Nod Words…

“Nod words” inspire approval from one’s ideological allies not because they illuminate or improve your arguments but because they have pleasing implications. For progressives these include “equality”, “progress”, “compassion”, “diversity”, “cooperation” and “deconstruct”. For conservatives these include “tradition”, “imagination”, “order”, “mystery” and “restraint”. Then, of course, there boo-words, which can inspire contempt less because of what they describe than their very presence. For progressives these include “bigot”, “capitalist” and “neoliberal”, while for conservatives these include “radical”, “degenerate” and “decline”. All of these words have proper meanings, and all of them are useful, in the epistemic as well as rhetorical sense. But to avoid laziness in writing, reading and in thought one must use them with care or become complacent.

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