Frauds, snares and delusions in the age of the rhetorical virus

Just picked up a quite excellent book in our local second-hand bookshop. It is titled, Fallacy: the Counterfeit of Argument, and was written in 1959. By happenstance, this is part of the introduction:

The triumph of rhetoric is like the spread of a virus infection. When an epidemic spreads through an area, it is said to prevail there, and local measures may be taken. But to say that it prevails does not mean that everyone is infected. Some persons may escape infection; others are immune. It is not necessary to labour the analogy in order to show that it would be a good idea if the community could somehow develop a serum against some forms of persuasion.

Few can hope to become immune to all the tricks of persuasion since, like viruses, there are too many of them. People are daily exposed to appeals to blind faith, self interest, fear, prejudice, fancy. This book cannot discuss persuasion in all its variety and complexity, but it can attempt to describe and illustrate some of the most dangerous strains.

Logic is the defence against trickery. The kinds of argument with which logic deals are the reasonable ones. Mistakes are possible, even frequent, in applying the forms of logical argument, and these mistakes are regarded as fallacies, many having been noted as early as Aristotle. We shall wish to guard against them. But the most common fallacies today are of a very different sort. It is a small comfort to know that an argument is entirely logical but that its validity derives its conclusion from its premises, and that all the rules of the syllogism, or whatever, are observed to a nicety, if it turns out that the premises are frauds, snares, delusions. There are brilliant tricks for getting people to accept all sorts of false premises as true (some of these tricks have been spotted since the time of the ancient Greeks), and these tricks are so prevalent that even when people realise that something is being pulled on them, they tend to let it pass.

Which brings me to this: The COVID Coup by Angelo Codevilla. It is the best political discussion of the political dimension of Covid-1984 I have come across so far. It was also posted at Instapundit where the “best” comment reads, in full, “Fantastic article”. From the article’s intro:

What history will record as the great COVID scam of 2020 is based on 1) a set of untruths and baseless assertions—often outright lies—about the novel coronavirus and its effects; 2) the production and maintenance of physical fear through a near-monopoly of communications to forestall challenges to the U.S.. ruling class, led by the Democratic Party, 3) defaulted opposition on the part of most Republicans, thus confirming their status as the ruling class’s junior partner. No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.

Just read it long though it may be. If anything is needed more than reasoned discussion at this time, I cannot think what that is.

This entry was posted in COVID-19, Philosophy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Frauds, snares and delusions in the age of the rhetorical virus

  1. Roger

    No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.

    Not sure what this pertains to.

    US church bodies have, afaik, been varied in their reponse to the virus public health measures.

    Be that as it may, churches have no particular authority in epidemiology and would be foolish to claim such.

    Even less so than their authority in economics, indeed.

    The only truth they can claim competency in interpreting is the Gospel.

  2. What history will record as the great climate scam of 2020 is based on 1) a set of untruths and baseless assertions—often outright lies—about the novel coronavirus and its effects; 2) the production and maintenance of physical fear through a near-monopoly of communications to forestall challenges to the U.S.. ruling class, led by the Democratic Party, 3) defaulted opposition on the part of most Republicans, thus confirming their status as the ruling class’s junior partner. No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.

    This came first.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    I love fallacies. My favourite recently has been the No True Scotsman fallacy, which the Left seems to’ve embraced with gusto. Insufficiently woke Scotspersons are being cancelled all over the place. Eventually some Scot somewhere will finally attain true wokeness.

  4. C.L.

    Will definitely be reading that this evening with a coffee.
    Thanks, Steve.

  5. Mark M

    I must begrudgingly agree with his assessment of where President Trump gave up his advantage.

    A great read.

  6. Mark M

    Making people wear masks now is like taking condoms to a baby shower.

    The time for masks was at the start.

  7. Crossie

    Mark M
    #3520516, posted on July 21, 2020 at 7:43 pm
    I must begrudgingly agree with his assessment of where President Trump gave up his advantage.

    Had he not gone along with Fauci in the beginning Republicans would have impeached him, never mind the Democrats. He is still the only politician who is battling the elite beast and that goes for here and in Europe.

