Thursday, December 31, 2009

How To Win An Argument

Taken from a sign posted outside a philosophy professor's office.


I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win any argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me. You can win arguments too. Simply follow these rules.

Drink Liquor
Suppose you're at a party and some hotshot intellectual is expounding on the economy of Peru, a subject you know nothing about. If you're drinking some health-fanatic drink like grapefruit juice, you'll hang back, afraid to display your ignorance, while the hotshot enthralls your date. But if you drink several large shots of Jack Daniels, you'll discover that you have STRONG VIEWS about the Peruvian economy.You'll be a WEALTH of information. You'll argue forcefully, offering searing insights, and possibly upset furniture. People will be impressed. Some may leave the room.

Make Things Up
Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that YOU are underpaid, and you're damned if you're going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off.

DON'T say: "I think the Peruvians are underpaid." Say: "I think Peruvian's salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross poverty level." (NOTE: Always make up exact figures.) If an opponent asks where you got your information, make THAT up too. Say: "This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon's study for the Buford Commission established May 9, 1982. Didn't you read it?" Say this in the same tone of voice you would use say, "You left your soiled underwear in my bath house?"

Use Meaningless but Weighty-Sounding Words and Phrases
Memorize this list:
  • Let me put it to you this way
  • In terms of
  • Per se
  • As it were
  • Qua
  • So to speak
  • Well, any-who
You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as "Q.E.D.", "e.g.", and "i.e." These are all short for "I speak Latin, and you do not." Here's how to use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say: "Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don't have enough money." You never win arguments talking like that.

But you WILL win if you say: "Let me put it in this way. In terms of appetizers vis-a-vis Peruvians qua Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se, as it were, Q.E.D." Only a fool would challenge that statement.

Use Snappy and Irrelevant Comebacks
You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:
  • You're begging the question
  • You're being defensive
  • Don't compare apples to oranges
  • What are your parameters
This last one is especially valuable. Nobody, other than mathematicians has the vaguest idea what "parameters" are. Here's how to use your comebacks.
  • You say: "As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873..."
  • Your opponents says: "Lincoln died in 1865."
  • You say: "You're begging the question.."
  • You say: "Liberians, like most Asians..."
  • Your opponents say: "Liberia is in Africa."
  • You say: "You're being defensive..."
Compare Your Opponent to Adolph Hitler
This is your heavy artillery, for when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong. Bring Hitler up subtly. Say: "That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say" or "You certainly do remind me of Adolf Hitler."

You now know how to out-argue anybody. Do not try to pull any of this on people who generally carry weapons.


Gabrielle Valentine said...

I couldn't find your e mail. Despite the battle of the blogs thing with Connor & Co (which I meant in all humor - you can see from my blog, perhaps, that I'm just a bit offbeat anyway) I wanted to thank you for your nicely written answer to my last comment on Connor's blog. I would have posted this on Connor's blog but I kind of think Connor has had it with me, lol. Poor guy. I did mess with him a little but I had some valid questions, too. And while some of my manifestos and such were being funny and over the top liberal in a way, my overall point was that we as people are too judgemental of others. Anyway, I do believe in God but as it trickles down from there...I think some of it is from man, not from God (stay in the box rules and cultural stuff). For example, my home teacher tells us it's not in God's plan to eat vegetarian. Well, what if I think it is? Am I going to hell for not eating meat? These sorts of things get super annoying to me. Being a non-conformer, it's difficult to embrace that every little rule is an absolute from God. It's down to every little thing lately and I feel personally that this causes us to forget basic gospel principles because we are so focused on fitting in the box - doing each and everything just so. I won't get into details - i'm sure you can understand where I'm coming from.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know your long note to me was not in vain and I will read it and ponder it thoughtfully. Though I wasn't backing down during the "battle of the blogs" I am typically quite peaceful and kind so I do thank you for kindly writing so much for me to ponder.

Taylor Cane said...

Gabby you tell your home teacher to stop teaching false doctrine about eating vegetarian.

Nothing in the gospel is at odds with a healthy vegetarian diet. Heck you might be living a higher law we can't even comprehend right now. Why else would the lion lay down with the lamb if it wasn't for the fact that the lion no longer needed to eat the lamb!

Oh, and good post Shiloh (as usual).

Anonymous said...

The snappy comebacks section left out "That's a straw man argument."

Jen said...

I enjoyed this post immensely.

Kristen Howerton said...

Thank you, this is very useful. As I therapist, I enjoy employing "you're just projecting that onto me."