John Oliver has shown himself in recent years to be a hack and disinfo agent. He also affords us an excellent opportunity to see a fallacious argument in action. Oliver and Steven Colbert specialize in what is known as “appeal to ridicule,” or reductio ad ridiculum. It’s also known as “appeal to mockery” and “the horse laugh.” This technique presents an argument in such a way as to make it look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or the use of mockery and exaggeration.
In the following clip, Oliver takes on the topic of the Vault 7 confirmation that the CIA can hack and take control of a motor vehicle. Notice the ridicule. Also notice the rather canned laughter of the audience. And who paid for that below-the-belt Samsung bashing? I really wonder how much of Oliver’s credibility capital gets used up in these performances. Perhaps a lot. Misplaced ridicule can be a sign of desperation.
What’s curious about this car hacking technology is that Popular Mechanics, another disinfo agent, came clean with an article in 2015 that demonstrated how it is done:
“Research from DARPA has shown that General Motors’ OnStar system is easily hackable, and can give attackers control over many automotive systems including braking and acceleration. Furthermore, an investigation by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) revealed how woefully inadequate the safeguards from automakers are. DARPA’s experiment, as shown on “60 Minutes,” last night, hacked a last-gen Chevy Impala. DARPA inserted a malicious code string into the on-board computer, giving them control of the car.
Furthermore, “60 Minutes” openly revealed the technology exploit in 2015. Do you really think this is the advanced car hacking model?
The New Nationalist (TNN) theorizes that the idea here is to sow confusion, thereby keeping people in a dream state. By mustering doubt — “How can I know for sure?” — it discourages engagement. Confused viewers, and those placing false trust in the Olivers of the world, soon feel they might as well go back to staring at their navel rather than go any deeper down the rabbit hole. Oliver even injects the comment “unplug your TV.” This is neuro-linguistic programming to tune out.
The defense is to be able to quickly identify neuro-linguistic programming, such as this Oliver operation. To test yourself for inoculation, your reaction to this “humor” should be a frown, or really anything but a chuckle. This is not the least bit funny- Oliver is in your face screwing with your mind.