The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument
Using a single personal experience as the foundation of your argument or your big piece of evidence.
For example, your phone may have broken right after you bought it, but you can’t use that to argue that those phones are not worth the purchase for others.
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Winning an argument often comes down to who can go the longest without contradicting themselves and keeping sound logic, not direct persuasion of the other party.
Ignoring certain facts because of personally held beliefs.
For example, you can’t cherry pick evidence that supports your claim and deny the evidence that doesn’t.
Assuming something is caused by something else just because they happen to correlate.
For example, the number of homeless people in an area might correlate to the crime rate for the same area, but crime doesn’t necessarily cause homelessness and homelessness doesn’t necessarily cause crime.
Making up a scenario to make the opponent look bad. You’re assuming and making incorrect correlations.
For example, if they don’t like orange juice, they must think oranges are bad for people.
Using statements that imply “all” of something or “every” thing is a certain way.
For example, saying something like “all dogs pee on fire hydrants.” This would require you to be omniscient to make such claims, which is not possible.
Name-calling, attacking a person’s character and using someone’s beliefs or traits to call their argument into question.
For example, you can’t say that someone’s argument about dogs being better than cats is weak because they are also a Republican. It offers no real support to your argument for cats being better and it makes it look like you can’t think of anything better than poking at their personal beliefs.
When you have good evidence, it makes it a lot easier to counter other people’s points while supporting your own.
Prepare ahead of time. That way, when an argument comes up, you’re locked and loaded with answers to show your adversary that you know what’s what.
Even if you’re pretending. Listen to what they have to say and take it in. Don’t shake your head while they talk, cut them off mid-sentence, or look away like you don’t care about what they’re saying.
If you appear to be giving the other side’s position a thoughtful review, then the solution you propose will seem to be far more sensible.
Recognize that there are two issues to be addressed: both of your emotions and the situation at hand.
The advantages are:
The right questions can help you break their argument down logically.
Word your argument in the form of open-ended questions that force them to address your points.
If they manage to throw you off with a really good point, try to stay on topic as best you can.
Going off-topic can destroy your credibility, make you look defensive, and start new arguments. Stay focused on the current subject and keep your emotions out of it.
If you’re dead set on winning the argument, you can keep pushing to make them upset and their argument will likely fall apart in anger.
If enough people agree to something, it sort of becomes true in a social setting. It may not be 100% factual, but with a little supporting evidence, your buddies can be a better backup than any fact out there.
It is, however, best to avoid the fallacies of bandwagoning and appealing to authority. If you don’t have any evidence to support your claim at all, you and your group of supporters are just bullying people into admitting they’re wrong.
Winning can mean:
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To gain trust and build rapport, you need to hear out what the other person thinks without interrupting or disagreeing.
Try asking open-ended questions, like: "Why do you think that...
If you mimic your opponent (in a subtle way), they are more likely to believe you.
For example, if they are sitting cross-legged, wait a few seconds and cross your legs too. And make sure that what you are doing is not too obvious.
...while you listen. This makes the speaker's arguments less persuasive, which makes your opinion look strong.
Fix the speaker in your sight as soon as they start speaking.
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Premise 1: I can’t explain or imagine how proposition X can be true.
Premise 2: if a certain proposition is true, then I must be able to explain or imagine how that can be.
... and to bring this up as part of an argument. The issue with doing so occurs when this incredulity isn’t justified or supported by concrete information, and when this lack of belief is used in order to assume that a preferred personal explanation must be the right one, despite the lack of proof.
At the same time, it’s also important to remember that it’s possible that the person using the argument from incredulity is right, despite the fact that their reasoning is flawed.
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