Monday, February 20, 2023

My Chats with AI - Rhetorical Trickery

Chat with CHAT-GPT
20 Feb 2023
My questions in bold, responses in regular type.

What are some recognized rhetorical methods for diminishing or denigrating opposing opinions, even and especially when the opposing opinions are legitimate?

It is important to note that intentionally diminishing or denigrating opposing opinions, especially when they are legitimate, is not a constructive approach to engaging in productive dialogue or debate. However, unfortunately, some rhetorical methods that can be used for this purpose include:

Ad hominem attacks: This is a rhetorical technique that involves attacking the character or personal qualities of the person expressing the opposing opinion rather than engaging with the substance of their argument.

Strawman arguments: This involves misrepresenting the opposing opinion or argument in a way that makes it easier to attack or refute. By attacking a distorted or exaggerated version of the opposing argument, the speaker can discredit the opposing position more easily.

Appeal to fear or emotion: This involves using fear or other emotional appeals to manipulate the audience and create a negative view of the opposing opinion.

Red herring: This involves introducing an irrelevant or tangential issue into the debate to distract from the substance of the opposing opinion.

Poisoning the well: This involves pre-emptively discrediting the opposing opinion or speaker by casting doubt on their motives or character before they have a chance to present their argument.

It's important to note that resorting to these types of rhetorical methods can be seen as unethical and can undermine the credibility and effectiveness of one's arguments. Instead, it is often more effective to engage with opposing opinions in good faith and seek to understand their perspective before presenting a counterargument.

The "poisoning the well" tactic, which is often seen by appending a pejorative adjective to the [opposite] side's argument (e.g., "the disproven allegation" when not disproven at all) is very common. Can you give other examples of "poisoning the well?"

Yes, here are a few more examples of the "poisoning the well" tactic:

Accusing the opposing side of being biased or having a conflict of interest, without any evidence to support this claim. This can make it more difficult for the opposing side to present their argument in a fair and impartial way.

Discrediting the opposing side by associating them with a negative label or stereotype, such as "extremist" or "radical," even if this characterization is not accurate or fair.

Casting doubt on the opposing side's credibility or expertise by pointing out minor errors or inconsistencies in their argument, even if these errors do not significantly undermine the validity of their overall position.

Making personal attacks or using ad hominem arguments to discredit the opposing side, rather than engaging with their arguments on a substantive level.

In all of these examples, the goal is to create a negative impression of the opposing side before they have a chance to present their argument. This can make it more difficult for the opposing side to be taken seriously, even if their argument is well-reasoned and supported by evidence.