RED HERRING: a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue.

red herring

I was watching one of my favorite TV shows, NCIS-LA, the other night.  It was an episode which took place in a fish market.   At one point,  Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen)  comes up holding a plastic bag in which a large, red fish is seen.   Always the jokester, he displays it laughingly and says, ” […]

SULLY: to stain or tarnish


The word sully is usually used in connection with the words “one’s reputation.”   It refers to the intentional act of defaming someone, of saying or doing something that stains their reputation and destroys their integrity in the public’s eyes.  It is a word that comes to us in English from the French  word souiller  which means […]

AXIOMATIC [ak-see-uh-MAT-ik] : obvious, self-evident


It is amusing sometimes to be in the middle of a conversation when someone says something that is so obvious, so clearly self-evident, that it stuns those listening.  Or it may come in the midst of an article, or even something as profound as a dissertation or a scholarly paper of some kind.  Everything is […]

FALLACIOUS: deceptive, misleading


It’s a little bit more serious than calling it just a “lie.”  Fallacious is a word that implies a serious intent to deceive, to mislead.    Lies can sometimes just bubble out without a lot of preconceived intent.   But a fallacy is an idea expressed which the “teller” knows to be untrue and which is intended […]

DEBUNK [dih-BUHNGHK] : to expose the falseness of a statement

There is a lot of energy out there among people who are into debunking stories such as those about Sasquatch, the hairy half-human being who supposedly inhabits forested areas throughout the country.   I read this past week that a specially-equipped surveillance plane is going to be used to hover over suspected domains where Sasquatch is […]

DELIQUESCE: to melt away, disappear

While the word deliquesce (pronounced del-a-kwes) is usually used in science to describe the concept of something melting away, like an ice cube, it also has literary applications.  It can be used (as a verb) to describe the concept of an issue fading from prominence. For instance, a recent New York Times article about the […]