Saturday, December 04, 2010


In my interactions on various online fora, I've noted recurring patterns in so-called "debate" technique among the wingnuts and teatards. I'm collecting and numbering them here so you can recognize them. I refer to them as BSWATs (pronounced 'bee-swats.") The last three letters stand for "Wingnut 'Argument' Techiques." You can figure out what the first two stand for.

1) The simple unsupported contradiction and the repeated assertion of a demonstrably wrong premise as “Fact.” This clip from ”Family Guy” illustrates the technique:

2) A similar technique: dismissing the argument out of hand, without attempt to debate:

"Kevin Bacon was the star of Footloose."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." (leaves discussion).

3) Ignoring what was said in favor of whining about the way it was said.

“Of course Kevin Bacon was in Footloose. Here’s the DVD box, you idiot. His name’s right there.”
”You called me a name! You libs don’t have any arguments. All you do is insult people.”

4) Handwaving away any information that contradicts you by dismissing the source out of hand.

“Look, Kevin Bacon starred in Footloose. It says so right here in the Internet Movie Database.”

5) Dragging some irrelevant celebrity bogeyman’s name into the conversation:

“Keith Olbermann thinks Kevin Bacon starred in Footloose, too. You sound like Keith Olbermann.” Other names used: Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow, George Soros.

6) "Yew thank yer purty smart, don't yew?" Usually expressed sarcastically: “Well, I guess not all of us have your wide expertise about movies. We’re all in awe of your knowledge.”

7) Attempts to change the subject:

“Well, Tom Cruise was in Top Gun and he’s a liberal and he’s crazy!”

8) Projection, or “I know you are, but what am I?” Example:

9) “I’m not your Google monkey”: making a wild and untrue assertion and insisting its the reader's responsibility to back it up for you or to disprove it:

“I know for a fact that Anthony Michael Hall was the star of Footloose.”
“That doesn’t sound right. Can you cite some source that backs that up?”
“I don’t have to back that up. You look it up!”

10) "Help! Help! I'm bein' repressed!" Asserting that because you're "entitled to your opinion." that any disagreement is an attempt to stifle your free speech rights.

11) Extreme leaps, often bizarre, usually off-topic:

"Kevin Bacon was the star of Footloose, not Anthony Michael Hall."
"So you're saying Anthony Michael Hall is a lousy actor and probably a child molester!?"

Watch for these BSWATs . See how many you can tag.


Spanish Inquisitor said...

Don't forget "An offense is the best defense" tactic.

"Kevin Bacon was the star of Footloose."

"See? You've already made up your mind. There's no arguing with you, you're not-openminded to any evidence to the contray."

Bill Crider said...

Hey, you go with what works.

Tom said...

Thank ghod for your rhetoric-fu skills, Logic Man.