Assertions

Josef Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Master
Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Master

An assertion is a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.  If the assertion is a clearly proven fact (or a statement supported by clearly proven facts), things pretty much have to stop there – or, at least they should stop there.  Facts are, after all, well… facts.  As the saying goes we have the right to our own opinion, but not to our own facts.  Those opposed to the assertion must then disprove the supporting “facts” (in which case they weren’t facts after all) or accept the assertion as true.

However, if the assertion is not supported by clear facts, and is instead only a strongly held belief, some people will, of course, argue the point.  The situation is worsened when the assertion may only be proven by “facts” which are… elusive.  An example is the Christian belief of the point at which life begins.  To Christians no proof is necessary that life begins at conception, but to those who support abortion no proof may be given.

One of the most popular shortcuts to obtaining acceptance of one’s assertion without bothering to first obtain proven supporting facts is to use the false logic of “proof by repeated assertion” – a fallacy in which the assertion is simply repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction until people believe it!  Ya, that actually works!  Especially when you get a bunch of school teachers and college professors to present the assertion to young, impressionable minds… and threaten them with failing grades if they oppose the assertion.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion)

Sometimes, the assertion is repeated over and over again until challenges simply dry up, at which point the original assertion is then presented as fact due to the lack of remaining contradiction.

In other cases, over time, the very repetition of the assertion itself may eventually be cited as evidence of its truth!  This is especially the case for long standing unsupported assertions.  A large portion of the world believed for a very long time that the world was flat, despite evidence to the contrary dating back to the 6th century BC.

These days, the process of “proof by repeated assertion” is aided and abetted by a complicit media who assist by repeating the unproven assertion as fact, and by supportive governments who actively suppress attempts by the opposition to disprove the assertion.  They do this for various reasons that range from their own acceptance of the assertion without fact to back it up, to their belief that the assertion – proven or not – is politically and/or financially beneficial to their causes.

Modern politics contains many examples of “proof by repeated assertion”; Global Warming for example, or the assertion that President Trump colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 Presidential Election.  This practice can be observed in the distribution of “talking points”, which are collections of short phrases that are issued to members of modern political parties for recitation to achieve maximum message repetition.

But in today’s political climate there is a new and terrifying twist – the assassination of character.  If you oppose Global Warming the established talking points brand you a “science denier” … and you get that failing grade in your college class, or your career as a scientist is finished.  If you oppose the idea that Trump colluded with the Russians then maybe you colluded with him, or you’re a bigot and a hater, or you need the windows smashed out of your car, or you need to be attacked and beaten… or maybe you need to be shot on a ball field.

In its extreme form “proof by repeated assertion” can be a form of brainwashing.  For example, the “Big Lie” – a propaganda technique conceived of by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the assertion of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”  “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_lie)

Yup!  I did it!  I turned a tried-and-true Democratic Party (and Socialist Party) trick back on them!  I compared the tactics of the American Socialist Left to Adolf Hitler!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email