I have been watching the first two episodes of HBO’s Chernobyl show and after that my girlfriend was translating some news bulletin made by the Russians 4 days after the accident.
The video, which we found in YouTube, was quite funny by today’s standard since it was blatant lying but we were discussing about afterwards:
The options were to tell the truth, risk a mass panic and more casualties resulting from it.
Or, lie to the populating and get some casualties while keeping the peace.
Panic could potentially hamper efforts to cause the problem by disrupting access to some resources, etc.
So, in this case, it could be argued that they lied for the greater good.
Are there documented examples where we know this happened for a fact?
I will narrow down the question:
By greater good, I mean helping their population and minimize harm and / or casualties. This doesn't mean avoid harm entirely, but the lie should help the outcome to be more positive.
Ideally, I'd like to find a few examples out of wartime since the context and what's acceptable are also very different in that case.
An example would be where an adult lies to a child about the monster in the well so they don't fall and drown. I was one time where an accident happened on the highway and a motorcyclist had lost at arm and was unaware of it as he was laying down. One of the people that stopped to help was a nurse and when he said he could just feel tingling in his arm, she told him "it's badly broken, don't look". She lied to him, but she prevented him from panicking.
I am looking for this kind of examples where politicians lied to the population for a 'good' reason.