search

Alphabet Soup

Description: The deliberate and excessive use of acronyms and abbreviations to appear more knowledgeable in the subject or confuse others.

Logical Form:

Person 1 uses acronyms and abbreviations.

Therefore, person 1 knows what he or she is talking about.

Example #1:

In programming CGI, a WYSIWYG interface doesn't handle PHP or CSS very well. If you sign up for my personal consulting, I will show you how to program effectively.

Explanation: Simply overusing acronyms is not the problem here; it's the deliberate overuse for the purpose of making people think the speaker is very knowledgeable in this area, or perhaps to use terms the audience is unaware of, making the audience think they need the consulting service more than they thought they did.

Example #2:

Am I good at public speaking? Let's see. I have a CC, AC-B, AC-S, AC-G, CL, AL-B, AL-S, and a DTM. What do you think?

Explanation: These are all designations from Toastmasters International. In fact, many of them have more to do with leadership than speaking, but the average audience member would never know that. Besides, getting all these awards just means the person did the work needed, not that they are necessarily good at public speaking.

Exception: "Excessive" is subjective. Acronyms and abbreviations are perfectly acceptable in many situations.

Tip: Don't be so quick to assume nefarious intentions. Sometimes people simply are unaware that they are overusing this type of language.

References:

This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found.

Questions about this fallacy? Ask our community!

Reason: Books I & II

This book is based on the first five years of The Dr. Bo Show, where Bo takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining. Every chapter in the book explores a different aspect of reason by using a real-world issue or example.

Part one is about how science works even when the public thinks it doesn't. Part two will certainly ruffle some feathers by offering a reason- and science-based perspective on issues where political correctness has gone awry. Part three provides some data-driven advice for your health and well-being. Part four looks at human behavior and how we can better navigate our social worlds. In part five we put on our skeptical goggles and critically examine a few commonly-held beliefs. In the final section, we look at a few ways how we all can make the world a better place.

Get 20% off this book and all Bo's books*. Use the promotion code: websiteusers

* This is for the author's bookstore only. Applies to autographed hardcover, audiobook, and ebook.

Get the Book