Talk:Fact

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Lead (again)[edit]

leaving "truth" out of the first sentence because it is somewhat tautological here

All correct definitions are "tautological", if you want to look at it that way.

removing "something that is the case" from first sentence. It's clumsy, superfluous, and redundant in addition to "something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.

These definitions do not amount to the same thing. Something can be the case but unverifiable.

1Z 22:52, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Philosophers divide facts into states of affairs and events - they certainly do not consider them to be somethings. But how pedantic do we need to be in an introduction? I think we shoudl let it be, and focus on the body of the article. Banno 00:18, 20 June 2007 (UTC)


You have missed the point. An even can occur (or a state of affairs can obtain) without being verifiable). 1Z 08:25, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Or did you miss my point? Having sat through the two-years-plus-long debate on the introduction to truth, I'm quite aware that this can be the hardest part of the article to write. While I agree that the present intro sucks, my advice is to leave it until the remainder of the article is in better shape. That way you will have a firmer basis for whatever content you wish to place there. (Of course, this advice will be ignored, leading to a protracted discussion on a non-issue...) Banno 21:38, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, you didn't leave it as you found it...1Z 00:39, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Quite true. Banno 02:20, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Fact as truth and fact as something that is the case were taken out of the LeadPara because it made the sentence clumsy, not because they are not true, verifiable statements of fact, which need to go back in at some point to basic definitions.
If you think they should be moved rather than deleted, why not do so in the same edit? Iyt It is generally hard to see what you are seeking to achieve. with your edits. You "stylistic" changes change the content as well. 1Z 08:23, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
A fact is "truth'; [1] and a fact is "something that is the case";[2] — (OED, 2nd Ed. page 2 million?)
Newbyguesses - Talk 01:03, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
OED Cite: If you're going by the same OED edition that is already cited in the article, the relevant definitions are: 1) "something ... that is actually the case" (defn 4a, p. 651 [already referenced in the article]); and 2) "truth attested by direct observation" (defn 6a, p. 651 [already referenced in the article]).
Note that there does not appear to be a definition reflecting "fact as truth" as indicated here (by some) in this discussion (fact as truth regardless of whether it is verified or observed). That's not to say that the definition is invalid, but close scrutiny of OED does not appear to directly substantiate it, thus justifying an alternate citation. dr.ef.tymac 01:27, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
The definition was in the reference given, Chamber's dictionary. I don't why you would think "it is not in the OED" mean "it is no anywhere". 1Z 08:12, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that. HTH. dr.ef.tymac 00:55, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Banno's previous point is the reason why I preferred the formulation ["that which is"] instead of ["something"] for the lead paragraph. Nevertheless, I've refrained from tossing in the .02 because, frankly, it's pretty odd to see so much "diminishing-returns tinkering" going on with the lead. The way it is now seems (stylistically if not ontologically) quite passable. I'm still puzzled as to why these refinements and tinkering are not suitable for the various subsections of the article. dr.ef.tymac 01:13, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see the point of simplifying the lead, when the lead states that "fact" is defined differently in different contexts. It creates a slightly contradictory impression. 1Z 08:23, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you to some extent, but there are difficulties that justify this compromise. As long as the lead is not blatantly incorrect, it seems entirely appropriate for it to consist of little more than a "birds eye view" definition of the concept, especially for an article such as this. It seems better to leave the detailed analysis to the various subsections of the article. dr.ef.tymac 19:51, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Update: This is just to note that the latest revision of the lead (as completed by User:Kenosis) looks (to me anyway) to be quite acceptable and even close to optimal for what this article calls for. Unless any further tinkering clearly and obviously addresses a compelling need for refinement, it's likely that any further changes to the lead will be contested as unwarranted and unhelpful. dr.ef.tymac 05:20, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree. It is at least workable, in that it contains nothing that is objectionable and allows for some development. Strictly it should contain a comment on fact in law and fact in psychology, since these are also included in the article. Banno 05:33, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Rick Norwood (talk) 14:57, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

If fact is verified by experience, the shouldn't fact be define by what is apparently the case (not actually)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.83.170.10 (talk) 18:52, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Putting this up for GA review?[edit]

What are the opinions on putting this article up for GA review. I know there are those out there who are not happy with aspects of this article, but it seems (to me anyway) that stabilizing the content is a useful goal to shoot for. GA review might help. Also, it seems there are only so many incremental gains that can be had by "tinkering at the edges". dr.ef.tymac 01:37, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I really don't think it is up to it, yet. Maybe after one more shake of the tree... Banno 02:21, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

pragmatism[edit]

The section on pragmatism seems a bit odd, since it does not mention fact, but rather talks about truth. Banno 02:39, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

On this occasion, James talks of true ideas in such a way as to mean only the same as"fact". Truth, fact, verification, verifiabilty, and validity, are all contingent upon such consideration of terminology and ontology. Pragmatism is a major philosophical doctrine, and has been for one hundred years, which must, and has, attempted to discern what is a "fact". — Newbyguesses - Talk 07:41, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Then you should be able to re-write the section to reflect this, or find better quotes. As it stands, it looks like it should be in the article truth. Banno 10:07, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Here is the offending section:

William James in 'Pragmatism's Conception of Truth', the sixth of a series of eight lectures he presented late in 1906 in Boston and again in early 1907 at Columbia University in New York, and which were soon published, in 1909, as Pragmatism:A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, expressed the idea that, to a pragmatist, "The possession of truth, so far from being here an end in itself, is only a preliminary means towards other vital satisfactions." (and) "The true thought is useful here because (the house) which is its object is useful to us. The practical value of true ideas is thus primarily derived from the practical importance of their objects to us." (and) "You can say of it (a truth) then either 'that it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful'." (and) "True is the name for whatever idea starts the verification-process, useful is the name for its completed function in experience". [3] (Pragmatism and Other Writings William James, edited by Giles Gunn, Penguin2000, page 89)

James set out the pragmatic conception of truth, on this occasion, as "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas are those that we can not." (page 88)

Peirce, in one of many formulations of the pragmatic maxim, explained truth as no more than "the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate". ( How To Make Our Ideas Clear page 38, quoted in Pragmatism and Other Writings William James, the Introduction section by Giles Gunn, page xvi)

Now my objection is that Pragmatism is predominantly a theory of truth, not of fact. There are already more mature and comprehensive accounts in the article truth, as well as in the main article on pragmatism. In addition, including this section invites the inclusion of other theories of truth - as in the article truth. I don't see the point in reproducing that material here. Banno 23:27, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

