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1 hour ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

In the same way, "I believe her" is an assertion that, whatever the actual truth of the accusation, the accuser must be treated seriously and without prejudgement or prejudice. I have my own thoughts about the merits of her claims, on the basis of what little I (or anyone here) knows, but I have no intention of sharing them because they are not relevant.

SO . . . in this case, as in others, I believe her.

That's not an assertion that I am certain that what she says happened actually happened, or that her analysis of why it happened is correct.

It is instead an insistence that she be treated fairly and her claim taken seriously, and without prejudgement.

 

Then I would like to respectfully request that you choose a phrase other than "I believe her."

If you say that phrase and don't consider that to be sharing your thoughts on the merits of her claims you're diluting a very powerful word.

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10 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

Then I would like to respectfully request that you choose a phrase other than "I believe her."

If you say that phrase and don't consider that to be sharing your thoughts on the merits of her claims you're diluting a very powerful word.

While I take your point, "belief" is by definition an act of faith, not a truth statement, and I think it actually captures reasonably well the difference between an objective statement of fact, and a willingness, in particular circumstances, to suspend the kind of judgement that a more analytical approach involves. One doesn't, and almost certainly can't, "prove" that God exists: one believes, or not.

Similarly, saying that "I believe what she says" is not the same as saying "What she says is true": the former makes the subjective element clear -- indeed, is an assertion of subjectivity, because it is premised on the assumption that your belief may be different from mine -- while the latter is a truth statement (whether it is backed up or not) that we are all expected to accept as verifiable fact.

Belief also includes, vitally, the element of support. And that's what this is actually about, rather than an assertion of one version or another of reality.

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3 hours ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Belief also includes, vitally, the element of support. And that's what this is actually about, rather than an assertion of one version or another of reality.

Now and then I find myself in a position to reveal to a "believer" that I'm an atheist.

"Really, Maddy? If you don't believe in God, what do you believe in?"
"Well, to start, I believe in you."

Gets 'em every time.

;-).

Edited by Madelaine McMasters
Removed an excess apostrophe to use as an excess apostrophe in another post.
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6 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Belief also includes, vitally, the element of support. And that's what this is actually about, rather than an assertion of one version or another of reality.

If you say "I believe you" to someone you've never met because you feel they deserve to be taken seriously, what do you say to someone you know and really do believe in?

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2 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

If you say "I believe you" to someone you've never met because you feel they deserve to be taken seriously, what do you say to someone you know and really do believe in?

Words, and perhaps most especially words like "belief" that reference the ways in which humans respond, rather than attempt to describe an external reality, tend to be multivalent. There aren't many of them that have a single meaning in the dictionary. What's more, connotation changes according to context.

Are you suggesting, by extension, that the word, when used to denote support ("You can do it! I believe in you!"), has the same denotation and connotation as "I believe in God"?

I am quite capable -- as, actually, are you -- of both "believing" in one sense in a person I've never met, and "believing" in a different way, in someone I know well. That's how language works: it's contextual and rich in different connotations and meanings.

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25 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Words, and perhaps most especially words like "belief" that reference the ways in which humans respond, rather than attempt to describe an external reality, tend to be multivalent. There aren't many of them that have a single meaning in the dictionary. What's more, connotation changes according to context.

Are you suggesting, by extension, that the word, when used to denote support ("You can do it! I believe in you!"), has the same denotation and connotation as "I believe in God"?

I am quite capable -- as, actually, are you -- of both "believing" in one sense in a person I've never met, and "believing" in a different way, in someone I know well. That's how language works: it's contextual and rich in different connotations and meanings.

Next, we’re going to be Grokking.

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10 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

In my opinion, it should.

 

Well, um, ok.

But it doesn't. And I'm afraid it's never going to.

We actually already have a symbolic language system that (with complications) insists upon a one-to-one correspondence of signifier to signified: we call it mathematics, and it purports to describe in a precise way objective reality. And that is exactly what we are not talking about when I say "I believe her." Mathematics can't really describe that.

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7 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Well, um, ok.

But it doesn't. And I'm afraid it's never going to.

We actually already have a symbolic language system that (with complications) insists upon a one-to-one correspondence of signifier to signified: we call it mathematics, and it purports to describe in a precise way objective reality. And that is exactly what we are not talking about when I say "I believe her." Mathematics can't really describe that.

