New from American Vision:
I particularly like the shotgun in the middle!
Once one knows for what what to look, it is surprisingly easy to diagnose which strategy a liberal politician is using as they try to distort reality into conformity with what they think ought to be. As a clinical psychiatrist and aerospace medical doctor, Dr. Sanity reminded us back in the beginning of October of such strategies using her previously published blog posts expanded into the present. Both her previous installments and the more current post are well worth the read. She first notes an interesting distinction:
The difference between fallacies and rhetorical ploys is understood most easily as a difference in the function of the language being employed….politicians, advertisers and newspaper columnists tend to be experts when it come to using rhetorical ploys. Rhetorical ploys typically make a more or less direct appeal to feeling and emotion rather than to reason, which is the domain of argument. Fallacies, on the other hand, are simply defective attempts at arguments….They may fool us into thinking they are not defective, but they are still presented as attempts at argument. Of course, many writers and speakers will use a mixture of rhetorical ploys, fallacies, and genuine arguments when attempting to persuade us of the truth of their claim.
Logical fallacies are outside the realm of psychiatry, but the list of the most common rhetorical ploys she provides is instructive:
–Appeals to FEELINGS: this type of ploy is very common and the user tries to appeal to specific feelings or desires. For example, you may be enticed to believe what is said because of the passion with which it is said (rather than analyzing the content); or because it stimulates compassion, pity, guilt, fear or any number of other feelings.
Eliciting fear is also known as using "scare tactics", and should be distinguished
from genuine warnings for which there is a good reason to act and/or experience
Additionally, when one appeals to feelings; emphasis may be placed on the
novelty of the idea; or popularity ("everyone thinks this!") or the sexiness or
cuteness etc.; all of which can easily distract from a rational analysis of the idea or
–Direct attack is simply the unapologetic assertion that something is true or not true without any evidence presented.
–Buzzwords are the use of emotion-laden terms that subtly influence the listener but which offer no information about the truth of what is being said.
–Scare quotes are used to mock the opposition (I use them myself at times!) by calling into question a particular concept (e.g., terrorism vs "terrorism").
–Smokescreen is diverting attention from the topic of discussion by introducing a new topic.
–Equivocation is deliberately making ambiguous statements in order to mislead.
Many will remember the game children are assigned to play in cars on a long trip, the “see how many license plates you can find from different states” game designed to try to keep the little ones quietly (relatively speaking) occupied in the car rather than driving Mom and Dad crazy by asking “Are we there yet?” every other minute. As an adult version of this game, see how many of the above ploys you can find in your daily newspaper as we draw closer and closer to the November election…and note which side uses them the most.
As one freebie, Thomas Sowell (among others) recently pointed out the smokescreen launched in California regarding Meg Whitman.
The analysis that continues in Dr. Sanity’s most recent post is also enlightening and right on the money. She writes:
And that is the key. The use of the rhetorical ploys listed above are designed to raise false issues with voters so that the real and important issues do not have to be discussed.
The preponderance of this type of political discourse is directly tied to "politics of political destruction."
Far too often, narcissistically flawed individuals are hopelessly attracted by the grandiose opportunities of the political arena (as well as the Hollywood arena) like moths to a flame. Their sense of self is starkly invested in the desire for power over others (always, of course, "for their own good") , constant admiration and adulation and grandiose ambitions.
This makes them remarkably adept at what has become known as the "politics of personal destruction"–a phrase ironically popularized by Bill Clinton, a master of the game, during his impeachment trial.
For the narcissist it is always a zero-sum game he or she plays with other individuals. From the perspective of the narcissist, if someone else "wins", the narcissist "loses". It cannot be otherwise, since on some level they know that their own talent and skills are way overblown. Hence, they cannot hope to "win" based on those talents alone. Thus, the behavior of the classic narcissist is mostly directed toward making others lose so they can win by default. To that end, there is no behavior or tactic that is considered out -of-bounds or over-the-top.
Hence the current state of political discourse and the ubiquitous personal attacks that have become the trademark of all political campaigns.
If you want to understand why politics has become so virulent and personally vicious you need not look any farther that this sad truth. While politics still occasionally brings out those who have strong personal integrity and values; often it is the people of no integrity and values who are obsessively attracted to the field and are triumphant–and that is true on both sides of the political spectrum.