User:Banno, I do not know why you call this material offending. there is nothing offensive about it.Newbyguesses - Talk 23:27, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Banno, are you saying that if William James disagreed with Kant and Hegel (I wouldn't say that, its not up to me to say so), that therefore James is not allowed in an article on WP? If so, you are clearly wrong. Newbyguesses - Talk 03:38, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Not at all. I'm saying that if we include a section on pragmatism that talks about truth rather than fact, we open the door for a re-hash of all the material presently in the section on substantive theories of truth. That is, if you include James, why not Kant, why not Wittgenstein or Austin or whoever. My preference is to keep this article about facts, rather than truth. But rather than argue between ourselves, let's cut a deal. If someone else re-inserts your material, I will not remove it again; on condition that you do not re-insert it. Sound reasonable? Banno 03:53, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, if Wittgenstein and Austin (yes, why not) then also the correspondence theory of truth and the slingshot argument, and, even, the Garbage Can Model? Would that suit you,Newbyguesses - Talk 04:26, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I will happily admit to having a dislike of the way in which pragmatism keeps raising its ugly head - a personal prejudice, probably the result of my encounter with the troll Jon Awbrey (talk · contribs). Again, if anyone else chooses to re-insert this material, they are welcome, and I will not remove it. As for The Slingshot, that section needs work, but then so does the Awbredised main article, Slingshot argument. I plan to re-work it, and then return to the section in the present article. To repeat my main point: if we include the section on pragmatism, we should also include other major theories of truth - and that seems the wrong way to go with this article. Banno 04:33, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I will have to say that I agree with some of User:Banno's arguments, here. However, a personal prejudice against any well-known or notable philosophical doctrine surely cuts no ice. Anyway, if Fact were to be a really big article, it would explicate every one of those twenty dictionary meanings, and every philosophical view. Failing that, it needs a logical structure, not an ad-hoc accumulation of hobby-horses.Newbyguesses - Talk 07:34, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, New. I also freely admit to having been fairly harsh on your edits, considering that you are relatively new to the Wiki. This was not intentionally directed at you, since I did not check the authorship before removing the content. You are right that the article needs a logical structure, but first we might work out what it is we are structuring. I think we are still deciding on content, and changes to the structure will come later, if needed. Or do you have a radical change in structure in mind? Banno 07:43, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Sure, Banno, I dont have any radical change in mind, but I wish someone did. "Fact" as this , then "Fact" as that, "Fact" per xxxx, and etc. – and I definitely think a section on Skepticism is justified (in an article which considers "facts"), although there seems to be a paucity of useful, current, material on wikipedia concerning Skepticism. Facts, and skepticism as to what "facts" are — must be suitable here, or? no – Newbyguesses - Talk 08:04, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Clarification – My objection was not to the material, (Slingshot), but to the placement of the material. Similarly, properly referenced material on James ought to be includable, if the placement of the material is fitting. That's what I mean, about structure, thanks,Newbyguesses - Talk 10:59, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Then it might have been better to move it to the talk page pending discussion. Material that has been removed "to be worked on" has a way of disappearing altogether. 1Z 12:24, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Offhand, I'd look more to the correspondence theorists G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell for material on "fact" than to the pramatists. W. James and C.S. Peirce had a great deal to say about pragmatism as a broad view of truth, but little in the way of discussing the concept of "fact" as I recall. Not that I object to mentioning the pragmatists and giving the reader a guick perspective. ... Kenosis 12:47, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Considering the issue that Banno so concisely brought out into the open - "2 = 2 is 4" may very well have been a fact before even there were humans to "know" it, (Platonism -correspondence theory), but others equally (some Skeptics, some pragmatists, some calling themselves realists, or idealists...) dispute that this is the only, or the most helpful formulation. Since WP is an encyclopedia, (not a lecture series, not a television show), we are discussing usage of the word fact in print or writings. What notably, has been said, by notable philosophers. My personal opinions are definitely not notable, and I would be seeking to meet WP:NPOV by bringing up the theories that have notably been presented, and notable challenges to those theories. Thus, a comprehensive discussion of "fact" logically entails some reference to the existence of the "Skeptical school". User:Kenosis's reminder of Russell, and GE Moore is also well-made, and that the importance of pragmatism (here) as a topic is subsumed or over-ridden to some extent by that of Skepticism, is also a point for me to consider.Newbyguesses - Talk 23:39, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Fact in Law[edit]

Added Globalisation tag - the material and citations are entirely US. What about other jurisdictions? Banno 06:19, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

U.S. and U.K. common law references are sufficiently authoritative to cover the basic common law principles. The citations are not exclusively U.S. (see e.g., footnote 33 Clarke, and footnote 31 Bishin both of which apply treatment of English law, some of it extending back several centuries).
Relatedly, just as with philosophy articles, English WP articles relating to law have pervasive and persistent quirks; one of them being the obvious emphasis on common law jurisdictions. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it's an easily-recognized norm. It would be nice if English WP had more participation from lawyers in Syria, France, China, Mongolia and Somalia, but until that happens, it is not likely for this de-facto standard treatment to change any time soon.
Conclusion: I'm removing the Globalisation tag for the practical reasons enumerated above, but more importantly, because it doesn't address the specific issue. The references treat general common law principles acceptable as persuasive authority in many jurisdictions the world over ... parts of Canada, U.K., U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Burma, Ghana, Libera ... just to name a few.
A more appropriate tagging would be "this section emphasizes common law jurisdictions" ... but then such tagging would have to be applied to nearly every major article dealing with jurisprudence on the English WP. dr.ef.tymac 19:36, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Then perhaps some additional wording is needed to identify this restriction on the content... Banno 21:31, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Done: ... added a note that addresses the current emphasis of the section. This seems pretty reasonable. Moreover, if someone wants to come along at a later time and expand the section to cover Civil law (legal system), Sharia, Halakha or whatever else, this can be done easily with no disruption to the current flow of the subsection, and the note can then be removed. dr.ef.tymac 04:48, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
A fine job! Well done, and thanks. Banno 04:50, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Basic Definitions[edit]

The first sentence reads like an essay rather than an encyclopedia entry. Who did the "thorough review"? Banno 06:21, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm not aware of any resource more "thorough" than the OED for treatment of standard English. Nevertheless, you're free to tweak the wording, and you have my full support if it represents an unambiguous and obvious improvement to the tone and language of the article. dr.ef.tymac 19:40, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Done, for your approval... Banno 22:52, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
The general direction looks good, although there are some superfluous items in there. I'll address those at my next opportunity and, as always, you can follow-up with any comments or concerns. dr.ef.tymac 01:13, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm. Not too bad. Not too keen on the re-inserted parenthetic comments; I'd rather not have any just as a stylistic point - I was taught that they indicate a poorly constructed paragraph. But both you and Kenosis seem to have no such foibles. Banno 04:13, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

This statement is a known fact since it has been verified by observations, and communicated in words.[edit]

This phrase is unsourced, and unhelpful; it is at least arguable that 2+2=4 is a fact that is not known by observation. Therefore it is arguable that not all facts are known by observation. Put simply, we should not include a comment that contradicts the opinions of the likes of Kant and Hegel in the philosophy section. There are other opinions as to the facts, besides verificationism and pragmatism. Banno 22:51, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

No, not all facts. Just this particular fact. It is a fact that Jupiter has been discovered to be the largest planet, and that a statement to that effect has been made. (see reference in article). Are you saying that Jupiter is the largest planet is a fact, but that no-one is allowed to say so? There is a difference between a 'fact' and a known fact. That is obvious. I am not disagreeing, or commenting on any way on Kant or Hegel, just saying that this statement is perfectly legitimate and helpful,Newbyguesses - Talk 23:23, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

