You may have seen studies that test how experts evaluate verbal expressions of uncertainty, such as (very) likely, in terms of probability values.
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One robust finding is that most probabilistic expressions may correspond with a wide range of probability values. 1/2

One of my PhD students, Leander Vignero, made a model in which some 'pragmatic speakers use this range to mislead others (without lying outright), while the listeners try to see through this weaseling.

His paper just appeared online with Erkenntnis: "Updating on Biased Probabilistic Testimony - Dealing with Weasels Through Computational Pragmatics".


@SylviaFysica very interesting. There might be something on that in linguistics, espeicially in cross-cultural linguistics because there might be differences between the languages.

@meow_factor For sure! I know this study has been repeated in Dutch (though - confusingly - they translated the Dutch words to English in their graphs). scholarlypublications.universi Not sure if/which other languages have been tested. It would certainly be interesting to have data for very different language families!

@SylviaFysica it's fascinating also because I am so not a numbers person. Give me words, and I am happy :D

@SylviaFysica Awesome! Leander must be really happy it has finally come out :D

@okf Yes! It's a huge relief, since this paper fulfills the requirement of single-authored publication = last hurdle for his admission to the defense.

@SylviaFysica I never doubted it was going to happen for him, but it's such a stressful hurdle. And a paper in Erkentniss is very, very good!

@SylviaFysica Thanks for this!

FWIW and OT (): this slipperiness is why, for and for the , we settled (after much wrangling) on only: "certain", "less certain", and "uncertain", enshrining these in controlled vocabularies for data entry. A colleague described anything else as "specious exactitude". Corresponds to prior art in text editing: appending a question mark to a "less-certain" assertion and making verbose caveat about an "uncertain" one.

@telliott Oh, I ❤️ "specious exactitude", which reminds me of Bruno de Finetti's "illusory exactness".

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