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Wishez

What is the fallacy for the deliberate use of big words to confuse the audience?

Hi, I've tried sifting through the hundreds of fallacies, but I haven't managed to find the one I'm looking for. Perhaps I skipped over it.

I'm looking for the fallacy of using a big/uncommon vocabulary in order to gain credibility, or confuse others who don't know the meaning of the words.

Thank you!

Wishez

asked on Sunday, Jul 19, 2020 11:51:42 PM by Wishez

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Bo Bennett, PhD writes:

As Citizen Irrelevant commented below, do be careful in reading into someone else's intent. It may be the case they are trying to deceive (Argument by Gibberish), it may be case they are poor communicators and just don't realize they are talking over their audience, or it could be that you/audience needs to brush up on vocab.

posted on Monday, Jul 20, 2020 12:27:26 PM
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Bryan writes:
[To Bo Bennett, PhD]

I'm trying to decide whether we can ever claim to know someone else's intent. Sometimes it seems clear but some people just talk word salad. For example with my bad memory I can forget what I was talking about rather quickly, and after a few sherries I've had occasion where I realised that I've just continued talking having lost where I was going and ended up just putting words one after the other. I suspect the Dutch courage adds a level of confidence which I don't innately have and this causes me to wing it, before it gets beyond redemption. 

Do you see a distinction? Can there be one?

Interestingly looking at the quote in the example reminded me of a certain person who talks about the oranges of something, or about infantroopen. 

 

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 01:46:54 PM
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Bo Bennett, PhD writes:
[To Bryan]

I would say that, depending on the situation, one can be fairly confident of another's intent and meaning, but I would not go as far to call this knowledge. People with high levels of emotional intelligence are much better at this then people on the autism spectrum.

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 01:52:16 PM
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Wishez writes:
[To Bryan]

That makes sense, I guess my question is pretty vague... I was thinking specifically of a speaker using really uncommon words, especially when they know their audience most likely has no idea what they mean.

For instance, a well spoken English-speaker trying to debate, using 5 syllable words, with somebody who grew up their whole life in Columbia, and barely knows any English. Most likely just to confuse them, or overwhelm them because the other person might not want to continuously ask "what does THAT mean?"

More of an extreme example, but I completely agree that it could just be lack of consideration or judgement!

Thanks for the answers, I feel like it does line up with Argument by Gibberish and/or Proof by Intimidation.

Best regards, 

Wishez

Wishez

[ login to reply ] posted on Saturday, Jul 25, 2020 07:27:03 PM

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Rationalissimo
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answered on Monday, Jul 20, 2020 05:22:31 AM by Rationalissimo

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mchasewalker
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As others have pointed out the closest paralogical fallacy would be an Appeal to Gibberish. However, from what you've presented in your question it is entirely subjective and open to interpretation, speculation, or an opinion whether the speaker intends to confuse the audience, gain credibility, or not.

In which case, there are too many variables to dismiss it as a fallacy when it could just as easily be a cognitive bias or blatant ignorance of the audience involved. 

Imagine a medical doctor or theoretical physicist lecturing before an audience of hairdressers. It would be perfectly acceptable for the speaker to use "big" words specific to the subject at the risk of not being understood, yet also innocent of the charge of doing so purposefully in order to confuse, or puff up his or her bona fides.

answered on Monday, Jul 20, 2020 12:44:08 PM by mchasewalker

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Bryan writes:

I would that a lecturer should know their audience and be capable of changing the language to suit  them. If they can't then they aren't really qualified to lecture. I know that some people may be forced into this position, but being unqualified isn't predicated on whether or not you sought the position.

posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 06:33:36 AM
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mchasewalker writes:

[To Bryan]

If they can't then they aren't really qualified to lecture.

Now that's a clear cut hasty generalization and all too frequent fallacy.

As a writer and lecturer, I often use words that suit my field of expertise and likewise challenge my audiences to heighten their own vocabulary and understanding. I write and teach in a field where many of the early pioneers wrote and documented their findings in their original foreign language which later became a part of a modern-day scholarly lexicon. 

