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Coined by British writer, lay theologian and scholar (1898–1963) C. S. Lewis in 1941.


Bulverism (uncountable)

  1. A rhetorical fallacy in which a speaker assumes that their opponent's argument is wrong, and instead of disproving it, condescendingly explains why their opponent would have come to that conclusion.
    • [1944, C[live] S[taples] Lewis, “'Bulverism': or, the Foundation of 20th Century Thought”, in Walter Hooper, editor, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Grand Rapids, M.I.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, published 1970, →ISBN, page 273:
      [Y]ou must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father—who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third—'Oh you say that because you are a man.']

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