How to Blast an Innocent Christian Brother...and Have at Least Some Think You're a Hero

Got a case of “certain Christian brother must be a cad, but I just can’t find any real evidence of that”? The good news is that despite that minor inconvenience you can blast him and build yourself a following at the same time—all without breaking a sweat. Here’s ten easy steps.

  1. Start by declaring that your assertion is obvious and indisputable. That way you don’t have to actually provide any evidence. People will either believe it or keep silent because nobody wants to risk being the dolt who can’t see the obvious. (By the way, that Emperor’s New Clothes tale—it’s rubbish. There’s no way people would have believed that kid!)
  2. Point out that nobody has disproved your claim. Most of the people you want to reel in are not aware of the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy. To these, it makes perfect sense to say, “That sap at Duller Lead is obviously trichophobic. I’ve dared him to prove otherwise, and he hasn’t provided a scrap of proof.”
  1. Judge your target by a standard that you yourself manifestly fail to meet. Seems risky, I know, but evidence abounds that folk who find Steps 1 and 2 somewhat persuasive will believe you’ve nailed it when you add in some transparent hypocrisy. For example, you could say your target has never posted a scandal exposé about his buddy Ralph, when you’ve never posted one about him (or any of your own buddies) either. Here’s another classic: accuse him of being biased in what he posts or edits at his website while you delete any comment you don’t like from your own website. Okay—admittedly, that last one isn’t exactly transparent hypocrisy. Folks can’t see how much you delete before it sees the light of day. But hey, it’s still hypocrisy, so go for it. I don’t know why, but it works!
  2. Pile up assumptions. To further enhance your growing ethos, use several other assertions you’ve declared obvious and indisputable (see Step 1) as proof that your latest obvious and indisputable point is true. Readers of the sort you’re after will notice that your list of assumed-true premises sounds like evidence. They won’t notice that it actually isn’t. This group is especially useful for expanding your blast radius. Armed with your “facts,” they’ll take up your cause and do much of the damage you desire for you. Why do the work of ten men when you can get ten to do the work of one, right?
  3. Leverage the suspicious nature of the semi-paranoid. These folks constitute about about half of the audience that has the most potential to strongly support you. They believe there’s always something sneaky and nefarious (and amazingly well organized) going on behind the scenes. So all you have to do is put a suspicion into words and it’s instantly a proven fact. It’s so unbelievably easy!
  4. Associate your target with despised archetypes using the language of vague but emphatic similarity. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. An example, then: You could say your victim uses “tactics” that are “a carbon copy of liberal mainstream media.” Again, experts know that many will be dazzled by the disgust they feel toward the archetype (mainstream media—ick! ick! ick!) and never notice that you have not actually backed your claim. This saves the work of gathering evidence. Remember, facts are your enemy. Facts can be verified or disproved and so, if you use them, you open yourself up to all kinds of trouble. For starters, you have to make sure the pesky things are actually true or that they’ll at least still look true if people discover the context. Too much work. Above our pay grade, I say. And the kind of followers you really want don’t need facts anyway.
  5. Lie outright. Experts in cheap-shot persuasion are still mystified as to why this works, but you can bank on it. Once you’ve rolled out Steps 1 through 6 for half a page or so, you can make any extreme claim you like and your most supportive readers will either swallow it whole or suspect you’re right—pretty much forever. This is where things get really exciting. There’s a hidden bonus in this one: those who only suspect you’re right will actually spread your accusation with more energy than those who are convinced. Really. It’s a laugh riot!  I’ve seen it a million times but, trust me, it never gets old. By the way, if it’s a lie you’ve told before, so much the better! The more you repeat it, the truer it sounds.
  6. Recruit people named Anonymous. Successful marketers know that the testimonial is king—and that the backslapping, “Thanks for your courage and insight” testimonial is like the king’s mother-in-law, or something. So you want brave, anonymous posts congratulating your bravery. Potential snag: What if, for some reason, anonymous supporters are in short supply? As the philosophers say, no worries, mate! You can always be your own anonymous supporter. This is a bit deep, but go to a quiet place and cogitate on this one: If you post something anonymously by you and nobody knows it’s you, is it really … You? One for the philosophers! I realize it’s more work being your own anonymous supporter, but it can be worth it. It has the advantage of voicing support with just the right nuances. Either way, always try to use sources anonymously. To your prime audience, an anonymous source is even more believable than a named one. That’s because these folks know that the really dangerous claims that people have to make from the shadows are always absolutely true (because “THEY” don’t want you to know). Keep the lights low, I always say.
  7. Use weasel words like crazy. Go for weasel like it’s the new sushi. You know the kind of words I mean: vague and as emotionally loaded as possible. Bunch several together into whole weasel phrases. Characterize your target as a “major conduit for advancing” pure evil. Say your target has not been “thoroughly positive toward” helping little old ladies. What does “thoroughly positive” mean? Anything you like! See the genius of it?! For a twist, accuse your target of not being willing to draw attention to “anything remotely questionable” about one of your other targets. If they try to claim otherwise, you’re all ready to go: “that’s not really remotely questionable,” or “you didn’t really draw attention to it,” or “you only did it because I pushed you into it first, so it doesn’t count.” Don’t worry: your most passionate followers will not remember that your target has actually said a boatload of stuff critical of pure evil and in favor of helping little old ladies, and quite a few will never bother to check. They’ll just suspect. (See Steps 5 and 7. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!)
  8. Distort, distort, distort. Yes, this one sounds like work. But it’s only hard the first couple of times and is a skill well worth acquiring. Distortion can take so, so many forms and one form or another is always handy. It’s like the Walmart of brother-blasting. My personal favorite is a trick I call the Magnavox Maneuver. What you do is take a full spectrum situation and force it all into black and white. I know—even the old Magnavox had some shades of gray, but let’s not get technical. It’s a fact that the minds that are most open to your agenda will never notice the difference between, say, being silent about something and supporting it. Really, they won’t. And is there any real difference anyway? As my kindergarten teacher used to say, “If it ain’t A, it’s gotta be Z.”

