Saturday, August 18, 2012

Propaganda: Lie with qualifiers

One way supporters of a suspect scheme make statements to support their pet scheme is to tell something that's not true (i.e. lie), then hide behind various qualifiers, disclaimers, and such that you can't really pin them down with a lie.  Here would be an example:

S: Acme XYZ makes you plenty of money, up to a million a month! (disclaimer: not an investment, you do need to put in your own money, gains are not guaranteed, growth may be virtual, reinvestment may be required.)
Yes, I'm somewhat joking with the example, but this is based on a real suspect scheme.

What's worse, they can hide all this disclaimer in the sections where you don't read, or can't even read unless you joined! It's called a shrink-wrapped contract (by breaking this seal, you agree that...) and that's illegal!

Sometimes, the "lie" turns out to be far more subtle, such as

S: Acme XYZ works because you make it work. 
What if Acme XYZ doesn't work? Then it must be YOUR fault! You didn't work it hard enough!

See the problem?

There's a related bad argument known as the caveat emptor disclaimer, which I will link below.
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