Saturday, June 22, 2013

Argument from eloquence

It's an interesting psychological phenomenon that people will more easily believe a person who speaks in a very eloquent and understandable manner, no matter how false this person's claims are, as long as they are at least remotely plausible and believable (without putting much thought on it.)

This is, in fact, how most of religions, conspiracy theories, different forms of denialism, blatant historical revisionism and other such things are so successful.

When an actual scientist or historian delivers a lecture, it tends to be dry, plodding, filled with tedious (but necessary) facts, many of which can easily go over the head of the average listener. Also, in average, the average such lecture tends to be outright boring and uninteresting to the average person because it has nothing that would pick their curiosity.

However, when an eloquent conspiracy theorist, creationist or other such person delivers a lecture, they know how to raise interest and curiosity about what they are saying. They know what to say and how to say it, and how to deliver it in a manner that's easily understood. They are basically playing with human psychology (many of them without even consciously knowing it.) Their listeners will on average not check facts, will not check if what's being said is actually true, and will not have the education and background to recognize dubious claims and fallacious arguments when they are presented.

With this you can convince the average layman of almost anything. People have been convinced in this manner of the most ridiculous things that go against all available evidence and experimentation.

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