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# Am I making too much out of this?

## My son's teacher asking which is "more true"

#### Demaestro

8:33 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:2637

So my son came home with a test, it had something marked wrong, but the question was

Which of these statements is more true?

It then gave a list of things that all were true but they wanted the one that was "more true"

Is it just me or is this question totally out to lunch?

Something is true or it is false... there is no weighting them for percentages of truth, is there? I guess a statement can be partially true, but that would really just mean that it is a statement with a true part and a false part. If you looked at the statement as a whole and it has one false part to it that would make the statement false wouldn't it?

Maybe I missed a philosophy course where this was covered but does it make sense to call something "more true"?

I want to tell the teacher that it is a logical error to ask this, just like it would be to ask for an answer to divide by zero. (unless you are in a advanced math theory class)

It reminds me of this argument I saw once about God where this guy kept saying "It is true to me" and the other guy finally asked "How can it be true to you? It is either truth or it isn't"

What would George Boole say about all this?

#### lawman

6:17 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 28, 2001
posts:3615

a

See, that wasn't so hard, was it. ;)

#### LifeinAsia

7:16 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Lewis Hamilton is the most successful British Formula One Driver this year" is a true statement

Arguably that's an opinion - it requires a definition of success, and there's no guarantee that everyone shares the same definition.

I assure you it is true he has far more points in the championship which is the only measure of success.

That is less true than absolute true! To you, that may be the only measure of success, but it's not a measure that everyone agrees with. To other people, whoever made the most money may be the definiton of most successful. To others, whoever got the most babes. To yet others, there may be other definitions. It's possible that Lewis Hamilton may qualify with all the other definitions as well, in which case, the statement would be a qualified truth. But if there is even one definition of success to which he doesn't qualify, then the original statement would be less true. :)

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 7:34 pm (utc) on Aug. 20, 2008]

#### londrum

8:29 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:2709

a lot of truths aren't really true at all.
people thought the earth was at the centre of the universe at one time. and they had 'evidence' for it as well, because the sun, moon and stars were seen to revolve around us in the sky. but now, of course, we know that that's just an illusion. but at the time, who was to say that it wasn't true?

if people said "what is the smallest particle?", and you said "an atom", there would have been a time when you were said to be telling the truth. but now you're not.

most scientific theories are the same -- they are true now. but scientists happily accept that later learning might come along and change them. that doesn't stop current theories from being true, though. otherwise it becomes impossible to give a 'truthful answer' to a simple question.

Doctor: You have Aids.
Patient: Is there a cure?
Doctor: No. (TRUE)
But is it really true? Surely there must be a cure. It's more likely that we just haven't found it yet.
But if he answered the other way, then he would be telling a lie.

#### WesleyC

8:46 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:235

The reason for this, as far as I can tell, is because there is an implied statement at the end of each of your questions. Consider: What is the smallest particle we know of? Is there a cure at this time?

There is such a thing as absolute truth. Computers, at least, know this. There is only true or false in a boolean value--therefore, in order for something to be true in a boolean sense, it cannot be false.

The disconnect between arguments, here, is that people are trying to compare the boolean definition of true with the human definition of "true". We cannot perceive everything relating to many topics, therefore we cannot define something relating to these topics as true or false in the boolean sense. However, we can most certainly label them as true or false in a human sense as being "true" or "false" according to everything we can perceive.

[edited by: WesleyC at 8:50 pm (utc) on Aug. 20, 2008]

#### londrum

9:00 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:2709

So...

Is there a cure? No
Is there a cure at this time? No

are both literaly true. but the second one is more true.

#### WesleyC

9:05 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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But only in a human sense. In the boolean sense, there IS a cure. It simply hasn't been invented yet. In the human sense, we have no cure, therefore there is not a cure (to us).

#### londrum

9:12 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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but in this case both senses are the same. because there ISN'T a cure right now. that is a fact.

...a computer wouldn't be able to assume that there is going to be a cure, however likely that might be. because that would be based on assumption. so it would answer the same for both questions.
(they are, after all, both factual questions - with a definite yes or no answer)

both questions are therefore very definitely true. but the second one is more likely to be true.

#### willybfriendly

6:00 am on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 1, 2002
posts:1834

Obviously the answer is A, but which of these is more true?

a) H2O is a liquid.
b) H2O is a solid.
c) H2O is a vapor.

The question lacks the conditions at the time of the observation, and is therefore nonsensical. The physical properties of any element or compound depend on the conditions in which it exists.

Water is a liquid
Ice is a solid
Steam is a vapor
H20 is a compound consisting of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.