But here is the rub: the fact that Jupiter is the largest planet is quite distinct from the fact that Jupiter has been discovered to be the largest planet, which in turn is quite distinct from the fact that a statement to that effect has been made. Your text conflates them. Banno 23:31, 22 June 2007 (UTC) That is, the implication of your text is the incorrect one that all known facts are verified by observaton. Banno 23:39, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Or: What is the point of including that line? Banno 23:32, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

yes, Banno, that is the point of including that line. A "fact" is one thing and a statement of fact is a different thing, and a known fact is a different thing. If you would leave well enough alone, this may be explained in this article, which is meant to explicate, at the appropriate length fact. not merely, the correspondence theory of truth, as taught in schools. Newbyguesses - Talk 03:16, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Just to repeat: the implication of your text is that all known facts are verified by observaton. Perhaps you might try re-wording your comment to say something a bit less POV? Banno 05:12, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

This overall set of issues, I should remind the participants in this article, is in my experience a bit of a conceptual minefield similar to what we run into when dealing with "truth", "reality", "knowledge" and a few other things that are, so to speak, tough nuts to crack. I think we'll be well served if everybody keeps in perspective that there are such things as facts that exist independently of awareness or lack thereof by one or more human beings, and then there are conceptions or definitions of facts applied in various contexts. The reason that different fields have different definitions of fact is closely related to what the pragmatists, James, Peirce, Dewey, et al, have to say about truth and knowledge, which is that we learn what is truth (loosely, what is "fact") by applying the concepts of what is fact in practice and assessing the results of that application of the concepts of fact in some kind of practice. In law, for instance, fact is defined in certain ways, and not all things that are agreed to be called fact necessarily correspond to what a theoretical omniscient observer would observe. In science, there's no such thing as fact, technically speaking, as we limit ourselves to "observations", data points, summary data, etc., and "fact" is merely an informal statement or assertion that something exists and that we've described it accurately.

Each of these examples, and others, run into the same difficulty, which is fairly well described by Newbyguesses' statement that A "fact" is one thing and a "statement of fact" is a different thing, and a "known fact" is a different thing. But it's not the only way to describe the underlying "objective reality" vs. (pick one or more: belief/ opinion/ known fact/ belived to be fact/ thought to be possibly a fact/ statement of fact/ widely agreed to be fact/ fill in as may other possibilities as desired _____________). As easy as it was for Newbyguesses and me to state these issues as above, there is nevertheless a genuine problem inherent in how to define these aspects in the article. I think if we stick to what the reliable sources say about it and cite to them, describing each perspective, that the end result will be a more useful article. In Banno's defense here, one always runs into the correspondence issue when dealing with "fact" in any comprehensive way. IMO, there are ways to explain this all to readers, and I think the article already is a good part of the way towards accomplishing just that. ... Kenosis 14:11, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

It is at least arguable that 2+2=4 is a fact... Indeed arguable; but then, what isn't? Particularly sitting in a conference room getting paid for it.
If you're about to be shot by a firing squad of four, you can argue that at least three of the bullets are illusions. On the other hand, you'll probably be upset if I offer you $2000 for a speech and $2000 for expenses, but then pay you $3000 with the explanation that 2+2=3. Funny how the exigencies of daily life overrule considerations. Twang (talk) 19:36, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Rhetorical use of the word "fact"[edit]

The following has been tagged for a few weeks. I'm removing it to talk for discussion:

Because more respect is generally accorded to facts than opinions, people may describe their opinions, based on personal experience, as "fact" even though they have not been evaluated or verified beyond the limits of individual perception. Such "facts" would be better described as beliefs, or strongly held convictions.

Yet, a conviction such as that "Magic Johnson is the greatest ever basketball player", widely held among interested observers, [1] could potentially have as much validity in discussions of basketball, as the assertion that "pain should be avoided" has: it is a widely-held view, and credible. However, the assertion that "basketballs are round", which can be rigorously examined, (that is, measurements taken, rulebooks consulted, discussion take place and so forth) would seem to be a less contentious statement within the discussion of basketball than the statement referring to a particular player's level of skill, which requires, unavoidably, a value judgement. Nevertheless, it has been argued, by Kuhn amongst others, that there still exists an opportunity for scientific concepts, even perhaps as simple as roundness, to be reliant on unspoken considerations. For instance, how are measuring devices contrived, and how and when the procedure for measuring appropriately systematized. So, it is the case that matters of fact are to be, in general, considered in relation to the particular discussion concerning a particular field of enquiry, and that widely-held views which are credible in the eyes of interested and experienced parties may then come to constitute a consensus, and may prevail in discussion, whilst still subject to deprecation by certain unconvinced parties, being in a minority.

A fact is only so as in that it is relevant to a particular discussion and particular facts are relevant in a particular discussion. Facts that are relevant in a discussion are the facts that have already been introduced to the discussion by an interested party. Facts that are relevant to a discussion may include facts, or crucial facts, [2] that are not known by any yet interested party, or have been misunderstood crucially by an interested party.

The intent here is perhaps not too bad. However the text is not referenced. Also the title is misleading, since the section is not about rhetoric, but bombast. It may be better to have a section contrasting facts with lies or even bullshit#"Bullshit" in philosophy. Banno 03:37, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Banno, you are right here. However, the material which was tagged was merely the first sentence, the rest has been added since, and so has not earned that opprobrium, although it may be as speculative,in your opinion, no -one has said so to date, therefore you are in error to assert as such. Newbyguesses - Talk 04:10, 23 June 2007 (UTC).
It remains unsubstantiated. The citations used are irrelevant to the thrust of the discussion. Therefore it needs re-working. So I removed it to talk. Incidentally, it was I who placed the tag[3], and I assure you I was referring to the whole section, not just the first line. that's why I chose that tag, rather than the fact tag. Banno 04:23, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Banno, you added the unreferenced tag on 8 June.[4]Material (admittedly, nothing specially well-written) has been added since then. Please get your "facts" straight, at least, once in a while,Newbyguesses - Talk 05:47, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Your link is to a tag for the whole article, which I subsequently replaced with the dif I cited above, as explained in the edit description. I placed the tag to draw attention to the lack of citations. The new material added no relevant citations, so the tag remained. But hey, if it is that important to you, re-insert it, and see what others say. But make sure you replace the tag, else I will. Banno 05:58, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Correspondence and the slingshot argument[edit]

Was there a specific aspect of this section that constituted grounds for removal? It seemed to be both relevant to the article and representative of a fundamental precept that is not otherwise plainly explained in this article. It also seemed to meet the basic readability requirements for a general audience. dr.ef.tymac 05:03, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I am happy for you to re-insert it. As I mentioned above, I do intend to re-work it after playing with the main article, but that may be a while coming. But the important part of that section is the argument itself, which if valid shows that there is exactly one fact - something that is quite relevant to the article, but which was apparently missed by New, since he removed it. If you do re-insert it, please include the whole text, or some rendition thereof. Banno 05:08, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I removed the material because I believed it to be poorly positioned in the article, not that it could not, if properly written, be useful. However, the ordering of material seems odd. Without an agreement as to the overall shape of the article (dreamer), stuff seems odd to those that do not originate it. No one owns wikipedia.Newbyguesses - Talk 05:19, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Alright, with all respect to you, Newbyguesses, I've re-inserted the section, but as an invisible comment. Although I did not originate the content, the previous justification by Banno (I believe) does have substantial merit. Since there are other issues being hashed out here, I will refrain from the re-add for now, leaving it as a comment, subject to whatever improvements or adjustments and issue-resolution that may proceed. Respectfully, however, this section seems entirely appropriate to include in the article. dr.ef.tymac 05:43, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Newby, while no-one owns WP, you are supposed to discuss changes before making them.1Z 06:52, 23 June 2007 (UTC)


