Sunday, October 18, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club
"Honest as the day is long"

My suspicion is that the successful liar chooses to deliver a largely emotional message wrapped around nuggets of pseudo information. The mind rejects a purely content free message, even Seinfeld couldn't offer shows about absolutely nothing. The key is to choose false content that is sufficiently esoteric that most members of the audience will be unable to absolutely refute it on the spot. How many people felt qualified to challenge Ward Churchill's claim that he was a Native American?

Often I have had an aggressive young leftist attempt to end a debate by demanding the production of a citation on some point, as if we were engaged in some dissertation defense. By invalidating argument that hasn't prepared reference to approved authority and preparing their own positions based on claims that are hard to verify or invalidate they avoid challenges to the overall message.

Robert Heinlein had Jubal Harshaw say he won debates by referring to "The British Colonial Shipping Board," knowing his debater would be unaware that there was no such body. Adolph Hitler famously acknowledged the utility of the big lie in Mein Kampf.

[after observing the gambling tables at Rick's]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!
- fm Casablanca

Apologies for only finding the colorized version.

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