Re: Credibility of the Internet (was: User-centered design)

Subject: Re: Credibility of the Internet (was: User-centered design)
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 11:58:06 -0500

> From: Steven Feldberg [mailto:steven -at- ICU -dot- COM]
> Tracy wrote:
> > If I believe I know the truth, I can say "this is true."
> Yes, of course. We all do that everyday. I guess what it
> boils down to is:
> once you have stated, "this is true," how well prepared are
> you to answer
> to, "How do you *know* this is true?"

Why even bother with "this is true"?
Just say what your evidence is, unless the listener has a particular reason to take your word for it. And within certain relationships, the authority of the speaker is a substitute for evidence. Teachers often present facts without explaining the evidence underlying those facts, and the students take it as true because the teacher is supposed to be an expert. In tech writing, the reader tends to believe what you say about your product because you supposedly have inside knowledge. Because readers trust us without our presenting evidence, we have a special responsibility to be right.

mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
nax -at- execpc -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 1999 10:45 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: Credibility of the Internet (was: User-centered design)
> time, hammered
> into my head by a newspaper editor who threw that at me every
> time a fact
> was presented in one of my pieces, and has now been picked up
> by my kids :)
> So how *do* you know this is true? If the answer is "because
> I just know it
> is" then, yes, the recipient must "decide whether to believe
> [you] actually
> know what [you're] talking about." (And I'm sure that's good
> enough for me!)
> BUT if you can answer, "because I read it in a Peter Lewis article in
> Tuesday's Times" or "because I went to the library, reviewed
> the patent
> records, and found to my satisfaction that so-and-so actually
> did invent the
> whatsit according to patent number 999 which was filed ....".
> If you can
> answer like that, the message recipient is no longer forced
> to rely on an
> on-the-fly assessment of your "belief" in what you're saying.
> And even if
> the question doesn't get asked--and it almost never is--then
> at least you
> have a citable basis for *knowing* what you know.
> No more, no less than that.
> /Steven
> Feldberg Communications
> steven -at- icu -dot- com
> ==============================================================
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