Monday, September 11, 2017

Argumentum ad baculum

Academics are such spoilsports. If you find an easy way to do things, they find a way to tell you why it is wrong and why you should not be allowed to do it. Of course, not that what they say stops you from doing what you really want to do know, it is sort of nice to also have people applauding you for doing things and these guys get in the way of that.

"I think this movie is the best that we have ever seen."
"Because I will smash your face in if you do not agree."

How nice to get your way without long dissertations about the stone face of the actor, the mumbled dialogues and all the rest of it. But no...they call it a logical fallacy...'argumentum ad baculum' is the phrase they use. AND, as you know, someone throws a word like that you are too flummoxed by the phrase to even come back at them. Of course, they do it from the safety of THEIR homes, else you could bash some sense into them.

Argumentum ad baculum apparently means an appeal to force...that a conclusion has to be accepted because the consequences of not accepting will be...err...detrimental to your health. Though, yes, it could also mean detrimental to you in some manner other than health, as well.

Not always is it that straightforward. There is this prevalent anti-Muslim rhetoric that has a hold in the hinterlands of India.

"These people are dangerous. We need to impose population control on them."
"Why so?"
"They have this plan of producing so many children that they will become the majority and again rule over us."

Conspiracy theories of this sort are always an appeal to force. Accept this conclusion and work accordingly or the consequences will be horrendous.

Then, of course, every single blind believer is fed on a pure diet of 'argumentum ad baculum': Allow women to wear this and that is the death of our culture; Allow people to do that, and that is the end of our Nation...

Such a useful philosophy for the leaders of the world. AND the academics HAVE to get in the way.

Never mind them, though...NOW they are being taught to understand that argumentum ad baculum can be used on THEM as well. So, yes, soon you can expect to see this mentioned, not as a logical fallacy, but in the list of supremely logical methods of debate!


  1. We get that in America as well. "Allow Gay people to marry and it will spoil marriage for straight people" bring the most common, I guess. Nice, reflective tone to this work. I liked it a lot.

    1. Thanks Wei Na. Most such logical fallacies are universal. Humanity being what it is :)

  2. Thanks for introducing me to a new word ! Though of course I have known it through its innumerable manifestations in everyday life. It's absence would have rendered so many fanatics and Babas of different hues quite incapable indeed :)