clarifying - the objection is not so much to that section (which can be improved with further writing), but to the wording used for its title, especially if it is to be the first (sub-) section heading. I dont know how to fix that, however, at this time, nor if others also find clumsy title as unhelpful as I do, so please then, as is suggested in comment by Dreftymac, and Banno, restore the material.
Please, is there any way to prevent the TOC from looking like a grab-bag, or shopping list, by coming up with interesting, grammatically correct titles for sections? The TOC, is actually tidier (currently), without both those clumsy and unenticing titles in it, and the stubs taken out of there were not well-written either, although as user:Peterjones points out (in another post, isn't it), losing bits of writing in the shuffle is each time it happens a shame, and I should bear that comment in mind, thanks,Newbyguesses - Talk 20:20, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see the problem with the TOC. 1Z 21:09, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
My suggestion then is add subsection (2.4) "The correspondence theory of truth" and subsection (2.5) "The slingshot argument", since there is nothing in the material yet that justifies, logically, the use of the word and in the previous title. "Rhetorical use..", is a crummy title, the material so-so. Pragmatism seems a resonable title, for a section, or subsection, and I believe the material, justified, since "Fact is also synonymous with truth or reality..." (Etymology). If all that material goes back, correctly placed and titled, we have progress. (Also, "Fact in Psych", a shame to lose that, but I cant add here, due to lack of research). Oh, and "Skepticism", (something should go in about) - who can find out enough about that topic to make usefull adds? I will try some research here, dont know what could be found though, perhaps a query to Refdesk is in order,Newbyguesses - Talk 22:19, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
If the best way to progress the article is to re-add the correspondence-slingshot material in its current form (and title), then, especially if a linking sentence comes, that would suit me fine. I am happy that wiser heads should prevail here, and I havent looked at enough articles to be in a position to say what titles are going to work in the long run or dont work, or whether that's a big issue anyway; my suggestions are genuine though,Newbyguesses - Talk 09:00, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Fact in psych[edit]

I think this section should be removed as well. It contrasts fact with delusion, which seems odd. There is no mention of fact in the article delusion.A delusion is a false belief, not a false fact. Indeed, there is a large, if controversial, section at belief#Belief as a psychological theory.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Banno (talkcontribs) 05:40, 23 June 2007

Although a section expressing the relationship between recall, cognitive function and the invididual notion of "fact" (I believe) deserves treatment in a WP article on the topic of "fact" ... the current stub doesnt quite seem to meet the mark. It doesn't look like anyone with the ability + inclination + energy to apply the requisite improvements to this subsection is going to step up any time soon. I agree this probably should get the axe (barring a substantial re-work). dr.ef.tymac 05:53, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Done, at this dif [5]. Banno 06:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

What's missing[edit]

There is perhaps a push to insert a series of philosophical theories n to the article. Correspondence, pragmatism and verificationism at present, but these will be followed by coherentism, constructivism, redundancy and so on, until the article is a reproduction of truth. I think that would be the wrong way to go.

It strikes me that the article would rather benefit from discussing a few of the things that contrast with facts.

We already have fact and value, and fact and counterfactual. What about the obvious one, fact and falsity? Shouldn't an article on fact talk about what it means to be wrong? Can you recognise a fact if you can't recognise a falsehood? This might also provide an opportunity to contrast verification with falsification.

Then there is fact and fiction. In fiction both the author and the reader conspire in the creation of a falsehood. A chance to work critical theory and literary theory into the article.

Then Fact and Lie. In this case, the author knows and cares about the truth, and is aware that his statements are false, but seeks to hide this from the reader.

Then Fact and Bullshit, in which the author does not care about the facts, but simply seeks to advance his own position. Banno 20:24, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Quite frankly, this was one principle motivation for the "Basic definitions" (now etymology and usage) section. An article like this seems to call for several "anchors" to keep it from becoming an intellectual tarpit, or a shallow reproduction of "truth". If any of these can be substantiated as directly relevant to the principle concept ("fact") (through one or more credible citations [dictionary, treatise, desk reference, whatever]) then the notion of "what's missing" is definitive. Otherwise, we're just begging for more "bullshit" to be tossed into the mix by every subsequent contributor out there who has his or her own preferred pet viewpoints to share with the world.
Sure, all these matters are relevant in general discussion, but then so is the distinction between "fact" and "delusion" ... but then we don't see a psychology section in here anymore, do we? No. Why not? Because it was a good idea, and even the subject of legitimate research and scholarship; but not directly substantiated. Solid and precise substantiation should be the bare minimum prerequisite for non-trivial additions to this article (AFAIC).
Remember, this article had a *lot* of room for improvement prior to the recent laudable efforts by the now well-known usual suspects. Sure, there's still room for improvement, but it's been steadily moving forward. That's not very common for "basic concept" articles on WP. Let's make sure the improvements stay that way.
Don't get me wrong, all of the points you mention are good ones. All I'm saying is these should be (first and foremost) attributable to references. dr.ef.tymac 22:49, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

I disagree with Banno's resistance to the mention of the theories of truth, because they are relevant to the issue of "fact" in philosophy, in turn because both "truth" and "fact" run into the epistemological problems of justification, verfication, falsification, etc. It seems to me that if the content is kept to a brief statement and a link to other articles that deal with these topics in more detail, they are appropriate for the article. I do realize that the situation can be somewhat tautological, but the fact is (pardon me for that usage) that correspondence depends on construction, and also depends on agreements of how to define and verify fact, and the fact also is that pragmatists describe how both "truth" and "fact" are in fact (pardon me again) justified, or at least agreed upon in some practical context such as, e.g., legal proceedings, and in its far more informal usage in science. So, I think it is key only to keep the description of philosophical usage brief and in reasonable perspective with the issue of justification... Kenosis 04:36, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

To an extent I agree; my point is more the stylistic one of avoiding too much repetition. Once we start down the road of adding theories of truth, the article will quickly become a reproduction of truth. Banno 23:02, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
That makes sense, and seems like an appropriate editorial strategy: Be brief and make appropriate reference to other articles. To that I'd only like to reiterate, ... and please provide a cite or two for any substantial proposed additions. dr.ef.tymac 14:39, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Suggestive fact[edit]

I just encountered these two words used together and went on a search to find what they mean when used together like this (assuming that the sum is greater than the parts). I found many incidences of the two words being used together but no definition of them. One snippet in the search results said something like 'one suggestive fact is better than a few bushels of theory' which seems to be suggestive of the definition....

