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I was asked to referee a discussion recently; specifically, whether veracity and validity were perfectly synonymous -- and if not, "why?", and further to provide clear demonstrative examples in simple sentences.

While I asserted veracity refers to "truth", and validity was more aligned with "accuracy" independent of human distortion, I could not find the proper words to define the subtle distinction, outside of technical applications (I is an engineer...)

However, I later stumbled across a line from Great Grandpa: "They don't make cars like they used to."

Which ironically, is totally true. (technology, efficiency, materials, safety). So I might say the statement has veracity (It's ultimately true, and Geepaw believes it with no deceptive intent.) BUT, the statement lacks validity. It's clear from the context an implied "cars [not as good] as they used to be"

It's easier on the scientific/engineering side. Many articles simply strike "veracity" from the acceptable vocabulary. Which I would agree with, because an inanimate object cannot lack veractiy. An instrument cannot lie. It might be terribly inaccurate, uncalibrated, broken, or inapplicable, and therefore lack validity, but it doesn't lack veracity.

So, okay, help? Specifically I'd like to see simple sentences that lack veracity but not validity, and anything that lacks validity but has veracity.

Or are these sufficiently synonymous in "everyday speech" that I need to let it go?

On edit

Pretty sure this equine is necrodestined, and the answer to my last question is obvious.

While validity seems pretty well defined, I'm still having trouble with veracity, as some [good] answers seem to imply the "truth" is at least somewhat dependent on the speaker's state of mind. In other words, if I believe my untrue statement, it still has veracity. Sorry, I can't get there.

I phrased the original question as "non-technical" "everyday" speech, but as @Peter Point commented, veracity probably isn't an "everyday" word.

Ultimately, I submit that "true" and "valid" are binary terms, but at least veracity (possibly validity) has some sort of spectrum.

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    Most native born English speakers who have attained a secondary level of education would have little difficulty in understanding the word "validity" in everyday speech and written communication. This is not the case with "veracity". And, even if members of the public did know their meanings, most of those in the know would understand that the two words are not synonymous. – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 4:45
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    “I was not in class today because my grandmother died” is a valid reason for missing class, but truth be told I was actually skiing. – Jim Sep 19 '16 at 5:26
  • @PeterPoint While I agree with your analysis, I can't say there's enough dispositive there to answer my question. I'm specifically asking most of those what is their basis for the distinction. – SteveRacer Sep 19 '16 at 6:07
  • @Jim I have to disagree. Clearly the statement lacks veracity, but it also lacks validity in my litmus test. – SteveRacer Sep 19 '16 at 6:09
  • @SteveRacer - Then who would have to die for it to be a valid reason for missing class? – Jim Sep 19 '16 at 14:20
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I question the veracity of that statement

means that I don't accept that the statement, as a whole, is true.

I question the validity of that statement

means that there's a logical inference in the statement that does not follow.

For example, I would question the veracity of "He's dead!" (Maybe I saw a small movement that made me think he might actually be alive.)

But I would question the validity of "He's not moving! He must be dead!"

  • How much different is "He's not moving! He must be dead!" from "My grandmother died! I must miss class!" ? The root of this, methinks, is: Does a lack of veracity automatically imply an intent to deceive? (In "everyday" speech) Still, this is the most concise answer so far, so I'm giving you the accept. – SteveRacer Sep 22 '16 at 6:23
  • @SteveRacer - I asserted veracity refers to "truth", and validity was more aligned with "accuracy". I think veracity does refer to "truth". But I think validity has to do with whether in a logical statement (if p then q), q does actually follow from p. ... No, I don't think a lack of veracity automatically implies an intent to deceive. Someone could say something untrue (lacking in veracity) out of ignorance, or some kind of misunderstanding, for example. – aparente001 Sep 22 '16 at 6:30
  • About the grandmother -- you can edit your question if you want more info, but try to pose the additional question more clearly than it came out in the comment, please. I wasn't sure what you were asking. – aparente001 Sep 22 '16 at 6:32
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Veracity concerns truthfulness, while validity concerns correctness. Insofar as the two words mean different things, they are not interchangeable.

Validity but not veracity: "I didn't kill my mother."

Veracity but not validity: "There is no evidence for the theory of evolution."

With regard to the former, that I didn't kill my mother is a valid statement in that I didn't literally kill her. But I did kill her in the sense that I wasn't there when she needed me -- she died of a broken heart caused by me. My statement lacks veracity from both my point of view and the point of view of my dead mother.

With regard to the latter, that I don't believe there is any evidence for the theory of evolution is a truthful statement from my point of view -- I really believe that to be the case, so my statement has veracity -- but it's simply not a valid statement.

  • But surely changing the context to that of a murder trial, the answer, "I didn't kill my mother", should be seen as concerning veracity, not validity, in its use here. Granted that the question remains valid (as one to be asked) but in my example this switches to veracity when the accused replies in the negative. – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 5:50
  • I omitted that the answer "I didn't kill my mother" is in response to the DA's statement in court, "I put it to you that you killed your mother"! This a valid statement (posed as a question) but the answer goes to veracity. – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 6:18
  • Nice try, but I'm not buying. You didn't "kill your mother", despite any broken heart reductio ad absurdum you might offer. Part of the problem here, as I see it, is the seeming binary absolutes of "true" and "valid", while veracity and validity seem to have a quantifiable spectrum. Even though no definition of veracity I can find bears fruit, there's still the palpable feeling that lack of veracity requires deceptive intent. Still, +1 because "Thank you for playing" ... and I'm quite used to getting downvoted here when I admit I'm an engineer. [Veracity? Validity?] – SteveRacer Sep 19 '16 at 6:26
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    @SteveRacer Engineer vs. Lawyer...? I'm pleading the 5th on that one. – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 6:31
  • @PeterPoint Nice! Veracity without the burden of validity via avoidance... – SteveRacer Sep 19 '16 at 6:34
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"We would all be happier if we were less materialistic." is an example of a sentence which could have veracity, since the speaker could believe it wholeheartedly, but has no validity, since there is insufficient factual evidence to back up the assertion.

Indeed it could be argued that there are some people who would be downright miserable if it were not for their materialistic outlook. If this could be proved then the statement would be proved false since the word all implies the whole human race and one counter-example would destroy the argument.

However establishing the counter-example would be difficult if not impossible so the counter argument also has no validity!

  • So the veracity of a statement depends totally on the speaker's mindset? Sorry, just can't get there. Back, once again, to the accepted definition(s) of veracity, which in no permutation can I find any relativity to who said, and who listened. – SteveRacer Sep 22 '16 at 6:31
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    @SteveRacer How about the synonyms and definition 1.1 in the entry from the Oxford online dictionary, they look close enough to me. They don't mention who listens but do mention the intention (rather than the mindset) of the speaker. – BoldBen Sep 22 '16 at 17:01
  • BoldBen, without a doubt intention would have been a better word than mindset in my comment. – SteveRacer Feb 11 at 23:15

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