One of the old words Andy remembered Friday during our conversation about rarely used words is the term “specious”. The chat about obsolete and seldom words was noteworthy enough to justify yesterday’s bluejayblog post.
It is through speciousness that we are easily led astray. It’s also part of one of the first techniques we teach ourselves to do in order to fool ourselves and others by rationalizing our speech and actions. Generally speaking, advertising and political slogans are specious arguments aimed at a willing public. We are given a glorious image that appears beautiful and wholesome. Yet, if one pauses to honestly analyze the image we note that it is only superficially plausible.
If we observe a quarrel we can probably spot a specious argument to support one or both points of view. The participants rationalize their opinions by proclaiming that they are virtuous even though the claims are counterfeit. In other words, the reasoning seems good and true, but only superficially.
If we are not careful, we can convince ourselves to believe a statement simply because it has the ring of truth even though our conscience knows the statement is fallacious. The power of specious arguments are used to justify wars, revolutions, religious based persecution, to incite riots, and other criminal acts.
We are susceptible to speciousness when we let our guard down and do not exercise skepticism. A specious reason for wrongdoing is expressed by this dubious statement, “Dishonesty is the best and most expedient policy.”
Andy said speciousness is especially insidious because it is so common. Our society is drowning in specious statements and arguments. We have become numb to the hazard of dishonesty. If we are lucky, we become aware of the danger just before it is too late to avoid disaster. My friend says many Americans have not made that realization yet.
When Andy and I finished discussing the word “specious”, we ended our little word game. Thankfully, we chose not to mull over the current state of American politics.