The most mutually satisfactory conclusion to an argument is for both parties to reach agreement by methods of persuasion and by each side learning new things. Another, less satisfactory, way of concluding in argument is to agree to disagree. In neither of these cases, though, can either person really say they have won
. I mean, an old hippy like me might try to suggest that in the first scenario, everyone wins, but surely
the true joy of winning is in grinding your opponent's shattered ego into the dirt, and then pointing and laughing at their paltry remains?
How, then, does one Win an Argument?
There are many tactics which one can employ to win an argument, but I find that one of the most consistently successful is to get your opponent into such a frothing rage that they can't think straight. The methods that you can employ to do this are legion
, and the legendary Conversational Terrorism
is a fine place to start your research into methodology, but I would like to highlight some of my favourites.
- If you want to set your opponent's teeth on edge right from the get-go, start with an appeal to authority. Assert that you are older, wiser, more educated, more experienced, and gosh darn-it, all round better than your opponent. It doesn't matter if the assertion is true or false; in fact, it's almost better if it's false because that's bound to annoy them even more.
- Continue by building a series of straw men. Take your opponent's words and twist them, distort them, and wilfully misinterpret them. If your opponent tries to object to this, simply appeal to authority again, and again, and again, till they give up. This is especially useful if you can pretend to agree with the distorted position.
- Supplement your appeals to authority with ad hominem attacks. While you are painting yourself as the fount of all knowledge make sure to denigrate, insult and patronise your opponent at every opportunity you get. This will really wind them up.
- If you need further ammunition, throw in a few ad populums. Everybody knows that this is a winning tactic.
- Assert your opinion as if it is fact, without a shred of evidence to back it up. Bonus points if you can do this while simultaneously complaining that your opponent has done it
- Red herrings and tangents can also be employed if you feel matters are slipping away from you. Ramble on for several minutes about something totally irrelevant to the point at hand, and if anyone tries to stop you, insist that you'll be getting to the point soon, or that they are wrong in thinking that you are straying from the point.
By this point your opponent should be so thoroughly pissed off with you that they will explode into fury (whether verbal or physical) and you win by default. You can then sit back, secure in the knowledge that you roused someone to anger with the Power of Your Brain and you must therefore be a far better person than they are. Tell all your friends. If you have any.
Who will find these tactics useful?
Some people - mansplainers
, for example - find these techniques come naturally. Often people with political or legal training will use these methods to dismiss an opponent they feel is unworthy, even though they know such underhanded tactics to be without real discursive merit. The people who really need to gen up on these techniques are the sort of people who don't feel at home in smug condescension. This is not because they need to know how to use them, but how to spot when they are being used by someone else against them.
At this point, the non-smug-bastard should hold up a series of flash cards with the name of the logical fallacies being used by their opponent on them each time one is employed. This should somewhat turn the tables of enragement...NOTE FOR THE HARD OF THINKING: I am fully aware that several of the nasty techniques I list above have been used in this post. This is intended to be for humorous effect. Irony does not mean "largely composed of iron". Also, I am aware that I have used these methods in other posts and on other occasions. I am not claiming to be perfect. Not at the moment, anyway.
And yes, since you ask, this is a follow-up to the previous post. You will be returned to normal service shortly. As, indeed, I do all things. Because I am short.
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