Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How to Argue Effectively

Winning arguments is easy. I win them all the time. Ask any of my former employers. I can win an argument on any topic against any opponent. People know this and out of fear and admiration, avoid me at political functions. Also, showing their great respect, they often don’t invite me. I can show you too how to win arguments. All you have to do is follow these five simple rules.

1. Drink Excessively

Let’s say you are at an evening political function and some famous pundit is emitting hot air about the Green Party Platform, a document you have never read.

If you imbibe some faddish drink like Kombucha, you’ll linger at the edge of the crowd, hiding your ignorance, while this guru intoxicates your date with his apocalyptic guile.

Instead, if you drink several glasses of wine – large ones – you’ll find you have refined opinions about the Green Party Platform. Now an argument powerhouse, you’ll warm the room with your heated genius, possibly melting ice cubes. Jaws dropped, eyebrows raised, people may be driven from the room.

2. Cook up fake facts

Suppose, in this Green Party Platform argument, you are trying to prove that a family’s home heating cost will go through the roof, a position based solely on the fact that your home heating cost is currently through the roof, and you’ll be damned if other people’s home heating costs are not also going to go through the roof. Don’t say, “Home heating costs will go through the roof.” Say instead, “The average family’s home heating cost in 2015 was $15,471.26, adjusted for the two-tier billing system, that is $7,475.75 higher than 10 years ago.

Note: Always cook up exact figures. If the date-stealing pundit asks where you got the information, cook that up too. Say: this information comes from Dr. Rajendra Pachauri’s study for the B.C. Electrical Commission, published on April 5, 2016. Of course you’ve read it?” Say this last bit with the same tone you’d use if you were asking, “Did you just fart?”

3. Use vague and meaningless but deep and meaningful sounding words.

Commit this list to memory:
In other words
Going forward
In such a way that
Be that as it may

Also memorize this list of Latin words:
Non sequitar
Caveat emptor
Ipso facto
De facto
Ad hominem

These mean, “I went to university and you didn’t.” Here’s how you use them. Suppose you want to say, “Families would prefer to wear thermal long underwear only outside the house, not inside, but home heating is too expensive.” Face it; you will never win an argument talking like that. You will, though, if you say: “Going forward, in such a way that long underwear is ipso facto normally worn outside, not inside, the cost of home heating, be that as it may, is, de facto, too expensive. Caveat Emptor.” No one but a dogmatist would question such a profound sounding statement.

4. Use snappy but irrelevant comebacks.

When the date stealing bottom dweller makes a valid point, you need to have a list of irrelevant phrases ready to throw him off his game. Some of the best are:

That’s a straw man.
Don’t appeal to authority to me.
You are being defensive.
What are your basic premises?

The last one is particularly useful. Only philosophy majors have any idea what a basic premise even is. Use these comebacks as follows:

You say: “When Al Gore was president, …” He says: “Al Gore was never president.” You say, “You are being defensive.”

Or, you say: “Monrovians, like most Europeans,” and he says, “Monrovia is part of Africa,” you say, “That’s a red herring.”

5. Compare the pundit to Adolf Hitler.

When the date stealing pundit is completely right and you’ve gone terribly wrong, it’s time to pull out the big gun. Raise Hitler’s name tactfully. Say, “Didn’t Hitler say something like that?” or “You sure remind me of Hitler.”

As you can see, arguing is easy as long as you remember these five simple rules.

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