Set in the modern day society a bill was passed in the parliment just recently to force all its people to only use non-answer for all questions including daily conversation as part of the Personal Data Protection Act, whistleblower will be handsomely rewarded and their identities shall be kept confidental and offenders will be penalized with a hefty fine or depending on severity be sentenced to a lengthy jail term or both.

A non-answer isn't the same as white lie they are simply uninformative, obvious or unsatisfactory responses usually fails to address the subject of the question, with the introduction of such a law I wonder how can this benefit the society economically as well as positioning itself as a potential trading partner across the world? Wouldn't this causes confusion and mistrust especially in data sensitive industries such as engineering and medicine which inevitably led to the nation downfall? I can see this only benefits the politician and their hedge fund managers...

P.S: Non-answer answers will not be accepted ;D

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    $\begingroup$ It kind of depends on how literal you take this. Factual information would only be accessible in written (non-verbal) form, but everything factual would be documented since only written information is informative. So everyone would be slipping each other factual notes and contracts, while officially not answering questions or making these note part of the conversation. Inference would be huge. There was a scene in a Star Trek movie where someone related a story about sabots (wooden shoes) in machines as the origin of the term sabotage to suggest they use sabotage. Not an answer, but... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Feb 4 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ The question is asking about the effects of a law without actually reciting the actual law. Laws don't work like that; they are not nebulous aspirational texts, they are very specific. (Hence, the entire idea of "the wrongdoer walked free because of a technicality".) The question should be edited to include the specific law in very much more detail. (And the poster should first become at least a little bit familiar of how legal texts are written.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 4 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP: sorry I didn't know that anyway which law have I broke here? ;D $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Feb 4 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ Wait, how can you judge people who trespasses the non-answer law? If you ask what the judge's sentence is, you will either get a vague "It is under consideration" or a judge who's going to be sentenced to have given an answer! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Feb 4 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Whilst of interest, this is not helpful. If the world were to work that way, then it would selectively breed for non-verbal humans. Does sign-language or pointing count as non-answer? The human race would revert to savage and anti-intellectual (as many might assert is already has). $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 2:31

It would continue business as usual, I think, with people just getting used to extremely indirect questions and answers.

Japanese is a famous real case example of culture and language where direct questions and answers are usually avoided. Look at this recent example

when Japanese Twitter user @da_masu was in Kyoto on a business trip and having a meeting with a potential client, he wasn’t startled when his counterpart mentioned “That’s a really nice watch you’ve got.”

Flattered, @da_masu started to give a run-down of the watch’s features, but in hindsight regrets doing so. Not because he thinks he came off as sounding boastful or materialistic, but because he later came to the conclusion that he wasn’t actually being complimented, and that this was instead another example of Kyoto’s notoriously complex communication style, because when the person said “Nice watch,” what they really meant was:

“This conversation has gone on too long.”

the seemingly benign compliment functions as a way to force you to see what time it is and notice how much of the other person’s time you’ve taken up, indirectly pressuring you into wrapping things up/leaving them alone.

In Kerr's book Lost Japan you can read of another example of this, where the author says that being offered a second cup of tea during a visit is a subtle way to say "visit time is over".

Your fictional country would probably go along the same way.

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    $\begingroup$ Essentially, people will speak using code :) $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Feb 4 at 5:44

Non-Answers still give the answer, they just limit repercussions for the speaker

Politicians choose their words carefully such that what they say can't be used in a soundbite against them next election. Just because they're choosing their words such that their non-comital, doesn't mean all communication from them is white noise.

So a decent chunk of human communication (perhaps up to 93%) is formed from things other than the words. Every time a politician is asked a direct question and gives an indirect answer, often, somehow the audience just knows what the actual answer is. Its almost like the truth becomes a shared secret.

Much of this is intuition, much of this is reading body language or piecing together data from multiple sources, but usually when I hear a politician give a crappy answer like that, we can usually infer the truth.

Non-Answers being clear unambiguous answers happen all the time in our day to day life:

As an example: If I've had a nice date with an attractive member of my preferred gender, and I ask if she wants to come back to my place, and she says "Maybe", that is totally a non-answer; unless:

  • It's paired with a tone of excitement, wide eyes, a shy smile, a puckering of lips, a subtle giggle, and offering me her hand. That body language reads as yes.
    • The "Maybe" limits her from appearing too keen, as a barrier against slut-shaming, and giving her a way out if she changes her mind later or I change my mind.
    • It's to avoid social repercussions and awkwardness from saying a clear "yes". Same logic as a politician afraid of the soundbite's consequences.
  • Its said while with her body rotated away from me, legs crossed away, and with a depressed, bored, attitude. That body language reads as a no.
    • The "Maybe" is to avoid hurting feelings. It's to avoid the repercussions of saying "no", especially if she thinks I may be quick to anger. Same logic as a politician afraid of the soundbite's consequences.

Your society will function mostly fine with non-answers. There will be the odd issue:

  • Minor cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder will be much more debilitating.
  • Not getting clear unambiguous consent in sex/dating is a recipe for the occasional disaster.
  • Text / email / sms communication is basically going to be useless without a complex emoji sdtandard.
  • I'm assuming parents and primary school teachers, don't give non-answers to children. Children can learn to read between the lines like this about age 10, and once they can do that, they can survive a world of non-answers. If they don't learn before this I have no idea what'll happen, but suspect they wont be able to give a non-answer clearly either.

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