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Words Whose Incorrect Use Irrationally Irritate Me: Doubling Down

Maybe it's because I am an English major or because my parents met in Reno, Nevada (where they both worked at The Nugget Casino) or simply because I am a thundercunt hagbeast. Who can say? I know it doesn't have anything to do with KFC's Double Down sandwich because I have been a vegetarian my whole life and have never eaten KFC, so they are safe. I digress.

I hate the way that the phrase "doubling down" is thrown around because it is indicative of lazy catch-phrasing.


For those who don't play Blackjack or some online equivalent, "doubling down" may not be a metaphorical statement. People may not know its roots or how it should function and may instead rely on contextual cues. People who know Blackjack know that doubling down is a maneuver whose enactment varies depending upon house rules, but the basic set-up is that a player is allowed to double the initial bet up to 100% after receiving the first two cards and they must agree to only take one more card. Essentially, a gambler increases their risk substantially in order to receive a greater reward. It has to do with believing that the hand is worth the risk.

Even metaphorically, which is how most people encounter it given that it has become the meaningless internet catchphrase la coqueluche du moment (flavor of the month in French because I roll pedantic AND snotty), it is about multiplying the risk to equivalently increase the reward. There is also an element of sticking with a good hand, but a player does get another card, so that isn't strictly true.

Guess what it doesn't mean? It doesn't mean (even metaphorically) sticking to a point that is incorrect simply because a person is emotionally attached to it. It isn't about clinging to a point that is wrong because a person truly has no idea it is incorrect. Never is it an apt metaphor for maintaining a point that is ignorant because it can be backed by dubious research. Sticking to a fucking point alone is not "doubling down" because a gambling term (even one borrowed to function as a metaphor) depends upon risk and payoff.

I have never encountered an internet argument where someone maintaining a position at the risk of being wrong resulted in twice the reward. Why? Because there is only one true reward in an internet argument and that is the knowledge that you are right and the other person is wrong. And guess what? People who maintain their position already fucking think that.


Person decides to invest in some Facebook stock even with an unstable initial offering? Doubling Down.

Person decides to trust the word of a partner who acknowledged cheating but promises not to do it again because the person thinks the couple has great things ahead? Doubling Down.


A politician decides to stick with a foreign policy even though it is currently failing? Doubling Down.

I recognize that the last two examples feel like intransigence is what is really being displayed and reporters love to re-frame truculence as "doubling down;" but, the examples are doubling down because the perceived end reward justifies a substantial risk; being stubborn does not equate to "doubling down."


So, if you read this and are still going to latch onto some metaphor and use it to mean something totally different: fine. But, know that whether you win or lose the argument with a person who "doubles down," you are already an intellectually indolent ass.

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