Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bad Argument: The "Character Witness" defense

Red Herring
Red Herring (Photo credit: buchino)
When defenders of a suspect scheme sincerely believes they are not involved in a scam, but cannot defeat your logically sound, properly cited arguments that the scheme is illegal based on current laws, they will often fall back to what I call the "character witness defense".  (There are other responses, such as "You don't know what you're talking about", "Wikipedia defense", strawman, and many other tactics, but that's not the focus of this post)

Essentially, the defender ignores the evidence that would have confirmed the potential guilt, and basically makes the argument from the "character witness" standpoint, like "I knew it's a good biz, it had improved the lives of many, it donated to charities..."

However, this is, as you may have already guessed, red herring.  In fact, character evidence is usually NOT admissible in civil trial court. 

When done in defense of a suspect scheme (often, the scheme has legal products, but was sold via an illegal sales scheme such as pyramid scheme or ponzi scheme or hybrid of both), the defenders make arguments that fall into 3 general categories: good product, we paid people, and people love us. None of which has to do with the business model itself, the point of contention.

The "character witness argument" generally falls into following categories:

Our products are legal!
  • We are selling a legal product and people are buying them in droves!
  • Our sales numbers are going up period to period!
  • (Description of the product and how great it is)
We paid people!
  • ______ (plenty of) people have already been paid! 
  • We already paid out ______(large amount of) dollars! 
  • We pay out X% of every dollar we get!
People love us!
  • People love us! We paid them as we promised!
  • People's lives have been improved by us! 
  • Our Alexa ranking is through the roof! 
And so on and so forth. 

None of which, of course, actually address the potentially illegal conduct by the company with their comp plan, which was never argued against. That's why this is a red herring.

Spotting this is not difficult... as it's pretty blatant that the defender does NOT address the topic.

How NOT to use this bad argument? Go over your own argument and make sure you are addressing the issue being discussed, instead of making emotional plea that's NOT related except in a most peripheral way.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment