Glittering Generalities

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good as name-calling words can be used to make a good idea seem bad, glittering generalities are used to make a badly mind seem good .
patriotism. Justice. Truth. Hero. Science. Freedom.

These are all glittering generalities. These words sound great, but they mean different things to different people .
For exercise, consider the word democracy. This is a good news ; an significant give voice. But what does it mean ? When person uses this password in conversation, we fall back on our personal sympathize of the term, relying on ideas we learned from our parents, our teachers, our neighbors and our friends. We assume that the other person interprets the terminus in the same way that we do .
As the IPA explains, this “ lowers our sales resistance and makes us far less fishy than we ought to be when the speaker begins telling us things ‘ the United States must do to preserve democracy. ‘ ”
Alert readers will recognize that glittering generalities are the mirror visualize of name-calling words. One technique encourages us to reject ideas or people without considering the tell ; the other hopes we will approve of ideas or people without considering the tell .
These feel-good words regularly surface in commercial taglines and political slogans. For exercise :

  • The Best A Man Can Get (Gillette Razors)
  • Think Different (Apple Computer)
  • Turn Your Coffee from Plain to Perfect (Coffee-Mate)
  • Feed The Good (Pedigree Dog Food)
  • A Safer World and More Hopeful America (George W. Bush & Dick Cheney, 2004)
  • A Stronger America (John Kerry & John Edwards, 2004)
  • Prosperity and Progress (Al Gore & Joe Lieberman, 2000)
  • Reform, Prosperity, and Peace (John McCain & Sarah Palin, 2008)

One besides encounters glittering generalities in the names of political action committees and lobbying groups on all sides of the political spectrum. For exercise :

  • Center for American Progress
  • Restore Our Future
  • Indian Americans for Freedom
  • Vets for Freedom
  • Young Americans for Freedom
  • Americans for Medical Progress

What ’ south wrong with peace, progress, prosperity, and exemption, you might be wondering ? Aren ’ t these all good things ?
absolutely ! peace, prosperity and progress are complicated concepts that mean different things to different people .
Propagandists don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want us focusing on particular details. They hope to see us bathing in these words ’ incontrovertible emotional gleam.

It is besides important to consider a close cousin of the glittering generality : the acme. Superlatives are adjectives used to describe something of the very highest quality. Words like amazing, beautiful, best, fabulous, phenomenal, firm, and enormous are all such words. But what do these words truly mean in the context of the speaker ’ sulfur claims ? What, specifically, makes the loudspeaker ’ second idea so fantastic ?
As with the glitter generalities, the propagandist who relies on these words has no interest in fleshing out their definition. She cares only about the positivist emotional feelings these words are intended to arouse .
The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests a act of questions that people should ask themselves when confronted with this proficiency :

  • What does the virtue word really mean?
  • Does the idea in question have a legitimate connection with the real meaning of the word?
  • Is an idea that does not serve my best interests being “sold” to me merely through its being given a name that I like?
  • Leaving the virtue word out of consideration, what are the merits of the idea itself?

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