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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Seven signs of the charlatan


The Seven Signs of the Charlatan
  1. Redefines commonly understood words to suit his arguments.
  2. Prefers speaking to writing.
  3. Provides evasive answers to relevant direct questions.
  4. Utilizes his answers to self-posed questions as propositions for logical syllogisms.
  5. Cites secondary and tertiary sources instead of primary sources.
  6. Substitutes superficial knowledge about a subject for substantive knowledge of it.
  7. Advertises credentials and accolades and avoids addressing criticism.
Any time you see someone changing the definition of a well-defined, commonly-understood term, that's a reliable sign that they are full of it.

The sign number two: they prefer speaking to writing. I realize this is a little ironic because here I am in a spoken medium, but you know, the genuine intellectual always prefers writing. Writing forces you to articulate more precisely. There are many things that sound pretty good, but once you put them down on paper, you realize that the argument has holes in it, you start to see the problems with it. It is much easier to baffle and dazzle and bypass people's reason when you're speaking to them. You know, speech is more intrinsically rhetorical than writing, and so anytime you see someone who is really big on speaking and who much prefers lecturing to writing, that's a clue. It's not as reliable as the first sign, but it is definitely an indicator

Sign number three: they reliably provide evasive answers to direct questions. Now, there are times when you have to avoid a direct question, you know, when someone poses you the equivalent of a "have you stopped beating your wife: type of question, it's totally legitimate to refuse to answer it. So whenever you are dealing with somebody who is asked a relevant direct question, when you're dealing with someone who is asked a pertinent question that is substantive, and is not a gotcha question, when it's aimed at understanding or clarifying something the person has said, or what the person's position is, and they respond evasively... if they respond to a question that is meant to clarify their position and their response is to try to fog it up even more, this is also a very reliable sign that you're dealing with a charlatan.

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38 Comments:

Blogger Don't Call Me Len May 16, 2018 5:31 AM  

"Spoken by a good actor—and every great preacher, every successful advocate and politician is, among other things, a consummate actor—words can exercise an almost magical power over their hearers. Because of the essential irrationality of this power, even the best-intentioned of public speakers probably do more harm than good.

When an orator, by the mere magic of words and a golden voice, persuades his audience of the rightness of a bad cause, we are very properly shocked. We ought to feel the same dismay whenever we find the same irrelevant tricks being used to persuade people of the rightness of a good cause. The belief engendered may be desirable, but the grounds for it are intrinsically wrong, and those who use the devices of oratory for instilling even right beliefs are guilty of pandering to the least creditable elements in human nature.

By exercising their disastrous gift of the gab, they deepen the quasi-hypnotic trance in which most human beings live and from which it is the aim and purpose of all true philosophy, all genuinely spiritual religion to deliver them. Moreover, there cannot be effective oratory without oversimplification. But you cannot oversimplify without distorting the facts. Even when he is doing his best to tell the truth, the successful orator is ipso facto a liar. And most successful orators, it is hardly necessary to add, are not even trying to tell the truth; they are trying to evoke sympathy for their friends and antipathy for their opponents."

Aldous Huxley

Blogger SciVo May 16, 2018 5:48 AM  

Any time you see someone changing the definition of a well-defined, commonly-understood term, that's a reliable sign that they are full of it.

The only thing worse than that is if you have to work to pin the squirming snake down on what precisely he means by the term, given that his usage here contradicts by implication something else that he said there. Is he not the same person from one moment to the next? Does he not mean the same thing when he is talking about this as when he is talking about that, or is he an Eliza for whom each topic is just a spur for an entirely disconnected spew of word vomit?

Blogger YclepedBobAli May 16, 2018 5:51 AM  

I was recently re-reading the Screwtape Letters.

One passage stuck out for me because Clive Staples Lewis seems to have anticipated the attempt to create someone like Peterson (Chapter 7, 31)

"We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The 'Life Force', the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work - the MATERIALIST MAGICIAN, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls 'Forces' while denying the existence of 'spirits' - then the end of the war will be in sight".

Peterson is the materialist magician.

He believes in the life force:

"My God is the spirit that is trying to elevate Being. My God is the spirit that makes everything come together. My God is the spirit that makes order out of chaos and then recasts order when it has become too limiting. My God is the spirit of truth incarnate. None of that is supernatural. It is instead what is most real. It depends on what you mean by pray. I don't ask God for favors, if that's what you mean."- Reddit Ask Me Anything, 2017

- It's Peterson re-defining 'spirit' to render it a natural force, instead of an adjective 'of the supernatural'.