Plus, I find talking down to audiences to be repugnant, wasteful, and personally boring. I am an avowed logoleptic and delight in the power, etymology, and scope of each new word and sharing it with my students even if it flies above their heads. If they have questions they can certainly raise their hands and ask for definition and clarity.

Also, as a lecturer, it is not uncommon to find certain audience members who have bitten off more than they can chew. In other words, they think they are more knowledgable or prepared than they really are. This might be an example of Dunning-Kruger's cognitive bias. 

The teacher is there to teach, not cater or kowtow to the least informed.

Now, that's my anecdotal experience and opinion, but the ultimate point is the original question was about logical fallacies and NOT OPINIONS. Yours or mine.

 

 

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 12:24:09 PM
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Bryan writes:
[To mchasewalker]

Not only was what I said not clearly a hasty generalisation, but it wasn't a generalisation at all. If you want to play at throwing accusations of fallacies I could point to a black and white and straw man fallacies, but I don't really find that overly productive. 

There's a difference between using more accessible language, talking down to people, and using overly technical and confusing jargon to people who you know won't understand it. Some people are good at finding a balance, some aren't. That's quite a long way from generalising. 

Actually I was looking at this from the point of view of the fallacy, and was about to point out why I thought your comment was a bit off topic, however looking at the original question again, I agree that the wording is more suggestive of just using words which people don't understand rather than the argument from gibberish. 

I often post an answer then subsequently wonder if I got it wrong, and I would encourage people to point out if I did so I can learn, but if an exchange of opinion isn't wanted then I'd ask that my user ID be deleted please. People (not you) throwing snowflake tantrums because they were corrected about something they clearly didn't know anything about isn't desirable in my opinion .

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 01:32:37 PM
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Bryan writes:
[To mchasewalker]

Btw I wrote the first few paragraphs before heeding your point about the wording of the question. I was talking about something different, that's my fault for jumping to the fallacy I thought fit without paying enough attention, then running with what I thought was asked. This just occurred to me. Sometimes I'm a bit slow, I can literally take years to connect the dots sometimes.

[ login to reply ] posted on Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020 05:15:25 PM
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mchasewalker writes:

Q.E.D.

 

posted on Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020 04:24:39 PM
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Bryan writes:
[To mchasewalker]

Not if you set out to prove that I generalised you didn't . I was correct, just off topic.

[ login to reply ] posted on Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020 05:17:36 PM
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Citizen Irrelevant
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Perhaps the use of an expanded vocabulary was not INTENDED as a tactic, but simply commonplace to the user?  In which case, there would be NO fallacy at play.  I would need to see an example, in context, to make a fair determination.  It is also easy to find oneself out of their element or comfort zone when highly-specialized jargon is employed;  for example, I have been reviewing an unusual number of studies by virologists and other medical specialists of late, and the logisms they employ are very difficult for a layperson to assimilate.  Could you provide an example of the obtuse language you question?

answered on Monday, Jul 20, 2020 11:58:39 AM by Citizen Irrelevant

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Bryan
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This would be argument by gibberish I believe. 

Edit : actually I've been talked out of it above. Just using words other people don't know isn't a fallacy. 

answered on Monday, Jul 20, 2020 08:16:37 AM by Bryan

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Jason Mathias
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Word Salad fallacy. 

answered on Thursday, Jul 23, 2020 08:17:24 PM by Jason Mathias

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Night
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I think you're looking for Proof by Verbosity/Fallacy of Intimidation. From what I understand the definition of the fallacy would include the deliberate use of complex or obscure wording to make a claim difficult to understand.

 

You do still have to be mindful of context since some people just habitually talk a certain way, ramble or don't know they need to explain the term. If you're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt about their intentions, pointing out the issue and asking them to explain themselves in a more accessible manner would be a good idea.

answered on Saturday, Jul 25, 2020 06:28:53 PM by Night

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