RE: Information

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 11:52:17 BST

  • Next message: Robin Faichney: "Re: Information"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Information
    Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 11:52:17 +0100
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            <Is consensus anything more than collective opinion? The collective
    may be
    > comprised of experts in a field and their opinion(s) matter(s) more than
    > some dilletente with a non-standard word usage, but expert opinion is
    > still
    > opinion, just better than amateur opinion.>
            There is a subtle difference, in that through achieving consensus
    over the use of certain terms, alternatives are collectively excluded, and
    thus whilst in principle any usage is possible and open to individual
    opinion, in practice this cannot happen.

            When Robin says there's no "correct" usage for words, that does not
    preclude the situation where some words are socially far more plausible,
    acceptable, usable than others- so much so in fact that to try and
    idiosyncratically use either a different word for the same object, or the
    same word for a different object, becomes extremely difficult.

            In journalism studies there is a concept known as primary
    definition, whereby institutional sources often dominate the ways in which
    the news media represent issues and events (due to their superior authority
    and resources, and capacity to control flows of information), to the point
    where alternative viewpoints are essentially excluded. The fear is that
    such definitional control influence audience perceptions of events in a way
    unrelated to the reality of that event. A good example would be the war in
    Northern Ireland, persistently described, and known as the 'troubles'. It's
    not an uncontested theory, by any means, but it offers one way of thinking
    about how social processes narrow the definitional boundaries of using

            However personally abhorrant we may find holocaust denial, the
    criminalisation of such opinions (as in Austria and Germany, and probably
    elsewhere), is another good example. You're simply not allowed to express
    the opinion that the holocaust didn't happen, or wasn't planned, or what
    other stupid things neo-nazis think.

            That's why I put that element of absolute into the question to
    Robin. There are no absolute correct usages of words, but there are
    situationally correct and incorrect usages, and these are products of social


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