Fallacy vs myth

dark.resurrection

Senior Member
Farsi
Are these two words interchangeable, I double checked the words in my dictionary, and their definitions are almost the same
It's a fallacy/myth that the affluent give relatively more to charity than the less prosperous.
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Their definitions are fairly different. As the WR dictionary says, a fallacy is a deceptive or misleading notion, while a myth is a false story.
    Are these two words interchangeable,
    In your sentence either could be used. But they aren't always interchangeable.
     

    dark.resurrection

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    Their definitions are fairly different. As the WR dictionary says, a fallacy is a deceptive or misleading notion, while a myth is a false story.

    In your sentence either could be used. But they aren't always interchangeable.
    So a fallacy is a lie that some people tend to wear logic on top of them to try and hide it?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I'm sorry but I haven't understood what you're trying to say.

    A fallacy is an idea or principle that isn't true, or that's based on something incorrect.

    Take the illustration in the WR dictionary for example:
    a deceptive, misleading, or false notion; misconception: [countable] It's a fallacy to think that government will solve all our problems.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I don't think a "myth" is always and necessarily untrue. I would also say that "myths" are more commonly held.

    So I could make an argument to you only, and that argument could be a fallacy. But if I'm telling you about a myth then that will be known by more people than just me, regardless of whether or not it is true.

    In general it seems that "myth" has more slightly different definitions than "fallacy".
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    You can look at the definitions in Wikipeida and Merriam-Webster for example to see how there are other definitions. So 'yes', from what I can tell there are myths that can be true and some that can't be true. Since a fallacy by definition is untrue that's a key difference (even if most usages of "myth" may refer to untrue stories, or ones where the truth is unknown).
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Wikipedia has pages on things like origin myth and political myth which are principles or ideologies or beliefs, if those are the ones you're referring to. Here we're specifically referring to a myth of the sort described in the sentence:
    It's a fallacy/myth that the affluent give relatively more to charity than the less prosperous.
    Here, in the OP's context, this is the meaning that applies (WR dictionary): an invented story, fictitious person, etc.:[uncountable] His account of the event is pure myth. [countable] Her story is just a myth.
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Ok, I understand what you say, but there's still a difference. Even using the WR definitions you can clearly see that "myth" doesn't necessarily mean that the story is invented or untrue.

    - If the affluent don't give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" or a "fallacy".
    - If the affluent do give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" but not a "fallacy".

    That's the difference. The question is really how it's supposed to be read and understood. If you add for example the word "just" then "myth" is more likely to mean that something isn't true; "It's just a myth that the affluent give relatively more to charity than the less prosperous."
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Even using the WR definitions you can clearly see that "myth" doesn't necessarily mean that the story is invented or untrue.
    No, I can't. Possibly, just possibly, the definition of "myth" that refers to traditional/folk stories might be able to accommodate what you're saying, because a traditional story might have been based on something that actually happened, but all the other definitions refer to false or invented stories. Even a folk-story type myth is more likely to be made-up than true.

    In any case I think other definitions are irrelevant to this discussion, because the OP has supplied context to tell us which definition of "myth" he's concerned with.
    - If the affluent don't give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" or a "fallacy".
    - If the affluent do give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" but not a "fallacy".
    I can't follow your reasoning at all. If the affluent do give relatively more to charity, then it's neither a myth nor a fallacy.

    The OP's sentence, paraphrased and split into two sentences, is this: The affluent give relatively more to charity than the less prosperous. The previous statement is a fallacy/myth.
    The second sentence is saying that the first sentence isn't true.

    If you add for example the word "just" then "myth" is more likely to mean that something isn't true; "It's just a myth that the affluent give relatively more to charity than the less prosperous."
    The word "just" has no connection with any increased likelihood of a myth being untrue. My point is that a myth by definition refers to something untrue.

    It's a myth = It's a false story.
    It's just a myth = It's merely a false story.

    That's all the difference "just" makes.
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    No, I can't. Possibly, just possibly, the definition of "myth" that refers to traditional/folk stories might be able to accommodate what you're saying, because a traditional story might have been based on something that actually happened, but all the other definitions refer to false or invented stories. Even a folk-story type myth is more likely to be made-up than true.
    If the above is true then you're agreeing with me.

    In any case I think other definitions are irrelevant to this discussion, because the OP has supplied context to tell us which definition of "myth" he's concerned with.
    He asked if the words could be used interchangeably, and I provided one difference between the terms. A fallacy can by definition never mean "true", "myth" does not always equal "untrue".

    That's all I said.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    If the above is true then you're agreeing with me.
    No. I was making a concession, and regarding a definition that's not relevant to this thread.
    "myth" does not always equal "untrue".
    I disagree. You haven't provided any basis for that statement. I'm referring specifically to the word myth in the sense that it was used in the OP's sentence, not in terms like "origin myth" etc., which aren't relevant here.

