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exist function says directory figures exists when it doesn't

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For some reason, even though the directory figures does not exist, the command
is returning a 7 instead of a zero. I assumed this had to be something to do with my startup setup, but it appears not to be.
Could somebody explain why this is happening please?
I'm running R2019b on ubuntu 18.04
Stephen on 5 Aug 2020
"The doc on exist doesn't make it clear that it searches the entire Matlab path..." "MATLAB searches starting at the top of the search path, and moving down until a result is found..."

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