[lit-ideas] Re: On Being Misinformed

  • From: jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 21:06:49 -0400

I think we have reached common ground:

´right´ and ´wrong´ has nothing to do with ´information´. Grice wanted his conversational maxims to be "matters of fact", rather than valuational notions. And right he was.


"inform" is best used when what follows is something the user of "inform" THINKS is true. Thus, the following is dubbed "bad use" by McEvoy:


It was a Tuesday night. It was cold in streets of
Hamurg. It was 1939. A child was in the park.
The Gestapo approached him. When asked whether he,
the child, was Jewish, the child informed the Gestapo
that he was not. He informed the Gestapo, on top,
and rather volunteer name, that his name was Hans
Schmidt, and he was a Lutheran.

As it stands, I find the passage ambiguous.

McEvoy comments:

"The ((use of)) ((the reported speech verb, in the preterite)) "informed"

"has, surely, a subtle connotation here that is apt
to a particular way the untrue information was conveyed."

---- From the context, it is not clear that the information
is or was untrue. The use of scare quotes, in the title which
*I* provide for the little story by McEvoy only produces an ¨
"allegation". But "alleged" is the first case for the study of

"She alleged she had been raped. In fact she was."

makes perfect sense.

"Some alleged divergences between Popper and Lakatos" makes also perfect sense even if the boring author ends up proving that there are none!

Allegedly, it rained.

---- makes sense.

"Informationally, it rained"

--- does not.

The reason: caeteris paribus, people inform each other than the other way round.


J. L. Speranza

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