    Whether you use "fallacy" or "myth" in the OP's sentence, the intended meaning is that the statement is untrue. If fallacy suggests an untruth while myth suggests a truth, the sentence would change meaning depending on which was used.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    - If the affluent don't give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" or a "fallacy".
    - If the affluent do give relatively more to charity then you can call it a "myth" but not a "fallacy".
    To go back to your post 9, what you've said above means that the word "myth" can be used whether that statement is true or not.

    The affluent give more to charity than the less prosperous.
    According to your post:
    if they don't (if the statement is untrue), it's a myth,
    and if they do, it's still a myth.:confused:
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I agree with Barque that myth as used in the OP can only refer to something that the speaker considers untrue.
    I don't think fallacy fits there because the term seems to refer more to the reasoning behind a statement rather than to a statement on its own.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    To go back to your post 9, what you've said above means that the word "myth" can be used whether that statement is true or not.

    The affluent give more to charity than the less prosperous.
    According to your post:
    if they don't (if the statement is untrue), it's a myth,
    and if they do, it's still a myth.:confused:
    Because the emphasis isn't always on the truth of the statement but about the quality of the story in a wider context. A myth based in truth is called a myth not because it's true but because of other qualities.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I don't think fallacy fits there because the term seems to refer more to the reasoning behind a statement rather than to a statement on its own.
    I disagree:
    (from here)
    fal•la•cy /ˈfæləsi/ n., pl. -cies.
    1. a deceptive, misleading, or false notion;
      misconception:[countable]It's a fallacy to think that government will solve all our problems.
    2. Philosophy faulty or erroneous reasoning:[uncountable]The statement was based on fallacy.
    3. a misleading or unsound argument:
    It doesn't appear to be solely about reasoning.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Because the emphasis isn't always on the truth of the statement but about the quality of the story in a wider context. A myth based in truth is called a myth not because it's true but because of other qualities.
    I think I understand your thought process, though I still disagree with what you're saying. You're using the word "myth" in a way similar to "trope" or "concept".

    If I've understood you right, you're saying that the statement "The rich give more to charity than the poor" is a myth because it may not be true, but may be a myth even if true because the statement itself is the myth.

    It doesn't work that way. When someone says "It's a myth that the rich give more to charity than the poor" he means "It's untrue that the rich give more to charity than the poor", and not "There's a concept/idea that says 'The rich give more to charity than the poor'".

    If it turns out to be true and the speaker still calls it a "myth", is it still a "myth"?
    If it turns out to be true it isn't a myth, and the speaker won't call it one any more.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I think I understand your thought process, though I still disagree with what you're saying. You're using the word "myth" in a way similar to "trope" or "concept".
    No I'm not using the word that way.

    If I've understood you right, you're saying that the statement "The rich give more to charity than the poor" is a myth because it may not be true, but may be a myth even if true because the statement itself is the myth.
    If I parsed what you just wrote correctly, then 'yes', something like that.

    To me Jesus as a historical figure is a myth. He might have been an actual historical figure that actually lived, he might not. It doesn't matter to me and what makes it "myth" isn't whether or not it is true but rather the function it has had in society. That's the other sense of the word.

    It doesn't work that way. When someone says "It's a myth that the rich give more to charity than the poor" he means "It's untrue that the rich give more to charity than the poor", and not "There's a concept/idea that says 'The rich give more to charity than the poor'".
    I understand what you're saying, but when people ask about two words and they don't know what they mean, then IF one word can contain some of what the other word means (untruth) it still doesn't necessarily mean that that's the intended context/meaning, because after all the person actually did ask about the meaning of the words.

    Further more, I was saying from the very beginning that the words aren't necessarily interchangeable, for different reasons. I also stated quite clearly that the difference I pointed out was in reference to a myth.

    If you want to argue that I shouldn't illustrate further difference between these two words because you think that the OP means something specific then fine. Argue that instead. You can't have your cake and eat it too, so either myths are always untrue or that's not the case. You already "conceded" that point to me so the only thing that remains is whether or not it's relevant here. Argue that instead. Outside of that we're at an impasse and can move on.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I'm afraid I couldn't follow much of your post but I'll try and reply to whatever I could follow.:)

    To me Jesus as a historical figure is a myth. He might have been an actual historical figure that actually lived, he might not. It doesn't matter to me and what makes it "myth" isn't whether or not it is true but rather the function it has had in society. That's the other sense of the word.
    If you say "Jesus is a myth", I'd understand you as saying Jesus didn't actually exist.

    I understand what you're saying, but when people ask about two words and they don't know what they mean, then IF one word can contain some of what the other word means (untruth) it still doesn't necessarily mean that that's the intended context/meaning, because after all the person actually did ask about the meaning of the words.
    I'm glad you understood what I was saying. I haven't understood anything of this paragraph after the first few words.

    I also stated quite clearly that the difference I pointed out was in reference to a myth.
    I haven't understood this either.

