Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview
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Caveat Lector: "Let the Reader Beware" A General Semantic View of the Potential for Misevaluation in Medical Research Communication 1

Norman S. Blackman

Firsthand reports of direct experience comprise a relatively small portion of the speech of most of us. Nevertheless, firsthand reports, of direct experience must form the basis of our entire language structure unless we are to live in a world of words that bears a disordered relationship to the world of non-verbal reality.

Wendell Johnson2

The validity of every scientific medical publication depends on the evaluation/judgments of its readers. These are determined primarily by the authors' investigative procedure, the quality of their data, and ultimately the logic of their assertions, conclusions, and recommendations. Most of these are judged today by the criteria of aristotelian logic which permits only one of two judgments. That is, they are considered either absolutely true or absolutely false. But going beyond the Aristotelian logic, of "true" and "false," general semanticist Anatol Rapoport3, 4 chose to designate two additional practical categories; that is, they also might be considered indeterminate and/or meaningless, etc.

Using general semantic non-Aristotelian logic, examples of each of the categories are presented in the following case reports.


Case Report 1 (Meaningless Assertions)

The relationship between meat, fat, and fiber in their diet and the cause of colon cancer in women.

In 1984 the American Journal of Epidemiology published a medical paper about a large number of women, asserting that a simple self-administered die


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