I am just wondering if the definition of suggestive fact could belong here and if there is a philosopher who could tackle its meaning? -- carol (talk) 08:06, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

neither of the external links at the bottom of the page contribute to the article and should be deleted, right? Michaelk08 (talk) 20:39, 11 March 2008 (UTC)


At this moment, four out of the five external links seem to be collections of "fun facts" or factoids:

I'm in favor of keeping the first one, and losing the rest. Any comments? __Just plain Bill (talk) 14:30, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Fact in religion[edit]

Regarding this section. The example and wording are of the stated source. The book and the author have received reviews in peer-reviewed journals. How is this author's wording unecyclopedic? Would an exact quote be preferable? --Firefly322 (talk) 06:38, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

planet mercury[edit]

Why do you think mercury takes less time than any other planet to revolve arould the sun. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.209.235.233 (talk) 22:22, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Reverted list[edit]

I reverted this version. It appeared to be just a list of trivia that didn't belong in this article. If you guys want it in, that's fine, I'm not going to argue the point, but it will have to be sourced I'm sure. (and it wasn't) — Ched (talk) 13:57, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Gravity example[edit]

I've changed the wording of the gravity example in the Fact in science section from:

"Thus, for example, it is a fact that objects of smaller mass are attracted to objects of greater mass, and the theory of gravitation explains why this is so."

to:

"Thus, for example, it is a fact that lighter objects are attracted more strongly to heavier objects than the reverse, and the theory of gravitation explains why this is so."

My thinking is as follows:

  1. Gravitational attraction goes both ways, of course, so one could just as easily say that "objects of greater mass are attracted to objects of smaller mass". Clearly, though, the original author(s) intended the relevant observation to be the asymmetry in attraction between the objects, so I've tried to clarify this.
  2. Using the word "mass", while scientifically more accurate, is, I think, not as useful as "heavier" and "lighter", not only because more people will understand the latter terms, but because using the term "mass" in this context tends to confound the explanation of the observation with the observation itself. In other words, (I think it is fair to say) mass was a poorly defined concept before Newton formulated his laws of motion and gravitation, but the concepts of "heavier" and "lighter" were/are unambiguous.

- dcljr (talk) 00:00, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

I've changed it again to be more accurate: "Thus, for example, it is a fact that lighter objects accelerate more quickly toward heavier objects than the reverse, and the theory of gravitation explains why this is so." - dcljr (talk) 17:35, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Archiving[edit]

I thought I would be bold and have added auto archiving. -- Alan Liefting (talk) - 21:06, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Pragmatic truth / confirmation[edit]

Looking at the edit history, I find that around March '09, the intro was changed from something resembling what's contained in the citations to "A fact is a pragmatic truth... amenable to pragmatic confirmation".

(1) Where is a cite for this and if there is one, is it authoritative?

(2) There is no Wiki-link for "pragmatic truth" or "pragmatic confirmation" and the definitions of those terms is not self-evident (what *is* a pragmatic truth? what *is* pragmatic confirmation? How do pragmatic truth/confirmation differ from, well, unadorned truth/confirmation?) nor do they appear in any readily accessible form in results returned from a Google search.

I propose that the intro be reverted to something like it's pre March '09 version. Thoughts? Alfred Centauri (talk) 18:56, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Do you mean this one? I ask because before the "pragmatic truth" business came along, it briefly said "A fact is something said to be true or supposed to have happened. An idea becomes a fact after competent people have tested a hypothesis through the scientific method." which seems, ahh, suboptimal. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 20:02, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
A reasonable question, JPB. I should have been more careful to specify a pre Mar '09 consensus version more similar to the citations and to exclude, shall we say, experimental versions. Alfred Centauri (talk) 20:14, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
OK; in your view, does that link represent a consensus version? (If not, kindly show a link to an older version of the page, one that you think works better...) I agree that "pragmatic truth" may not be the best definition, depending as it does on the reader's interpretation of "pragmatic." __ Just plain Bill (talk) 20:27, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
That's a good start. How about something like this:
"The term fact can refer to, depending on context, a detail concerning circumstances past or present, a claim corresponding to objective reality, a provably true concept, or a synonym for reality."
Here's a citation for the above. Thoughts? Too wordy? Alfred Centauri (talk) 20:52, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
Looks like we've got a consensus of two here, plus perhaps some lurkers who don't disagree. If I come back to this in the morning and it still says "pragmatic," I'll use your text... __ Just plain Bill (talk) 22:44, 10 December 2009 (UTC)
Refs might could use some cleanup now. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 17:37, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
It seems to have become more WP:OR since your versions, so I went back to princeton definition and made it simple and hopefully comprehensible. CarolMooreDC (talk) 03:12, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Opinion[edit]

We've got here a good article on Fact, however the article on Opinion is, well, pathetic really. So this is just an invite for those with something to offer, especially something with references, to bowl over there and get stuck in. Scientific opinion also needs its own article. ‒ Jaymax✍ 10:04, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

"I disagree with that fact"[edit]

Can facts be false ? Should this just redirect to Truth ? --195.137.93.171 (talk) 06:50, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

The Wikipedia Get to Philosophy Game[edit]

We need to calm down and stop removing important links just so we can get to "Philosophy." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alex.Ramek (talkcontribs) 00:14, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Revision 02:55, 10 July 2011 69.210.254.104 (talk) (19,472 bytes) (Added link to Verification article.) is suspect be cause it has a significant effect on the 'Wikipedia:Get_to_Philosophy'. This link shortens all of the top ten chains by four links. Need some discussion to decide if this is valid or is gaming the game.

FYI, this page seems to go through a little edit war. It's because of the idea that if you click on every article's first link, you will eventually end up at 'philosophy' - this fact partially depends on the "Information" link of this article's first sentence. That's why people keep removing and adding back the link! Since it just started after today's comic from Xkcd (which mentions this fact) was released, I guess it will be over by tomorrow. --Warman06 (talk) 07:55, 25 May 2011 (UTC) ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There is currently a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard regarding recent edits to Truth that relates to this. The thread is "Users playing "Get to Philosophy" game to the detriment of Wikipedia". Comments are welcome. --Guy Macon (talk) 02:50, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Opening sentence[edit]

At this writing, the lead sentence says

Facts can refer to truths known about past or present circumstances by actual experience or observation or to events that are presented as objective reality. In science, it means a provable concept.

First of all, facts don't refer to anything. The term "facts" might refer to such things. So a minimal rewriting would be to replace "Facts" with "the term facts".

But that's really weak. Wikipedia is not a dictionary; it's supposed to tell us about the subject matter, not about the words used to describe it. So we could replace it instead with "Facts are truths...".


However now we're getting full-on into the relationship between fact and truth, which I'll treat below. As for the second sentence, what is "provable concept" supposed to mean? You don't prove concepts; you prove assertions. Heat, for example, is a scientific concept. How would you attempt to prove heat? Can heat be a fact? Of course not. "Provable concept" has to go; I'm just not sure what to replace it with. --Trovatore (talk) 19:15, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree with your comments. Although I have to register my disappointment that the lede still hasn't been settled after years.1Z (talk) 14:24, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I think it is far more accurate to say that facts are "verified information" than it is to say they are "truths." Truth, as indicated in the article in the link deal in terms of "objective reality," where as facts are beliefs about reality that typically have been substantiated to the point that there is little disagreement about them. It's my belief that this opening sentence was first edited for a purpose related to the "get to philosophy" link structure, and not to increase accuracy. I agree with the decision to semi-protect the article to stop this nonsense. However, at this point the article is semi-protected in a less accurate configuration, and should be reverted to "verified information" and protected in that form. Nhorning (talk) 07:10, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

That sounds more like the fact/truth distinction I might have come up with intuitively (though I still would like to see some source for it, not a dictionary).
But it doesn't fix the facts can refer to... problem. Facts don't refer to anything, as far as I know. That's not the biggest problem this article suffers from, not by any means, but it's a particularly irritating one. Would it be reasonable to change facts can refer to... to facts are... ? --Trovatore (talk) 09:23, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
I think I just fixed "facts can refer to" in the article, but "provable concept" is still a problem, in my view. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 15:37, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I still don't think that quite captures what me mean by "fact". The verification of a fact is different from the fact itself. It seems to me that a "fact" must, in every case, have two properties. First it is a statement. That is, a chair cannot be a fact. And it is distinguished from other statements by a correspondence with reality. I'm going to be bold, and edit accordingly.

