Category Archives: Public Discourse

Some Deceptive Rhetorical Tactics

Just thought I would make a note of some deceptive rhetorical tactics I’ve noticed and try to put a name to them. Move the needle by taking the extreme position. Whether consciously or unconsciously, taking a position on the extreme … Continue reading

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Daniel Dennett and an ‘Incomprehensible’ God: How a Rhetorical Question Can Reveal an Argument’s Weakness

Interesting analysis of Daniel Dennett’s “Seven Tools for Thinking.” A. Roy King turns one of Dennett’s own rules back on the author: In his section on rhetorical questions, he has just encouraged the reader to check his baloney meter any … Continue reading

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Pastor pulls a fast one in anti-gay rights speech

Setting aside any comments on the political, religious, or moral message here, I thought this Missouri pastor (if that’s what he really is) employed an interesting rhetorical technique in this speech. To really understand what he’s doing, listen all the … Continue reading

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The Birther/Deather Chiasmus

Heard on CNN, 6 May 2011: In just one week, we’ve gone from the death of birthers to the birth of deathers. (Shannon Travis) AB — 6 May 2011

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Always Arguing About That Elusive Kettle

In his book Icons of Evolution, biologist Jonathan Wells refers (p. 133) to an old lawyers’ joke in which “Jones sues Smith for borrowing his kettle and returning it with a crack in it.” The defense by Smith’s lawyers goes … Continue reading

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Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Trouble

CBS News’s 60 Minutes has broadcast an exposé of Greg Mortenson, author of the bestselling Three Cups of Tea, featuring interviewees who allege that Mortenson has lied in his books and has mismanaged the funds of his charity, the Central Asia Institute — … Continue reading

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Enthymemes: The Folly of Youth, Singing ‘Kumbaya,’ and Keeping Your Day Job

Following is a rhetorical exercise — I’m trying to analyze some popular sayings. 1.Enthymeme: Youth is wasted on the young. Major Premise: Because of their strength and good health, young people are in a position to get the most out … Continue reading

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