|Part of the series on|
|JAQing off - 1. the act of spouting accusations while cowardly hiding behind the claim of "just asking questions." 2. asking questions and ignoring the answers.
|Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no." The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.|
 Framing bullshit
JAQing off may also extend to those who aren't directly asking a question, but are still implying something by using a faceless middle man/men/group, who may or may not even exist. The person making the implication will try not to make the claim themselves so that they have plausible deniability but will still say something leading using this curious "middleman." For instance:
- "There are some who say that Bush caused 9/11.
- "Some Americans believe Barack Obama is a communist."
- "Allegations are being made..."
This technique, which almost always overlaps with argumentum ad populum (though without the populum), is most identifiable when the person saying it:
- Does not try to disprove or disagree with the claim. They will not even question it themselves. Usually they'll immediately move on after saying it or persist in repeating it.
- Does not provide any examples of actual people/groups who are asking or saying the claim (if they do it's argument from authority, not JAQing off).
- Has political/religious/whatever leanings that would make them suspect to believing the claim themselves. Alternatively they have something to gain, or would be proven correct about something, if the allegation was true.
 Famous JAQers
- Loose Change is a great example of JAQing. Replete with semi-truths and highly questionable leaps of logic, this documentary purports to show that the US government was behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
- Glenn Beck is one of the most prolific JAQers. His technique of raising issues without actively accusing anyone was parodied on the Did Glenn Beck Rape and Murder a Young Girl in 1990 website, which Beck tried and failed to shut down in 2009 by filing a dispute over the domain name.
- Equally notorious is Neil Cavuto, who has been known to JAQ off with lines like "Have the Democrats Forgotten the Lessons of 9/11?" or "Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?" Jon Stewart gave a name not to the concept of JAQing off but to what might elsewhere be known as a question mark: the "Cavuto Mark." Stewart subsequently "just asked" if Cavuto's mother was a whore. Not that he meant anything by it. Obviously.
- Fox News — as in "Up next, is Obama really a fascist, socialist, gay, Muslim, atheist Kenyan?"
 A caveat
The Socratic method can be a legitimate means of stimulating critical thinking. Obviously not all questioning is done from a position of cowardice; in some cases, a person may simply not feel confident enough in their position to make an assertion, so they instead ask a question in order to gather more information or elicit others' thoughts before making up their mind about a particular stance.
In some cases, it also helps hide the nebulousness or absurdity of the questioner's own views. For example, a 9/11 truther may ask questions about percieved irregularities in the collapse, Larry Silverstein saying "pull it," and the plane that hit the Pentagon. If turned back around on the truther, the implication is that they think that the plot involved numerous bizarre complications (rigging three buildings with explosives, making an on-the-spot decision to instruct the FDNY to detonate one of them, replacing a plane with a missile and later littering the Pentagon with plane wreckage). By not having to propose their own hypothesis, they can come across as smoothly winning a debate, since the other person is unable to answer a "just being asked" question. In fact, it can be very useful to "just ask questions" of woos, insofar as getting woos to put a hypothesis forward (or even just admitting to believing something crazy) can a worthy accomplishment.
 See also
- Concern troll
- Gish Gallop
- Question! Evolution!! (so far, no acknowledgement of Answers! from Evolution!!)
- Release the data
- Jacking Off
- ↑ http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=1921219#post1921219
- ↑ 9/11 Truther Dictionary
- ↑ http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=2072757&postcount=45
- ↑ http://www.technovia.co.uk/2009/02/techcrunch-irresponsible-journalism.html
- ↑ This may not be absolutely necessary but it does make it a lot easier to identify.
- ↑ Now gone
- ↑ http://www.newshounds.us/2006/09/14/jon_stewart_explains_the_cavuto_mark.php