Bob's blog – A skeptical lawyer

Loaded words and eyewitness testimony

Posted on February 23, 2019

A loaded word is a “word, set phrase or idiom that has strong positive or negative connotations beyond its ordinary definition.” For example, comedian and political commentator Bill Maher has called the Old Testament a book of Jewish fairy tales. Maher uses the term “fairy tales” because it has strong negative connotations. There is nothing […]…Continue reading

False dilemma – Lewis’ trilemma and other failures of imagination

Posted on January 1, 2019

A false dilemma is a logical fallacy in which something is presented as an either/or situation when more than two alternatives exist. If your boss tells you, “My way or the highway,” that’s a dilemma, but is it a real dilemma or a false dilemma? Your boss intends to impose a real dilemma by giving […]…Continue reading

Argumentum ad verecundiam – fancy Latin name for trusting experts

Posted on May 12, 2018

“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.” Actor Chris Robinson – who portrayed Dr. Rick Webber on the daytime drama General Hospital – touted Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup, and the commercial actually sold a lot of syrup. In fact, the advertisement was so effective that Vicks remade it with another TV […]…Continue reading


Posted on April 22, 2018

      ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be […]…Continue reading

One-sided assessment – Opie Taylor and John Stuart Mill

Posted on February 17, 2018

    In The Andy Griffith Show, Opie Taylor learned a lesson about honesty when he tried to sell his bike to another kid without revealing several mechanical defects. Andy put a spoke in Opie’s wheel by disclosing said defects. Andy explained, “If you’re selling something, the buyer has a right to know everything wrong […]…Continue reading