    If you want to argue that I shouldn't illustrate further difference between these two words because you think that the OP means something specific then fine. Argue that instead.
    No, I don't want to argue that, and I haven't argued that at any point. I have no idea where you got that from.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too, so either myths are always untrue or that's not the case.
    Yes, myths (in the specific meaning of the word that's the subject of this thread) are always untrue. I've been maintaining that throughout this thread, so your reference to me wanting to have and eat my cake is irrelevant.

    You already "conceded" that point to me so the only thing that remains is whether or not it's relevant here. Argue that instead.
    As I have already said, what I "conceded" was in relation to a different use of the word "myth" (in its meaning of a traditional story) that's not relevant here.

    You make this sound as if this is some sort of competition, especially with your repeated exhortations to "Argue that instead". It isn't. Not to me at least.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Sure. And the first entry reads:

    1 A traditional story, especially [but not always] one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically [but not always] involving supernatural beings or events.

    The bracketed content added by me, the red highlights by me.

    Further definitions:

    From here;
    1. Mythology a traditional story, esp. one that involves gods and heroes and explains a practice or some natural object or phenomenon:[countable]Greek, Roman, Chinese, Japanese, African, and Indian myths.
    2. Mythology stories of this kind thought of as a group;
      mythology:[uncountable]the study of ancient myth.
    3. an invented story, fictitious person, etc.: [uncountable]His account of the event is pure myth.[countable]Her story is just a myth.
    4. a belief or set of beliefs that surround a person, a phenomenon, or an institution:[countable]myths of racial superiority.

    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2018
    myth (mith), n.
    1. Mythology a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
    2. Mythologystories or matter of this kind:realm of myth.
    3. any invented story, idea, or concept:His account of the event is pure myth.
    4. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.
    5. an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.

    Merriam-Webster;

    Definition of myth


    1a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon creation myths

    b : parable, allegory Moral responsibility is the motif of Plato's myths.

    2a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society seduced by the American myth of individualism —Orde Coombs the utopian myth of a perfect society

    b : an unfounded or false notion the myth of racial superiority

    3 : a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence the Superman myth The unicorn is a myth.

    4 : the whole body of myths a student of Greek myth
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    It doesn't work that way. When someone says "It's a myth that the rich give more to charity than the poor" he means "It's untrue that the rich give more to charity than the poor", and not "There's a concept/idea that says 'The rich give more to charity than the poor'".
    That is very perceptive. :thumbsup:
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    As I have already said, what I "conceded" was in relation to a different use of the word "myth" (in its meaning of a traditional story) that's not relevant here.

    You make this sound as if this is some sort of competition, especially with your repeated exhortations to "Argue that instead". It isn't. Not to me at least.
    I'm just telling you that all this back and forth is meaningless if all you want to say is that the other definition I pointed out is irrelevant to this thread. Just stick to that "point" (since you don't like the word "argument") and be done with it. You don't need to say anything else.

    And having said that there's nothing more to say on this topic between you and I. You made yourself clear repeatedly.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I'm just telling you that all this back and forth is meaningless if all you want to say is that the other definition I pointed out is irrelevant to this thread. Just stick to that "point" (since you don't like the word "argument") and be done with it. You don't need to say anything else.
    I have been sticking to my point that there is only one definition of myth applicable here, unlike you, especially in your post 21 where you have referred to every definition under the sun.

    and be done with it. You don't need to say anything else.
    That's for me to decide. There have been too many people like you recently on this forum who can't stand the idea of people disagreeing with them and try to shut them up. If you want to criticise my arguments on merit, go ahead. But don't tell me to stop posting because you want the last word and are running out of steam.
     
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    dark.resurrection

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    I am really grateful for your prompt responses and I'd like to thank both sides of the argument for taking the time to answer my question. I think I got my answer, so thank you both.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    Sure. And the first entry reads:
    We are not talking 'traditional stories' here like f.i. creation myths and all that kind of myth stuff. Nor about a third and fourth definition and use as signalled by OED. They have no or less relation to 'Fallacy'. What I cited has the most overlap.

    You gave the answer yourself in your first post and I backed it. There's not much difference between myth and fallacy except for the 'widely'.

    Myth: widely held mistaken belief
    Fallacy: mistaken belief

    The other meanings /uses of myth have less to do with fallacy and are therefore still LESS interchangeable.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    The question was if two terms were interchangeable, that was all, and all I did was point out that there are different definitions that set them apart in general.

    "This movie was bad man... you have to see it!"
    "This movie was bad man... avoid at all costs!"

    Question:

    Is "bad" and "awful" interchangeable; "This movie was bad/awful..."?

    Me: I don't think "bad" always and necessarily means "awful" since some people sometimes use "bad" to mean "good" or "awesome".

    OP now knows that in this case the two can be used, and also now knows that if they read "bad" ("myth") it doesn't always necessarily mean "awful" ("fallacy").
    That was all I was getting at. If adding that type of information is frowned upon I won't do that moving forward.
     
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