Thought-terminating cliché

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A thought-terminating cliché is a saying, often a tautology, that is repeated in order to relieve the stress of cognitive dissonance by avoiding all further consideration of a matter. Everyday examples include "it is what it is," "it's just common sense," and "you gotta do what you gotta do."

Thought-terminating clichés are an important aspect of mind control as used by cults. For example, the Unification Church uses the cliché "you think too much," while Alcoholics Anonymous says "your best thinking got you here" and "utilize, don't analyze."[1] At the same time, they can also be used by more vanilla religions; for example credo quia absurdum estWikipedia's W.svg ("I believe because it is absurd").

These sorts of clichés are common in totalitarian societies; according to Hannah ArendtWikipedia's W.svg, Adolf EichmannWikipedia's W.svg "was genuinely incapable of uttering a single sentence that was not a cliché," and he used these clichés as a mental defense mechanism to avoid thinking about what he was doing for the Nazi Party.[2]


  • The Lord works in mysterious ways, stop thinking about facts or events that directly contradict your theology.
  • All's well that ends well, don't think about the lessons learned and mistakes made.
  • You never know until you try, please ignore that there might be compelling evidence that trying this would be a tremendous waste or present a dangerous risk.
  • You never succeed for not trying, it doesn't matter that you are fallible or that things might go wrong
  • Do, or do not, there is no try, conversely don't bother to consider your own fallibility or that things might go wrong
  • Make of it what you will but..., this evidence might lead to other conclusions, but only listen to mine
  • If you don't like it, don't buy it, don't point out that I'm scamming people.
  • That's just your opinion, don't worry about how informed or considered different opinions are, they're all equal.
  • If you watched the whole thing, you can't say it's horrible[3], it's not like having the whole context helps you form such an opinion.
  • Reacting this isn't new, when there is news of corruption and scandals; real recurring problems are not worth addressing.
  • Responding to criticism with "What about AMERICA/ISLAM/CHRISTIANITY/(other thing XYZ)?!" to distract attention away from the flaws in one's beliefs or system of government; that other thing I don't like has problems too, so stop criticizing the thing that I like.
  • I'm just saying, appended to any statement (written or spoken) to assert that you can't argue with it because it's someone's opinion or something. Whatever. Just sayin'.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. Charles Bufe, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?
  2. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
  3. NetFlix twitter
  4. It's Rude! It's Crude! It's Stupid! Just Sayin', NPR, Dec 18, 2010