Can you "learn" something that isn't true?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by garbonzo, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. garbonzo Registered Senior Member

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    If someone says they learned that Obama was a Muslim, is it right to say they learned it? But even though we can't prove that isn't true, there isn't any evidence for it either. Is the word "learn" right here?
     
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  3. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    First of all you said "can't" when you meant "can.", and you say "either" without any necessity. So you should say,
    The answer is 'no'. 'Heard' is a better word to use.

    To answer, the POTUS's middle name is Hussein, but so what? What's in a name? If his name was Obama Republican Barrack would that change that fact that he is not a member of the Republican party?
     
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Please watch and tell me if you still think the same way afterwards.

     
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  7. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    You aren't serious, are you?
     
  8. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    This thread usurps the purpose of the linguistics forum. It belongs in Politics.

    Obama had no connection to his father as the marriage dissolved when he was too young to know him. His mother died when he was still a boy and he was raised by her parents in a plain vanilla Midwestern setting.

    Obama's respect for his father's heritage stem from the respect he learned from his mother, a cultural anthropologist, and from her parents and the society that accepted him and nurtured him, as the US in general was quickly learning to respect all cultures and races equally.

    Obama's knowledge of Islam stems from a collection of sacred books of all the major religions given him by his mother when he was quite young. Once a week she would encourage him to pick a book from the shelf and pick a selection in the book, read it, and discuss it.

    She took him to all the churches, temples and shrines near their homes in Hawaii and Indonesia.

    Therefore this religious and political attack is pure fraud, attempting to pervert the fact that Obama's knowledge of Islam is purely anthropological in nature.

    Hence, once again another inflammatory thread admits to a religious attack on academia.
     
  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not but I only asked if what the video was saying depicting him as a Muslim would influence how people thought about him.
     
  10. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    I get it as a metaphor. But, to literally learn something naturally means you know something which implies the truth. To say you learned something was a lie means you you actually know what is the truth. Without the truth you don't know that the lie is indeed a lie.
     
  11. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    13,212
    Of course you can "learn" something that isn't true... happens all the time.

    How do you think people grow up honestly thinking that mass-genocide is perfectly okay, or that the Holocaust never happened? That's what they are taught - even though it is a lie, they are taught it over and over and, eventually, they believe the lie.
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    If children don't "learn" to hate, what other word would you use?
     
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    Yes. It's quite possible to teach someone something that isn't true, so it's obvious then that it's quite possible for people to learn something that isn't true.
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No. He really means to say that we can't prove that Obama is not a Muslim. That may be a false statement but I'm sure it's exactly what he meant to write.

    Your point is well taken. If this thread heads in that direction I will either delete the offending posts, or simply close the thread.

    Fraggle Rocker
    Moderator
     
  15. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    It's not a bad question.
    It's more philosophy than Politics.
    To take the politics out of it completely:

    If someone says they learned that "All Swans are White", is it right to say they learned it?
    (some swans are black)

    They may well have been taught it, but can you say that they learned it if it is not true, or if it is not possible to say whether it is true or not?

    I would say that a person is right to say that they learned something if they believe it to be true,
    but if you know the thing to be false, you would not say that they learned it.
    You would say that they believed it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    People teach their children wrong things every day. That doesn't mean that the children didn't learn those things. They just learned something that is incorrect.
     
  17. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    If they have been taught something that is incorrect, they have learned nothing.
    If someone teaches you that when you ride a bicycle you must remove the wheels,
    have you learned anything about riding a bike?
     
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    4,493
    Clovis first.
    Migration into the americas through the "ice free corridor".
    Straight line evolution.
    Four glacial cycles.
    and, much much more

    I was taught much that was in error = not true.
    Then, I thought.
    Now, I'm confused.
     
  19. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    You'd have to test what you learned to find out if it was true. If you actually tried to ride a bike with no wheels, you'd learn that what you learned before was false.
     
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    What I'm saying is that when you say someone has learned something,
    you are making a judgement that what they were taught is true.

    If the thing they were taught is not true, you would say that they were taught it, not that they learned it.

    Example. You would say that:
    "In WWII, German children were taught that Jews were evil."
    not that:
    "In WWII, German children learned that Jews were evil."

    The second sentence gives credence to the proposal.

    That's why you can say, for example, "I learned that things were not so simple as I had been taught"

    I am open to changing my mind on this subject.
    Can anyone google to find some instances where someone says that they "learned" something that was false.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    2,959
    I would say that the message was sent and received, regardless of "truth"; learning is the receiver of teaching.

    I think that's putting too fine a point on it. If you want to be clear that (you think) the teaching was false, you should say, "In WWII, German children were taught wrongly that Jews were evil," or, "In WWII, German children learned the false idea that Jews were evil." It's better to clarify by adding more words than by honing the meaning of a few words.
     
  22. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Googling.
    There are 4 results for "learned the false idea"
    and 11,600 for "taught the false idea".
    There are 5 results for "learned Nazi ideology"
    and 4,200 for "taught Nazi ideology"
    The word learned is not generally used for things that are are later found to be false.

    It isn't a major issue.
    I wouldn't mention it if it wasn't the subject of this thread.
    All I am saying is that the OP does have a point.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014

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