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I often find myself in need of a short expression, to emphasize that what I just wrote (not quoted) is actually true. In cases of paradoxes or illogical truths for instance, like The Monty Hall Problem.

It is not always possible to explain that something is actually true, nor does it look pretty to constantly add "(This is actually the truth, despite it seeming to be incorrect)" at the end of what might just be a 2-digit number in a small table-cell.

Apart from adding an asterix, or footnote, with an explanation at the bottom of the page, is there a [sic]-like alternative? An abbreviation that simply says "This is actually true/the correct value despite looking incorrect/seeming illogical"?


Assuming none exist, the only way to get a new phrase or abbreviation into the language/dictionary is to start using it... With that in mind, just for laughs, what would you prefer as a new expression?:

cbt - "counterintuitive but true"

sya - "surprising yet accurate"

tis - "this is so" (I think we'd best avoid "this is true"...)

Or perhaps cor for "correct"? Could create some confusion as it is already used as an expression in british, but I kinda like that idea.

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3 Answers

When I see "[sic]" after a word or phrase, I expect the sicced word to be obviously wrong, as in the M-W Online definition's example: Definition of SIC

"intentionally so written —used after a printed word or passage to indicate that it is intended exactly as printed or to indicate that it exactly reproduces an original (said he seed [sic] it all)"

Seeing a lot of "[sic]"s in a paper isn't pleasant. If you're talking about something like the Monty Hall problem, it's probably best to include a footnote or an explanation rather than a "[sic]". If there are a lot of paradoxical or incorrect statements in quoted material, then I'd use a superscript * to indicate that. If you're paraphrasing someone else and want to indicate errors, I'd also use some kind of footnote and superscript symbol if there are more than two.

I don't know of any abbreviation that meets your criteria, but you might try abbreviating verbatim as "(vbt)" if you really want an abbreviation instead of a superscript symbol + footnote combo.

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The closest possibility I can find is Q.E.D., although admittedly this is not precisely what you are looking for. There may be no single word or abbreviation to suit your purpose here.

An important side note: "actually true" is redundant. If something is true, it is true. "Actually" adds nothing. You wouldn't say "it's truly true," but even though "actually" only means "truly," we are comfortable with it because it sounds different. (Consider the opposite: If something is not true, do you feel compelled to say it is "actually" not true? I don't think so. Saying it is not true works fine.)

I understand the desire to add redundancy for emphasis, but we should believe in the completeness of the key word. For improved clarity and elegance of expression, I suggest we learn to avoid such phrases as "entirely complete," "basically fundamental," "inaudibly silent," "fully sufficient," etc., etc.

Also, "asterix" is a misspelling. The word is "asterisk" (and not "asterik," as many people mispronounce it).

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Why would you recommend Q.E.D.? QED = Quod est demostrandum, in the OP's case he is not writing a proof but simply stating some facts which are counterintuitive. When reading something I'd expect a proof before a QED not just a statement. –  Bakuriu Feb 24 '13 at 10:21
    
Counterintuitive is the word I was looking for. –  LazyJones Feb 24 '13 at 12:55
    
"Counterintuitive but true". Or "This may be surprising, but it is true". I guess I'll use the asterisk (thanks for the correction, John) or footnote... –  LazyJones Feb 24 '13 at 13:12
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If you wanted to create your own, I'd avoid a 3-letter SMS-like syntax, like the [sya] in your example.

The word sic is from Latin; it means "thus, so". I'm no Latin expert, but, without any further expertise, I'd be inclined to go with [inop.], which could be an abbreviation for either inopinatus (meaning "unexpected, surprising") or inopinabilis (meaning "inconceivable, surprising, paradoxical").

Of course, you'd have to explicitly define it up front, since no one would know what it meant unless you did so.

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