Thursday, August 02, 2007

On the Evolution of Oratorical Style


If you've ever read my FAQ, you'll know I was raised by a wild pack of Jesuit scholars. And if there is one thing Jesuit scholars understand, it is oratorical styles. Most especially ethos, figures of speech that are designed to promote ones authority and credentials so that you might be more persuaded by his argument. And it is true, Jesuits will resort to torture until their students understand these details.

For example, when I make recommendations for you to live and work by on these pages, my status as a CEO and fearless leader of a major vertically integrated industrial conglomerate carries the weight of authority we all know a CEO must enjoy in his life's station. And you follow my recommendations because you know a CEO wouldn't be a CEO if he didn't have something going for him.

If this is not yet clear to you, let me appeal to your more primitive, intuitive intellect. I'm talking about a situation not at all unlike the implied authority of a gorilla thumping his chest in a forest clearing as he asks you to leave his territory so he can copulate in privacy. You recognize, do you not, from the chest thumping, that the gorilla is in a excellent position to kick your ass if you fail to heed his warning call? The gorilla has credentials, and is indicating he is not afraid to use those credentials unless you leave.

And so we come to todays point. It appears that another humongous discussion has broken out on the internets following an article that asks whether readers believe humans (in their present form) and dinosaurs coexisted on the earth.

Not infrequently, someone chimes in to defend this completely scientifically disproven but intriguing notion (there are, afterall, movies and TV shows showing dinosaurs and humans together and so it looks possible). And also not infrequently, they begin their defense of this proposition by first pointing out that they have credentials in a scientific or technical field and that you should heed their words knowing their authority.

Their first appeal is to your sense of ethos!!! OMG!!! Even creationists understand oratorical style, almost as if they, too, were raised by a wild pack of Jesuit scholars!!!

A creationist who is an engineer, who has a master's degree, has a math degree or who is even a math professor is a BIG DEAL in their culture, because it is so rare to have someone who is actualy not horribly mis-educated.

I imagine the only thing bigger, in terms of status, than parishioner at a fundamentalist church who is an engineer would be to have a congregation member who's been cured of homosexuality----through the power of prayer, of course--without resorting to drugs, surgery or electroshock therapy. Someone like that would probably even get their own pew all to themselves (just in case they are not really cured and it's contagious).

And so allow me to conclude this article by saying, do not despair for the apparent numbers of creationist engineers, mathematicians and math professors. There are, in fact, only 12 such individuals but they just seem like there are a lot because they are in such a habit of establishing ethos. Their pastor probably makes them do it no less than 100 times each Sunday after services.

For example:

Parishioner: Great sermon by the Pastor today, eh, Fred?"

Math Professor: Speaking as a Math Professor, yes.

Parishioner: It is so cool that you are on our team and not on the Darwinists side.

So don't worry. People who establish their technical skill and then say, "Yes, indeed, I've done the math, there certainly are problems with Darwin's little myth", are just engaged in a style of oratory that goes back well before great human-ape schism of 6,000,000 BC.


Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

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