Friday, February 23, 2007


Here are a few more tips and tricks to try (just for fun) during your next argument.

Establish multiple definitions of key words. Listen closely to the opposing viewpoints and pick out the key words that they use to make their case. Take special note of the meanings they intend to apply to that word in this context, then start using these words to build your own case. Avoid using their definitions, imply this by your context but try to straddle at least two different definitions of these key words at all times. This will allow you to change the meaning of your statements “post factum” by making statements such as, “I was referring to (the word) in its classical sense” or “I was bringing up a hypothetical” or “I meant that as a verb” or even “well, if you want to get all technical about it I’ll just make up a new word for the concept” (then start replacing the word with their name, their children’s names or other topics they might find touchy).

Try footnotes. This is a variant of the afore mentioned method, but in this case the word choice is fully initiated by you. The research should be done in advance to find a few great misleading words. Although, pretty much any word should be vague enough because you can also add meaning to your words by “footnoting” them thus raising them beyond the scrutiny of context. Then, later you can explain that you had “footnoted” that particular usage of the word and were going to come back to it later. Or you can say that the word must be understood in context and you have to finish your entire thought before it can be properly explained. Try this several times during the discussion. Depending on the desired reaction, this can be particularly enjoyable if your proof seems to be negating itself.

Go with what you know. This is a cheesy way to argue, but many find it enjoyable. Every single little thing that the other person says, you just say, “I don’t know about that”, that’s it. You don’t need to know anything, and you just might win.

I’ll conclude this lesson with a story about an argument that I witnessed just the other day. A guy walks up to me at the gas station (while I’m filling the tank) and is just finishing what sounds like a very forceful argument, he seems to be making a good point. I assumed he was talking on his cell phone, but as he walked up to me and finished his point (which was totally coherent, yet unintelligible (brilliant style)) I could see that he was just some bum or drug addict. He had no phone, he wasn’t talking to anyone specific, he was talking to everyone. Taking on the entire world one blip or conversational fragment at a time.

As he completes his dissertation, he stares right at me and says, “I’m right! Well I sure don’t see you arguing!” Then he walks away saying, “yeah! That’s what I thought!”

I could have spoke up but then he would have probably said, “back off, this is between me and your hair!” So he won that argument just by being vague about who or what he was actually arguing with and what his beef was. Brilliant self preservation mechanism. And a reasonably respectable style.


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