By August 2, 2016 Uncategorized 5 Comments

As I shared in my last post, I believe our nation is struggling from an epidemic of shallow thinking, especially in politics.

As a result, many of us become enormously frustrated, even angry, when we inadvertently stumble into a spirited debate with a superficial thinker who’s armed with nothing more than erroneous data, misleading anecdotes, incomplete arguments, ad hominem attacks, or just meaningless crap they heard from someone else.

And by crap, I mean really stupid, unsupportable, absurd drivel that you cannot believe an educated person would really say.

Do you have someone in mind right now?

Anyhow, it can be enough to make a sane, rational person go completely unhinged.

This happened to one of my social media friends last night when he was drawn into a not so private Facebook tete-a-tete with a Oklahoma politician to remain nameless.

Let’s just say the conversation got pretty ugly.  My friend was right on the facts, but I know he felt bad afterwards about how the other person was able to get under his skin.

The lesson for all of us is that for some people–especially those of the idiot persuasion–it doesn’t matter whether or not they are right. They are often too clueless to recognize their own ignorance, or simply like to argue for the sake of arguing.

As another one of my other friends is fond of saying: “Arguing with these kind of people is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are at chess, the pigeon is just going to knock over all the pieces, crap on the board, and strut around the table looking victorious.”

With that in mind, as a public service for my readers, I would like to share a column written by the great American humorist, Dave Barry, in 1989.

In his seminal essay “How to Argue Effectively,” Dave shared some sage advice for what to do “when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong.” The answer, he wrote, is simple: “Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler.”

It is the playbook for the shallow thinker, those poor souls who cannot see any point of view other than their own.

If you choose to debate one of these people in the near future, understanding their mindset may assist you in avoiding traipsing into one of their ample piles of pigeon crap.

“How To Argue Effectively”- by Dave 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:

Drink Liquor

Suppose you are 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 martinis, 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 going to prove that Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that you are underpaid, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off. Don’t say:’I think Peruvians are underpaid.’ Say instead: ‘The average Peruvian’s salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 below 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.

Use Meaningless But Weighty-Sounding Words and Phrases

Memorize this list:

Let me put it this way

In terms of


Per se

As it were


So to speak

Use Snappy and Irrelevant Comebacks

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant 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 to oranges

What are your parameters?

The last one is especially invaluable. Nobody 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.”

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 so remind me of Adolf Hitler.”

So that’s it. You know how to out-argue anybody. Do not try to pull any of this on people who generally carry weapons.”

One final word of warning. Not all pigeons carry a sign. Be careful out there.

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