Quoted from the author's Chapter I.
"When our Republic had the proud though sometimes awkward strut of youth and before the
growth of culture and skepticism had recruited a lively army of debunkers, there was a Congressman from Buncombe County, North Carolina, who achieved notoriety even in that day for the flood of bombastic nonsense that he poured forth. He talked, as he said, "only for Buncombe." All of which was intended simply to tickle the ears and swell with vanity the diaphragms of the voters, assuring their support for the good old Congressman from Buncombe, a man of the people. Shortly, Buncombe became a common descriptive term buncombe — signifying remarks uttered, without regard to truth or sincerity or pertinence, for the purpose of swaying the crowd in behalf of a candidate for office, or any man who wanted something, or any movement that was trying to put itself over."
""Buncombe" meant a tricky, specious appeal to the crowd. It implied, not sound discussion and a genuine effort to place the truth on view, but oratory consisting of catch-phrases, platitudes, sentimentalities, and the like. Its purpose was not to enlighten nor to convince nor to interest people that they might use their own judgment. Its purpose was to confuse, mislead, excite, and theatrically play upon the feelings (often the worst impulses) of the people. Some practiced the thing cleverly, some crudely. And it is surprising how the crudest stuff will frequently be effective. At any rate, buncombe meant a kind of argument or rhetoric that was false, shallow, impertinent, and probably hypocritical. It was a term not for arguments that, however wrong, were deserving of serious consideration. It was not for intellectually dignified sophistry. But it was a term for the most flimsy and worthless and suspiciously-motived sort of appeal, which, however, might be very serious because of its influence upon the thoughtless, who were apt to be taken in by sound without sense — an old phrase that also fairly describes buncombe."