Six Common Rhetorical Tricks

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Kevin DeYoung has a great post here. The introduction:

To spot bad arguments you often need a lot of facts. But sometimes you just need a little commonsense. When it comes to discerning truth from error, good arguments from bad, a little bit of logic goes a long way.

All of us can make strong sounding arguments that, upon closer inspection, are much less than meets the eye. We employ rhetorical strategies that look impressive (and often work) but contain hidden assumptions and flimsy reasoning. Here are six common arguments (or approaches to argumentation) that can stop us in our tracks, but are actually less impressive than they seem. These arguments are not all wrong, but they must be evaluated with discernment, and they must not be accepted without corroborating evidence.

Here’s his outline of these six bad—but distressingly common!—ways of arguing:

  1. The Big Nasty
  2. The Third Way. That Isn’t.
  3. Categorize and Conquer
  4. Preemptive Strikes
  5. Affirm Then Deny
  6. We’ve Been Wrong, So You Are Wrong

Kevin’s conclusion is great:

In conclusion, all I have to say is this post was too long so I’m taking tomorrow off. The mean-spirited blog bullies will probably call me lazy, but that’s a cross I’m willing to bear. On one level this may look like a passive aggressive argument, but on another level I knew you would say that because you are beholden to Greek thinking and a mechanical dictation theory of inspiration.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

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