There are all sorts of ways language can communicate truth. Here are some solid facts for you:Read the whole thing. Last Saturday, a marine biologist was talking to me about the lack of biological diversity in North American crops, and I brought up the idea of genetically tailored blights in Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, a reference that netted a slightly puzzled look. Similarly, a theologian appeared perplexed when I asked him if he'd ever heard of noir, a natural question to me since we were discussing mankind's depravity. Scientifically and philosophically minded people love to elevate abstract thought, acting as though raw data and pure proposition reside on some high frame. Yet none of us have ever encountered an uninterpreted fact or evaluated an argument not couched in some form of human communication. As Dean remind us here, our job as writers lies in bridging the gap between argument and experience using the best words at our disposal.• People usually judge that more details mean someone is telling us the truth,But all these involve adding extra details or colour. What if we don't have any more details? What if we want to bump up the believability without adding to the fact-count?
• We find stories that are more vivid to be more true,
• We even think more raw facts make unlikely events more likely.
Just going more concrete can be enough according to a recent study by Hansen and Wanke (2010). Compare these two sentences:1. Hamburg is the European record holder concerning the number of bridges.lthough these two sentences seem to have exactly the same meaning, people rate the second as more true than the first. It's not because there's more detail in the second -- there isn't. It's because it doesn't beat around the bush, it conjures a simple, unambiguous and compelling image: you counting bridges.
2. In Hamburg, one can count the highest number of bridges in Europe.
Abstract words are handy for talking conceptually but they leave a lot of wiggle-room. Concrete words refer to something in the real world and they refer to it precisely. Vanilla ice-cream is specific while dessert could refer to anything sweet eaten after a main meal.
(Picture: CC 2010 by Thomas Hawk; Hat Tip: Tony Chavira)