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The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

Find the Best Evidence

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.

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The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

https://lifehacker.com/the-definitive-guide-to-winning-an-argument-1693076653

lifehacker.com

16

Key Ideas

Convince Them With Confidence

  • Speak confidently, be concise, and try not to repeat yourself. 
  • Give the appearance that you truly know what’s right from the beginning, even if you don’t have all of the facts. 
  • Facts that can support your stance is helpful, but being convincing matters more.

Avoid Common Argument Fallacies

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.

Anecdotal Fallacy

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.

Confirmation Bias

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.

Correlation vs. Causation

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. 

Straw Man Fallacy

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.

Omniscience

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.

Fallacy argumentum ad hominem

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.

Find the Best Evidence

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.

Be Calm and Courteous

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. 

Emotional arguments

Recognize that there are two issues to be addressed: both of your emotions and the situation at hand.

  • Rein in the emotions first. Step away for a moment and let yourself cool down before you come back to the argument.
  • Try to keep your cool and show the other person respect.
  • Give them a chance to make mistakes and possibly realize they’re in the wrong.

Have Them Explain Their View First

The advantages are:

  • You immediately come across as agreeable and willing to listen. This can disarm them and make it easier for you to persuade them later on.
  • You get to listen to what they say and look for weaknesses in their argument.
  • See if they can even support their own argument.
  • You give them a chance to mess up their argument.

Ask Them the Right Questions

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.

Stay on Topic

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.

Look for Consensus to Back You Up

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.

Change What Winning Means to You

Winning can mean: 

  • resolving the conflict peacefully
  • getting them to admit they’re wrong about one thing and not the whole topic
  • intentionally giving in because you care about them.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Ask for their point of view

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...

Mirror your opponent

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.

Make direct eye contact

...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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The argument from incredulity

Is a logical fallacy where someone concludes that since they can’t believe that a certain concept is true, then it must be false and vice versa.

Its 2 basic forms:

I c...

Basic structure of an argument from incredulity

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.

Conclusions: proposition X is false.

It’s ok to be incredulous

... 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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Know your facts
How many times have you made a claim about some piece of trivia only to realize, as soon as you’ve made that claim, that you’re completely wrong?

Stop and think before you make such errors, and y...

Switch perspectives
Stepping into the mindset of those you argue with allows you to figure out what’s influencing them. 

Showing empathy will lower the temperature of the debate and allow both of you to come to a resolution.

Try to appear open-minded

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. Furthermore, your opponent may come to your side without you having to do anything other than listening.

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Validate Their Feelings

Saying things like 'I understand why you'd feel that way...' or 'Anyone would feel like that in the same situation' validates the other person's emotions and completely disarm...

Look At It As A Conversation

Go back to the concept of talking with someone rather than talking to someone.

It can help keep the other person cool, which pretty much always means you've won the argument.

Make It All About Them
We naturally approach the world from our own points of view,

The key to successful persuasion is to show how and why something matters in relation to that person's life and experience.

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Win the black belt in political argument
  • People think emotionally, so forget facts
  • When people are asked to explain their beliefs about how a given thing works, they’ll actually become less confident...
False equivalence

It is a logical fallacy and it occurs when someone incorrectly asserts that two or more things are equal because they share some characteristics, regardless of the notable differences...

The problem with false equivalence
  • The equivalence exaggerates the degree of similarity. I.e, stating that two people share a specific personality trait, but ignoring that they differ in other aspects of this trait.
  • The equivalence exaggerates the importance of the similarity. I.e, focusing on a personality trait that two people share while ignoring that many other people also share this trait.
  • The equivalence ignores important differences.
  • The equivalence ignores differences in orders of magnitude. 
Responding to a false equivalence
  • Show that the similarities between the things being equated are exaggerated, overemphasized, or oversimplified.
  • Highlight the differences between the things being equated. 
  • Explain why these differences are more significant than related similarities.
  • Provide counterexamples.
  • Ask your opponent to justify why they believe that their equivalence is valid, and then demonstrate the issues with the reasoning they provide.

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Straw man arguments

A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of an opinion or viewpoint, designed to be as easy as possible to contradict.

The only purpose is for it to be easy to expose. I...

Hollow man arguments

This is a weak case (similar to the Straw man arguments) attributed to a non-existent group: Someone will fabricate a viewpoint that is easy to contradict, then claim it was made by a group they disagree with. Arguing against an opponent which doesn’t exist is a pretty easy way to win any debate.

People who use hollow man arguments will often use vague, non-specific language without explicitly giving any sources or stating who their opponent is.

Iron man argument

It is designed to be resistant to attacks by a defier.There arguments are difficult to avoid because they have a lot of overlap with legitimate debate techniques.

A person using an iron man argument will most likely make their own viewpoint so vague that nothing anyone says about it can weaken it. They’ll use jargon and imprecise terms. This means they can claim anyone who disagrees didn’t understand them, or they’ll rephrase their argument multiple times.

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Fallacies

A fallacy is the use of faulty reasoning in an argument.

There are formal and informal fallacies:

  • A formal fallacy describes a flaw in the construction of a deductive ar...
Appeal to privacy

In this fallacy, someone behaves in a way that negatively affects others but then gets upset when others criticize their behavior. They will reply with a "mind your own business."
For instance, someone who doesn't see a reason to bathe, but then boards a full 10-hour flight.

Sunk cost fallacy

It happens when someone continues in a course of action, even if evidence shows that it's a mistake.

Common phrase: "We've always done it this way, so we'll keep doing it this way." "I've already invested so much..."

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Cherry picking

It is a logical fallacy and it happens when we choose and focus only on evidence that supports our views and arguments while ignoring anything that may contradict us.

The problem with cherry picking
  • It fails to take into consideration all the available information
  • It presents information in a misleading way.
  • It might lead to improper analysis and might cause someone to paint a misleading picture of a certain outcome.
The principle of total evidence

Also referred to as Bernoulli’s maxim, it states that, when assessing the probability that a certain hypothesis is true, we must take into account all the available information.

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The Money We Need

We don't really need massive amounts of money to live a happy life.

A good level of freedom and self-confidence can be attained by a relatively small figure of money.

We can take the mi...

Confidence and Freedom

Many 'high-achieving' people lack flexibility, freedom, and confidence to change things in their life when they want. This is due to the build-in traps and insecurity of living a high achievers life.

A life full of complexity and self-protection lacks confidence and independence.

What Confidence Means
  • It means not equating money with happiness, being self-assured, to understand that you cannot change the world but your response to everything you experience determines your happiness.
  • It means being in control of your lifestyle, to be able to learn new skills, to understand that you can be anywhere, live anywhere, work and make friends anywhere.
  • It is a self-assurance that your kids will be just fine, and the real goal of your life is not to earn money but to attain happiness.

Confidence means believing that you have the personal power to get things done and that your true goal is to live happily.