Frauds, snares and delusions in the age of the rhetorical virus

Just picked up a quite excellent book in our local second-hand bookshop. It is titled, Fallacy: the Counterfeit of Argument, and was written in 1959. By happenstance, this is part of the introduction:

The triumph of rhetoric is like the spread of a virus infection. When an epidemic spreads through an area, it is said to prevail there, and local measures may be taken. But to say that it prevails does not mean that everyone is infected. Some persons may escape infection; others are immune. It is not necessary to labour the analogy in order to show that it would be a good idea if the community could somehow develop a serum against some forms of persuasion.

Few can hope to become immune to all the tricks of persuasion since, like viruses, there are too many of them. People are daily exposed to appeals to blind faith, self interest, fear, prejudice, fancy. This book cannot discuss persuasion in all its variety and complexity, but it can attempt to describe and illustrate some of the most dangerous strains.

Logic is the defence against trickery. The kinds of argument with which logic deals are the reasonable ones. Mistakes are possible, even frequent, in applying the forms of logical argument, and these mistakes are regarded as fallacies, many having been noted as early as Aristotle. We shall wish to guard against them. But the most common fallacies today are of a very different sort. It is a small comfort to know that an argument is entirely logical but that its validity derives its conclusion from its premises, and that all the rules of the syllogism, or whatever, are observed to a nicety, if it turns out that the premises are frauds, snares, delusions. There are brilliant tricks for getting people to accept all sorts of false premises as true (some of these tricks have been spotted since the time of the ancient Greeks), and these tricks are so prevalent that even when people realise that something is being pulled on them, they tend to let it pass.

Which brings me to this: The COVID Coup by Angelo Codevilla. It is the best political discussion of the political dimension of Covid-1984 I have come across so far. It was also posted at Instapundit where the “best” comment reads, in full, “Fantastic article”. From the article’s intro:

What history will record as the great COVID scam of 2020 is based on 1) a set of untruths and baseless assertions—often outright lies—about the novel coronavirus and its effects; 2) the production and maintenance of physical fear through a near-monopoly of communications to forestall challenges to the U.S.. ruling class, led by the Democratic Party, 3) defaulted opposition on the part of most Republicans, thus confirming their status as the ruling class’s junior partner. No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.

Just read it long though it may be. If anything is needed more than reasoned discussion at this time, I cannot think what that is.