Thought Terminating Cliche

A acronym or saying that is used within a high control group to quell dissent or discourage rational inquiry. Thought terminating cliches are often tied to appeals to epistemic vices, which are ideologies or character traits that interfere with sharing, gaining, or retaining knowledge. These include:

  • Close-mindedness
  • Intellectual arrogance
  • Prejudice
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Tribalism

See also bandwagon bias, high-control-group, madness of crowds, whataboutism and Tinkerbell effect.


  1. Bernstein, William J. 2021. The Delusions of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups. Grove Press.
  2. Lowe, Scott. "Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, by Amanda Montell." (2022): 151-152.
  3. Hoffer, Eric. "The True Believer (New York." Harper's (1952): 28.
  4. Battaly, Heather. "Varieties of epistemic vice." The ethics of belief (2014): 51-76.
  5. Festinger, Leon, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. When prophecy fails: A social and psychological study of a modern group that predicted the destruction of the world. Lulu Press, Inc, 2017.