Monday, February 28, 2005

Learn How to Argue

This was actually first written by Dave Barry the columnist. We can learn a lot from him. Find it all here.

Argument 101*
by David Barry

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an 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 too can win arguments. Simply follow these rules:

1. Drink Liquor. (JD)

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 you have STRONG VIEWS about the Peruvian economy. You'll be a WEALTH of information. You'll argue forcefully, offering searing insights and possibly upsetting furniture. People will be impressed. Some may leave the room.

2. 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 Peruvians are underpaid." Say: "The average 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 you where you got your information, make THAT up, too. Say: "This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon's study for the Buford Commission published May 9, 1982. Didn't you read it?" Say this in the same tone of voice you would use to say "You left your soiled underwear in my bath house."

3. Use meaningless but weightly-sounding words and phrases.

Memorize this list:
# Let me put it this way
# In terms of
# Vis-a-vis
# Per se
# As it were
# Qua
# So to speak
# well, anyhow
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 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.

4. Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks.

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevent 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 and oranges.
What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody, other than mathematicians, has the vaguest idea what "parameters" means.

Here's how to use your comebacks:

You say: As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873...
Your opponent says: Lincoln died in 1865.
You say: You're begging the question.


You say: Liberians, like most Asians...
Your opponent says: Liberia is in Africa.
You say: You're being defensive.

5. Compare your opponent to Adolf 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.


Nicole said...

It's remarkable how many people I know who actually try and attempt some of these suggestions (especially the "weighty sounding words and phrases" part).

It reminds of me of the saying "You CAN win an argument today: pick a fight with a four-year-old".

Thanks for the good read!

Dave said...

Some of the four year olds I know keep asking 'why'? So do some people with PhD's in philosophy.

Have you tried:

Nicole said...


Anyway website that allows you to argue about what an argument is with THE Socrates, is a good website in my book.

That made my day.

ana ordonez said...

Arguments are a very important part of human exitence. without them the whole human race would have collapsed a long time ago. Winning arguments is a vital part in making your ideas known to the masses and gianing power among the people of your circle. Tips on how to win arguments may vary, and as i think that some of these may be useful in informal arguments, i think their true validity is in the satire and criticism it makes of people that have absolutely no idea what they are talking about but sound like they do. These kind of statements will give you credibility even though your arguments are totally shallow and have absolutely no depth. These kind of gilded arguments are very common as people hate to admit defeat even in the smallest of cases.
ana ordonez