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Put His Thesis Into Some Odious Category

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Put His Thesis Into Some Odious Category

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you are confronted with an assertion, there is a short way of getting rid of it, or, at any rate, of throwing suspicion on it, by putting it into some odious category; even though the connection is only apparent, or else of a loose character. You can say, for instance, "That is Manichaeism" or "It is Arianism," or "Pelagianism," or "Idealism," or "Spinozism," or "Pantheism," or "Brownianism," or "Naturalism," or "Atheism," or "Rationalism," "Spiritualism," "Mysticism," and so on. In making an objection of this kind, you take it for granted (1) that the assertion in question is identical with, or is at least contained in, the category cited - that is to say, you cry out, "Oh, I have heard that before"; and (2) that the system referred to has been entirely refuted, and does not contain a word of truth.

Example

It's just another Bush-ism. To be expected, I suppose.

That's a rather fascist comment. Would you care to rephrase?

Discussion

Categorization is common practice in conversation as we label ideas and even whole people with names that may have good or bad connotation. Some of these are 'devil words' which are considered so ultra-bad people will avoid using them or quickly distance themselves from them.

Classifying a comment by the other person into a category that is reviled, you threaten them with personally being labeled in the same way. Many people respond to such a threat with a hurried retraction as they fear social reprisals, making this a powerful method.

'Put His Thesis Into Some Odious Category' is the thirty-second of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Redefinition, Power Words

 

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