Article > Tips for making your arguments unbeatable
Description :: Just a few tricks of the trade you might want to avoid picking up, if you care about fairness.
Lie often, in very small amounts.

Your opponents aren't likely to simply let you get away with something obviously wrong; they might not even let you get away with small lies or misrepresentations. If you want to guarantee that their concerns won't be noted, make sure that their concerns will be deliverable only as a set of bound volumes, boring to the last word, worthy of the widest shelves. The average audience has enough attention span to pick up on witty comments from your adversaries instantly pointing out your gross fallacies. That same audience, however, will never sit still long enough to grasp the point made by your opponent if he or she is forced to take hours to explain just how wrong you actually were, based on your wording, tone, context, or logical fallacies. So long as your lies are small and subtle (and possibly even funny,) no single-paragraph explanation will suffice. Listeners will assume your adversary is simply nit-picking, and should find himself a new hobby. You can even humiliate that same opponent, by making it obvious to them just how long it would take for them to repair the damage you've caused, demoralizing them. A single well-written speech could take months to expose to the public, and it's unlikely major media outlets will run stories about your "frequent yet subtle half-truths," as described by your adversaries. The faster course of action for your opponents will simply be to advocate the opposite of whatever you just said, and it's back to politics as usual. You, however, will have the advantage for a while.

Be a winner.

Nobody will listen to you if you admit to being part of a (probably wrong) minority. Majorities are always right -- people will side with whoever seems to be winning. Don't hesitate to refer to the opposition as if it were just a bunch of stupid kids ranting in their garage. Be the opposition as well though! Somehow, convince your audience that you represent true wisdom, confronting the status-quo, while being the common wisdom at the same time. Take both sides, and make everyone else look like the bumbling idiots they are, caught in the crossfire. They compromise, they lie, they bend the truth. They are the minority crashing against your mighty walls and the majority defeated by the good rebels.

Don't debate.

Directly debating your opponent just gives the opposition a chance to score at point-blank range. You don't want to be caught at the last minute without an answer to an important question. Make sure you never acknowledge your adversary's questions or comments -- they mean nothing to you. If you take them up on their challenge, do so indirectly. Mention the question as if it were a mere detail, and give an answer quickly. Make it seem as though your adversary had tried to discredit you with a trivial question. You'll most likely reply in kind as well, but up the ante if you can. A single exchange of this sort is enough. More, and it'll look like an arms race. End the responses before the situation degrades. Simply state you'll no longer reply to such a pathetic critic who can't seem to come up with a good enough answer to dethrone you. You're above that, after all.

Keep talking

Amazingly, people may believe you if you keep repeating your point (or some semblance of a statement) enough times. Rather than worry about explaining why something is bad, just give your audience statistics about how often these bad things are happening, and keep reiterating their wrongness. I'm looking at a book right now about marriage, kindly contributed by a friend -- the author doesn't explain why marriage is absolutely necessary, instead he simply keeps talking about the fact that people dare to deny it. It's almost hypnotic. Try this on yourself.

[This is a work in progress, but not one that I mind sharing. Suggestions are welcome, of course. Send email to "pseudotheos at pseudotheos dot com" to contribute anything sleazy you've seen around you.]

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Owned by Unordained - Created on 11/26/2003 - Last edited on 12/03/2003
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