Apophenia - the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena.

Ataurocoprist - Etymology: from ancient Greek ἀ- (a-, "'without'") + ταῦρος (tauros, "'bull'") + κόπρος (kopros, "'shit'"); Noun: A person without belief in any kind of bullshit, including, but not limited to, theism, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, the seriousness of this article, or the assumption that you can add enough items to that list to make it exhaustive.

Atavism - 1. Biology. a) the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations. b) an individual embodying such a reversion. 2. reversion to an earlier type; throwback.

In nonsense terms, this is expressed in the mindset of the pseudo- and anti-science crackpots demanding that scientific progress and change not only be halted, but reversed.

Blind (experimental methodology) - The bane of all quacks. The blind method is a part of the scientific method, used to prevent research outcomes from being influenced by either the placebo effect or the observer bias. To blind a person involved in research (whether a researcher, subject, funder, or other person) is to prevent them from knowing certain information about the process.

Single-blind describes experiments where information that could introduce bias or otherwise skew the result is withheld from the participants, but the experimenter will be in full possession of the facts.

Double-blind describes experiments where neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group. Only after all the data have been recorded (and in some cases, analyzed) do the researchers learn which individuals are which.

Triple-blind describes experiments that are conducted as double-blinds but with the added layer of those interpreting experimental data being unaware of who belongs to the control group and the experimental group.

Circular reference - sometimes referred to as a run-around, is a series of references where the last object references the first, thus causing the whole series of references to be unusable, eg. author A cites author B who cites author C who in turn cites author A. A common staple of death by footnote.

Cognitive bias - way too many to list, see link.

Courtier's reply - The Courtier's Reply is a term popularized by biologist/blogger PZ Myers for a logical fallacy that essentially boils down to "How do you know? You weren't there/haven't read up enough on it." [Pharyngula]

Death by footnote - the practice of overwhelming readers with massive compendiums of footnotes, cross-citations and non-relevant references to create an impression of illusory authority and comprehensiveness. David Aaronovitch - examples of that new art form, the cross-citation, in which, say, the French conspiracy author Thierry Meyssan cites American conspiracy author Webster Tarpley; Tarpley cites David Ray Griffin; and David Ray Griffin cites Thierry Meyssan.

Deepity -- A statement that has two meanings, one of which is true but superficial, the other which sounds profound but is meaningless. Or in another formulation, On one reading [the deepity] is true, but trivial. On another hand it's false, but would be earth-shattering if true.

Deepities are often an example of use-mention error, where the author mixes up the use of the word with the mentioning of the word (which would usually be surrounded in quotation marks). Another related topic is the fallacy of equivocation.

Demagogy - The early 20th century American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, known for his "definitions" of terms, defined a demagogue as "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

Demagogy (also demagoguery) is a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public - typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes.

Dumbpiphany - The realization that the reason the entire conversation has been difficult to follow is that you've been talking to an idiot.

Dunning–Kruger effect - The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it". The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than actuality; by contrast the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people.

Forer effect - The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.

Psychologist Bertram R. Forer (1914-2000) found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.

This is preeminent in personally targetted mumbo-jumbo, eg. horoscopes, cold reading, much of alt.medicine, Faux News etc. See also the Barnum effect.

Logorrhoea (or logorrhea) - (Greek λογορροια, logorrhoia, “word-flux”) is defined as an “excessive flow of words” and, when used medically, refers to incoherent talkativeness occurring in certain kinds of mental illness, such as mania. Logomania is the medical condition of mania with the underlying symptom logorrhoea. The spoken form of logorrhoea (in the non-medical sense) is a kind of verbosity which uses superfluous (or fancy [or pleonasms]) words to disguise an otherwise useless message as useful or intellectual, and is commonly known as “verbal diarrhea” or “diarrhea of the mouth”.

Nonsense - is a verbal communication or written text that is spoken or written in a human language or other symbolic system but lacks any coherent meaning.

Obscurantism - (from the Latin obscurans, "darkening") is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known.

Pareidolia - is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.

Pleonasm - is the use of more words or word-parts than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, tuna fish, or burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology. The term is derived from two Greek words meaning It says this, i.e. the same thing. For amusement value, can also be considered the verbal equivalent of neoplasm. [more]

Proof by verbosity - is a term used to describe an excessively verbose mathematical proof that may or may not actually prove the result. Such proofs are most often presented by students who don't fully grasp the concepts they are writing about. Students presenting such proofs are often either hoping to hide their lack of understanding or uncertain how extensive their proof is expected to be. In mathematics, a proof is a demonstration that, given certain axioms, some statement of interest is necessarily true.

