Monday, November 27, 2006

New York Times Bullshit Trifecta!

This op-ed piece about the apparent trend of public arguments against the existence of God uses all three of the crappy rhetorical techniques favored by the New York Times.

1. Ask a rhetorical question. Note immediately that it has a simple answer which does not fit your political agenda. Go on to spin a much more elaborate and completely unsupported hypothesis that answers the question, and hope that people forget the simple answer by the time you get to the end of your story. The great thing about this trick is that you can always, if asked, say that you acknowledged the simple answer. Then you can proceed to ignore the simple answer all over again.

2. Tell an anecdote and then claim it represents a social trend. For bonus points, have the anecdote be fictional.

3. Quote someone saying something very extreme in a way that makes it seem like you agree with that person, without actually coming out and agreeing with him. This lets you promote the extreme idea without having to actually defend it rationally.

I also see that PZ Myers is on the case.

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