This post is long overdue. I have used this phrase multiple times, but have never fully explained it, and that is to be rectified now. Those of you who stand for truth, regardless of whether or not that truth is comfortable, need to know what you’re up against. Effectively, the ideological method is the exact opposite of the scientific method, but there is much more to it than that. Thus, before the ideological method can be properly defined, it is necessary to define the scientific method for contrast.

The scientific method is the process of creating a hypothesis, performing experiments to test the hypothesis, observing the results of those experiments, and drawing a conclusion from those observations. The conclusion will either confirm or debunk the hypothesis, and in many cases, hypotheses are formed from observation of the natural world to begin with. Any hypothesis that is inconsistent with the facts must be either discarded or revised. The philosophy that this method is based on is called empiricism; the opposing philosophy is called sophistry. Empiricism is a very simple philosophy, whereas sophistry is absurdly complicated.

The ideological method is the process of creating a presupposition and accumulating only the data that supports it, whether by very careful selection or outright fabrication. Any facts that are inconsistent with the presupposition are discarded. For those who are familiar with the logical fallacies, this is the process of cherry-picking, or painting bulls-eyes round arrows. However, there is a lot more to the ideological method than that. Every logical fallacy has been used to defend flawed ideas, and every flawed idea requires logical fallacies and other forms of intellectual dishonesty in its defense. It requires a great deal more intelligence and creativity in order to craft a sophistic defense of an idea than an empirical defense.

It takes a great deal more intelligence to lie than to tell the truth. Lies also require creativity, from the small amount needed to twist the truth in one’s favour, to the large amount to fabricate a tall tale. Because most people lack the intellectual capability to craft a big lie, and naïvely assume that more intelligent individuals are both honest and benevolent, the plebians of society have a greater proclivity for believing eloquent sophistry than blunt empiricism. A comforting lie is easier to accept than an uncomfortable truth.

“Society has moved away from what works and moved toward what sounds good.” – Thomas Sowell

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” – Aron Ra

When I warned my readers not to debate ideologues, I did so with good reason. Professional pompous postmodernist pontificators, or as I like to call them, forsaken princesses, are widely known to toss word salads at their ideological opponents, and the winner is the one who uses the most flowery language. This is nothing new, in fact this is the very criticism that Plato (423-347 BC) made of sophists, and Cicero (106-43 BC) later echoed the exact same sentiment in his repudiation of direct democracy, because the public is too easily manipulated by the honeyed words of demagogues. However, while word salad may work on the uninformed, easily impressed plebians who enjoy watching political debates or internet blood-sports, the deceptive wiles of the forsaken princesses ultimately fail to convince anyone who has a sufficient command of language to be able to see through the veil of nonsense.

A quote commonly attributed to Winston Churchill is that a lie gets halfway round the world before the truth can even get its pants on. There is little evidence to suggest that Churchill actually said this, but the point still stands. In addition to flowery language that entertains more than it informs, the ideological method is more about propagating control than propagating truth. Truth moves slowly by design, because the truth is complicated. The big lie, however, whatever lie that may be at the time, is usually quite simple, but merely cloaked in complexity. Again, we see opposites: the truth itself is complicated, but the method to determine it is simple, whereas the big lie is simple, but the method to justify it is complicated. Since the best lies all have a grain of truth to them, the ideological method partially relies on self-evident truths in order to stand up to superficial scrutiny. Here is where we see the invocation of the second logical fallacy: the double standard.

The double standard is one of several logical fallacies that fall into the category of motte-and-bailey arguments, so-named for a type of early Medieval castle. In such a structure, the bailey is a small fortified town where most of the inhabitants live, easy to access but difficult to defend. When under heavy siege, the defenders will retreat to the heavily fortified motte, which is difficult to access, but easy to defend. In an ideological argument, the bailey is a generally unpalatable idea that the ideologue wishes to propagate. When subjected to criticism, however, the ideologue will retreat to the proverbial motte, which is a much more palatable idea that many more people would agree to.

For those of you who know Medieval history, you will be aware that castles were as much offensive structures as defensive ones. Castles projected power, since they were places where armies could safely gather and launch attacks from. Another type of motte-and-bailey argument is the armoured strawman, which one could also call the hollow steelman. The steelman is the most charitable interpretation of an opposing position, and generally the most honest. A strawman, on the other hand, is a deliberate misrepresentation of an opposing position that is designed to make it look as weak or malicious as possible, and it is a logical fallacy in itself. Since the strawman is such a well-known tactic, thanks to creationists in the early days of YouTube, it is such an obvious fallacy that virtually no-one uses it on its own anymore. Instead, in a deceptive effort to appear honest, ideologues will first prop up a steelman, but then later transform it into a strawman when it is convenient for their position. One could also call this a bait-and-switch method of argumentation, and I find it profoundly telling that ideologues habitually accuse their opponents of “baiting” them whenever they ask an inconvenient question, because this is the fallacy of projection.

