Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: debate

Fighting Dirty

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?

Up @ Night #10 – Being Called Cool

I have some funny thoughts swimming around my head. I share them when they seemed to have matured enough to stand and fight on their own. So I release them into the world and, of course, they sometimes meet opposing thoughts and enter into battle. I get that. Nay, I expect that. How else can we know if my thoughts have any merit if I don’t let them battle? It would be like having a pokemon stay in his pokeball and never fight. It wouldn’t grow. It wouldn’t get any stronger. Useless.

So when there are conflicts of ideas flying around, I get encouraged. I like it. It means we’re all a bunch of thinking animals just trying to think better. Wonderful.

Until I get called trendy or cool. Then all the happiness dies. Dies hard.

This is how it happens. Someone says, “It seems to me that A=C+B.”
His opponent replies, “I believe that A=C-B.”
The first Someone counters, “Ah, that’s a very trendy belief for you to hold. Many cool and trendy people are starting to hold that now. You must have jumped on board that new and cool and trendy bandwagon to believe such a cool and trendy thing.”
The opponent stutters and withers away, his argument somehow dismantled without any critical thought at all.

There is nothing worse in a debate than this sort of circle. But you see it all the time.
“That’s just post-modern drivel.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re from the conservative camp.”
“I can’t accept that liberal nonsense.”
“I know it’s very fashionable for you to say that, but you’re wrong.”
“That’s not a real opinion, that’s just you trying to be politically correct.”
“Hmph, I guess you’ve been taken in by the Emergent crowd, eh?”

News flash for people who love to discuss: No one believes anything because they think it’s cool! They believe it because they think it’s right. Not because it’s politically correct. But because they think it’s just plain correct.

And when you take part in a discussion and you suggest the other person is trying to be trendy or politically correct or enamored with emergent sexiness, please realize what you are implying. You are implying that your friend has no brain at all. That he’s a zombie who has been spoon-fed and brainwashed. That he is so very weak in the head that he has no business running his own life.

So don’t say crap like that. It hurts.

Come up with a relevant comment instead.