August 25th, 2020

Converse: black

I need one of those German words

Does anyone know if there's a specific term for the moment when someone who would otherwise be a trusted source on something they know much more about than you do, confidently says something that you know for a fact isn't true? And the way it makes everything else they say, about things where you wouldn't know if it's true or not, less credible?

It's such a specific thing, I feel like “loss of credibility” is too general. And sort of implies something more negative than I really mean here, where it's usually more about over-generalising or missing something than anything too dishonest or flagrantly wrong.

There are a bunch of examples from when I've been reading non-fiction and I've seen an argument wobble, but the moment I always think of is when an ungrad professor teaching a module on “The Literature of Desire” – basically Freudian analysis – said something about how people kiss in every culture. I knew for a fact that wasn't true; my mum had mentioned it, and her Master's degree in anthropology from SOAS gave her more credibility with me than this guy, I guess!

But I was twenty, and I couldn't remember which culture (cultures, probably?) specifically didn't kiss, and had found it weird when introduced to the concept – just that it was West African – so I wimped out of saying anything. Still, I heard everything he said more sceptically after that.

IDK. I need one of those German words. This was originally posted at Comment wherever you like :)