18 November 2008

Somebody Poisoned the Water Hole. (It Was Me.)

I have found another one of my special talents: the gentle art of manipulation via logical fallacy. I have a niece who is what a diplomat might call "difficult to manage." I had the pleasure of her company this morning and discovered that children have no idea when you are using a logical fallacy to get your way, and sometimes they respond very positively.

Poisoning the Well is one of my favorite logical fallacies because it involves me expressing real fears with the hope that they won't come true. I have a lot of fears: scorpions, rotten vegetables, middle age men with heavy coats, glasses, and mustaches who hang out alone at public parks . . . but I digress.

The niecelet is a known connoisseur of scrambled eggs and has deigned to approve of only the eggs of one of her grandmothers. We cannot consult this grandmother as to technique because she is no longer related to us by marriage. So when niecelet said, "I want a scrambled egg," I was naturally concerned that my eggs would not be up to snuff.

"Well, I just don't know if I can scramble an egg like your grandma, so I'm hesitant to do it, Sis."

Niece: "I think it would be okay."

I scramble egg.

Niece: "To tell the truth, this is actually pretty good."

This technique also worked when I said, "Now, I don't know if I want to let you girls both ride in the toy car cart because I'm worried that you'll fight. Riding in that cart is a treat and I'd hate to have to take it away." I only had to make one (not idle) threat of cart change-a-roo after that and had well-behaved girls for the rest of the shopping trip.

I manipulated via logical fallacy, and it worked GREAT. I congratulate myself.

So, what has you congratulating yourself on your skills (stolen from the dark side or not)?


The Rookie said...

I love fallacy. I use logical fallacies with myself all the time.

Doctors say to eat food that is good for you.
Chocolate makes me feel good.
Therefore, I should eat large quantities of chocolate.

I've been telling myself this one since Halloween. It will probably continue through the new year. It takes the guilt away.

angela michelle said...

hm, i have a highly "difficult to manage" child with a bright future as dictator. i'll give this a try--but I think he'd see right through me.

Anonymous said...

I dare you to out-reason my daughter Mabel -- she shifts the rules around mid-argument and changes history to suit her preference, so sometimes the only solution is to declare the argument over and her the loser on the basis of her being the child and our being the parents. (Yeah, it's loads of fun and we all love it.)

Now, with my other daughter, it does often work to make a suggestion, watch her reject it, and then wait a few minutes for her to bring it up as though it were her own idea.

Hey It's Di said...

Oh yum! I didn't realize it was time to eat until I saw those yummy eggs!! You have my vote too:)