Peeve of the day

My peeve of the day: the widespread wrong usage of the word “refute”. See this Yahoo.com headline:

Cingular Wireless refutes lawsuit claims

If you look at the story, it’s very clear that Cingular did not refute the claims. They rejected them.

Refute is a term with a specific meaning in terms of formal reasoning: it means to demonstrate that an argument is invalid by showing that either its premises or its conclusion are faulty. It does _not_ just mean saying you think an argument, or a claim, or whatever, is wrong. If Cingular had in fact refuted the claims, they would presumably have won the lawsuit already.

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