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TitleReader's Digest Word Power (Gnv64)
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Page 1

The entertaining way to enrich your language skills,
with an Introduction by Peter Funk

NOW IN PAPERBACK! Great reading
on tbe world's most popular subjects

from America's mosi trusted magazine!

EDITED AND COMPILED BY THE EDITORS OF READERS DiGEST

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Page 2

Berkley/Reader's Digest books
THE AMERICAN SPIRIT

THE ART OF LIVING
CURIOUS CREATURES

DRAMA IN REAL LIFE*
"1 AM JOE S BODY"

KEEPING FIT
LAUGHTER. THE BEST MEDICINE*

THE LIVING WORLD OF NATURE
LOVE AND MARRIAGE

MEDICAL MIRACLES
MIND POWER
RAISING KIDS

SECRETS OF THE PAST
TESTS AND TEASERS

UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS
WORD POWER

Page 128

A Tip on
Straight Thinking

b y s t u a r t c h a s e

In an English law court the attorney for the defense was
handed a note by his partner: "No case. Abuse the plaintiff 's
attorney." The defendant was guilty on the evidence, so the
best his attorney could do was to try to confuse the jury by
making a reprehensible character out of the lawyer on the
other side.

This type of argument has been around a-long time—so
long indeed that it has a Latin name, argumentum ad hom-
inem. This means to switch the argument from the issue to
the man, and might be freely translated, "Get personal."
If a case is hard to attack on its merits, attack the character
of the man in charge.

The power to reason accurately has been called the chief
glory of man. Every day, almost every hour, by an aston-
ishing process inside the brain, we form opinions and make
decisions. Our conclusions can be good, bad or indifferent,
depending on how we have learned to think.

Wise men over the centuries have- identified about 20
118

Page 129

A Tip on Straight Thinking 119

varieties of false and phony reasoning. Argument ad hom-
inem easily heads the list.

About a century ago Darwin and Huxley evolved the
principles of evolution. Many religious people were shocked
and tremendous opposition developed. Bishop Wilberforce
was especially shocked, and in a public debate asked Hux-
ley: "Are you descended from a monkey on your grand-
mother's or your grandfather's side?" This classic example
of ad hominem brought down the house. Rather than debate
the scientific evidence, the Bishop evaded the issue by
resorting to a crack about Huxley's ancestors.

Some years ago I was asked to testify in a legal action
in Bridgeport, Conn. I had been working on population
trends in the United States, and a committee wanted me to
apply the formulas to forecast the growth of Bridgeport.
The case had to do with a new city reservoir. The lawyer
for the other side began by questioning my figures. This
was right and proper. Finding no serious discrepancies, he
shuffled his notes, took a step in my direction and de-
manded, "Mr. Chase, were you ever a Technocrat?"

What this had to do with the population prospects of
Bridgeport was a trifle obscure; but it was intended to dis-
credit me as a witness. Technocrats were supposed to be
crackpots. I said I'd never been a Technocrat. At the peak
of the Technocracy craze, I went on, I had written an article
about it. Thus I managed to meet this ad hominem squeeze
play, but plenty of other witnesses do not.

There are all sorts of ad hominem cases. We all have
heard the complaint that Smith's plan for traffic control in
our town can't be any good because Smith never went
beyond grade school. This conclusion saves us the trouble
of studying the plan. We all know the father who laughs
off Junior's idea as to why the family car coughs like a
wounded gorilla. The notion must be worthless, Father
thinks, because Junior is still so very junior. But he may
have a passion for internal-combustion engines.

Theie is another Latin term which links up here: non
sequitur, "it does not follow." Because a man has his faults
it does not follow that what he has produced, sponsored or
is associated with is worthless. By the same token, because

Page 255

Words That Have Appeared in These Tests 255

ruminate, 116
ruse, 133
sacrosanct, 133
sanguinary, 154
satellite, 215
savor, 115
saw, 25
scenario, 143
scrutinize, 142
secede, 15
sensibility, 84
shanghai, 45
shank, 26
skeptic, 56
solecism, 198
sonar, 237
spartan, 45
sprite, 215
stagnant, 167
stance, 134
status, 94
stymie, 133
substantiate, 188
substantive, 237
subvert, 188
succulent, 198
sully, 154
supersede, 16
surrogate, 77
swivet, 76
symbiosis, 85
syndrome, 154
tawdry, 44
tedium, 95

telegenic, 178
tendentious, 56
terminus, 94
therapeutic, 36
taken, 84
tort, 107
tortuous, 203
torturous, 203
toxic, 36
transfix, 125
translucent, 168
trauma, 36
trifling, 15
tripartite, 215
trite, 216
trivia, 55
tuber, 94
ultra, 94
uncanny, 106
undue, 199
unorthodox, 115
unrequited, 15
utilitarian, 134
Utopia, 45
vandalism, 56
vascular, 35
verity, 124
vertigo, 35
virtuoso, 55
vituperative, 67
wield, 25
windfall, 84
wreak, 26

Page 256

IT PAYS TO ENRICH^
YOUR WORD POWER'

Wards a r c o u r most familiar and useful tools, the first wc
learn to use, and the most essential for success and

happiness. This del ightful collection of articles, puzzles,
tests and stories for the entire family is the fun and

fctrimrinj «t]r enrich and enlarge your mastery of the
a n of language!

R E A D E R ' S D I G E S T P A P E R B A C K S
I n f o r m a t i v e
E n t e r t a i n i n g

Essential

W A T C H F O R T H E S E O T H E R S
Tbr Art of lj*mg
"i Am Joe's Body"

Tests and T«asen
Sards of the PiUt

The Living World of S, ft art
I nforgellMt <~J\irj(Un

Dr.trrta ttt Km! Lite *

I S B N 0 - U 2 5 - 0 5 7 1 f c - X

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