Of rhetoric and Game

Badger points out how the vicissitudes of human psychology tend to elevate the rhetorical effectiveness of those with little ability to argue at the expense of the logically and dialectically correct:

Like the mistaking of kindness for weakness that plagues today’s nice guys, there is some element of the human mind that frames lengthy and incessant counter-argument as a position of weakness and insecurity. He who masters pithy, concise (and indirect and ambiguous, I might add) communication commands a stronger image of rhetorical confidence and state control than the bloviating firebrand whose logical appeals may indeed be without equal.

It is extremely rare the wordsmith who can write (or speak) at length without the perceptible loss of audience attention, credibility and alpha points. While there are publically-known exceptions, the fact that they are known and notable underlies the exception.

I suspect this is why what I think of as the “high-low” approach is unusually effective. It helps anchor one’s more intellectually flighty sallies and secures them against rhetorical dismissal by those who can’t follow them.

There is a massive difference in perception between being the recipient of a breathless, circuitous infodump and being the recipient of a long lecture after the lecturer first coldly informs you that this is going to be a long, detailed, and painful experience because you are so woefully ignorant that there is simply no other choice if you are not to be left drowning in the swamp of your stupidity.

Another factor here is that simple binary thinkers tend to view multiple reasons as being somehow contradictory even when they reinforce each other. After all, if reason X is correct, then reason Y is at best unnecessary, and therefore to mention it must be indicative of a weakness in X. This is, of course, profoundly stupid, but has a rational foundation in that people who have no case do tend to take the spaghetti approach and throw out everything they can in the hope that something will stick.

However, when each reason is not perceived as an alternative, but rather a hammer blow driving home the previous point, the perception of weakness disappears. Granted, fair or not, this tends to be viewed as cruelty, but the sad reality is that in a fallen world, a man often benefits more greatly from being viewed as cruel, and therefore strong, than as kind, and therefore weak. Kindness is not weakness, but far too many people, women in particular, perceive it to be so.