The radical environmentalist group Greenpeace has been claiming that a Canadian company, Resolute Forest Products, has caused extensive forest loss. Resolute sued for defamation and, in court proceedings, offered convincing that it had caused no forest loss whatever. Greenpeace’s reply? As summarized by Resolute President and CEO Richard Garneau, its “accusations against Resolute were ‘hyperbole,’ ‘heated rhetoric,’ and ‘non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion’ that should not be taken ‘literally’ or expose them to any legal liability.”
This is, of course, ludicrous. Greenpeace has defamed Resolute, plain and simple. But what’s particularly humorous is the claim that its accusations were “hyperbole.” Hyperbole is exaggeration. You can exaggerate from, e.g., 3 to 93, or -3 to -93, but you can’t exaggerate from zero (because from zero you can’t know whether to go positive or negative), and you certainly can’t exaggerate from -3 to 93, or even to 3.
Ergo, some folks at Greenpeace are not only dishonest but also stupid.