The “Reductio ad Korihorem” Rule

November 7, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 5:39 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

We’ve had the Scientology Rule and I’m still trying to forget the TK Smoothie rule but I’d like to suggest another rule to help us be a little bit more civil here in this fabulous little Mormon life we lead.

You might consider it to be an extension of reductio ad hitlerum but with a Mormon twist. I am calling it the “Reductio ad Korihorem” rule and it basically goes thus:

If you have a differing opinion with someone else and label their opinion as that of Korihor, the Gadianton Robbers, Satan, Cain, Kishkummen, Ed Decker, or any other patently evil person, then you aren’t really making a logical argument, and I am not obliged to take you seriously.

Now, I was somewhat tempted to post some actual examples, as there have been plenty, especially with all the politics, doctrine, and science debates I see, but since some of you weren’t aware of this rule (via common sense) in the past, I am not going to embarrass you, as tempting as that may be.

Instead let me tell you why such labeling is a bad idea.

There are basically 2 situations where this is used

A. Korihor(or Satan) wanted to take away our civil liberties and you think X is good and X takes away our civil liberties so you are like Korihor(or Satan)

B. Korihor (or Satan) wanted to allow more permissiveness with fewer consequences for certain actions and you want to do something which I find unacceptable, so you are like Korihor (or Satan).

First of all, doesn’t your little red flag go up when you see that Korihor is used as an example of allowing too much liberty (permissiveness) and also taking away too many civil liberties, sometimes even in the same argument? I mean seriously, is he giving or taking? And yes, I’m aware that it is true that allowing a man to punch me in the face denies me the right of not being punched in the face, and while I can see you point, and this is actually an interesting line of argument, maybe you can argue this point next time instead of telling me how dangerous my beliefs are, or that you hope my children don’t grow up to be like me, or that I’m evil personified. Because if you do, see the rule above.

Secondly, the big problem here is that Korihor only shows up in 1 chapter, and about 54 verses in the Book of Mormon, and the only data we really get on any illegal activity Korihor is doing is that he preached “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” which is more of a plea for social anarchy, and while implying some negative activities, does not enumerate any specific details. So while we can safely assume there was some seditious or illegal behavior (since the chapter in question specifically states the law did not have him come before the judges for unbelief or preaching unbelief, as that was not a crime.) we don’t really know any details. To take an absurd example, it’s just as likely that Korihor was arrested for inciting the people to imprison the medicine man in charge of performing abortions as it was that he took multiple wives unto himself or was busted performing acts of euthanasia. The point is, just because someone disagrees with you about what is right or wrong, this doesn’t make them Korihor.

Finally, Korihor’s main motivating factor was denial of the existence of God. So if you call a person who is your co-religionist Korihor and imply evil Korihor consequences onto their behavior, you are wrong, because they believe in God and all you are doing is being wrong. If you call someone who is a non-believer Korihor and imply evil-Korihor consequences, you are wrong, because they will say “yea , so?” because they don’t believe Korihor ever even existed, so the consequences you are laying out also don’t exist to them.

So in conclusion, telling someone that what they think and feel is akin to Korihor is tacky, so don’t do it.

Thanks for your time.


  1. Matt, you’re like totally akin to Pahoran. {wink}

    Comment by BrianJ — November 7, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

  2. Are there any valid comparisons using Korihor?

    Comment by Nitsav — November 7, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  3. I agree with the general idea you are getting at but I think Korihor is not invoked nearly as often as Satan.

    The general fallacious argument usually has to do with some sort of regulation being discussed and the exchange might go something like this:

    Mormon A screams “You want to create laws that make people do the right thing and that is Satan’s plan!”

    Mormon B scream back “You want to do away with all laws that regulate our society and lead to positive societal ends and that is exactly the sort of thing the anti-Christ Korihor argued for!”

    Both argument are silly and over-the-top but they get thrown around all the time in these political discussions.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 7, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  4. I am interested to hear your answer to your own question, Nitsav.

    Comment by TrevorM — November 7, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  5. Nitsav: That’s very Korihor like of you, to ask a question. Unless Dan Vogel has been struck dumb and mute by God, it’s probably still an unwise thing to do.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 7, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  6. Let’s face it, this is 10000x more likely to come up in the context of taxation.

    Comment by Steve Evans — November 7, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  7. I can get behind this. I like me some rules.

    Comment by Ronan — November 8, 2008 @ 2:18 am

  8. I believe that everything is a crime, so you’re ALL Korihors to me.

    Comment by The Right Trousers — November 8, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  9. Call me MISTER Korihor.

    Comment by meems — November 8, 2008 @ 10:43 am

  10. I agree. There is often to much exaggerated, hyperbolic, name calling that goes on. And eventually one will lose credibility if they continue.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 10, 2008 @ 6:49 am

  11. Nehor is so underappreciated as anti-Christs go…

    Comment by clark — November 10, 2008 @ 8:19 am

  12. In fact, Nehor seemed to have a more long lasting influence than any other of the anti-Christs. Plus, his name almost rhymes with Maher – if you pronounce it incorrectly – which is an added plus.

    Comment by Hal — November 12, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  13. Korihor’s back, and this time he’s got a blog.

    Comment by Stephen Robinson — November 15, 2008 @ 4:07 am

  14. Which blog is it Stephen? Do you have the URL?

    Comment by Geoff J — November 15, 2008 @ 8:14 am