Faux Naivete: The Argumentative Maneuver of a Scoundrel

People are always tripping me up.  They will ask me what my idea is about x.  I’ll tell them something off the cuff.  And then it’ll turn out that they actually have thought much more deeply and cogently on the topic than I have.  And I end up looking like a fool.  Or they’ll put forward a seemingly reasonable suggestion and when I jump on board will gradually reveal why its consequences are ridiculous.

I call out Socrates and Jonathan Swift for this kind of rude and confusing argumentative behavior.

Everyone should be required to register their precise level of naivete with some sort of Bureau of Naive Registration, so before you argue with someone you can find out how naive they are for real.


3 thoughts on “Faux Naivete: The Argumentative Maneuver of a Scoundrel

  1. Register my naivete with the government? No thank you. Such registration would just be the first step towards confiscation.

    Just like the President’s “BRAIN Initiative,” which is a plot to get us to register our brains so the government can confiscate them!

  2. I have a colleague who will, without fail, visit my desk at least once a day with a technical question, usually of the form: from action X should I expect result A or B be produced? When I advise that, in my learned opinion, result A is the correct one he will invariably respond that he tried action X immediately prior to our conversation and the result was B. Infuriating.

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