  8. Crossie

    The Black Lives Matter riots are just the next phase of the assault. Everything is a pretence or pay-ops in the war of left against right. The only mistake we made and still make is thinking that any major party is on the right and cares about the common people.

  9. It’s Remarkable

    A terrific read, and covers so much of what is wrong and intended by the elites. President Trump also gets criticised, and pretty rightly.

  10. Professor Fred Lenin

    Is China the worlds biggest economy yet? Surely the Biowar Virus has lessened US economic performance enough for them to claim the title . Now they can really flex their muscles with the armed forces Obama gave them with his one sided trade “Deals” , the ones that Trump is trying too undo , with the US decromats running intreference for their Chinese owners ,for example Bidens billion dollar “loan” .
    Western politics is full of fellow travellers bought by China , never mind Patriotism , what about the Aldi bags ?
    I suppose in the USA they use Walmart bags .

  11. Chris M

    Angelo Codevilla’s article is immense! I feel like I’ve read an encyclopaedia by the end of it. He covers so much at such a rolling pace of information, this guy is very clued on.

  12. Old School Conservative

    The time for masks was at the start.

    Codevilla nails the conundrum facing the average punter:
    In July, Anthony Fauci said that masks are necessary. But in March the same Fauci had said they did more harm than good—equally without the slightest scientific proof

    Masks are the symbol of oppression.

  13. Old School Conservative

    Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said “No one should go around wearing and wasting face masks.”
    February 2020

    Scott Morrison has conceded Victorians and potentially Australians living elsewhere will need to wear masks “for some period of time” when COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
    July 2020

    Total incompetence and not one single apology, re-set, or public backdown.

  14. Mark M

    @Crossie
    #3520571, posted on July 21, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    President Trump, like the rest of us, is only human and not perfect, but he isn’t Hillary/Biden.
    Though they almost had him, he still made the best decision.
    Thanks for reminding me.

    Folk who wonder why Australians, who don’t vote for Trump, care.
    If American elections didn’t matter, we wouldn’t have BLM protests here, or globally.

    Quite so, President Trump is the only world leader that stands between us and the burn, loot, murder mob.

  15. Gerry

    Covid = 1984
    War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Ignorance is strength
    Staying apart keeps us together
    Silence is violence

  16. Old School Conservative

    My heavens Codevilla has struck a nerve with me. I’m up to my 3rd reading and have used his material in comments at The Australian.
    Rejected of course.

  17. John A

    I read about half before running out of time. But enough to realise that this guy is on the money for sure.

    Roger #3520461, posted on July 21, 2020, at 6:59 pm

    No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.

    Not sure what this pertains to.

    US church bodies have, afaik, been varied in their response to the virus public health measures.

    Be that as it may, churches have no particular authority in epidemiology and would be foolish to claim such.

    Even less so than their authority in economics, indeed.

    The only truth they can claim competency in interpreting is the Gospel.

    But Roger, the churches don’t need to be authoritative in medicine, only in Truth and logical argument. Exposing the contradictions should have been within anyone’s capabilities.

    Sadly, most of the churches have spent the 20th century abandoning their position as speakers of truth to power.

    I doubt if any would seriously dare significant civil disobedience despite the logical fallacies associated with this covid scare.

    Here in Viktoriastan, no-one is talking about mass disobedience to the useless face-covering rule to be invoked tomorrow. My own denomination basically claims that full compliance is “leading the community by example.”

    Notice that the ruling does NOT require a particularly effective facemask with any guaranteed level of prevention of transmission of the virus (because that would be medically impossible to a) certify or b) achieve in practice). How convenient that a burka or even a scarf can comply with the definition.

    As I work for an “essential service” company, I will probably have to wear something (under protest). If I decline, I probably won’t be allowed to work and under those circumstances, my employer would not be allowed to receive Jobkeeper support for me because that comes on condition of full compliance with current restrictions (as imposed by the State government). So even a personal decision (with personal consequences which I would have to wear) would come with third-party consequences. What a wretched situation this government has placed us in! Who will rid us of this meddlesome Premier?

Comments are closed.