For example:

"To corrupt society by allowing violent video games is something only a mother could understand."

The point of contention is likely to be the latter part, where you'd be tempted to say "That's nonsense, being a mother doesn't somehow give you greater powers of perception" or similar, and argue about that, whilst completely missing the point that the person arguing has just stated that violent video games corrupt society and it has gone through unnoticed.

They could easily follow up with "Go on then, name one man that is able to understand the corruption they cause", and you're now fighting on two fronts - if you say "hold on, that premise is flawed" you can be steamrolled over because it sort of seems like it should be true, and you immediately weaken your position as appearing not to understand thus proving the second point about mothers.

Alternatively, you could defend yourself and argue their case for them "Well as a man I was exposed to many video games as a child and they haven't had any effect on myself or anyone that I know", and you're knee deep in agreeing with their hidden assumption before you know it.

  • This question probably belongs on philosophy.stackexchange.com - also, you might be interested in nizkor.org/features/fallacies . – user11752 Jul 23 '13 at 13:59
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about rhetoric/pragmatics, not English language as such. – FumbleFingers Jul 23 '13 at 20:40
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    This is a legitimate word request. I found the same term @bib did (false premises) after considerable effort. – MetaEd Jul 26 '13 at 14:42

You are describing, at least in part, an argument based on false premises. However you are also adding an element of misdirection.

But your question is fatally flawed. Your British public school habit of engaging in distraction when crafting a "logical" position is arguably the principal reason that the budget shortfall will continue to shape the debate to end the logjam on the withdrawal of Royal troops from the American colonies.


  • Can't argue with that! (Literally, I have no idea what you just said) – NibblyPig Jul 23 '13 at 14:45
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    @SLC Then my plan worked! – bib Jul 23 '13 at 18:57
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    Also, this is not a point of logic, nor of grammar, but of rhetoric, as the Greeks and medieval scholars would call it. Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric (all in Latin, naturally) were the first and most important three -- the Trivium) -- of the Seven Liberal Arts. Today they're called, respectively, Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics, and together with Phonetics they constitute the core disciplines of linguistics. Though now it's all languages. – John Lawler Jul 23 '13 at 19:54

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