2

When we say things like:

"They are brainwashed, they won't accept any fact or data that goes against their beliefs."

Why can't we say "any X and Y" instead of "any X or Y", it seems that both are equivalent depending on how you see things.

I feel we could interpret the sentence

"They are brainwashed, they won't accept any fact and data that goes against their beliefs."

as

"They won't accept any fact and they won't accept any data that goes against their beliefs."

and the other sentence as

"They won't accept any fact or accept any data that goes against that goes against their beliefs."

meaning both sentence mean the same thing.

Is there a correct way to read these two sentences. I've never given too much thought about it, but now it's bothering me beyond belief.

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    I won't eat chicken and waffles does not mean the same thing as I won't eat chicken or waffles. The former means you won't eat a combination of the the two things. The latter means you won't eat either of them, separately or together. – Jason Bassford Jan 28 at 0:19
  • The inclusion of any makes it a bit different, no? – repomonster Jan 28 at 0:33
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    It's still the same difference: I won't eat any chicken and waffles versus I won't eat any chicken or waffles. One still always combines the two things, the other may or may not. I won't accept any fact and data means that you won't accept any combination of at least one fact and at least one piece of data. But, in theory, a fact without a piece of data or a piece of data without a fact (if that can make sense) would be fine. – Jason Bassford Jan 28 at 0:40
  • and seems to mean X and Y, while or seems to mean X, Y, or X and Y, but in informal speech I think they mean the same, because you can think of it as I won't accept X and I won't accept Y, which is equivalent to or. – repomonster Jan 28 at 1:03
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    Note that in symbolic logic (if translating to English), "they won't accept X and they won't accept Y" would be written as "they won't accept X or Y." Similarly, "they won't accept X or they won't accept Y" would be written as "they won't accept X and Y." – Jason Bassford Jan 28 at 1:40
2

I think that to illuminate, expanding the sentence makes sense.

"They are brainwashed; they won't accept any fact or any data that goes against their beliefs."

Meaning, They will not accept any fact. Neither will they accept any data. The "or" comes into play to show that it doesn't matter which one it is, they still won't accept it (It doesn't matter if it's a fact or data)

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    I don't believe that; I won't accept any fact and data that goes against my belief! Oh, wait, you only offered one of the two. I guess I'll believe it then. ;) – Ed Grimm Jan 28 at 5:03
  • It's one of the reasons why I think they may mean the same thing, esp in informal speech. – repomonster Jan 28 at 23:12
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    ...As long as that informal speech is so informal as to break with Standard English grammar conventions, yes, they would mean the same thing. It's important to note the difference. – user45266 Jan 29 at 4:47

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