Decentralized Socrates (Part 12)
Let us consider a reasonably naive example of the kind of rhetoric used by position talkers. Suppose, just for illustration, a person or a website wants to promote the position that stock prices will continue to rise. He wants to give his readers the impression that no matter what news comes out, the stock price will still go up, after all. Nevertheless, he avoids saying anything untrue. It is also necessary for him to comment on the news that has caused a stir in public.
In such cases, there is a rhetoric that begins with mentioning the negative side of the news and permanently closes with mentioning the positive side. For example, in the case of stock prices, imagine the news that “ the central bank is rumored to be accelerating monetary tightening to prevent a bubble. This news would simply mean that monetary tightening would decrease the amount of money flowing into stock investments, and stock prices would go down.
However, to change the impression of the news, it is possible to describe the news of monetary tightening as it is, then to insert the opinion of an expert that the impact of the tightening is limited or to include a story about an exceptional case in the past showing a rise in stock prices after the news of monetary tightening. In short, he always puts some opinion that stock prices will eventually rise at the end of the article.
The reason why this is not logical, but a rhetorical maneuver, is the following:
- The argument appended in the second half just needs to be very loosely connected to the first half (or worse, irrelevant).
- The logical order can be positive -> negative. However, to give a heavier impression of the last part, the order is negative -> positive.
Let us call this manipulation “negative to positive” type rhetoric.
Fact-checking is very complicated to deal with this manipulation. This difficulty comes from the point that he is reporting the facts as they are. The sequence of presenting the opinions is entirely up to the writer’s taste, so whether or not he intends to manipulate rhetorically is also unclear.
Are there countermeasures against such rhetorical manipulation?