• "We are all making assumptions, as none of us except ____ were present..."

In such context wherein the italicized portion of the sentence has not actually been validated by the speaker, thus immediately qualifying the latter part of the sentence itself as an assumption.

I'm hesitant to call it "paradoxical", and I'm not sure "hypocritical" is much better either. I can't put a finger on it, but what would be a more suitable descriptor (not constrained to single-word or expression) that references the contradictory nature elicited from the statement in context?

  • 2
    Presumably the speaker has some knowledge about who was present, even if they weren't there. I can know to a practical level of certainty who was in a room without going in the room. Of course I can't know if there was someone who materialised there for a second or hid in the corner unseen by anyone, but generally we discount such highly improbable possibilities. All sentences require assumptions (except perhaps tautologies).
    – Stuart F
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:11
  • "We are all making assumptions, as none of us with the possible exception of X were present" is certainly more felicitous (though if X has just said that they had been there, the precisionist statement is likely to be provocative). The original statement repeats the error it refers to (making a judgement with insufficient evidence), But synonyms of 'hypocrisy' all seem to involve criticism of character, not allowing for honest mistakes. Feb 23, 2022 at 12:03
  • I have to apologize to everyone, as I was trying to keep the OP concise but in the end only made the context too unspecific. @EdwinAshworth You've got it right on the nail, that's exactly the scenario I was attempting to portray.
    – Arctiic
    Feb 24, 2022 at 6:47
  • A 'paradox' is a seeming contradiction of ideas. There are no two ideas here that contrast. 'Hypocrisy' is doing something in contradiction to what one advises. There is no hypocrisy here (no one is saying one thing but doing another. You see two things here that differ - I see maybe people making assumptions and saying that people are making assumptions and that's it. If you want answers then you need to edit your question to explain exactly what it is in the situation that needs a label (or short descriptive phrase).
    – Mitch
    Mar 25, 2022 at 14:22

2 Answers 2


Your title asks about the sentence. The italicised part reveals the whole sentence as speculative, conjectural or suppositional. As such, it is open to contradiction, correction or refutation.


the fact of believing something is true without any proof or something that you believe to be true without any proof

based on a guess and not on information

based on how something seems and not on proof

  • Apologies if it wasn't clear, but I am asking about the whole sentence, specifically a descriptor that describes the contradictory or redundant nature of how the speaker directs "We are all making assumptions" at the recipient in a deprecatory connotation, despite proceeding that statement with the latter part of the sentence which utilizes the italicized portion as a fallacious basis for support.
    – Arctiic
    Feb 23, 2022 at 8:57
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    There is nothing fallacious here. First, as Stuart F has already explained, one can have knowledge about who was there, without having oneself been there. Second, the first part of the sentence is not about the one exceptional person who was present, but about everybody else, so the support for it is meant to be provided by the fact that the everybody else was absent, not by the italicised words about the exception.
    – jsw29
    Feb 23, 2022 at 17:00
  • @jsw29 I'm quite ashamed to be so inadequate at conveying my meaning here, but let me try this again. What I mean to say is that the context of this statement has already been established by myself (OP), and thus as an omnipotent observer, you have already verified through irrefutable means that the speaker has not in fact validated that ____ was actually present at the scene, making the basis for their derision itself the very thing they were foolishly deriding.
    – Arctiic
    Feb 24, 2022 at 7:08
  • 1
    @Arctiic, if that is so, then, according to you, yourself, there is nothing fallacious/paradoxical/self-contradictory or otherwise problematic within the sentence. If there is any kind of conflict in the scenario, it is between the critical attitude to others that the sentence expresses, and what you otherwise, from some sources outside the sentence, happen to know about the speaker's not taking such a critical attitude towards him/herself.
    – jsw29
    Feb 24, 2022 at 16:00

The issue seems to me to be more one of logic than of language (close as these two are). Without an even clearer context Edwin Ashworth helpfully supplies, there is no fully unambiguous answer.

Something happened for which, I assume one member of the friendship group has been accused or blamed. Whoever else may have been present is/are not making the accusation/complaint. Otherwise the OP loses its point. Similarly, the absence of the accusers from the scene of the crime (secreting one of the silver teaspoons in his trousers) or faut-pas (putting the clotted cream on the scone before the strawberry jam) is provided as a fact: otherwise the OP question would be just a wild assertion.

Either way, if the outraged accusers/critics were not present, the friends of X are logically correct to deduce that there accusations are invalid as evidence, and in the absence of any other direct evidence (one of the accusers bumped into X immediately after tea and the teaspoon was jolted out of the hole in the back pocket into the full view of the witness), X's defenders can correctly say that the accusations are unsubstantiated. The absence of X's friends from the alleged episode is irrelevant. The burden of proof lies with the accuser not the accused.

Even if, on the other hand, on the other hand the episode involved a charge of bad manners or boasting or borderline aggressiveness, the same would be true. This time the accusers are picking up gossip from those that were there.

If, of course, someone video'd the episode, even then, X's friends would need to see the video themselves before just accepting gossip.

So strictly speaking the argument that the claim of X's defenders that the absence of the accusers from the episode invalidates their story is itself invalidated by their (the defenders') own absence is itself unsound.

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