Persuasion through rhetoric
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Persuasion Through Rhetoric. Words, Phrases, and Simple Assertions. A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion. It’s a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior. A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion.

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Persuasion Through Rhetoric

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Persuasion Through Rhetoric

Words, Phrases, and Simple Assertions


A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion...

It’s a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior.


A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion...

It’s a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior.

The operation of such influences may occur below the threshold of consciousness.


A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion...

It’s a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior.

The operation of such influences may occur below the threshold of consciousness.

The positive and negative impressions made by use of rhetorical devices, while they may sometimes seem trivial, can have powerful and long-lasting effects.


A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion...

It’s a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior.

The operation of such influences may occur below the threshold of consciousness.

The positive and negative impressions made by use of rhetorical devices, while they may sometimes seem trivial, can have powerful and long-lasting effects.

Critical thinking addresses influence of rhetoric in two ways:

(1) helps identify attempts at non-argumentative persuasion

(2) helps check “spontaneous” beliefs and impulses


Euphemisms and Dysphemisms

  • Words or phrases that are substituted for other words or phrases to put what is being discussed in a more positive or negative light


Euphemisms and Dysphemisms

  • Words or phrases that are substituted for other words or phrases to put what is being discussed in a more positive or negative light

Euphemism: “Used cars” become “pre-owned vehicles”.

Dysphemism: “Music” becomes “noise”.


Euphemisms and Dysphemisms

  • Words or phrases that are substituted for other words or phrases to put what is being discussed in a more positive or negative light

Euphemism: “Used cars” become “pre-owned vehicles”.

Dysphemism: “Music” becomes “noise”.

Note: Reports and descriptions may convey pleasant or unpleasant information without being euphemistic or dysphemistic. It’s the quality of the language that matters.


Rhetorical Comparisons, Definitions, and Explanations

  • Ways of speaking that depart positively or negatively from a fair or neutral position

  • Problems of content, not of form


Rhetorical Comparisons, Definitions, and Explanations

  • Ways of speaking that depart positively or negatively from a fair or neutral position

  • Problems of content, not of form

Comparison: The American revolutionaries used tactics similar to those employed by the Viet Cong.


Rhetorical Comparisons, Definitions, and Explanations

  • Ways of speaking that depart positively or negatively from a fair or neutral position

  • Problems of content, not of form

Comparison: The American revolutionaries used tactics similar to those employed by the Viet Cong.

Definition: religion - the opiate of the people


Rhetorical Comparisons, Definitions, and Explanations

  • Ways of speaking that depart positively or negatively from a fair or neutral position

  • Problems of content, not of form

Comparison: The American revolutionaries used tactics similar to those employed by the Viet Cong.

Definition: religion - the opiate of the people

Explanation: Franklin stayed in France throughout the revolution because he was a celebrity there.


Stereotype

  • May function as an unexamined assumption behind a premise (easily results in fallacy of begging the question) or explanatory claim (especially, as failure to consider alternatives)


Stereotype

  • May function as an unexamined assumption behind a premise (easily results in fallacy of begging the question) or explanatory claim (especially, as failure to consider alternatives)

  • When directly expressed, takes the form of a generalization


Stereotype

  • May function as an unexamined assumption behind a premise (easily results in fallacy of begging the question) or explanatory claim (especially, as failure to consider alternatives)

  • When directly expressed, takes the form of a generalization

  • As expectation, may cause an observer to ignore conflicting phenomena or supply consistent details that never occurred


Innuendo

  • A suggestion that is made indirectly

  • Creates a negative impression (using indirect language to create a positive impression is usually better classed as understatement)

  • May be constructed by association with something negative or by faint praise

Example: Prof. X? Is he the one who admitted that his emotions influence his grading? (When speaker knows Prof. X didn’t.)

Example: Student Y? Yes, I remember her. She satisfied the minimum requirements of the course.


Loaded Question

  • Often a yes-no question or a false dilemma, but could occur with any question form

  • Answering directly requires accepting or presuming a questionable, hostile, or unjustified assumption

  • May function similarly to innuendo


Loaded Question

  • Often a yes-no question or a false dilemma, but could occur with any question form

  • Answering directly requires accepting or presuming a questionable, hostile, or unjustified assumption

  • May function similarly to innuendo

Example: Are you still abusing illegal drugs?

