1 : subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation
2 : an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially : such an argument used to deceive
Did You Know?
The original Sophists were ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric and philosophy prominent in the 5th century B.C.E. In their heyday, these philosophers were considered adroit in their reasoning, but later philosophers (particularly Plato) described them as sham philosophers, out for money and willing to say anything to win an argument. Thus, sophist—which can be traced back, via the Greek sophistēs ("wise man" or "expert") and sophizesthai ("to become wise"), to sophos, meaning "clever" or wise"—earned a negative connotation as "a captious or fallacious reasoner."
The newspaper editorial warned readers to beware politicians who use sophistry to convince voters to support policies not in their own best interests.
"Drama, the art in which perspectives are brought into collision, is a powerful antidote to the sophistry and sensationalism nullifying our capacity for intelligent debate." — Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec. 2017
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