#### Dabrowski

7:02 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:1147

a) H2O is a liquid.
b) H2O is a solid.
c) H2O is a vapor.

Which do you believe is more true? :)

none of them.
It's like saying which of the following is more true.

Correct, neither is more true than the others.

...but, it could be said that H2O is a liquid more of the time, hence that statement is true more of the time. Some people could therefore interpret that statement to be more true than the others, when it is not.

[edited by: encyclo at 7:24 pm (utc) on Aug. 21, 2008]
[edit reason] fixed quote tags [/edit]

#### LifeinAsia

7:21 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:5843

...but, it could be said that H2O is a liquid more of the time, hence that statement is true more of the time. Some people could therefore interpret that statement to be more true than the others, when it is not.

But it wouldn't be true most of the time to someone living in the Arctic. Or someone on Mars. Or someone living elsewhere where H2O may be in an even different state most of the time.

How's that for head messing? :)

Oh, and you should really make sure you close all your quotes- it's messing up the page.

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 7:22 pm (utc) on Aug. 21, 2008]

#### Dabrowski

8:18 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:1147

But it wouldn't be true most of the time to someone living in the Arctic. Or someone on Mars. Or someone living elsewhere where H2O may be in an even different state most of the time.

I'm assuming Demaestro's question in question would be within the scope of the entire earth. To someone in the arctic, H2O is still liquid more of the time, just not the bit he can see. It doesn't change the fact.

Or someone on Mars

Hmmm, that is questionable in itself! :))

#### MatthewHSE

8:37 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:1908

So far the examples (at least the ones I've read) seem pretty cut and dried, true or not true. I think that's because, in database terms, most of the questions have been one-to-one or one-to-many propositions. But I haven't noticed a many-to-one question yet. So does the following question make any sense?

Which of the following is most true?
a.) Bricks are made out of sand
b.) Bricks are made out of clay
c.) Bricks are made out of a mixture of sand and clay

This seems logical to me. All three statements are true (or at least have some truth in them), but the third one has more complete information and would therefore be "most" true.

Right? Or am I mixed up here?

#### Receptional Andy

10:07 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:Jan 27, 2003
posts:2534

Right? Or am I mixed up here?

That depends on whether you feel truth is an either/or - an absolute, or whether truth is something that can be present in a greater or lesser measure. Many of the disagreements in this thread are related to using one definition or another. 'Unique' is a word that attracts similar (and perhaps more warranted) controversy.

I'd say it's a moot point, as there seems to be no consensus, and if there's no mutual agreement on the definition, people are essentially talking about different things.

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 10:07 pm (utc) on Aug. 21, 2008]

#### LifeinAsia

10:11 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:5843

To someone in the arctic, H2O is still liquid more of the time, just not the bit he can see.

Oops- I meant in the Antarctic.

#### iamlost

6:35 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 25, 2003
posts:1327

a) H2O is a liquid.

b) H2O is a solid.

c) H2O is a vapor

What is the temperature?
What is the pressure?
For what time?

#### BillyS

12:16 am on Aug 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:June 1, 2004
posts:3181

glass is a solid

Some scientists think glass is a viscous liquid.

#### Dabrowski

5:35 pm on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 29, 2007
posts:1147

What is the temperature?
What is the pressure?
For what time?

Not specified. If the question was specific, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I think the problem is the question was vague, and there is an logic argument between 'truth' and 'accuracy', as Receptional_Andy pointed out.

I agree with old_honky in his statement

I still don't agree that there can be degrees of truth. If something is even ever-so-sightly not true then it is in fact false.

Truth is a clear cut statement, either it is true in it's entirety or it is not true at all.

a.) Bricks are made out of sand
b.) Bricks are made out of clay
c.) Bricks are made out of a mixture of sand and clay

In this question, all statements are true. All statements are also accurate, but C is more accurate.

#### lawman

8:33 pm on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 28, 2001
posts:3615

Polemics are fun but a test taker will get an "A" if he knows what the test giver is looking for. ;)

If all answers are true as mentioned in the original post, then the question "Which of these statements is more true?" should have been a tip-off to the answer the test giver wanted.

#### rj87uk

9:38 pm on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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posts:1148

Demaestro,

What was the real question?

RJ

#### Monkey

1:28 pm on Aug 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:June 8, 2007
posts:76

wow you guys bored?

The question is ambiguous and should not be in an exam paper unless the teacher set it and is trying to illustrate to the class about subjective answering. Frankly would torch the question.

#### lawman

4:28 pm on Aug 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

#### Senior Member from US

joined:May 28, 2001
posts:3615

The question is ambiguous and should not be in an exam paper

We don't know what the question was.

This 51 message thread spans 2 pages: 51