- Peterson is utilising those aspects of pscyhoanalysis that support a materialist religion, as Vox has noted.

- Peterson does worship sex. He's just very coy about it - watch his video on 'what girl's hips mean'.

Peterson dresses up in strange BDSM armour.

Peterson is CS Lewis's materialist magician?

Blogger Wanderer May 16, 2018 5:57 AM  

I feel like there ought to be a rule based on the type of mainstream media coverage a person gets. I immediately feel suspicious of anyone who gets any media attention, and just assume by default that they're full of shit and probably working with the media and are in on it. The only time I'm not suspicious of someone who gets media attention is if the person in question has blasphemed against Holocaustianity (and even then I'm still not fully trusting of them).

Blogger Patrikbc May 16, 2018 6:24 AM  

I prefer speaking to writing, but that’s because I can’t write for shit.

Blogger YclepedBobAli May 16, 2018 6:35 AM  

Vox how many hours do you sleep per night? These posts are appearing extremely early.

I have to admit I went back and rewatched Peterson's demolition of Cathy Young on the BBC. Yes, it's shooting fish in the proverbial. However, these are questions that have flummoxed men for decades, that he handled with aplomb in the moment.

It seems we're going to have to resign ourselves to Peterson's prominence. Hopefully the pressure from the right will force him to focus his public discourse against the further left.

Blogger Beau May 16, 2018 6:36 AM  

Moreover, there cannot be effective oratory without oversimplification. But you cannot oversimplify without distorting the facts. Even when he is doing his best to tell the truth, the successful orator is ipso facto a liar.

A remarkably ironic piece of sophistry from Mr Huxley.

The fault lies in the falsehood of the major premise, a high-sounding naked assertion. Given either a false major or minor premise, the conclusion is rendered invalid.

One can hear the voice of Huxley's father, "Hath God said?"

Blogger Teleros May 16, 2018 6:38 AM  

Just saw Sargon of Akkad did a video on why Jordan Peterson isn't Alt-Right (12mins):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOdm6Ijby0E

Referenced the posts here about JBP's UN work, although he said he wasn't going to go into it, because, uh, reasons.

Anonymous Anonymous May 16, 2018 6:40 AM  

Rule number one certainly applies to Peterson, but I think it applies to all the Social Justice Warriors as well. All of them.

In fact, rule one may apply to the entire left wing.

And Twitter also!

Anonymous Anonymous May 16, 2018 6:46 AM  

It must be added, that there is a correlation between different kinds of intellectual charlatans. Say, charlatans, who supports such pseudoscience as climate change, almost inevitably supports such pseudoscience as Darwinism etc.

Blogger Laramie Hirsch May 16, 2018 7:08 AM  

Question:

"Redefines commonly understood words to suit his arguments."

I've often thought that people mix up the word "equal" with "equitable."

I think that laws and freedoms should be applied to all men and women equitably. Yet I do not think all men and women are equal.

Would you say this is an example of #1?

Blogger Laramie Hirsch May 16, 2018 7:10 AM  

@2 The only thing worse than that is if you have to work to pin the squirming snake down on what precisely he means by the term

I've had this difficulty in the last 6 months with a person. Their argument was: "I hate to argue semantics." Seemed a cop-out to me.

Blogger Skyler the Weird May 16, 2018 7:20 AM  

The secular Elmer Gantry.

Blogger Teleros May 16, 2018 7:53 AM  

The Austrian authorities seem to be trying to nuke Generation Identity (Martin Sellner et al), including freezing bank accounts and such, so they've made a Freestartr to raise money to help them out:

https://freestartr.com/project/patriotism-is-not-a-crime-heimatliebe-ist-kein-verbrechen

Blogger bob kek mando - ( Creepy Joe Biden always asks for consent before changing your baby's diaper ) May 16, 2018 8:10 AM  

2. SciVo May 16, 2018 5:48 AM
an entirely disconnected spew of word vomit



a new tag line suddenly appears.

Blogger dienw May 16, 2018 8:30 AM  

@1 Don't Call Me Len
Aldous condemns himself: rhetoric is rhetoric whether spoken or written.
1. "Spoken by a good actor—and every great preacher, every successful advocate and politician" Let's include teachers, news readers, and Socrates dialogs; don't forget those who wrote what actors and teleprompter readers recite; nor should we leave off the list those who quote actors, preachers, and lecturers(Did dear Aldous ever give public statements or quote a speaker?)
2. "Because of the essential irrationality of this power, even the best-intentioned of public speakers probably do more harm than good." Well that includes Aldous' favorite speakers...and himself.

