Gotcha argument

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Cogito ergo sum
Logic and rhetoric
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Not to be confused with an Escape hatch.
It's only a "gotcha question" if you have gotcha beliefs.
Kyle Kulinski[1]

A Gotcha argument is a claim that another's argumentation is invalid because it backs an idiot into a corner that cannot be fought out of, usually through use of facts, logic, and/or scientific knowledge to crush one's superstitions.

Sarah Palin accused reporters of this[2] — by using the term "gotcha journalism" — as a way to "cover" her inability to answer simple questions and to make the "liberal media" seem like the bad guys trying to discredit her.

To avoid allegations when arguing with neoconservatives, one must avoid all use of facts, reason, or anything deemed to be "elitist" to them. Shoes, proper grammar, half a brain, a higher education that didn't take 6 years to complete, ability to answer simple questions, ability to talk, the knowledge that the earth isn't flat and older than 6,000 years old, understanding anything outside the US, and owning a foreign car are out.

That being said, two caveats:

  1. For a "Gotcha question": There is the logical fallacy of the loaded question (sometimes known as the "have you stopped beating your wife"-type question). Consider using that well-defined phrase instead if subjected to one.
  2. There is something to the vague concept of "Gotcha Journalism", particularly interviews that attempt to back the interviewee into a corner with over-generalization, loaded questions, and various other underhanded methods. Consider calling the piece out as "agenda-driven journalism" or "trying to manufacture a headline" instead, which, while still ad hominem, is at least well-defined ad hominem with fairly clear guideposts to judge if the accusation is at all accurate.

See also[edit]