Semantic pixelization:

Linguistic Fallacy
Definition Example
When a term or concept with low semantic precision is chosen over an available more precise term or concept in a way that distorts the opponent’s stance. You say you believe you’ll likely not die before you’re 50. If you don’t believe you’ll die before you’re 50, why did you buy a life insurance policy when you were 30?
Also known as: reductive semantic resolution
  Notes
In the example, the person making the argument is attempting to make his opponents belief binary so it can be more easily criticized. The belief most individuals have that they will live past 50 is not some binary and absolute belief, but rather is a degree of belief that emerges from an actuarial assessment of the probabilities. This fallacy is similar to the perfect standard fallacy and the denial of the epistemic gradient fallacy.

Case Study One

The media often make statements such as “the murder rate increased by 50% last year” instead of more clearly stating “there were 3 murders committed this year, one more than last year.” In this case, the use of a pecentage rather than the actual numbers unnecessarily diminishes the semantic resolution.


Case Study Two

You’ll often hear statement such as “Just give me a straight answer! Do you or do you not enjoy taking drugs? Stop being evasive!” To answer “yes” or “no” would be to unnecessarily remove semantic resolution since enjoyment is a concept of degrees, and “drugs” is a term of multiple meanings.


Case Study Three

When reporting crimes, the media often unnecessarily reduces semantic resolution by omitting actual ages, and referring to an 18-year-old perpetrator as a “man” or “woman” while referring to a 17-year-old victim as a “child”, often in an attempt to evoke a more emotional response based on this unnecessarily pixelated report.


Case Study Four

Official titles of company officials are often vague and meaningless due to an attempt to heighten the prestige of the official. You may find yourself speaking to a “vice president” who is only one of 200 vice presidents in a company of 250 staff. The resolution that would allow you to better assess the real authority of the individual has been intentionally removed.


Keep in mind that a fallacious argument does not entail an erroneous position.


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