3.words can exercise an almost magical power over their hearers We're discussing rhetoric: why limit your "magic" and "hypnotic" "words" to only spoken words Mr. Huxley.
4. "By exercising their disastrous gift of the gab [and writing], they deepen the quasi-hypnotic trance in which most human beings live" So speaking and by extension writing is now reduced to mere "gab"; well now, that makes the great philosopher no more than a mere gossip columnist; and, How do we know Dear Aldous is not one of those who is living in a "quasi-hypnotic trance?"
5. "And most successful orators, it is hardly necessary to add, are not even trying to tell the truth" And by extension writers; therefore, he condemns himself; but he was counting on his readers and listeners to be those elites who declare themselves to not be in a "quasi-hypnotic trance."

Based on the three paragraph quote above, I think Vox easily could do the same to Huxley as he is doing to Peterson.







Blogger pyrrhus May 16, 2018 8:50 AM  

How about Peterson's wildly conflicting positions, like condemning ethno-nationalism while supporting Zionism? Pretty reliable sign of a huckster.

Blogger Wuzzums Fuzzums May 16, 2018 8:51 AM  

"That depends on what you mean by definition, bucko!"

Blogger Wynn Lloyd May 16, 2018 9:11 AM  

A great list and resource. It's amazing because the points seem so obvious once you read them, yet you would have never discovered them on your own. Some of us have fallen prey again and again to the games of these slippery eels.
Number One is so infuriating. When they act like simple terms and categories only have meaning after a twenty minute long word game.
Sargon of Assad, (thank you Teleros for the link) is the perfect, infuriating example of this.

When Sargon asked, "what is "black,"" Richard Spencer asked him if Lawrence Fishburne was black. Sargon seriously said he didn't know.
The dishonesty there is so irritating. Go call him a nigger to his face. See it he's black then, asshole. We know when a man is black, white, or brown 95% of the time irl. The main confusion that exists is between Latinos and middle easterners because of similarities in color, yet you can still tell them apart by facial features.
Yet Sargon thinks "black" is so totally incomprehensible it needs a 20 minute explanation.
Thank you for this eye-opening post.

Blogger L' Aristokrato May 16, 2018 9:14 AM  

Given the time, and will to do so, you should look at diet-Peterson Steven Pinker.

Blogger James Chinery May 16, 2018 9:14 AM  

One of my favorites so far, great job.

Blogger OGRE May 16, 2018 9:34 AM  

@16 dienw

What the hell are you going on about? Don't Call Me Len provides a quotation relevant to Vox's second point that contains some additional insight parallel to what Vox said about spoken vs written word, and you want to tear it apart. And in particular, you attack it by primarily merging oratory with writing. Huxley's quote clearly was about the persuasive power of the human voice when employed by a skilled speaker (something Tolkien gives credence to in the characters of Saruman and the Mouth of Sauron), yet every one of your points is levied against the written word as well.

Do you have some beef with Huxley you are trying to air? If so then say it. But all you have done here is exactly what Vox spoke about in his first point; you've redefined oratory to equate it with writing. And then you object to Huxley's observations because of this equivocation you've taken upon yourself to impose.

If you were trying to give us an example of How to Charlatan you've succeeded.

Blogger dienw May 16, 2018 9:45 AM  

Ogre: Huxley is a big a fraud as Peterson; an opinion justified by reading the given quote. The difference between them is that Huxley was successful by having had a pliant liberal/socialist press.

Otherwise, I don't give a damn.

Blogger Allen Skeens May 16, 2018 9:50 AM  

I think that pseudo-scientist Tyson is a better fit.

Blogger Peter Gent May 16, 2018 10:50 AM  

YclepedBobAli wrote:I was recently re-reading the Screwtape Letters...Peterson is CS Lewis's materialist magician?

Interesting insight and at first glance I would have to agree.

Don't Call Me Len wrote:"Spoken by a good actor—and every great preacher, every successful advocate and politician is, among other things, a consummate actor—words can exercise an almost magical power over their hearers. Because of the essential irrationality of this power, even the best-intentioned of public speakers probably do more harm than good." Aldous Huxley
I would disagree on biblical grounds. Paul argues in Romans 10:13-16 " 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

While writing is important, hence the biblical record, the spoken word can still be the Word for us, as Paul noted, especially in evangelism.