It reads a bit better, but I think a fact is a statement is misleading. A statement is expressed in language; facts need not be. They're more like propositions, that is, meanings of statements, than like statements themselves. --Trovatore (talk) 18:40, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't really mind what the opening sentence says exactly, but I took out the World Almanac link and went back to an old version.Meesher (talk) 07:52, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Without retracting my criticism of Rick's version, I think the version you reverted to is very much worse. Facts do not refer to anything, and "provable concept" makes no sense whatsoever. --Trovatore (talk) 08:04, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Casting facts as statements is inaccurate. "I am sitting in a chair." is a statement, but the fact of sitting and the statement are distinguishable, since the statement is not necessary to the fact. I prefer the language of the OED, "something that has really occurred or is actually the case." That plainly comes from the earlier sense of "a thing done or performed." __ Just plain Bill (talk) 15:12, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Like I said, I'm not partial to any one definition - I'll leave you all to it - I just didn't think it should advertise World Almanac. I understand there's a big discussion going about the most perfect opening sentence, but I certainly didn't revert to a version worse than what was there when I changed it.Meesher (talk) 15:52, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Fact vs truth[edit]

I'll start by saying I'm not an expert in these things. But I would have hoped to see a deeper discussion here.

The word "fact" definitely does not imply truth. Fowler (perhaps in Modern English Usage) had a nice example of a sentence showing this. It was something like

Fowler's facts are wrong, so his advice is likely wrong as well.

But WP not being a dictionary, we don't necessarily have to talk about all meanings of the word; we want to discuss the concept of fact, presumably as philosophers use it.

So what distinction do philosophers make between fact and truth? I don't know. I would have hoped to find out from this article.

My intuition would be something like the following: Truth is ontological, fact is epistemological. Truth is just about the way things are, whether we can find out or not. To say something is a fact, on the other hand, we should already have found out.

As an example, if I say it is true that Jimmy Hoffa is dead, according to the disquotational theory of truth, I am saying neither more nor less than Jimmy Hoffa is dead. I am allowed to say Jimmy Hoffa is dead without proof, just because it's what I think, taking on myself the risk of being wrong, and therefore I am allowed to say it is true that Jimmy Hoffa is dead under the same terms.

However if I say it is a fact that Jimmy Hoffa is dead, I am expected to have proof, or at least know in general terms where such proof might be found. --Trovatore (talk) 19:22, 23 August 2011 (UTC)


────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

My normal response to this sort of argument is to point out that Wikipedia simply reflects what the sources say, and to suggest trying to find a source supporting your preferred wording. In this case, however, the source ( http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=fact ) says this:

  • (n) fact (a piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred) "first you must collect all the facts of the case"
  • (n) fact (a statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened) "he supported his argument with an impressive array of facts"
  • (n) fact (an event known to have happened or something known to have existed) "your fears have no basis in fact"; "how much of the story is fact and how much fiction is hard to tell"
  • (n) fact (a concept whose truth can be proved) "scientific hypotheses are not facts"

I don't see that source actually supporting the "truths" mentioned in "Facts can refer to truths...". " The phrase "a concept whose truth can be proved" is close but subtly different.

I would also question why that particular dictionary. Why not http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fact, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fact or http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fact? --Guy Macon (talk) 03:44, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Partridge's example is easily read as a metaphorical use of "fact", ie
Your "facts" are wrong
Your so-called "facts" are wrong

etc. However such metaphors are usually kept separate from literal meaning. 1Z (talk) 14:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

So first of all, I don't have a preferred wording; I think that was clear from what I said. In any case, though, dictionaries are extremely poor sources for encyclopedia articles. As I said a couple of times, we are not in the business of defining words; we're in the business of talking about the things the words refer to.
Anything sourced to a dictionary might almost as well not be sourced at all. What we need are secondary sources (a dictionary is more like a tertiary source) explaining what the concept of fact means in context; i.e. presumably what it means to philosophers. --Trovatore (talk) 10:13, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Lead[edit]

In ordinary conversation, the words "proposition" and "statement" mean the same thing, and I think "statement" is clearer. I don't see the harm in mentioning one source of facts, and "The World Almanac and Book of Facts" is a widely accepted example. However, I also don't want to start a revert war, so I'm not making any changes to the article at this time.

I also have a general comment. Technically, two plus two is not four, but rather the number represented by the word two plus the number represented by the word two is the number represented by the word four. But we should avoid splitting hairs. Thus, we can say "a fact is a proposition" even though we know really the fact is the idea expressed by the words of the proposition.

Rick Norwood (talk) 15:32, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I disagree with using either "statement" or "idea" as a primary, generally applicable, description of what a fact is. The fact of the birds chirping in the room where I sit is neither a statement nor an idea. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 15:50, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

You make a good point. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Can we go with "something that has really occurred or is actually the case" then? Of course, the article goes on to refine that and expand on it, but for the lead it seems about right. The whole business of "corresponding to reality" leads to a different set of logical problems, and should be cut. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 16:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm ok with "A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case." Rick Norwood (talk) 20:42, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I have gone and made it so. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:21, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

"The fact of the birds chirping in the room where I sit is neither a statement nor an idea". OTOH encyclopaedias are said to contain facts, and they don't contain cheeping birds. For some reason, no one seems to be able to grasp that the "true statement" definition and the "actual event" definition are both valid meanings of "fact", so the lede just gets kicked backwards and forwards. This has been going on for years. 1Z (talk) 22:59, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Let's do try to keep at the top of our minds the fact (!) that we are not charged with defining the word fact. That's for dictionaries. Our goal is to describe what facts are as an object of study to (presumably) philosophers (I say philosophers mostly by default, because I can't think who else would treat facts as a category or object of study).
That's assuming there is such an object of study, a proposition for which there seems as yet no direct evidence in the history of this page. If there is not, maybe the article should just be deleted. --Trovatore (talk) 23:16, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
  • According to the manual of style, the lead is meant to give an overview of the subject.
  • The article has a section on fact in philosophy.
  • To say an almanac or other book contains facts is a colloquial way of saying the book contains a record of factual statements.
This is a fairly short article, so the lead can be proportionally brief. In what specific ways does the lead need to be improved? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 23:58, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
A better question might be directed to the long-term editors still active here: is there a previous version of the lead which gained consensus support? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 00:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I've dug this up from June 2007
Generally, a fact is something that is the case, something that actually exists, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.[4][5] There is a range of other uses, depending on the context. Philosophers and scientists are interested in facts because of their relation to truth.
1Z (talk) 12:03, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
That seems to work nicely, with the "range of other uses" able to cover things like the facts found in books. I'd like to see events given some prominence, along the lines of "something that is the case, an event which has really occurred, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation." __ Just plain Bill (talk) 12:41, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm happy to add in "an event that has already occurred". 1Z (talk) 15:58, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

So we are currently on:

Generally, a fact is something that is the case, something that actually exists, an event which has really occurred, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.[6][7] There is a range of other uses, depending on the context. Philosophers and scientists are interested in facts because of their relation to truth.