Related: Please Don’t Believe This Post

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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There are 9 Comments

Susan R's picture


whenever you watch the news. A thorough education in misdirection, hyperbole, and hysteria is provided daily to the general public for free, or a small monthly fee if you have cable. 

See Media Fear Tactics.

Aaron Blumer's picture


Great link. "Possible" is a wonderful weasel word...

POSSIBLE: As in “Next Up: Possible links between Saddam Hussein and tooth decay…”

The word “possible” doesn’t really have the specificity one hopes for in journalism, given that it is completely accurate when applied to anything anyone can possibly imagine. “A possible outbreak of…” means there has been no outbreak. “A possible connection between memory loss and the air you breathe…” means there is no confirmed connection.

In the fundamentalist context, I'm concerned about deeper issues that fuel some of the unethical brother-blasting. I'm all for raising questions when something important is amiss or for confronting clear error when it occurs.

But since the 80s, when I first started paying attention, I've regularly encountered a subset of fundamentalists who are constantly devoted to watching their nearest cousins in Christendom (or even for their fellow fundamentalists) for the tiniest misstep. They're so constantly suspicious and alert to the "possible" failings of others, they think that if you don't happen to notice a misstep and blow the whistle, you're actively suppressing.

To them I say, I know this is hard to imagine, but some of us have better things to do than constantly look for who might be messing up and make sure everybody knows.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Charlie's picture

It is just fine to use these tactics, though, as long as the Christian brother is truly guilty. And by truly guilty, I mean that there is a strong hunch that something's not quite right about him.

My Blog:

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

AndrewSuttles's picture

This looks like a sure-fire method, but, I'm lazy and I'd rather let Google do the work for me.  If I want the goods on somebody, I usually just google around until I find an accusation that I can pass around as fact. 


One man's wild speculation is another man's due process.

Jay's picture

Who needs due process when you can just start your own Facebook Group or blog and go straight to "person X is a heretical apostate!!!1!" ?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

jimfrank's picture

John Wayne as The Green Beret colonel shoots a Viet Cong, and journalist David Janssen demands, "What about due process?"  The Duke drolly replies, "The only due process out here is a bullet."  It may work in war but not in church.


Aaron Blumer's picture


Everybody's for it until they see somebody they think is obviously guilty of something... At that point, the tendency is to pronounce guilt and jump right to the sentencing phase.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Joel Tetreau's picture


Great article. My first thought is that it is easier to know when you've been targeted by others with one of these you mention than when you are guilty of violating one of these you've mentioned. So a quick question - no tricks - straight up question. So if it's "out of bounds" to use an "anonymous" source - is it better to actually get the name with the information and name the source even if the source has not given you permission to go public? Am I right to assume that as far as you are concerned you either - share the info with the source or you say nothing?

Straight Ahead!


Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (; Regional Coordinator for IBL West (, Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Aaron Blumer's picture


Great question. More than I intended to convey, though. I don't categorically reject anonymity. But some specialize in "unnamed sources" and use them almost exclusively, often in a way that obviously has no other purpose than to make allegations (or praise) conveniently unverifiable.   ... those who rely on these methods and those who are persuaded by them kind of deserve each other I think.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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