Proof by verbosity should not be confused with proof by exhaustion, the latter being a valid form of proof. [Note: "Proof by verbosity" nonsense is in no way limited to the field of mathematics]

Quackophony - What happens when a bunch of quacks call other quacks quacks. The noise that results from a bunch of charlatans, delusionals, new-agers or alt.medicine folks labeling others of the same ilk frauds and confidence tricksters, unlike themselves because they are the genuine and guaranteed real thing.

Sophism - A sophism is taken as a specious argument used for deceiving someone. It might be crafted to seem logical while actually being wrong, or it might use difficult words and complicated sentences to intimidate the audience into agreeing, or it might appeal to the audience's prejudices and emotions rather than logic, i.e. raising doubts towards the one asserting, rather than his assertion. The goal of a sophism is often to make the audience believe the writer or speaker to be smarter than he or she actually is, e.g., accusing another of sophistry for using persuasion techniques. Sophism is a demagogical approach to argumentation.

True-believer syndrome - is an expression coined by M. Lamar Keene to describe an apparent cognitive disorder characterized by believing in the reality of paranormal or supernatural events after one has been presented overwhelming evidence that the event was fraudulently staged.

Truthiness - In satire, truthiness is a 'truth' that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

American television comedian Stephen Colbert revealed this definition as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirised the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporary socio-political discourse.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2006. Wiktionary also notes it's prior usage from 1824 as simply "truthfulness".

Typhos - Archaic Greek, literally "smoke, vapor". A cloudy, misty, befuddled state of mind; intellectual smog; the delerium of popular ideas and conventions that are thoroughly divorced from reality or merit.

The Cynics persisted in the conviction that most people live as if immersed in a cloud of smoke (typhos) that prevents them from seeing clearly and does not allow them to use that which distinguishes humans from animals—namely, the capacity to reason. In abandoning this capacity, people forsake their true nature. Diogenes often said that the human world is an enormous madhouse in which every sort of madness is found everywhere: cruelty, greed, deception, mendacity, brutality, uncontrolled hedonism, and the rest of the all-too-common diseases that afflict humanity and have become endemic in the form of things such as religion, patriotism, tradition, and other manifestations of irrationality. -- Luis Navia: Cynicism - Bibliography http://science.jrank.org/pages/7612/Cynicism.html#ixzz0cJG0TRS7

Tags: dictionary, glossary, terminology

Views: 1503

Replies to This Discussion

All additions welcome.
Great list!

Here's another one.


An argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially : such an argument used to deceive.

It's a demagogical approach to argumentation.
added with the extended Wikipedia (or sophist) definition. Also added experimental blinding.
Is the current financial crisis a result of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Here's a definition that might not fit in a dictionary but is an expression of my point of view:

Skeptic: someone who, when confronted with an inflexible dogma or absolute, experiences a powerful urge to kick it in the balls.
Is the current financial crisis a result of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Partially I guess it has some of the blame. Most of it was more "bright sidedness" - the idiotic faith that the bubble would never pop.
Speaking of Dunning-Kruger, have you all seen this?

Illusion of Superiority
Sure have. It's a curse we have all suffered in silence. It's nice it's actually been identified and semi-quantified.
From Richard Feynman's autobiography:

(Feynman is attending an interdisciplinary conference)

There was a sociologist who had written a paper for us all to read -- something he had written ahead of time. I started to read the damn thing, and my eyes were coming out: I couldn't make head nor tail of it! I figured it was because I hadn't read any of the books on that list. I had this uneasy feeling of "I'm not adequate," until finally I said to myself, "I'm gonna stop, and read one sentence slowly, so I can figure out what the hell it means."

So I stopped -- at random -- and read the next sentence very carefully. I can't remember it precisely, but it was very close to this: "The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels." I went back and forth over it, and translated. You know what it means?

"People read."

Then I went over the next sentence, and I realized that I could translate that one also. Then it became a kind of empty business: "Sometimes people read; sometimes people listen to the radio," and so on, but written in such a fancy way that I couldn't understand it at first, and when I finally deciphered it, there was nothing to it.

I don't know if there's a 'medical' term for this propension for people to obfuscate their discourse when they're either spouting bullshit or have nothing meaningful to say -- while still trying to convince others they have a valid argument!. If there's one, I think it'd make a great addition to this glossary.
have nothing meaningful to say
Blessed are those with nothing to say - and don't.
jaume: I don't know if there's a 'medical' term for this propension for people to obfuscate

I'm pretty sure there is. Filibuster is close, but not quite.

I think you've set a homework assignment for the group.

(I actually typed "homeowork" and was so tempted to leave it...)
See logorrhoea and pleonasm in main article.
Haha. I'd forgotten about logorrhoea.

Great word.

I used to use it on a particularly obnoxious troll on one of my NGs who had a kindergarten vocabularly (either that or posted drunk). Lol.


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