Trigger Phrases / by Nathan Jones

The following introductory phrases are all too common in the mouths of our politicians and talking heads. Flashing red lights should go off in our minds whenever we hear them, for we are about to be treated to facile, one-sided generalizations that implicitly demand our consent. Who could possibly be opposed to the "truth" or the "facts"? 

  • The truth of the matter is ...
  • The bottom line is ...
  • The reality is ...
  • The fact of the matter is ...

We should also be deeply skeptical of sentences that begin with either "Look ..." or "So ..." The former is a sure sign that we are about to be patronized. The latter is either (i) an attempt to make whatever gibberish follows it appear to be the inescapable conclusion to a logical argument; or (ii) a clumsy, though effective, trick to change the subject.

One of my personal favourites is to be told what I, and ALL members of my geographical group, want, as in "Canadians want ..." or "British Columbians want ..." â€“ as if there were no diversity of opinion or desire.

And then there is the combo platitude: "Look, the truth of the matter is that Canadians want ..."

This verbal sleight-of-hand is used equally on both sides of the aisle. We should never find ourselves nodding.