Truth and Accuracy
Their difference explained
According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Devon Archer testimony reveals that Joe Biden’s story about Hunter is “not accurate.” What Jordan should have said, and perhaps wanted to say, is that the story is not true.
What is the difference between truth and accuracy as properties of statements and such cognate items as declarative sentences, propositions, beliefs, judgments, etc. ?
That 'false' and 'inaccurate' do not have the same meaning is indicated by their differential usage by competent speakers of English. To say that JFK finished his first term in office in good health is to say something false, not inaccurate, while to say that he was assassinated on 23 November 1963 is to say something inaccurate (and also false). Suppose someone says that there are people now living on the Moon. No one competent in English would say, 'That's inaccurate!'
Intuitively, an inaccurate statement is one that is near the truth. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald on the 22nd of November, 1963. If I state that, then I make a statement that is both true and accurate. If I say he was shot on the 23rd, then I say something very near the truth but inaccurate. Similarly if I said that he was shot on the 22nd in Fort Worth rather than in Dallas. Inaccurate, but near the truth.
If I simply say that Kennedy was assassinated, then I say something true. But is it also accurate? If every inaccurate statement is false, then, by contraposition, every true statement is accurate.
If I say that Kennedy was not assassinated, then I say something false. But is it also inaccurate?
Perhaps we should say the following. While every statement is either true or false, only some statements are either accurate or inaccurate. Which statements? Those that feature terms that admit of degrees or somehow imply numerical values. 'Tom is a smoker' would then be either true or false but not either accurate or inaccurate. But 'Tom is a pack-a-day smoker' would be either true or false and either accurate or inaccurate. Of course, if it is accurate, then it is true, and if it is inaccurate, then it is false.
The set of statements appropriately characterizable as either accurate or inaccurate is a proper subset of the set of statements appropriately characterizable as either true or false.
It is plausible to maintain, though not self-evident, that while accuracy admits of degrees, truth does not. A statement is either true or not true. If bivalence holds and there are only two truth values, then, if a statement is not true, it is false. It does not seem to make sense to say that one statement is truer than another. But it does make sense to say that one statement is more accurate than another. 'The value of pi is 3.14159' is more accurate than 'the value of pi is 3.1415.' Neither statement is entirely accurate, and indeed no such statement is entirely accurate given the irrationality of pi. But the following is both entirely true and entirely accurate: 'Pi is the mathematical constant whose value is equal to the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter.'
Here is something bordering on a paradox. Given its irrationality, pi is such that every statement that can be made in a finite time about its value is inaccurate. But if every inaccurate statement is false, then every statement that can be made in a finite time about the value of pi is false.
One last example. The blood libel is an outright lie perpetrated by many Muslims. It would be absurd to speak of it as 'inaccurate.'