Simple Speech
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KSU   -   English 1101/55 & 57   -   Mr. Hagin   -   Fall 2002   -   Revised: 27 November 2002
CRC
 

§   DEFINITION

Simple Speech – simple statements that do not apply to more complex situations.
 

The fallacy of simple speech occurs when a writer misapplies statements that are true in simple cases onto more complex cases, but without qualifying these statements.  Simple speech is a type of overgeneralization that occurs when the words used by a speaker simplify the argument beyond the author’s wishes.  Offenders who use simple speech usually lack the vocabulary necessary to argue persuasive issues effectively.  Their simple statements often do not genuinely express how they really feel about the subject.  Speakers who overgeneralize often apply their logic too generally (however, their biggest problem is their lack of understanding more so than a lack of vocabulary).
 

EXAMPLE 1

A health advocate says: “Jogging is great exercise.  Americans would be healthier if they jogged.”

To say “Jogging is good for people; we should all jog every day” is sound advice most of the time.  If we maintain our health, we will give ourselves a better chance of living longer.  Since jogging is one of many great ways to keep fit, this advice, in general, is good.  The fallacy occurs when the writer does not account for exceptions to this adage: what about people with asthma, heart conditions, or paralysis who should not be jogging, especially in smoggy summer air?  Should we jog every single day?  Can I eat junk food while jogging?  This advice needs clarification in order to be fully validated.  No doctor would blindly suggest that every patient take up jogging – each case is different.
 

EXAMPLE 2

A flag-waving American might say: “America is the greatest country in the world.”

This sounds reasonable enough because this is what we have always been told, but to boil this complex nation down to a simple statement unfairly misrepresents the complex truths about our country.  Of course, America provides its citizens immense opportunities, but other countries have better education and health care systems, for example.  The truth is more complicated than the ideas promoted by simple speech.