Example: Should we vote for the Democrat or the Repulican in this election?

Example: What were you thinking when you attempted to steal that CD?


Weaseler

  • A word or phrase that deceptively weakens a claim


Weaseler

  • A word or phrase that deceptively weakens a claim

  • Not to be confused with careful qualification


Weaseler

  • A word or phrase that deceptively weakens a claim

  • Not to be confused with careful qualification

Example: Save up to 40% (when typical savings will be less)

Example: It’s easy to go all the way...on the phone. (real ad!)


Downplayer

  • A word, phrase, or punctuation that subtly diminishes a concept or weakens a claim

  • May overlap with weaseler


Downplayer

  • A word, phrase, or punctuation that subtly diminishes a concept or weakens a claim

  • May overlap with weaseler

Example: Today’s “patriots” are just looking for a way to make a quick buck in Iraq.


Downplayer

  • A word, phrase, or punctuation that subtly diminishes a concept or weakens a claim

  • May overlap with weaseler

Example: Today’s “patriots” are just looking for a way to make a quick buck in Iraq.

Example: I understand your grade is low, but it’s normal for some students to fail this course. (Notice how the individual’s particular situation is effectively submerged.)


Downplayer

  • A word, phrase, or punctuation that subtly diminishes a concept or weakens a claim

  • May overlap with weaseler

Example: Today’s “patriots” are just looking for a way to make a quick buck in Iraq.

Example: I understand your grade is low, but it’s normal for some students to fail this course. (Notice how the individual’s particular situation is effectively submerged.)

Example: Interest rates are at their the lowest point in years, though only customers with excellent credit will qualify.


Horse Laugh/Ridicule/Sarcasm

  • An attempt to weaken a claim or undermine credibility by making an idea or person appear ridiculous


Horse Laugh/Ridicule/Sarcasm

  • An attempt to weaken a claim or undermine credibility by making an idea or person appear ridiculous

  • May make use of other devices, e.g., hyperbole, slippery slope


Horse Laugh/Ridicule/Sarcasm

  • An attempt to weaken a claim or undermine credibility by making an idea or person appear ridiculous

  • May make use of other devices, e.g., hyperbole, slippery slope

Example: One thing I can say for Schwarzenegger, I bet he’s not a complainer. So now we won’t have to listen to a lot of complaining from the governor’s office while Bush’s friends are looting California.


Horse Laugh/Ridicule/Sarcasm

  • An attempt to weaken a claim or undermine credibility by making an idea or person appear ridiculous

  • May make use of other devices, e.g., hyperbole, slippery slope

Example: One thing I can say for Schwarzenegger, I bet he’s not a complainer. So now we won’t have to listen to a lot of complaining from the governor’s office while Bush’s friends are looting California.

Example: You don’t like how the PATRIOT Act expands police powers? How about the next time you need help, try calling a hippie.


Hyperbole

  • Use of exaggeration to make an impression of greater importance or deviation from expectations


Hyperbole

  • Use of exaggeration to make an impression of greater importance or deviation from expectations

  • May show up in other devices, e.g., ridicule, slippery slope, straw man, poisoning the well


Hyperbole

  • Use of exaggeration to make an impression of greater importance or deviation from expectations

  • May show up in other devices, e.g., ridicule, slippery slope, straw man, poisoning the well

Example: What I need is a vehicle that can go anywhere.


Hyperbole

  • Use of exaggeration to make an impression of greater importance or deviation from expectations

  • May show up in other devices, e.g., ridicule, slippery slope, straw man, poisoning the well

Example: What I need is a vehicle that can go anywhere.

Example: “While this framework does a good job of catering to environmental extremists, it falls alarmingly short of addressing the rising threat of wildfires facing our forests.” (Rep. Wally Herger, on the Sierra Nevada Framework, 11/03)


Proof Surrogate

  • An assertion or strong suggestion that good evidence exists somewhere out of reach to support a claim


Proof Surrogate

  • An assertion or strong suggestion that good evidence exists somewhere out of reach to support a claim

  • May make use of listed, but unchecked or unverifiable references


Proof Surrogate

  • An assertion or strong suggestion that good evidence exists somewhere out of reach to support a claim

  • May make use of listed, but unchecked or unverifiable references

Example: Unnamed sources report that...

Example: Experts agree that...

Example: I read on the Internet that... (if used as evidence)


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