… and how to fight back!
(Key: The terms in italics, (so what?) and (specify…) are fully discussed here )
1 – Independent experts (often unnamed) agree with me (so what?), or disagree with you (so what?)
- Alice’s remedy: Show as irrelevant to the actual issue. Who are these experts? Are they in fact independent? What did they actually say? (may need some detective work!). Also ignores the probability that other experts may hold a contrary view.
2 – The issues are multi-factorial, (so what?) it is therefore wrong to focus on a single factor (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: Irrelevant evasive misdirect (most science is multi-factorial), focusing on a single factor is justifiable if evidence suggests it is a dominant factor. Specify the points being evaded by the speaker.
3 – Studies show a statistical association (eg between sugar consumption and obesity) but do not prove causality (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: Specify the studies which do show causality (and are ignored by the speaker). The speaker could also be ignoring or evading the strength of the association, which may be compelling.
4 – My [truism] is true (so what?) therefore all my subsequent statements are true (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: Explain that the truism is true only through its grammatical form, not logic. This is a most handy form of CokeSpeak to allow the speaker to ignore multiple relevant issues.
5 – Use of emotive language, ‘It is wrong that you demonise junk food’ (so what?)
- Alice’s remedy: Speaker is avoiding the issue, a mis-direct. Deal with by translating as emotionally neutral (‘demonise’ translates to analyse or criticise); specify the issues which the speaker is avoiding by using this tactic.
6 – Re-phrasing or extending or mis-representing an opponent’s argument to a more convenient form for rebuttal ’So you say all junk food will make everyone fat’ or ‘You want to take away the consumer’s freedom to choose what they want’ (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: This is often used to create a ‘false dichotomy’ by rephrasing as a choice between two extremes. Remedy is to calmly re-state one’s own position.
7 – Claim membership of arbitrary authoritative group ‘I’m a doctor / scientist / dietitian /etc, you can trust me’ (so what?)
- Alice’s remedy: Explain irrelevance to the issue at hand – an argument should stand or fall on its own merits, not the merits of the speaker.
8 – Assign opponent to arbitrary group, and criticise that group based on qualities the CokeSpeaker assigns to that group ‘You’re a complementary therapist, (so what?) therefore you are not evidence-based’ (so what?) therefore your arguments are wrong. (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: A neat CokeSpeak device to dismiss everything an opponent says, whilst evading the real issues or arguments. Remedy is to point out that the reason an opponent holds an opinion has little to do with whether that opinion is true or false, and re-specifying the points which the CokeSpeaker has ignored.
9 – Claim that ‘more research’ is needed (so what?) & (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: A fine delaying tactic, whilst ignoring current research conclusions. Also contains an ‘appeal to common sense’ as more research is thought to be generally a good idea in any event. One of my ‘Mogadon’ words!
10 – Claim that current research is flawed using emotional or unscientific language ‘the research is more about sensationalism than science’ (specify…)
- Alice’s remedy: A method to avoid or ignore the conclusions of the research in question. Restate the issues which are being ignored by the speaker.