All of this is well and good...but personally I've found that often when I'm having "arguments" it's not for the benefit of the person I'm
arguing with, but rather for the benefit of the audience listening to the discussion.
And...unfortunately I've found that there are an awful lot of people who are easily swayed to believe the person who follows these rules instead:
1) Always overstate your opinion. There's no reason for something you say to only "probably" be true, if it can be "so undeniably true that only
an absolute moron would even think to question it."
2) Insist that your opponents facts are wrong. It will waste his time trying to find a source. You can use that time to continue to beat him into
submission. When he does find a source, just ignore it. Don't even respond to it. If you spend ten minutes telling him he's wrong, and he spends one
sentence showing that he's right, most people will remember the ten minutes over the one sentence.
3) Make up facts that suit you. Odds are good nobody will check on them. If they do, twist it your your advantage. If you claim that 7 billion people
die in wheelbarrow accidents every year, and somebody actually finds statistics saying that only five did in 2005, simply respond that 2005 was a low
year, and that the 7 billion figure is an average. Thank them for finding the 2005 figure, and then point out that this proves that your position
even more strongly than you had, since obviously if 7 billion is an average, and only five died in 2005, that means that in most years the numbers are
really much higher than seven billion.
4) Always attack the least important and most trivial nuances of what your opponent says. If there's anything he expresses doubt in, or allows for
the possibility that he might be wrong, monopolize on it. Ignore the strong parts of his argument. Only acknowledge the weak ones. Then tear them
apart with both fact and fiction. He already doubts them, and if you can trick him into only trying to defend the parts of his argument he's unsure
of, it will make his entire position look weak.
5) Insult your opponent at every available opportunity. It will disrupt his thinking, and if he tries to defend himself he'll be focusing on that
instead of the points he wanted to make. And if he doesn't defend himself, obviously it's because what you're saying is true, and everyone
listening will want to believe you because nobody wants to be on the side of a loser who simply sits and takes insults.
6) Don't waste your time on logic. Simply repeat your position over and over. Logic requires thinking, and most people aren't interested. They want
reality in small soundbites. Give them what they want. Also remember that most people respond well to reinforcement. If you can say something a dozen
times in one minute, that's far more convincing than saying something once, and then spending the rest of a minute justifying it. People don't
remember reasons or rationale. They remember conclusions. So give them conclusions. Repeatedly.
7) Appeal to their emotions. Find a way to connect your opponents position to something that will generate an unpleasant emotional response in your
listeners. It doesn't matter if it has any connection to reality. It doesn't matter if it makes sense. Simply make the connection. If you can make
people feel a negative emotion while thinking about your opopnent, they'll remember that more strongly than anything you or he says. Also, connect
your position to happy, pleasant emotions, for the same reason.
8) Associate both sides of the argument with things that nobody could possibly argue with. For example, your opponent clearly is not thinking about
children, and what effects his position would have on them. Therefore he is clearly against children. And puppies. And his position will support
terrorists and child molesters. Reality is not a factor. Simply make these connections. Your position, however, is very much helpful to children,
puppies, democracy, and anything else that your audience feels good about.
9) Site authorities who agree with your position. Most people are too timid to think for themselves, and seek authority figures to make their
decisions for them. Fortunately there tends to be authorities in support of just about any position imaginable. Find the ones who happen to agree with
10) Make it clear that you're higher on the pecking order than your opponent. Most people are very affected by this. If your audience perceives you
as the alpha male, and your opponent as a mewling kitten, it won't matter how well thought out or logical his argument is. If the discussion is in
person, speak more loudly and regularly interupt him mid-sentence. This will establish your dominance. If he objects to this, laugh at him and tell
him that if he can't handle the discussion to not waste your time. Very few people can deal with this sort of treatment, and if they get angry, or if
they choose to not continue the discussion, then clearly you've won, because you made them back away. An audience will remember this more strongly
than anything that was said during a discussion. And, if they literally disengage themselves from the discussion, you now have a captive audience
listening to only your side of the argument.
If we'd all make an asserted effort to fight/play fair and follow some simple rules of respect and common decency, many more of our discussions would
deliver more understanding for all involved in the mix and bystanders alike.
You have to understand that there a lot of people who are simply not interested in "playing fair." Nor are they interested in delivering
understanding to anyone. They're interested in power, control, and promoting their beliefs. These people simply seek the most effective and efficient
ways of furthering their agenda. Playing "fair" does not help them, and it's silly to expect or try to encourage them to.
[edit on 28-10-2008 by LordBucket]