuntary).


Part 2. What I've found about this on Reddit and even on Stack Exchange (not quite in the way I'm asking though):

2.1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/comments/cowio8/theres_no_such_thing_as_a_dishonest_mistake/ewln90o/

2.2. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/93j5t2/what_is_a_dishonest_mistake/

2.3. Ignorantly dishonest → I notice here no one says anything like irresponsible, negligent, lazy/not doing due diligence. (So I decided to answer myself.)


Part 3. Some context

3.1. people may consider a dishonest mistake an honest mistake.

  • E.g., 3.1.1. parents fail to get the proper mental health treatment for their child who was diagnosed with a mental illness (say autism, ADHD or any mental illnesses diagnosed relative to how the child behaves/how the person behaved as a child) because they do not do their due diligence. Let's say they do their own reading about autism or ADHD and do not proceed with the suggested treatment by the diagnoser (eg psychologist or psychiatrist) without double checking their own readings with the diagnoser.

3.2. people may consider a dishonest mistake an intentional wrongdoing.

  • E.g., 3.2.1. Following (3.1.1) still: Here of course it's not exactly 'child abuse' since abuse, as far as I understand, is intentional, not negligent...or not. But I'd call it more like child neglect or child maltreatment to distinguish from those cases where parents who, say, rape their children). It's indeed a mistake in the sense that it's not intentional. But that doesn't mean the mistake was honest.

3.3. people may consider an honest mistake to be a dishonest mistake.

  • E.g., 3.3.1. Again, boredpanda or phantom tollbooth as above.

3.4. (Also to clarify the issue of the term 'mistake') people may consider an intentional wrongdoing to be a dishonest mistake (or even an honest mistake!)

  • E.g., 3.4.1. As discussed a lot in comments: Adultery. I'd think if it happens once as a spur of the moment or getting drunk thing especially if it's just a kiss and not full blown sex, then I think it can be just a dishonest mistake. So it's still wrong, but let's not give a sentence of life imprisonment for murder instead of just 2 years for humanslaughter. (Well, I don't know. IANAL. Maybe divorce law in some parts of the world might consider a spur of the moment kiss as just as bad as full blown sex.) But if an adulterous act has forethought/premeditation, then this is now intentional and thus no longer a mistake.

A lot of times cheaters will say what they did was a 'mistake'. I think this is similar to the 'apologies' or 'sorry' thing above in that what is meant by 'mistake' is something altogether now.

This kind of 'mistake' they did has intent. So this is not the kind of 'mistake' I mean when I say 'dishonest mistake'. A 'dishonest' mistake has no intent, same as an honest mistake. Was I being unclear? I don't think so. What I mean by 'mistake' in 'dishonest mistake' should, I believe, be clear because it comes from what is meant by 'mistake' in 'honest mistake', where intent is, I believe, understood to not be present here.

Going back to the adultery, the issue here is I think those cheaters subconsciously/unconsciously lie to their spouses/partners or even to themselves in that when they say 'mistake', they mean it like honest/dishonest mistake instead of, well, intentional wrongdoing. Here's an example from a TV series

This wasn't a mistake, Michaela. This was you stabbing me in the heart.


Part 4. Appendix:

Re rejection of edit suggestion of smitenothing:

An edit proposed for me to ask 'antonym' of 'honest mistake'. I rejected in thinking that it might cause confusion in that like I'm trying to ask here what I might call (antonym-of-honest)-mistake instead of antonym-of-(honest mistake), which might turn out to be different.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Nov 25 at 17:54
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In law you can make a good faith mistake:

Good faith mistake means a reasonable judgmental error concerning the existence of facts or law which if true would be sufficient to constitute probable cause.

You can also act in bad faith

The fraudulent deception of another person; the intentional or malicious refusal to perform some duty or contractual obligation.

An honest mistake is common parlance, but it is similar to the legal term of a good faith mistake. Therefore, the antonym could be a bad faith mistake, that is an intentional error that was made for malicious purposes.

An example of a bad faith mistake could be intentionally publishing a document that has incorrect information in order to misinform or provoke a delay.

Alternatively, you could describe the mistake as passive aggressive:

Passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a pattern of passive hostility and an avoidance of direct communication.

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    If an act is intentional can it still be a mistake? Nov 22 at 12:31
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    This doesn't cover all mistakes, in my estimation. Leaving the iron on and causing a fire by neglect is a mistake done in neither good nor bad faith. Nor it is an honest mistake.
    – DjinTonic
    Nov 22 at 13:03
  • smitenothing, thanks! in particular thanks for going along with the law/legal thing hehe! i think 1 thing missing in this answer would be like is bad faith = negligent? afaik, 'negligent' is a 'legal term of art' as in in the wiki page for argumentative (referenced in my question in law se) or at least does bad faith include negligence? Edit: Actually the answer is missing 2 things. see DjinTonic's comment. good faith = honest mistake but bad faith = intentional wrong doing. what's dishonest mistake?
    – BCLC
    Nov 22 at 13:20
  • @KillingTime thanks for commenting. you ask a good question. please see appendix and context in OP which i just edited.
    – BCLC
    Nov 22 at 13:21
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    @BCLC I still think it applies. A dishonest mistake or a bad faith mistake is like saying "a false memory" But a false memory isn't really a memory! Well no, that's the point. A dishonest mistake is a mistake that isn't really a mistake. Nov 22 at 15:40

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