Compare Trump and Clinton's debate strengths with this one weird "South Park" trick

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I’ve got a shiny nickel that says that within a week Language Log or Language Hat or both will post about what complete nonsense this is. Communication just isn’t this simple.

This is right up there with the thoroughly-debunked claim that Obama’s use of pronouns makes him a narcissist somehow.


I’ve always heard that ‘but’ negates anything said prior to it in a sentence.

“I’m not a racist, but…”

“I’m sorry, but…”

“You have a good argument, but…”


You should try “I’m sorry, and…” sometime

might change your life.


By not making you the next president of the United States, apparently.

The Narrative Index is blatant pseudoscience and resides well within the realm of graphology, dowsing and polygraphs.


Correlation is not causation.
Schoolboy error.

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It’s a novel concept, BUT sounds suspiciously reductive and appropriated from a totally different context.

I can, however, see how it would be a useful principle for storytelling—rather than leading the audience along with ‘ands’ you give them twists and conflicts with ‘buts’ or tighten up your narrative by laying down your causal ‘therefores.’


I like big 'but’s and I always lie. --Trump


I came expecting a variation on “The Chewbacca Defense.”

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Yea, I’m voting bullshit.

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Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?


But it was developed by comedy writers as a vague writing guideline, and thus TOTALLY passes muster as a scientific theory which stands up to rigorous application and analysis!


just an aside, the words “weird trick” should never be used by any website with an ounce of credibility. that’s just the internet we live in.


Trump isn’t the “but” candidate; he’s an ass.


Considering your avatar shouldn’t that be “what is your major malfunction?”


This is incredible. “Narrative” is the ‘one weird trick’ of how humans organize information over time. It’s how to establish cause-effect chains of logic, it’s how to describe “belief”.

The relative uselessness of “and” is an interesting problem. I remember a definition of ‘a reason’ in a logical argument as ‘anything’ given as a reason. A correct reason is something that always happens to cause the result and that the result can not occur without the correct reason also occurring. Using that lens, “and” can be used to list an infinite number of reasons for something, but it does not prove those reasons.

That’s not a problem when your audience agrees with the reasons you are listing, BUT it doesn’t necessarily PROVE those points. To present an argument, either in contradiction of an assumed statement or as a logical consequence of a rhetorical structure, the words “but” and “therefore” (or some rhetorical synonym) must be introduced.

The new argument presented may not be correct or true, but you’d be hard pressed to prove it otherwise using “and”.

Being shot doesn’t always cause death, and death doesn’t always require being shot, yet it’s fair to say that being shot can cause death.

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yes, some people who are shot, die and some who are shot, live. and some people die without ever being shot.