One irritation* I have with the way language is used lately is the tendency of people who want something to be taken seriously to dress that thing in the words of something that is already being taken seriously when that thing whose words are borrowed is considerably more extreme or powerful than the thing that is being dressed.

If you want me to take something seriously, tell me why. Give me reasons. Don't rely on melodramatic verbiage. There are over 170,000 words in the English language; choose carefully and respect nuance. Plz.

___________________________

* Did I say I hated it? No. I said (well, technically implied) that it irritated me.

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1 minute ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

One irritation* I have with the way language is used lately is the tendency of people who want something to be taken seriously to dress that thing in the words of something that is already being taken seriously when that thing whose words are borrowed is considerably more extreme or powerful than the thing that is being dressed.

If you want me to take something seriously, tell me why. Give me reasons. Don't rely on melodramatic verbiage. There are over 170,000 words in the English language; choose carefully and respect nuance. Plz.

___________________________

* Did I say I hated it? No. I said (well, technically implied) that it irritated me.

Among my comebacks: "You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument."

I concur with you that people have so badly watered-down the language and forget that words have specific, clear meanings and the way they are assembled into a sentence creates the full context of the word. Many people have much simpler educations than they realize and that's unfortunate; not their fault. But when a person has a lazy mind...

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7 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

One irritation* I have with the way language is used lately is the tendency of people who want something to be taken seriously to dress that thing in the words of something that is already being taken seriously when that thing whose words are borrowed is considerably more extreme or powerful than the thing that is being dressed.

If you want me to take something seriously, tell me why. Give me reasons. Don't rely on melodramatic verbiage. There are over 170,000 words in the English language; choose carefully and respect nuance. Plz.

___________________________

* Did I say I hated it? No. I said (well, technically implied) that it irritated me.

You sound like a damned engineer, Theresa!

I similarly desire specificity and accuracy from people, but I often don't get it, and giving it often doesn't get my point across. This is why I made a career out of working with things, not people, and distract myself by interacting with people, not things.

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9 minutes ago, Alyona Su said:

Many people have much simpler educations than they realize and that's unfortunate; not their fault.

You're describing the Dunning-Kruger effect, and I don't think any of us are immune.

12 minutes ago, Alyona Su said:

But when a person has a lazy mind...

It's not necessarily that people have lazy minds. They might have different interests and experiences. I've met people far more intelligent and accomplished than me, who were blissfully ignorant of things I thought they should know. I can't help but wonder what they think of me.

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24 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

One irritation* I have with the way language is used lately is the tendency of people who want something to be taken seriously to dress that thing in the words of something that is already being taken seriously when that thing whose words are borrowed is considerably more extreme or powerful than the thing that is being dressed.

If you want me to take something seriously, tell me why. Give me reasons. Don't rely on melodramatic verbiage. There are over 170,000 words in the English language; choose carefully and respect nuance. Plz.

___________________________

* Did I say I hated it? No. I said (well, technically implied) that it irritated me.

The 3rd Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Complete) currently lists 7 main meanings for the verb "believe" (aside from additional ones for other nominal, adjectival, or adverbial uses of the word); within those 7 main meanings are 13 "shades" of meaning, of which 4 are obsolete. Probably about a third of those meanings have some bearing on the way in which the word is used in the phrase "I believe her."

The point I'm making, obviously, is that language is almost never "clear" and unambiguous.

While I take your overall point, I think I have given you reasons why I think that use of the word is appropriate. It is, of course, entirely possible and legitimate to take issue with my justification, but to respond by suggesting that the word must always mean "just this," and never "that," where "that" is a common employment of the word, is a non-starter.

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38 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

If you want me to take something seriously, tell me why. Give me reasons. Don't rely on melodramatic verbiage. There are over 170,000 words in the English language; choose carefully and respect nuance. Plz.

But seriously, you don't like hyperbolic metaphors?  They can be so much fun...

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6 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Probably about a third of those meanings have some bearing on the way in which the word is used in the phrase "I believe her."

Plus, in written form it is difficult to convey emphasis on one word or another, unless you use italics or something. Was “italics” borrowed from Italian?

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21 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

You're describing the Dunning-Kruger effect, and I don't think any of us are immune.

It's not necessarily that people have lazy minds. They might have different interests and experiences. I've met people far more intelligent and accomplished than me, who were blissfully ignorant of things I thought they should know. I can't help but wonder what they think of me.

Nooooo, not referencing knowledge of *things*, I'm referring to the words and phrases they use to express those things. :)

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