Month: March 2012

The Hypochondriacs


An intelligent mind is easily seduced by logic. It is open to a rational argument but it often overlooks the pitfalls that most logical arguments have. This leads the most brilliant minds into accepting some irrational hypothesis, which may, even on the initial cursory ponderation of ordinary minds, appear outright stupid.

In order to create an argument that is fallacious yet convincing, one should first understand the audience the argument holds interest to. By creating a premise that accommodates and makes the audience at home, one can launch to create a detailed deductive chain of logic that would eventually culminate in the intended fashion. Naturally, it requires an understanding of general human nature as well as the particular archetype the audience belongs to, for every human can be represented by a few and finite number of templates for all practical purposes. For instance, in order to set up a winning argument against a vain person, you would want to incorporate that person into the premise in a way that is flattering to him/her. On the contrary, you should avoid creating a premise that portrays a suspicious or cynical person in a good light, especially if that person has a good insight about his/her own character, for he/she will then be suspicious of the argument as well. Since each particular person has mostly thought of counter arguments only to the ones going against what he/she generally believes in, one would be at a loss of a starting point if one were to negate the arguments that he/she usually advocates, and are now being used by you to create the premise, whence the deductive chain will follow.

There lies a trick, that translates to skill in most cases, in how one goes about creating the premise. The human mind has a weakness for details as well, and the more details woven in the premise, the more the audience would diverge from seeking the fallacy, seeking, rather, the imagery the abundance of details has created.

It would appear that even to win a rather simple argument one would have to go to great lengths. Well, if your argument is fallacious, and if it is not statistical, then indeed one has to resort to a complex algorithm to achieveĀ  the desired end.

The psychological process working at the core of this strategy is the Semmelweis Reflex, or the confirmation bias. It appears that we are all ideological hypochondriacs, and like hypochondriacs, we need to believe that we are the ones who first thought of us having the disease.