Date: Sun, 8 Jan 95 12:43:05 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Argument 101
Forwarded-by: lanih@info.Berkeley.EDU (J. Lani Herrmann)
Forwarded-by: Mark Witteman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: Nancy Kramer <nkramer>
Forwarded-by: Josh.Lee@eng.sun.com (Josh Lee)
Forwarded-by: Sandra Lynn Gramman <email@example.com>
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:
* 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.
* 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
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
* Use meaningless but weightly-sounding words and phrases.
Memorize this list:
Let me put it this way
In terms of
As it were
So to speak
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.
* 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 opponents says Lincoln died in 1865.
You say You're begging the question.
You say Liberians, like most Asians...
Your opponents says Liberia is in Africa.
You say You're being defensive.
* 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.
© 1995 Peter Langston