Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

How to Argue With An American (or Like One)

I'm sure everyone's noticed that Americans have a few debate techniques that are amazingly effective - if not effective in actually winning the argument, at least effective in that they let you *claim* to have won. So here I'll explain some of them, as well as possible methods of combating them, both practiced by Americans all over the country!

Not Listening

It seems almost obvious - if you don't listen to their arguments, you don't have to refute them logically! So, just don't listen. Since you already know you're right (and therefore clearly they aren't) they must not be worth your valuable attention anyway. Keep telling them about *your* views, and eventually they'll agree with your clearly superior reasoning!

Every once in a while, though, you'll meet someone who refuses to agree with your correct opinions and instead clings to their own, incorrect, opinions. Sometimes it'll almost seem like they're not hearing a single thing you say. While you could resort to the tried-and-true - insults - it's much easier to just ignore them back. Once the argument is over, you can tell all your friends that you won. Since you say it, it must be right.

Changing The Subject

If you can't figure out a way in which your opponent is wrong, it's perfectly acceptable to change the conversation into something else. They can't be right about *everything*, and as soon as you find one thing that they're mistaken about, it will call all the rest of their beliefs into question.

Unfortunately, even *you* aren't perfect (though your flaws are in reasonable places, and few of them are likely your fault), and an enterprising opponent might work to discover one and turn it into an entire smear campaign against your otherwise perfect self. In this case, we recommend defending yourself by mentioning how unrelated their tangent is, and how it displays a lack of knowledge about the subject at hand. Even if it turns out it *is* related, a skilled debater can imply that their opponent only considers it related due to a lack of knowledge about (a) the object of discussion, (b) the tangent, or - if especially skilled - (c) a completely unrelated subject. (Be careful with the last one, though - it could backfire.)

Unrelated Insults

If your opponent won't listen to your repeated urgings of reason, and shows no intention of getting sidetracked into a second subject, your last resort may be to malign their character. Insult their intelligence, insult their personality, insult their weight or their looks or their friends. It's recommended to stay away from the word "gay" - it carries too many meanings today, some of which aren't insulting - but "Nazi" is still quite effective, and what would a conversation be like without someone accused of being a Nazi? Circular logic is your friend - if they were as good of a person as you were, clearly they'd agree and prove you right, but because they don't think you're right, they must not be a worthy person.

While this technique takes skill to use properly, even the least able opponent you face will show at least some ability in this area, making it vital to practice retorts. Clever replies work well, and, of course, one can always turn the insult back on them. But perhaps the best solution is to use their attack as evidence of their inferiority. All you have to do is point out that they're using "unfair tactics", then observe how poor quality their insult is, and mention that you would never stoop that low. Not only does this neatly defuse their attack, but it makes them look bad and puts the onus of reply on them - and if they reply, you can accuse them of being argumentative, winning the argument by default!

With these techniques you should be able to bully your way into authority, no matter how misguided or unconsidered your beliefs are. Of course, we're always interested in suggestions for more strategies, so if you have a method you're fond of, feel free to send us a letter for inclusion in our next issue.
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