When will we want to give assurances about some statement we have made? If we state something that we know everyone believes, assurances are not nec- essary. For that matter, if everyone believes something, we may not even state it at all; we let others fill in this step in the argument. We offer assurances when we think that someone might doubt or challenge what we say.
There are many ways to give assurances. Sometimes we cite authorities:
Doctors agree . . .
Recent studies have shown . . .
An unimpeachable source close to the White House says . . .
It has been established that . . .
Here we indicate that authorities have these reasons without specifying what their reasons are. We merely indicate that good reasons exist, even if we ourselves cannot—or choose not to—spell them out. When the authority cited can be trusted, this is often sufficient, but authorities often can and should be questioned. This topic will be discussed more fully in Chapter 15.
Another way to give assurances is to comment on the strength of our own belief:
I’m certain that . . .
I’m sure that . . .
I can assure you that . . .
I’m not kidding. . . .
Over the years, I have become more and more convinced that . . .
Again, when we use these expressions, we do not explicitly present reasons, but we conversationally imply that there are reasons that back our assertions.
A third kind of assurance abuses the audience:
Everyone with any sense agrees that . . .
Of course, no one will deny that . . .
It is just common sense that . . .
There is no question that . . .
Nobody but a fool would deny that . . .
These assurances not only do not give any reason; they also suggest that there is something wrong with you if you ask for a reason. We call this the trick of abusive assurances.