Fighting Dirty

by MW Cook

There are a lot of sites that give well-meaning guidelines on how to effectively argue a point online without fighting dirty. This is, I suppose, good and useful if your goal is to exchange ideas in an honest and open way. But what about the 90% of us who just want to win? Well, brothers and sisters, this post is for you.

How to Win Online Arguments Through Dirty Fighting

  • Cite the Nazis. Or Hitler or Stalin or any other historical figure that everyone hates. Find something, anything, in common with whatever you are arguing against and the Nazis and throw that comparison out in public. Watch your opponent stammer and stutter and try to denounce his Nazi leanings.
  • Use emotionally charged language. Don’t call the opposing view immoral. Call it abominable. Don’t call your opponent wrong. Call him the slyest snake in the field just like his father the devil. Don’t suggest that the opposing idea had little foundation. Call it cowardly. Word your arguments in such a way so as to make the readers angry.
  • Write very long posts. If your post is long enough your opponent will not be able to spend the time needed to read and rationally reply to it. He might give up, leaving you with the last word. Even if he doesn’t it’s unlikely he’ll be able to respond to every point in your super-long post and you’ll be able to dance from point to point without letting him get a decent argument in.
  • Make large claims without bothering to back them up. 95% of statistics are just made up. Do you believe me? Of course you do! Is it true? It doesn’t matter! All that matters is that your readers think you are right. And when your statement is bold and confident, who could doubt you?
  • Point out deficiencies in the opposing view’s poster-child. Every view has a hero. And every hero has a weakness. Find the weakness and you can topple the hero, then the view. Did he cheat on his wife? Then how can I trust his views on biology? Does he never recycle? Then how can he interpret Revelation properly? Any hero and any weakness will do.
  • Wrong by association. This is a weaker version of the Nazi strategy and sometimes even more effective. Find any group that holds your opponents views. Make sure it’s a group that your opponent would have issue with and call him whatever it is. For example, if your opponent loves Macs prove that the Ku Klux Klan also loves Macs and that he must be a Klansman himself for his love of Macs.
  • Mockery. Nothing says “you’re wrong” like a snide remark. Your audience cannot take seriously any point that is under ridicule. In a debate a witty mock is worth more than three reasonable arguments.

I hope this list has been beneficial. Can you think of any other ways to make your point look its best, regards of the cost to truth?