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MaverickVoice.com » Thought-terminating cliches

Thought-terminating cliches

A thought-terminating cliches is a short phrase or colloquialism that is used to end all discussion or thought about a topic. Robert Jay Lifton wrote about this in his 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China.

Basically, a statement is made that is so succint that it can’t be argued with (whether it’s a valid statement or not) and discussion ends there. This same kind of concept pretty much defines the language of “Newspeak” used in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Here are some examples that we’re all probably familiar with (pretty much lifted from Wikipedia):

  • General examples:
    • Do as I say, not as I do.
    • Why? Because I said so
    • That’s a no-brainer.
    • When you get to be my age…
    • You don’t always get what you want.
    • The best defense is a good offense.
    • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
    • It works in theory, but not in practice.
    • There’s no silver bullet.
    • Stupid is as stupid does.
    • Life is unfair.
    • Such is life.
    • It is what it is.
    • It was his time.
    • Whatever.
    • Yawn.
    • Think about it.
    • Just forget it.
    • …so, you do the math.
    • We will have to agree to disagree.
    • We all have to do things we don’t like.
    • You are not being a “team player”.
    • “That’s just wrong.” or “You don’t just do that.”
    • It takes all kinds to make a world.
    • Just do it.
    • That’s a cliche.
    • Don’t be that guy.
  • Political examples:
    • That’s just a (liberal/conservative/libertarian/communitarian/etc.) argument.
    • Socialism or Barbarism!
    • “Anarchist organizations”, isn’t that an oxymoron?
    • If you are not with us, you are against us.
    • America: love it or leave it.
    • My body, my choice.
    • If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
    • Better Dead than Red!
    • Better Red than Dead!
    • That’s a conspiracy theory.
    • Freedom is not free.
    • Live free or die.
  • Religious examples:
    • God has a plan and a purpose.
    • Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!
    • God works in mysterious ways.
    • Trust in the Lord thy God…lean not on thine own understanding.
    • Vengence is mine, sayeth the Lord. I shall repay.
    • The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.
    • Whatever goes around comes around.
    • Forgive and forget.