menu

The ‘Thought-Terminating Cliche’

The ‘Thought-Terminating Cliche’ June 26, 2013

From Chana Messinger to Kate Donovan to Dan Fincke I found a delightful phrase I’d never heard before: thought-terminating cliche. Wikipedia defines it as ” a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to propogate cognitive dissonance. Though the phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.”

But I think that’s backwards. Such phrases do not propogate or perpetuate cognitive dissonance, they are used to relieve cognitive dissonance. Some examples that I find really tiresome:

“Everything happens for a reason.”

It’s a matter of opinion!”

“Don’t judge.”

“It’s just common sense.”

“I’m just sayin’.”

And perhaps the two that get on my last nerve more than any others: “It is what it is.” I swear, every time someone says that I want to punch them in the throat. And maybe even worse: “We will have to agree to disagree.” This is almost always a bailout, a get-out-of-logic-free card used when one’s arguments have been shredded and there’s nothing left to say.


Browse Our Archives