A new kind of blog post – Devil's Advocate on Steroids

I’ve been known to speak my mind from time to time, and then some. To hyperbolise.

But I don’t hyperbolise like a crazy person. When I exaggerate, I know I’m exaggerating. And I’m not exaggerating with the expectation that you’ll take the exaggeration entirely too seriously.

If I told you I don’t earn a single cent, I wouldn’t expect you to go away with the understanding that I have no money. Just that I’m earning a little less than is conducive to day-to-day life. I’m assuming you aren’t stupid. Be flattered.

Hyperbole has function. It can provide humour. It can be a part of a valid and effective reductio ad absurdum, where the audience gets the point but doesn’t take the proportions too literally. Hyperbole can lead to “what if?” speculation. Hyperbole can point down the direction of the if-not-immediately-possible, at outcomes possible if people aren’t to careful.

Calling Glenn Beck a terrorist, which I haven’t done but have seen others do, is an example of the if-not-immediately-possible. And if you don’t take it too literally, and if this is conveyed in the right way, you’ll get the point. There is risk in Glenn Beck’s conspiracy-minded, revolutionary talk. Can you really exclude the possibility that one of Beck’s cultish followers, driven by Beck’s rhetoric, could do something violently stupid in the name of the revolution?

No. So you get the point. See? I knew I was right not to assume you were stupid.

Thus far though, my hyperbole has been my usual idiosyncratic self, doing what comes naturally. It hasn’t been that deliberate and much less has it been calculated.

With this in mind, I’m considering trying some Devil’s-advocate-on-steroids kind of blogging. Devil’s advocate with a rough pinch of truth, just to make it uncomfortable. Because I don’t think anyone with intellectual aspirations should be too comfortable in their assumptions. Comforting as it may seem, it’s just too careless. If you’re a thinker, you need your cage rattled from time to time. If you don’t like it, step away.

I’m going to say things that will offend some people. But people should keep in mind that I don’t literally mean what I write in these posts. At least not each and every point.

I’ll reserve the right not to disclose what points I do and don’t believe. That’s for you to work out. I’m rattling your cage.

People familiar enough with what I write will probably be able to tell a lot of what I do or don’t really mean. I’d encourage people who aren’t familiar with my line of argument to try and understand, and for those that don’t know me, not to pretend that they do. And please all, keep in mind it’s not my intent to hurt anyone – or have anyone hurt their own feelings by reading these posts wrong.

Again, if it’s too harsh, turn back. Read something else or come back to it later or just avoid my blog altogether if you want to believe that I’m that much of a dickhead. This isn’t intended as an exercise in me judging you, so I won’t be screaming victory if you leave with your tail between your legs.

If you do stay, I’d ask that you direct your questions about these ultra-hyperbolic posts either to yourself, or to other readers. And I’d ask you not to avoid questioning anything that comes to mind if you can – this is the reason I want to shake some cages. I’m not going to make it easy on anyone by removing the ambiguity, so if you ask me, don’t expect that you’ll get a straight answer.

I’ll try not to violate people’s trust in me, or at least the trust that I’ve been given. I’ll try to remember to link to this post as a kind of disclosure, but this is all the warning I’m intending to give.

It’s not an opinion piece, it’s a stimulus for discussion.

~ Bruce


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