I just invented a new term – lies-by-ratcheting.

It describes those blog commentators who write, fairly uncontroversially, that x is behaving in y manner. Later in the thread, or on new threads, y becomes y+. It’s only a small change, and there are higher priority points to deal with, so it slides by. Later still, y+ is phrased as y++. Again, only a small change from y+, but now qualitatively different from the original y, so you challenge the description. The commentator decries your pedantry, or claims you’re actually challenging y and ridicules you (sometimes buttressed by concurrent ratcheting of other terms of comparison), or retreats. The conversation moves on, but before you know it, y+++ pops up. y+++ is no longer an exaggeration, but a lie. However, the transition from y has been so smooth that it’s not apparent to the casual reader, or one who comes to the discussion late. It effectively means that y+++ becomes the new baseline in the discussion, placing the liar in a stronger position.

I don’t like it. It’s intellectual dishonesty, ironically only achievable by those with substantial intellectual and rhetorical skills. I’m looking at you, CL.

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