About Worst-Case Filtering

Audiences may be cowed into submission if you confidently present them with a catastrophic or malevolent interpretation of a situation. “Oh, I had no idea that it was so dangerous! We must let you lead us.”

Accordingly, worst-case filtering is useful for disciplining members on one’s own side. Meanwhile, the opposition typically is not inclined to engage with the claim, but rather will use it to cement its view that the other side is unreasonable.

Mild forms of worst-case filtering may be employed as guidance (be careful of such-and-such risk) or else as an implicit demand for an alternative explanation or defense from the opposition. Egregious forms of worst-case filtering may aim to: incite paranoia; encourage black-and-white thinking; or to unfairly demonize or stigmatize individuals.

The constructive response to a worst-case claim is to respectfully request evidence, without insinuating that the presenter has ill intent.

About the Schoolmarm Institute


Index of Errors

Ad Hominem
Inflammatory Words
"Tone-Police" Accusation


Straw Man I
Straw Man II
Cherry Picking
False Dilemma
Slippery Slope
Red Herring
Opinion as Fact
Unclear Point
Worst-Case Filtering


Demonizing Opposition


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Notes to Zach:
1. This stuff would NOT be on the knowthesystem.org site. I just created this mock-up here because it was convenient for me. Maybe schoolmarm-institute.org.
2. The list of error types is just quick and dirty, needs lots of work. E.g. additional types of polarizing tweets. Could add/refine over time.
3. I think the "About (Error Type)" blurbs should include specific examples. Or else maybe examples could go into the videos.
4. In the tweet I mocked up, the part “The ‘F*** Your Feelings’ signs are provocative, but do you have evidence that their intent is to keep whites atop the racial hierarchy?” is customized to the specific (Shannon McGregor) tweet, and the rest is all boilerplate. The idea is that we'd allow our Quality Moderators to write a short "bridge" between the offending source tweet and our selected Error Description. Just one idea.

I’d love to see hundreds of little Zachary Elwood clones posting critiques/advice like this across the Twitterverse.