Daniel Buck
dictionaries, beliefs, & eyewitnesses
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:31pm

We've been down the dictionary road before. Believe has several meanings, and normally the first is the oldest, not the most common, nor even the one apt to the sentence at hand. We have to tease out what we think -- what we believe, heh -- is the meaning from the context, how the word is used.

For example, in the Pinkerton report the construction is passive, "it's believed," meaning not that the agent believes, but someone believes. We don't know who believes. And even that other person might not know, he simply believes.

"Active vs. passive voice

"In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

"Active: The candidate believes that Congress must place a ceiling on the budget.
"Passive: It is believed by the candidate that a ceiling must be placed on the budget by Congress."

But even if the agent had written in the active voice, "I believe Longabaugh was in hospital last summer 1901 Buffalo, NY," he is not as you and Freeman wrote, an eyewitness, he is expressing an opinion, an opinion he might believe to be true, but an opinion nonetheless.

Anyway, Sundance was in Argentina in the summer of 1901, so what the agent heard or recalled he heard, was wrong.

  • BelieveChrisV, Wed Jun 12 1:35pm
    first definition of believe - 1.accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of. So I dont see what your problem is. Lets also not forget the witness from the hospital said he was from... more
    • dictionaries, beliefs, & eyewitnesses — Daniel Buck, Wed Jun 12 2:31pm
      • SemanticsChrisV, Wed Jun 12 2:50pm
        Think what you want to think if it makes you feel better. It still doesn't change the fact the witness said Sundance was from Montclair PA. Saying "so what the agent heard or recalled he heard, was... more
        • fandangoingDaniel Buck, Wed Jun 12 3:32pm
          You are mixing up who said what, and you describe the Pinkerton agent as an "eyewitness." which he was not. What the agent scribbled is not a model in clarity, but here it is: "It's believed was in... more
          • A Rock and HardplaceChrisV, Wed Jun 12 3:46pm
            I get it dan. But your grasping at straws The sentence is pretty clear. ""It's believed was in hospital last summer 1901 Buffalo, NY pistol shot wound leg he said he got in the extreme west, and said ... more
            • Re: A Rock and HardplaceDaniel Buck, Wed Jun 12 4:31pm
              If the Pinkerton agent was talking with a Buffalo hospital staffer, which is possible, because we do not know who he was speaking with, why the "it's believed" qualifier? Was the staffer not certain... more
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