For example, the speaker states "Anyone that has taken probability and statistics in college knows... blah blah blah", implying the speaker has such a background, with the intent to assert some authority in the subject / lend more weight to the rest of the statement, when in fact the speaker has no such expertise.

Is there a word or name for such a device?

  • 4
    You mean other than bullshitting?
    – Jim
    Jul 9, 2014 at 5:43
  • @Jim - that made me laugh out loud - yes, I'm wondering if there's a formal name for implying or attempting to imply one has knowledge/expertise that they in fact do not.
    – rasher
    Jul 9, 2014 at 5:47
  • Read " anyone (but not necessarily myself)" and it makes sense. No device needed.
    – Kris
    Jul 9, 2014 at 6:46
  • Grandiloquent comes to mind. Jul 10, 2014 at 2:42

3 Answers 3


The rhetorical technique is Appeal to False Authority.

They could also be accused of being pretentious.

  • Thanks, Oddthinking. I'd looked at "appeal to authority", but not in the light of a "self-referential" expert.
    – rasher
    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:45

Though not a common usage, but I think that in your case arrogance is used as a rhetorical device:


Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance.

Having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance out of overbearing pride; "an arrogant official"; "arrogant claims";

Rhetorical figures arrogance.


Cold Reading wikipedia

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums and illusionists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.[1] Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person's body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

Cold reading seems to have the same goal as what you mentioned above, although the methods and usages might be a bit different.

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