Sophistries

Today’s topic, using the letter “S” for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, was eluding me until a few moments ago.  And suddenly the word “sophistry” presented itself to me like a bolt from the blue.

It may have had something to do with some subconscious percolation (I had listened to the interview earlier in the day) of a point made by Guy Kawasaki (yes, that Guy Kawasaki) on the latest podcast episode of the CBC Radio programme Spark.  He was speaking with Spark’s host, Nora Young, about his latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.

Enchantment, he says, is what you want to do in order to win people over to believe in and be delighted by whatever it is you are trying to promote (in the broadest sense – nothing pejorative intended by the use of the term here).  His book (full disclosure: I haven’t read it yet, so the following is just what I gleaned about the contents from the interview) is about the techniques you can use to successfully create enchantment.

In the interview, at about the 11:35 mark (you can listen by clicking on the play button in the section of the blog post titled “How To Be More Enchanting”), Nora asked Guy about the ethics of enchantment, and in his response he goes on to talk about people who use the techniques of enchantment he describes in the book to unfairly take advantage of people and further their own interests over those of others in the guise of doing something good for them.

Which, if you read about sophism and sophistry is pretty much the definition of the current usage.

And why, in particular, might this have come to mind? Well, at the time of writing this, we here in Canada are in the midst of a federal election – and without being overly specific (to avoid branding myself as a political crank) about which party leader I believe is the most egregious user of sophistries in enchanting a credulous public, let’s just say one of the key pillars of their communication platform involves being here for the country.

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