Disqualifying Terms

There are certain words and phrases whose use in an unironic or non-critical context will immediately stop me from taking the author’s argument seriously. A partial list is presented as follows:

  • Politically Correct:” This is almost always used as a means of poisoning the well. Few and far between are those people who actually identify as ‘politically correct;’ far more common are those who claim to being persecuted by political correctness when in fact they are being called out for factual inaccuracy or general douche-bagginess.
  • Freedom-Hater:” If you honestly think that anyone is opposed to you because they hate some nebulous concept of freedom, I’m sorry, but your opinions are probably worthless.
  • Mangina” The problem with this one is that it arises from the loony wing of masculism. As the loony wing of masculism is, well, loony, this word triggers an instant red flag.
  • Chemtrail” One of the stupidest conspiracy theories I have ever heard; honestly, if I wanted to poison a population, I could do it much more cheaply and easily than by mixing crap in with jet fuel exhaust.
  • (non-specified) chemicals (are evil)” Just about all matter above the subatomic scale is made out of chemicals, including yourself.
  • Red Pill/Blue Pill” Everybody loves the Matrix, but claiming that your group has privileged access to secret information that fundamentally alters our understanding of the world is usually the mark of cult.
  • New World Order” If you are positing the existence of a secret world government, then your political theory probably constitutes a maximal violation of Occam’s Razor.
  • Health Freedom This is usually code for not wanting your worthless snakeoil to be regulated to ensure it’s not also dangerous.
  • Nazi” Unless you are specifically discussing the Third Reich or far-right hate groups, then you’re not talking about Nazis, and are almost certainly trivializing their atrocities.
  • Any variation on “think of the children”
    Unless you are talking about an issue which specifically impacts upon children in a direct and profound way, then chances are you are only invoking them as part of an appeal to emotion.
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About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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3 Responses to Disqualifying Terms

  1. “Unless you are specifically discussing the Third Reich or far-right hate groups, then you’re not talking about Nazis, and are almost certainly trivializing their atrocities.”

    – All of the points you list are good but this one is especially important. When we discuss the fascist dictatorship of Franco with my students, I always begin by asking them what fascism is. Their answer is invariably “well, it’s like. . . bad.” I find that very disturbing.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Good list! And I don’t know how I did it, but I have managed to avoid hearing about the “chemtrail” business.

    You’re right; I can hardly think of a way *less* likely to result in detectable levels of poison getting into people’s bodies than putting it in jet fuel exhaust.

  3. n8chz says:

    Conspiracy theories are to the marketplace of ideas as pyramid schemes are to the marketplace of consumer goods.

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