10: Jargon & Weasel Words

Informal Fallacies

Key Terms

Modus Ponens
Modus Tollens
Disjunctive Syllogism
Reduction Fallacy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
Tautology
False Dilemma
Straw Man
Special Pleading
Slippery Slope
Meaningless Jargon
Weasel Words

  • Not logical
  • Pseudo-reasoning (false reasoning)
  • Unsound arguments

Fallacies in Debating

  • Deny, confuse, or falsify an argument most often in a debate
  • Six types:
    • False Dilemma
    • Straw Man
    • Special Pleading
    • Slippery Slope
    • Meaningless Jargon
    • Weasel Words


Meaningless Jargon

  • Most commonly used with advertisements, meaningless jargon is an attempt to say things that sound good, but convey little to no meaning

Examples

  • Just Do It!
  • Have It Your Way!
  • Every Kiss Begins with Kay!

Weasel Words

  • Weasel words make little to no change in the content of a statement while sucking out all or most of its content
  • The phrase was first used by Theodore Roosevelt and references how weasels suck out the content of shells without breaking the shell

Common phrases

  • may be, arguablydebatably
  • Ex. There may be a political revolution at hand.
    • For this to mean something, the speaker should make a definitive statement.


Problems

  • These fallacies are to supposedly reinforce an argument, but in reality do nothing.
  • Neither Meaningless Jargon nor Weasel Words substantiate or defend a position, but—because they sound persuasive—fool those who pay inadequate attention to the content of an argument