Fun with fallacies 5: Stop repeating yourself

argument from repititionThe argument from repetition is when a discussion has been had so many times, or a participant in a discussion repeats the same point over and over again, neglecting that other participants have either proven the point wrong or have conceded the debate. This is a form of “beating them into submission” and reminds me of a quote by Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

The goal of this tactic, is to exhaust your opponent into conceding the argument, because they get sick of being told the same thing over and over. The danger here, is that a person will engage in it to make their definitions carry over into the main debate, when they are hotly contested.

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7 comments on “Fun with fallacies 5: Stop repeating yourself

  1. “for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Do you think it is true?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment From the perspective of the argument, I’d say that it lacks soundness. From a rhetorical perspective, it’s brilliant. It is very much the same rhetoric that feminists use when you say you are not a feminist:

      Non-feminist: I’m not a feminist
      Feminist: Do you believe in gender equality?
      Non-feminist: Yes
      Feminist: HA! Then you are by definition a feminist.

      The brilliance is that there is a perception of an argument taking place, but you are not allowed to challenge the definitions of both equality in itself and feminism as an ideology.

      If I were to construct your argument in the form of a syllogism I would do it like this:
      Major Premise: Truth is the antithesis of untruth.
      Minor premise: The State is constructed by untruth
      Conclusion: Therefore, the truth is the antithesis of the state.

      This argument is valid where the definition of “antithesis” is taken to mean “The opposite state of”
      As for soundness, I do not think many people would contest that “untruth” is the opposite of truth. However, I think some may hone in on the weaker second premise, where for soundness, you would have to empirically prove that “The State” is a construct that is constructed based on untruth and maintained by untruth.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your logical way of thinking.

    Human societies, past or present, East or West are and were based on truth and also untruth, kindness and also cruelty. All societies have demanded its members to accept its delusions(untrue beliefs) and have demanded from its members to accept the inherent cruelties in its system. People who who do not follow the line become social outcasts and are punished by the system in various ways, visible and hidden.

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    • I think you may be conflating “State” (as in system of social governance) with “societies” that does include, but is not limited to the state. Hobbes touches on it in Leviathan, that a state has a tendency to grow bigger until it encompasses the whole lives of citizens of that state.

      Let me give you an example:
      In East-Germany, large parts of the population were spies for the State police. They literally got into peoples bedrooms, there was no freedom of expression, because it was suppressed by the state.

      Timothy Hunt, is a Nobel prize winning scientist who was harassed out of a job due to a joke he made based on a report by a reporter who has had significant issues with credibility afterwards. In Dr. Hunt’s case, the state did not suppress his freedom of expression, parts of society did.

      The result is identical, but I think the differentiation is needed. I do agree with your statements, in either of the comments, and I think there is a lot of truth to them.

      There is also the aspect that ideology often cannot be proven to be accurate or inaccurate due to lack of falsifiability, lack of data, or problems with data,

      Like

  3. You wrote,”I think you may be conflating “State” (as in system of social governance) with “societies” that does include, but is not limited to the state.”

    You are right that society and state do not mean the same thing. So your logic is correct.
    I was not conflating state and society. My remark was not only about state, it was about society.

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  4. […] “for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Our discussion in the comments) […]

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  5. […] cornerstone of propaganda. To mix truth with lie, empowers the lie, as it may be viewed as true by repetition  or […]

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