This piece explores how ‘tone of voice’ can be used as a sophist evasion as well as mislead or lie. This piece focuses on how ‘referring’ to how pleasant or harsh someones tone is can actually redirect a conversation away from more relevant points.
These are often subtle distractions. In this example we look at how professional newscasters can miss relevant points because of the tone argument, as well as a ‘familiar’ familial example. But everyone has likely encountered this argument ‘problem’ in their lifetimes so we should all be able to consider the importance of focusing on substance and motive rather than tone in an argument.
And, as I point out in the piece, it reminded me of sibling rivalry arguments when the parent walks in and the sibling does what might be described as performance art to try to show how mature they are by not yelling, while having fomented the argument to upset the other person.
That is a dramatic, but fairly normal type of sophistry in a household. I’ve seen this occur on multiple occasions, I’ve even seen parents use that exact type of sophistry to try to make the child think they are the problem when in fact it was the parent that fomented the intensity of the argument.
We all need to watch for this type of sophistry and make sure we are focusing on substance and not tone as the determinant factor regarding what is relevant and important.
Why? Because it is so very important that we ‘not’ fall victim to being misled by the tone argument when we need to focus on the substance. In a world of fake news and BS alternative facts, it is more important than ever that we are extremely careful about what we ‘think’ is true because of tone, or distracting arguments.
Sophistry is like Covid-19. You can be exposed to it and not know you’ve caught an illness, or been misled. But it is different than the coronavirus, because you can be misled by sophistry and group-think not for just two weeks, but for days, weeks, months, years, decades, and even lifetimes.
And the effect of that is we might vote for the wrong people, support wrong ideas, or vote for the wrong policies…simply because we did not see the bigger picture that would clear things up for us.
Part of that is meme oriented communication, also known as propaganda. Russian disinformation programs are carefully ‘toned’ to purposefully infiltrate the American mind with memes of disinformation used to turn everyday Americans into Russian propaganda machines. And all of this is being done in a way that is hard to prove, and for some, hard to believe.
But it’s happening. Putin has been doing this for decades. American intel agencies have confirmed this. Senate intel panels have confirmed this (and Trump is still dismissing this as he is still ‘acting’ as a useful idiot for Vladimir Putin (though Trumps actions are more like that of an actual Russian agent.)). Putin and the FSB (formerly KGB) have been testing and perfecting their programs for a long time. And they know that all they need to do is light a match in the social media of the Republican GOP and it can easily turn into a forest fire of disinformation spread by Americans.
Trump called the Russian investigation a hoax. But it wasn’t a hoax, and now the new senate intelligence report is out clearly outlining just how Trump and his campaign team were connected not just to Russian oligarchs, but directly to Russian FSB agents.
Again, this piece is about sophistry used in ‘tone’ of an argument, and the Russians are the best at disinformation infiltration to disrupt elections and political agendas, and Trump, just as he was in 2016, is trying to ride that horse back into another term in November, 2020. Virtually none of the proposed election reform suggestions to prevent Russian interference have been put into meaningful effect.
Note: Here is a short list of Russian disruption successes in recent years. UK/Brexit, American 2016 Election, Spain/Catalan, Ukraine/Crimea, Belarus/election. Russia’s focus in on disruption and fomenting political stress to pit people against each other in their own countries, and it works.
Speaking of tone (and Trump rhetoric): Promises Made, Promises Abandoned or Broken
Trump keeps saying he delivered on his promises. With the election coming up let’s see how many promises he has not delivered:
- Trump promised he would create 10,000,000 jobs in his first term. [currently -7.8 million]
- Trump promised he would grow the economy at 4% [currently at -32.9% GDP]
- Trump promised a 5 year ban on White House & congressional officials becoming lobbyists [Nope, instead Trump weakened the language of former restrictions by Bush and Obama and decreased transparency. And to top it off, while he did sign an order to ban White House officials from getting lobbyist jobs, when one wanted to become a lobbyist, he just signed a waiver thus nullifying the purpose of the order and ‘supporting’, NOT draining the swamp.]
- Trump did not succeed in redirecting money for school choice, including religious schools, as he promised.
- Trump failed to get Mexico to pay for the wall.
- Trump failed on the 1 trillion dollar infrastructure package he promised, telling lawmakers he was abandoning that idea.
- Trump failed on his promise to fully repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as he promised.
- Trump still has not delivered a “much less expensive and much better healthcare” system, as he promised
- Trump failed to replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts, as he promised.
- Trump failed to pass a tax simplification bill in which the largest tax reductions are for the middle class. Trump did cut taxes for corporations. The few tax cuts for individual taxpayers were put in with sunset clauses so they will go away.
- Trump did not reduce the tax brackets from seven to three as promised; and he did not greatly simplify tax forms, as he promised.
- Trump did not allow Americans to deduct child care and elder care from their taxes, as he promised.
- Trump did not incentivize employers to provide on-site child-care services, as he promised.
- Trump did not create tax-free dependent care savings accounts for young and elderly dependents, as he promised.
- Trump did not provide matching contributions for low-income families to the dependent care savings accounts, as he promised.
- Trump did not make two- and four-year college more affordable, as he promised.
- Trump did not establish a two-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation (which was a pretty dumb idea because it would have just cost more anyway with no productive return).
- Trump did not establish a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, or multiple misdemeanors (see above).
- Trump did not enact new ethics reforms to reduce the corrupting influence of special interests. [In fact he did the opposite in his first days as president trying to get rid of the ethics committee and throughout his first term he worked to destroy oversight of the government and himself. The effect of this is to enable swamp rats to get away with more ethics and criminal violations, the very sort of swampy things he promised to stop.]
- Trump make sure the $1 trillion infrastructure plan will be revenue neutral. Total Fail of epic proportions.
- Trump did not increase funding for programs that train and assist local police, as he promised.
- Trump did not cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities, as he promised.
- Trump did not enable the ability to allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines.
- Trump did not propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress, as he promised.
- Trump did not impose a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for U.S. elections, as he promised. [Special note, not only did he not do this promise, he has done the opposite, actively encouraging foreign influence; and after dozens of intelligence meetings on how to stop foreign influence, TRUMP TOOK NO ACTION to enforce anything to protect our elections, and now he is destroying the election from the inside by doing his best to make sure the vote of the people will not arrive on time to be counted. TRUMP PROMISED THE 2020 US ELECTION WOULD BE THE MOST FRAUDULENT IN HISTORY AND IS WORKING VERY HARD TO MAKE SURE HIS PREDICTION COMES TRUE. Congressional testimony revealed Trumps USPS head, Louis DeJoy who took over the Post Office on June 16, 2020, has removed/dismantled/destroyed 670 high speed mail sorters across the country. This will ensure many votes are not counted and is a perfect example of Trumps fraudulent actions in voter suppression to disenfranchise votes that would likely hurt him in the election.]
- Trump did not end Common Core, as he promised.
- Trump did not pass a law to protect our vital infrastructure from cyberattack, as he promised (see above).
- Read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election
- Senate report details security risk posed by 2016 Trump campaign’s Russia contacts
- NPR: Senate Report: Former Trump Aide Paul Manafort Shared Campaign Info With Russia
- Trumps Promise Tracker
- Louis DeJoy
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