1Z (talk) 16:05, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't like "range of other uses", because again that's talking about the word "fact". We're not talking about the word, or we shouldn't be. If there's nothing to say except talking about the word, the article should probably be deleted. --Trovatore (talk) 17:12, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Talking about the word fact is going to be rather unavoidable, because it is not umabiguous.1Z (talk) 12:45, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
The word "fact" is a tag which labels a range of encyclopedic topics. This article is about those topics. I don't see a problem with that. To avoid confusion, it makes sense to say something like: "the term fact refers to" and then list the possibilities, such as the ones in the June 2007 version. The sections of the article, as they expand, ought to have encyclopedic descriptions of the various uses laid out in the lead overview. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 11:44, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Distinct meanings should have separate articles. Encyclopedia articles are not dictionary entries. Now, I agree that there is some wiggle room to include concepts that are different on the borderlines (e.g. natural number is one article, not two based on whether or not you include zero).
But my concern is still that we are not treating any single referent of the word fact as a well-specified object of study. I am not sure whether such an object of study really exists, as distinct from, say, truth. If it does not, then fact should probably be just a redirect to truth. If it does exist, then we need references that really talk about that thing, rather than about the word fact. --Trovatore (talk) 19:31, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Links in the lead[edit]

As it stands now, there are no links to more fundamental principals which was always the case prior to the current edit war.

From the OED:

Fact: "Something that has *really* occurred or is actually the case; something certainly known to be of this character; hence, a particular truth known by actual observation or authentic testimony, as opposed to what is merely inferred, or to a conjecture or fiction; a datum of experience, as distinguished from the conclusions that may be based upon it."

Really: "In reality; in a real manner. Also: in fact, actually."

Something's "reality" is foundational to its being a fact. If there is a well thought out entry for "Reality" it only makes sense to follow though to it. --Xefer (talk) 17:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Despite what the edit summary says, the OED wording hasn't been restored. The current wording includes the peculiar phrase "corresponding to experience", which seem like a portmanteau of "given by experience" and "corresponding to reality". It also omits the (I think useful) contrasts with fiction, and for that matter with value. 1Z (talk) 12:56, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

My edit summary referred to the OED wording "something that has really occurred or is actually the case" which appears as sense number 4 in a 1984 paper copy of the compact unabridged version. I have put the lead back to the following:
Generally, a fact is something that is the case, something that actually exists, an event which has really occurred, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.[8][9] There is a range of other uses, depending on the context. Philosophers and scientists are interested in facts because of their relation to truth.
Given Xefer's involvement with the "get to philosophy" business, I believe any links in the lead must be scrutinized for the value they actually add to the encyclopedia. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 13:23, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
So, Bill, what happened to discussing and agreeing on a lede? 1Z (talk) 15:00, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
It seems to be scattered all over this fragmented page. The version I most recently restored is the one from June 2007, as amended with "an event which has really occurred." That 2007 version is the one which you offered in response to "is there a previous version of the lead which gained consensus support?" That's the closest I've seen to consensus here lately. I am definitely not in favor of Rick Norwood's subsequent change to that. See below. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 15:30, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Fact and truth[edit]

Facts are true, but we usually reserve "truth" for a higher level of discourse. "Today is Tuesday" is a fact. "All men are created equal" is a truth. Should the article say anything about this? Rick Norwood (talk) 14:59, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Only if it can be reliably sourced.1Z (talk) 16:02, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Since everybody knows what the word "fact" means, there is no need to make the first sentence so wordy.[edit]

There have been several good versions, but the current version seems to me very bad, so I'm going to take another stab at crafting a lead that is short and to the point. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:59, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

OK: first the lede is under discussion so you should not have made undiscussed changes.1Z (talk)
Secondly:it is not the case that everyone knows what "fact" means. It is actually a very complex subject and requires specialised knowledge of philosophy and other areas. That is the whole problem of the page: people see a four letter word, and they think they must know all about it. So they put in some off-the-cuff definition...which someone else comes and along and changes...and so on ad infinitum. The problem is that a difficult subject is introduced by a short and familiar word. If it were called noumenon or somesuch jargon, this problem wouldn't arise. (cf the edit warring on time which has resulted in a ban) 1Z (talk) 14:47, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
And why didn't you restore a "good" version? If was a version that had already been discussed, that might avoid this whole tedious cycle being repeated yet again.1Z (talk)
Rick's most recent change is not optimal, in my view, and does not convey an encyclopedic sense of depth. In particular, the random examples detract from the generality of the overview. I would like to see a "good" version restored, but I've been making a lot of changes to the article lately, and will wait a while to see if a fresh consensus emerges. -- Just plain Bill (talk) 15:38, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Dictionary refs[edit]

I have to object strenuously to not one, but two, references to dictionaries in the opening sentence.

Dictionaries are generally not good sources for encyclopedia articles. They are tertiary sources, not secondary, and we want mostly secondary with occasional primary mixed in. Tertiary sources are sometimes just barely better than nothing at all, but they should be removed as soon as relevant secondary sources are found.

Moreover, our function is not that of a dictionary; our main purpose in the "definition" part of the lead is not to define the word, but rather to introduce the subject of the article. I am still unclear on what the subject of the article actually is; I would like that clarified. In the mean time, dictionary refs don't serve that function. --Trovatore (talk) 19:43, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

consensus[edit]

peterdjones reverted my version "per consensus". What consensus? I certainly haven't seen one here. There have been several reasonably good versions but the current version is repetitious and awkward. As for the dictionary definition, certainly dictionaries are often used to support definitions in Wikipedia. Wikipedia isn't a dictionary, but that doesn't mean that Wikipedia doesn't use words to mean what they mean in the dictionary. If my version is unacceptable, let's go back to an earlier version. Rick Norwood (talk) 00:28, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm sure WP has lots of refs to dictionaries. WP has lots of suboptimal things in general.
References to dictionaries are almost always bad. The exception would be when you're discussing words as words (say, if you need to source the fact that a certain verb has a certain past tense). --Trovatore (talk) 00:51, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

References to dictionaries are most useful when people disagree about what words mean. If, for example, one group of editors argues that "liberal" means favoring freedom and equality, and another group of editors argues that "liberal" means people who hate America, a dictionary is really the only way to settle the issue. What we have here, however, is not a disagreement about the meaning of the word, but a disagreement about felicitous wording for the lead, so I should have have let myself get distracted by the side issue of the usefulness of dictionaries. The question here is not so much what we say as how we say it. Rick Norwood (talk) 19:36, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

I was looking this over because the "philosophy game" thing came up again at the truth article. No Rick, I absolutely disagree with you on your second sentence. Sourcing the meaning of liberal to a dictionary is completely unacceptable. I repeat myself; the only time I can imagine a dictionary being an adequate source for a Wikipedia article is when the fact being sourced is about the word-as-a-word (for example, the conjugation of a verb) and not about its meaning. --Trovatore (talk) 17:55, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

