This is the kind of thing I normally post to my blog, but since no one reads my blog, I thought i will post it here where someone will actually read it.
There is this thing I have noticed in politics and it related to language. Take the following statement for example: “I 100% believe Trump won the 2020 election and I am 100% certain of it, and there is a 0% chance that Biden won, and there is nothing that anyone can say to convince me otherwise”. Now take this other sentence: “I have looked at the evidence, and it seems to me that the chances of Biden winning the 2020 election is about 49%, and the chances that Trump won is 51%, therefore I believe that Trump won the election”
Most people wouldn’t ever say either of these sentences because they are just too wordy. Both of these statements would be expressed with the simpler form of just “I believe Trump won the election”. Yet these two statements are very different.
The problem is that I the word “believe” can either have an objective definition that basically means “belief with 100% certainty”, and it can also have a subjective definition that means “I believe with less than 100% certainty”. In my experience, it seems that left wingers tend to use the word “belief” using the “objective/100% certain definition”, where right wingers use the “subjective/less than 100% certain” definition more often. This is why discourse between the two sides is hard.
The solution I think is to somehow modify how you speak in such a way that allows the speaker to be explicit about how certain they are about the statement that is being made. For instance, what I do a lot when I’m debating someone on social media is that I always explicitly state when something is an opinion. Like, I’ll say “It’s my opinion that … but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise”. The problem is that this can get very wordy and most people just won’t do that. Also, when you’re speaking to someone else, assume that every time they use the word “believe” (or a synonym) assume they are speaking using the subjective definition, and don’t just immediately jump to the conclusion that they “don’t live in reality”.