A Sneaky and Dishonest Trick of Argument

Image result for images of sliding letter under a door

I don’t seem to have many blog visitors today (where did everybody go?), so permit me to vent about something that’s not as uncommon as it may at first appear.

I was reading a rather long and technical theological article today, almost nodding off, when a chance phrase caught my eye: something about “the tyrannical American republic” getting flogged by hurricanes because we’re, y’know, just so bad. By this logic, little islands like Barbuda and Anguilla must be even badder.

This had very little to do with the subject under discussion. It was just slipped under the door, as if the reader might not notice. Nor was it embellished by anything like a reason for it. The author didn’t mention whatever made him conclude that our republic is “tyrannical.” No, no elaboration. It was just slipped into this long and convoluted article as if it were an established fact that no one could dispute.

If the letter slid under the door is not an analogy that appeals to you, let me liken it to introducing a chocolate-covered ball of cat hair into a one-pound bag of M&Ms.

I’m sure there’s a formal name for this technique, in the study of logic, but I don’t happen to know it. All I know is, it stinks and I don’t like it. It tells me that the author of the article has no respect for his audience. I resent him taking my agreement as a given.

Just had to vent. I hope you didn’t mind too much.

6 comments on “A Sneaky and Dishonest Trick of Argument

  1. Every time I stumble over one of those, I stop reading. I figure that for every logical fallacy, unsupported assertion, or downright error of fact that I’ve caught, several others may have sipped by without my noticing — except subliminally — and therefore the author can’t be trusted.

  2. A tyrannical republic seems to be a contradiction in terms. A republic is the exact opposite of a tyranny.

    1. Like I said, the writer simply took for granted the reader’s agreement to this unsupported assertion which he slipped under the door. And shame on him.

  3. The tactic probably falls under the category, subliminal persuasion.

    It makes me think of all the fuss over how great the HBO show “Game of Thrones” is suppose to be. We got HBO free for a weekend and I tuned in “Game of Thrones” and found it full of profanity and to be borderline pornography. Nothing subliminal about it – it’s crap.

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