The Double Inverted Inconsistency Principle

In a discussion, when pointing out inconsistencies in your opponent’s opinion by giving two examples that you disagree with, remember that it can be made into a point against you, just by inverting the two examples – plus/minus some rhetorical decoration.

Here is an easy one, taken from a discussion on Facebook:

“Liberals make no sense at all. On the one hand, they complain about the war killing innocent people, and on the other hand, they are okay with killing innocent unborn children.”

This is the plain inverted version:

“Conservatives make no sense at all. On the one hand, they complain about killing innocent unborn children, and on the other hand, they are okay with the war killing innocent people.”

Of course, this requires some adjusted rhetorical decoration:

“Conservatives make no sense at all. On the one hand, they complain about abortion, and on the other hand, they are okay with the war killing innocent women and children.”

Here is another one, from Twitter (source not given to protect the individual):

“Don’t critisize German nuclear power plants, because Japan is far away”, say people who demand total surveillance in Germany whenever Bin Laden farts.

This one is full of rhetorical devices that need to swap sides. You could say something like:

“Ignore terrorist threats in Germany, because New York, London and Madrid are far away”, say people who want to immediately turn off 22% of Germany’s electricity because 8.9 earthquakes and tsunamis happen there, too!

One thought on “The Double Inverted Inconsistency Principle

  1. Linus Walleij

    In this context I tend to think about the double-negation idiom in C such as:

    typedef int bool;
    extern int get_gpio_reg(struct foo_struct *);
    bool was_some_bit_set = !!get_gpio_reg(&foo);

    Which will clamp the returned value from that function from the returned range to boolean, nicely. We do it all over the Linux kernel for example.

    Reply

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