"Verifiability" link nonsense[edit]

Seems to be a persistent tendency to wrap a wikilink around "verifiability" in the lead. Since [[verifiability]] redirects to the computer topic of Formal verification, it has no business being linked in the lead of this article. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 16:00, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 4 April 2012[edit]

Please make verifiability (at the beginning of the page) a link

AsherPicklebutt (talk) 18:46, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Please see the section just above and note where the verifiability link redirects. Vsmith (talk) 19:20, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

facts give information about stuff you need for school.It helps to know about(cats,dogs,and more)just look it up and u will know what it means! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.16.3.103 (talk) 22:18, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

"Proof" wikilink in lede[edit]

Is there some context I'm missing for the bizarre edit war over whether the lede should wikilink the word "proven" to "Proof (truth)"? It's been new accounts or IPs removing it over the past couple of days, but User:9E2 gave the bizarre edit summary (addressing an apparently unrelated vandal) of "Nice try, 222.126.241.62. By moving the link to ”proof (truth)”, “experience” becomes the first real link and the “game” goes on. Subsequent edits removed the (relevant) link to “proof (truth)” completely."

What's going on? --McGeddon (talk) 08:33, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi there, I’m sorry I didn’t see this until now. I’ll try to explain what is going on. Forgive me if this doesn’t make sense, but it’s late, I’m sleepy, my brain is working slowly and English is not my native language (= bad combination). First of all: 222.126.241.62 is not the correct address. I meant that 220.something address (just copied the wrong one). I’ll just call him/her IP220 from now on. I guess he/she used the 222.126.241.62 address to revenge the reverts, I don’t know.
Anyway, there is a “Philosophy game” going on. Its goal is to “prove” that everything is built on philosophy or something like that. I don’t know where it comes from, but the rules go something like this: Click the first real link in a randomly chosen article (that is: skip the links in brackets and those that lead to sister projects or external sources). Then repeat until you reach philosophy. If this chain does not eventually end up at philosophy, then edit the article so that clicking the first link eventually does take you to the philosophy article.
The second link in this article is “experience”. If you click the first link of that article, you’ll end up at “concept”, then “idea”. Do this a few more times and you’re at “philosophy”. However, the first link (which is “proof (truth)”) will eventually take you back to “fact” (not to “philosophy”). The rules of this stupid game will then require you to 1) remove the first link (even if it is relevant) or 2) create a link earlier in the article. If you look through the article’s history you will find that every now and then people (typically IPs or newly created users with no other edits) link “verifiability” to a completely unrelated article about verifiability in logic and mathematics. People have also removed the “proven” link (which links to “proof (truth)”).
What IP220 did was something that was a bit more creative. He/she did not remove the proof link. He/she just swapped it with “experience” by linking a later occurence of the word “proof” to “proof (truth)” instead. The sentence containing the new link was rewritten in the next edit, so that the word “proof” – and the link – were eliminated. The result was that clicking the first link would eventually take you to “philosophy” and that there now was no link to “proof (truth)” (since IP220 unlinked the original one). In other words, the article had lost an important link just because some people think Wikipedia is a toy.
Although this case wasn’t that serious, some other cases of “philosophy gaming” have reduced the quality of the article. Sometimes a sentence is rewritten so that its whole meaning is changed. In some cases sentences or important parts of them are removed. However, in most cases links are removed or inserted. If a link is inserted, then it’s often a irrelevant link (let’s say link universal to universe) or a self-explaining word (like inserting a link to language in an article about a language).
Conclusion: philosophy gaming is in my opinion vandalism and is reducing the quality of Wikipedia. Therefore it should be stopped. 9E2 (talk) 01:33, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Ugh, sorry for missing earlier threads on this problem, I was only searching the talk page for "proof" and nothing else stood out as relevant, without the context. Thanks for the explanation. --McGeddon (talk) 16:14, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 29 October 2012[edit]

Add soft link for Verifiability in definition (first sentence) to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability. 115.112.231.107 (talk) 14:01, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Not done. The article WP:verifiability is about verifiability in the strictly limited context of Wikipedia policy. This is a general article. - DVdm (talk) 14:11, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

This article is difficult to understand[edit]

Thank you for trying to tackle this difficult-to-accurate-define word. Those of us who obsess over this particular word would appreciate a more concise, easy-to-follow explanation. Since the word has minor variation of a basic definition, could you please re-write this article in concise, easy-to-understand wording? For example, could you provide the definition in fact as a gauge as truth versus fact as a gauge of being provable? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.47.64.4 (talk) 16:03, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

There has been a great deal of controversy in the creation of this article, and it seems to me to have achieved an admirable combination of accuracy and accessibility. Can you point out a particular sentence you find unclear? Rick Norwood (talk) 17:15, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
May I suggest that an example can be found in the section "Fact in Science":
In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.[20] (For an example, see Evolution as theory and fact.)
The parenthesized expression certainly doesn't seem to me to be an example, although it has been sitting there for several years. If it said "for a counterexample" I might understand it. I might also add that the cited article is certainly not easy to understand.
Evolution cannot be described as "an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory". It certainly is a hypothesis or theory, and most ordinary people would accept that it is a 'fact' in the informal meaning of the term which is that it is so well demonstrated that it is impossible to disbelieve it. But that is not the meaning of the word as it is used here. Chris55 (talk) 17:26, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 16 June 2014[edit]

Please change the term "proven" in the second sentence to the term "demonstrated" - see the following for details: The second sentence in the entry for "Fact" is as follows, "The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience." The use of the word "proven" is problematic as following the "proven" link to the wiki "proof" page one finds, "A proof is sufficient evidence or an argument for the truth of a proposition." However in most peoples minds the word "Proof" is synonymous with the use of "Proof" in logic Formal_proof or mathematics Mathematical_proof which is beyond further question. The new wording using the word "demonstrated" is a better match for the definition used under the proof link [10] "sufficient evidence or an argument for the truth of a proposition". This proposed change would change the second sentence to, "The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience." This change would have the description of a "Fact" apply to more situations as it does not affect the meaning in a general sense or under other specific senses but is closer to the way the term "Fact" is used in a scientific context - see the wiki entry [11] for "Proof" which has many contexts under which the term is used but science or under a scientific context is not one. Dtheis (talk) 19:30, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

 Done DJAMP4444 18:39, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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can't edit - Pascal Engel[edit]

For some reason, I can't edit this article although I am registered and logged in.

I wanted to change "Engel's version" in the section "Correspondence and the slingshot argument" to: Pascal Engel's version. Vincedevries (talk) 15:10, 16 August 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ OED_2
  2. ^ OED_2
  3. ^ Pragmatism and Other Writings, William James, edited by Giles Gunn, Penguin2000, page 89 ISBN 0 14 043735 5
  4. ^ Chamber's Dictionary, ninth edition
  5. ^ Concise OED definition
  6. ^ Chamber's Dictionary, ninth edition
  7. ^ Concise OED definition
  8. ^ Chamber's Dictionary, ninth edition
  9. ^ Concise OED definition
  10. ^ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_(truth)
  11. ^ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_(truth)