By that, I mean that those who would actually make the best leaders generally opt out of the process, because they tend to be too healthy to generate the continual rage necessary to destroy all opponents; or they lack the required– and mostly distorted –sense of personal "perfection" and grandiosity that drives the power-hungry.
This is not the kind of person who can face real threats in the real world very effectively because this is not the kind of person who can effectively deal with threats they do not perceive as personal–why should they care much about any other kind, unless the polls indicate they should?
The best leaders are not obsessed with themselves; with polls; or with accumulating power by pandering to all sides. Those leaders may, in truth, have many other personal flaws–but not particularly of the dangerously narcissistic variety. Whatever those flaws (and we all possess them), they are characterologically able to be more concerned about dealing with external reality; rather than in preserving a distorted and fragile internal one. Avenging petty slights and insults is not a high priority to a psychologically healthy person. Those healthy individuals are far more likely to direct their psychological energy toward dealing with real-world geopolitical threats that endanger both their country and the people they have the responsibility to protect; rather than using that country or the power of their office to counter threats to their endangered self and act on their grandiose fantasies about themselves.
That the needs of the nation, or the people they serve, might be different from their own; or that doing the right thing is often different from doing the popular thing, are foreign and dangerous concepts. The only reality they know–or care about–is the one inside themselves.
So the next time you see politicians of the political left, center or right use any of these kinds of rhetorical ploys on an opponent, you will have evidence that they are avoiding dealing with the real and important issues they will have to face if elected.
And if you vote for them anyway, then you only have yourself to blame for what
I can hardly wait for November 3rd! (Then we can watch the liberals roll over into damage control…which should be just as entertaining and infuriating as their pre-election antics!)
We’ve all seen or heard the hyperventilation of the Globaloney Warmists, I mean, Climate Changers, regarding the alleged melting of the ice caps at either end of this globe. Tidal waves, tsunamis, and rising oceans notwithstanding, let us assume for argument’s sake that the ice caps do melt. (Note: this is a thought experiment; no polar bears were harmed in any way; anyway they would be smart enough to move to solid ground since ice does not melt instantaneously.) Would an ice-free arctic be an unprecedented holocaust leading to the end of civilization as we know it? Well, a recent finding would appear to put this allegation into perspective:
Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.
Aside from the significance that this was well before the industrial revolution and therefore cannot be assigned to anthropogenic induced climate change, it may be noted that, assuming the dating is correct, we, meaning all creation, survived!
Now combine this with a recent study that has required intellectually honest scientists (yes, such exist) to revise their sea ice predictions for the Arctic by significantly increasing their sea ice-extent projections. Translation: the Arctic ice is not catastrophically melting.
Finally, throw into your cogitations the recent evidence from Dutch scientists that dire projections of ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica are dramatically exaggerated and should be chopped in half.
The final conclusion? Yes, Virginia, we need to apply for more tax payers money to study this dire situation…the dire part being that disastrous climate change may not be happening in reality, which violates our reality.
The other conclusion: there is a reason I call this Globaloney Warming…or Globaloney Climate Change! Now excuse me. I have to go get some more ice for my lemonade.
I know it’s been said before, but it merits repeating: the debate about taxes in general, and about extending the Bush tax cuts in particular, only sounds like the issue in question is fiscal. It’s not. The Right and Left differ on tax policy primarily because of a difference in values.
Broadly speaking, the Right believes that your stuff is yours. The Left believes your stuff doesn’t really become your stuff until the government says it is. So the Right sees taxes as a way to pay for necessary government services. The Left sees taxes as an instrument of social control and redistributive justice.
… It is simply not credible for Democrats and liberals to say they oppose extending those tax cuts because of concern for budget deficits. The real reasons are just old-fashioned envy, hard egalitarianism, soft socialism, and Keynesian claptrap about the economic benefits of redistributing income to promote consumption over saving. I agree with the supply-side argument that virtually all Americans benefit from the growth effects of keeping marginal tax rates low. But the most important reason to extend the tax cuts for everyone is that it is wrong for the government to steal and redistribute income.
—National Review’s John Hood (with emphases added)