Blogger RobertT May 16, 2018 11:01 AM  

Anytime anyone starts defining the exact meaning of his words is giving you fair warning. If you hang around, you get what you deserve.

Time is more valuable than money.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash May 16, 2018 11:38 AM  

RobertT wrote:Time is more valuable than money.
If that were true, I wouldn't trade my time away for money.

Blogger Rabid Ratel May 16, 2018 12:51 PM  

Caveat - I haven't watched the video yet.

VD wrote Cites secondary and tertiary sources instead of primary sources.

Now why does Wikipedia insist on such sources? That would make it an organization of charlans.

Blogger Dirk Manly May 16, 2018 12:53 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Dirk Manly May 16, 2018 12:54 PM  

"Vox how many hours do you sleep per night? These posts are appearing extremely early. "

He's in Italy. 5 AM New York time is 11 AM in Italy.

Blogger dvdivx May 16, 2018 1:08 PM  

The only one I have a problem with is #2. Angels (the good ones) never leave anything in writing, they only speak. On a much lower level Trump usually speaks and does a good job. Depends on how and to whom they are trying to reach. Otherwise its a great list.

Blogger VD May 16, 2018 1:23 PM  

The only one I have a problem with is #2.

That's foolish. The facts are what they are. If you see someone who prefers to talk about things rather than put them in writing, that is an indication that he is a charlatan. There are exceptions, it's not hard proof, but you've been given a hint.

Ever notice how few media whores ever write more than one or two books? Because they don't actually have very much to say.

Blogger Wuzzums Fuzzums May 16, 2018 3:10 PM  

@31

You can't cry or pretend to feel excruciating pain over the JQ over text.

When thinking about Peterson's speeches contrast them with those of Tommy Robinson.

Which of the two gets physically attacked on a daily basis, spit on, insulted, have his family's life threatened, defamed, misrepresented, laughed at, actively suppressed by their own government, and so on?

Now which of the two starts tearing up in a public space on a regular basis?

Blogger dvdivx May 16, 2018 5:34 PM  

I think its also the intended audience. In the age of twitter and texting the attention span on many for the printed word is brief at best. Hogg is a good example of a charlatan that wants a camera in front of him. Younger people would rather be Instagram stars or youtubers than the main reporter for the New York Times.

Blogger Dexter May 16, 2018 9:43 PM  

@34 Ironically, I refuse to listen to podcasts because I don't want to spend 10, 20, or 30 minutes listening to some guy talk. If he wrote down the same words I could read them in a couple of minutes.

Blogger Dirk Manly May 17, 2018 1:44 PM  

@34

I would rather be a stable boy than ANY sort of reporter for the New York Times. My dignity can take only so much abuse.

Blogger Neutrinoide May 17, 2018 7:37 PM  

Charlatans often use X signs that Y is Z like a cheap women magazine.

Blogger Zeroh Tollrants May 17, 2018 10:28 PM  

Other good indicators are when they reply to a question with, "I can't answer that. I won't."

Or, they refer to their blatantly hypocritical stance as "ironic."

Or, they respond to a basic question like, "Do you believe in God?" With equivocating, attempting to redefine words, and panicky hostility.
"You know, it really depends on what you mean by, "Do," and "have." Those are such complex actions that I'm unsure if you mean do I actually these things, or am I just projecting onto a mystically being that Ive conjured up from my Id. As far as "belief," and "Gawd," let me tell you I don't like being bawxed in and given these binary choices, I mean everything, (except for my tranny pronoun usage, thats black & white), is a varying shade of grey & any answet I give would have to be viewed thru a lens that is on a spectrum of numerous levels & subcategories. So you think to yourself, why do I have to choose? This question is far too complicated to just blurt out within a short, 3,000 word response, I'm feeling accosted by your demand that I define terms like "faith." I mean you could ask me to take it in "faith," that you've made your bed today, because you sense my impotent ability to reasonably explain how a guy like you is seemingly successful, but he leaves his home w/his bedding in a disorderly heap on the bed.Let me tell you this,Carl Jung would have a field day with a guy like you & your messy room, buddy. Why are we having this conversation, anyway, and who is this, "Gawd" person you keep referring to? Who are you, & where did you get my number? What do you mean by, "You called me to have an interview we scheduled weeks in advance?" Listen, by golly,I'm feeling threatened & may have to report you to the Canacuck police on charges of harassment & stalking. Never contact me again, Bucko, or you'll find yourself feeling mighty soarry!"
*gulps down 3 Xanax, sobs soundlessly for hours, faints from exhaustion*


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