November 13, 2003

Fisk or be fisked

David Pryce-Jones is a gifted writer and historian, and smart as a whip, yet somehow he managed rather spectacularly to get the wrong idea on the definition of the verb "to fisk," as it is used in the "www arena." P.-J.'s definition is logical ("the selection of evidence solely in order to bolster preconceptions and prejudices") but unattested anywhere else but in his own article, as far as I know; and unfortunately he used it as the recurring theme, rhetorical touchstone and organizing principle of this otherwise unobjectionable piece on the man himself. Kind of embarrassing.

(via Sullivan.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at November 13, 2003 07:48 PM | TrackBack

The phenomenon he describes is very palpable and deserves its own coinage -- but 'fisking' is already taken.

Posted by: JB at November 14, 2003 01:50 AM

The old definition of sophistry comes close here: the art of making the weaker argument appear to be the stronger.

Posted by: Ken Smith at November 16, 2003 03:36 PM
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