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By Jamie Whyte

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Additional resources for Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking

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Jack may declare that gold is believed to be a good investment without fear of refutation by its price falling. He didn't say who believed it and he certainly didn't say the belief was true. The cost of making statements immune from error by the inclusion of these weasel words - 'could be', 'believed to be', and the like - is that they are thereby rendered empty. Insofar as we take these words seriously, the statement no longer tells 58 BAD THOUGHTS us anything informative. Of course gold could go up in price.

Politicians are not friends who might as well sidestep, with a glib remark, what would otherwise be a tedious debate. They lack Till's excuse for the 'you would say that' reply. But watch out for it in politics and you will see it often: 'This is the Rt. ', and so on. The consistent advocacy of an idea is turned on its head, so that instead of counting as an intellectual virtue in the advocate, it counts as a defect in the idea advocated. The idea must be wrong, look how boring its proponents are.

Colloquial English provides alternatives to 'but still' for those keen on ignoring evidence. You have just heard formidable evidence suggesting your opinion is wrong. Alas, you have 'but still'-ed twice already this morning. Try: 'yes, yes, of course, but at the end of the day, when all is said and done, you must admit that [insert opinion here]'. Besides straight reversal, watch out for exclusion. The technique is parodied in Monty Python's The Life of Brian. ' Instead, one of the revolutionary brothers mentions the flat Roman roads.

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