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Technobabble

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Not to be confused with deepity -- which uses complex ideas rather than complex words.
It's not a doughnut, it's er, uh, a quantum transmutational tachyon-powered toroidal flux graviton-protected device!
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Technobabble (also sciencey) describes arguments that use the language of science without actually being in any way scientific.

Technobabble uses terms from mathematics, science, or engineering incorrectly, in order to create a false sense of technical solidity around a field or concept. When real terms are used, it is similar to equivocation.

For example, homeopathy advocates use terms like "nano-particles" and "quantum" as special pleading to talk around the obvious problem that typical homeopathy dilutions exceed the Avogadro limit, by which point effectively none of the original material will remain. These are sciencey-sounding arguments but they have no actual scientific basis.

The purpose of technobabble is to replace the childish word "magic" with the stylish word "technology". Arthur C. Clarke said that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; the phrase "sufficiently advanced" in the above is believed unnecessary by technobabblers. Patience and education are the only ways to cure the disease.

Contents

[edit] Woo

When used in intended non-fiction settings, technobabble is an epitome of the style over substance fallacy, taking "if you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit" to heart. Technobabble is very popular with quack doctors and New Agers, who have come up with "treatments" like "DNA upgrades" and "tachyon-infused water". Many such quacks, most notably Deepak Chopra and Gary Zukav, are notorious for abusing the word "quantum", playing on quantum mechanics' reputation for being difficult to understand to avoid having to give an explanation for their snake oil. Conspiracy theorists also do this, and can even technobabble themselves, coming up with spurious and unlikely evil functionalities for technology they and their fans do not understand.

[edit] Fiction

Predictably, technobabble is used identically in fictional settings. The most important role of technobabble in fantasy science fiction is to signal an upcoming deus ex machina. Star Trek writers are particularly notorious for this shameless dress-up. In science fiction, any unfamiliar improper noun can safely be assumed to be technobabble. Made-up nouns (of either propriety) are a lazy way for a fiction writer to interrupt the concentration of stupid fiction readers to remind them that they are reading a fictional book. Science fiction writers love to use technobabble to make this reminder. Readers love to be reminded in this way almost as much as they love to be surprised by a deus ex machina at the end of a story.[citation NOT needed]

[edit] Reverse Technobabble

The same is true in reverse: when a debater uses technical or scientific knowledge to obfuscate the central argument by calling into question the use, application or context of each and every technical term, definition or concept presented by their opponent. In this way, the opponent is left defending their use of terms, definitions or concepts rather than their overarching argument. Technical nitpicking is a common technique in actively delaying, and ultimately suspending, any opportunity for a debater to properly verbalize their position.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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