Logic Part 1: Fun, fallacies and a dead flamingo

Logos (logic) is known to many people but understood by few. The danger with logic is that all it takes is a subtle distortion to produce a flawed, but very convincing argument. To understand logic properly we have to go back to the very basics.

Basic logical syllogisms

An argument using logic is often called a logical syllogism. Basic logical syllogisms will have a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion…

Major premise: All A is B

Minor premise: X is A

Conclusion: Therefore, X is B
Continue reading “Logic Part 1: Fun, fallacies and a dead flamingo”

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Occultatio: Burritos, bandits and bit of banter

According to Cicero there are three types of speeches, deliberative (to persuade an audience), judicial (to present a case in a debate or argument), and epideictic (to give a ceremonial speech). Each type of speech has its own purpose, and each has its own secret weapons.

This post is going to focus on one of those weapons: occultatio. Occultatio is the rhetorical equivalent of sticking your nose in the air whilst slapping your opponent in the face with a leather glove. It’s sneaky, it’s sly, and we all love it! Continue reading “Occultatio: Burritos, bandits and bit of banter”

Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations 2017

The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu had some strong words for Iran at his recent speech at the United Nations. Mirroring Churchill’s famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech Netanyahu spoke about the ‘Iranian curtain’ which is spreading terror across the Middle East. “Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel. Today, I have a simple message for Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran: The light of Israel will never be extinguished”. Continue reading “Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations 2017”

Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?

Is there a crisis in political rhetoric? The more you think about this question the more you realise just how gargantuan the can of worms you just opened is. Simply knowing how to strategically approach this questions is a mission within itself, and that was the focus of the recent workshop hosted by the Network of Oratory and Politics which took place at Queen Mary University in London on Wednesday 13th September.  Continue reading “Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos

Out of all the rhetorical tropes stocked in our arsenal of persuasion, pathos is certainly the most powerful. Logos is like a castle, well-founded, sturdy and strong, however pathos is the wave of water which sinks it with overwhelming force.

Pathos is an appeal to the emotions. Whether that is sadness, pity, happiness or anger; whenever someone is trying to inspire any sort of emotion from the audience they are using pathos. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos

Ethos, logos and pathos are often celebrated as the Three Musketeers of Rhetoric. However, they can be much more menacing than people realise. They distort logic, they cloud reason and they manipulate judgment.

Ethos is probably one of the most commonly used and least commonly detected forms of rhetoric. Ethos is when a speaker attempts to invoke authority or credibility (either over themselves or someone else) to persuade an audience. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos”

The Dirty Rhetorician; The Glib and Oily Art

”If for I want that glib and oily art,

To speak and purpose not…”

This is a quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear. It refers of course to rhetoric – that dangerous dark art of manipulating words to speak and purpose not! Rhetoric is still today seen as a dirty word that is often used to accuse adversaries of possessing a questionable disposition. For example, the media only really uses the word ‘rhetoric’ when they are talking about Donald Trump or North Korea (when they are talking of Obama they tend to use the word oratory).

Continue reading “The Dirty Rhetorician; The Glib and Oily Art”