Accusing one’s opponent of that which one is guilty is another fallacy. If the opponent is actually guilty of this accusation, it is called tu quoque (Latin for “you too”), or the pot calling the kettle black; if the opponent is not guilty, it is called projection, or the pot calling the silverware black. Curiously, this is one of Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals, taken directly from the book bearing that title. Rules For Radicals effectively teaches the ideological method, in other words, it directly advocates for people to use intellectually dishonest tactics in order to win ideological arguments. This is nothing new, either. All religions advocate for the exact same thing, teaching people to use the ideological method to propagate their beliefs. Oh, but curiouser and curiouser, there is one particular fallacy that I once thought was unique to religious apologetics, yet I have since encountered it typed by the fingers of secular ideologues.

It is no secret that the most vocal atheists, anti-theists in particular, were once highly religious people. The more radical and dangerous the religion that they once belonged to, the more they oppose religion later in life. In order to dismiss their arguments, however, religious apologists will attempt to smear these individuals as “never having been true believers.” This is not an invention of the apologist making the argument, but instead an instruction in many religious doctrines: he who loses faith was never a true believer to begin with. This is a justification for constantly testing the adherents’ faith, usually through abuse. The statement itself, however, is a “no true Scotsman” fallacy, though there is more to it. It presents itself as a false Scotsman, but it is also a strawman, implying that the person was not sufficiently indoctrinated into the religion to keep the faith in the face of an inconvenient truth (which is another curious admission), and it is generally meant as an attack on the person’s character, and thus an ad hominem fallacy. The dismissal of an ideological traitor as “never having been a true believer” is therefore a three-for-one fallacy, one of many compound fallacies. A compound fallacy is any single statement that contains more than one logical fallacy, and amounts to telling multiple lies at once. This is how it is possible to tell more lies in a sentence than there are words in that sentence. By the way, the secular example that I came across was the statement that “anyone who voted for Bernie Sanders and is happy with the job that Trump is doing never believed in what Bernie really stood for.” This statement is flat-out wrong, because the main reason to vote for either Sanders or Trump was simply a dissatisfaction with the political establishment (represented by Hillary Clinton in 2016). Of course, believing that a vote for a politician is a total endorsement of that politician’s stated position is a fallacious assumption; generally speaking, people vote against politicians as much as they vote for them, if not more so.

Every politician has a personality cult, though some have it to a greater extent than others. In a representative democracy, it is important to remember that not everyone who votes for a particular politician is a part of that politician’s personality cult! Generally speaking, people who accuse those who vote for a different politician from the one that they support of being in a personality cult are themselves in a personality cult. This is another accusation of that which one is oneself guilty. In a two-party political system, this is also a false dichotomy, and therefore another compound fallacy. Political zealots have also been known to level the accusation of “being part of the problem” not only at their political opposites, but also at those who are apolitical and don’t vote at all. Depending on the motivation and the exact rhetoric used in the accusation, one could spot the fallacies of projection, false dichotomy, strawman, and who knows what else, potentially resulting in a compound fallacy containing six or more fallacies. There is a good reason that politics is said to be even more irrational than religion.

Since the ideological method is the basis of debate, rather than investigation, it is more important to be convincing than earnest. As the debate continues and all fallacious statements cloaked in a veneer of factual accuracy are debunked, the ideologue will resort to emotional appeals, since emotions are easier to manipulate than knowledge. This is true not only within individual debates, but within larger societal debates. When the “factual” claims of an ideological movement have all been debunked, the ideologues will default to emotional appeals in each new encounter with their ideological detractors, attempting to morally brow-beat people into compliance, while smearing those who stand in their way, undaunted by their screeching, as “cold, uncaring, and violent” thus projecting their sociopathic lack of compassion onto their enemies. At first, this begins as pure projection, but when those who desire truth and freedom begin to fight back, it turns into tu quoque, partially vindicating the vicious ideologues, and that’s how they win over more people. Ultimately, appeasement doesn’t work, standing your ground doesn’t work, fighting back doesn’t work, and beating them doesn’t work; ideologues have answers for all of these. The proper approach is to mock them, and then walk away when they demand you fight them, but pursue them when they attempt to flee; the spectacle you must put on for the plebians is to show the vicious ideologues that they are not your equal, but instead are beneath contempt. Disengagement is the key to victory, in other words, debunk, but do not debate.

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