Idiot n : A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything. His decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions of opinion and taste, dictates the limitations of speech, and circumscribes conduct with dead-line.
~Ambrose Bierce “Devil’s Dictionary”
(This is based on all the ridiculous ways people try to win arguments and has nothing to do with the “12 Ideas for Arguing your Point Effectively” that I read the other day; you just think it does because you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.)
- “Its about me” Position: Make the argument about you. Defend your turf and the superiority of your decision making skills. Do not accept that you may be wrong. After all, you were there first! Just make sure that you frame it as “It’s not just me, but I am sure that everyone thinks…” or “Think of the kids…” and “It’s not you, it’s me…”
- The ignorer: There is only one side to any argument – the winning side. Your side. Do not pay attention to your opponent’s arguments. The best thing to do with an argument you don’t understand is to ignore it.
Create lengthy arguments over easily reconcilable differences. Reconciliation takes time and means giving up something you want. Don’t do it.
- The Verbose, Brilliant Idiot: If you can’t blind them with your brilliance, baffle them with industry-speak and techno-babble. If your opponent uses masterful language and relevant examples and metaphors, rip them apart as irrelevant and fanciful. This is also known as the Proton-proton Chang of Nuclear Confusion. If nobody understands your argument, it cannot be proven to be incorrect.
- The irrefutable expert: Allow people to believe that your opinions and beliefs are irrefutable truths, regardless of the fact that you are completely speculating and making it up. If they refuse to drink your lemonade, criticize them on a personal level, and point out their past failings. Tell them “I’m a scientist.” Never mind that you are just a med school dropout who works as a vet tech in a free clinic.
- The “It’s all gloom and doom” Offensive: For example, “I don’t see this project ever coming to light, don’t you remember what a huge failure your project management software solution was (ignore the fact that you may have caused it to fail). Certainly you can’t be trusted with an initiative like this one!” or “Coming from someone with a constant problem of x…” or “Allen is an imbecile and can’t be trusted with this” or “Whaaaah, my dog died last night.”
- Inverted/Reverted Nascency : If it isn’t time tested it isn’t true. Likewise, if it isn’t brand new it must be worthless. Take whichever stance is applicable.
- The infallibility of tradition: It’s been done this way for hundreds of years. Therefore, we shall not change! How dare you suggest otherwise? IT’S OUR CULTURE!
- The Defensive Offense: Be offended by even the slightest social misstep of anyone. It will give you great power over them. A good defense is the best offense.
- The Inverse Rule: “If everyone is doing it, then so should we.” Rely on arguments that stress wide acceptance and popularity, even if the others are not in the same industry, market, or building. It is also fair to execute the inverse of this argument, depending on your position. “Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean we should.” Many arguments can be fairly inverted, this is just one example (and a good one! You read it on the Internet, right?)
- The Oz Emulation If your opponent’s argument is exceptionally strong, submit a straw man attack. For example, “Julie, I am surprised to hear this position from you. I wouldn’t expect this pro-nouveau argument from someone who still uses a PALM IV to organize her day.”
- Injected with Redirection: Simply create an argument that has nothing to do with the fact. Phone conferences with Tim are best for this. “I can’t believe the email I just got. Tim, your special project is over budget, again? I guess this means I can’t fund [my special project to generate tons of new revenue sources and make me look really good after all]….” You may not win, but Tim will be destroyed. Do your best to misdirect the attention from yourself. Make this appear to be inadvertent.
- The perpetuity of imperfection Theorem: If the solution being offered is not perfect, it will not work. Do not accept anything less than perfect. This is called the “unobtainable perfection postulate.” Your opponent’s way will NEVER be perfect; key-in on the imperfections and bloat them with aggrandized tales of your own horrific experiences with imperfect solutions. Once you get this argument tacked onto his back, he will slink back under that rock that he came from. Get back in your box, Bob!
- The Kluge Deterrent: Do not accept “work-arounds” as anything less than costly and ineffective or allow them to mitigate the risks associated with imperfection. You will not lose this battle. Everyone hates “kluged” and “rigged” solutions. Say things like “We don’t want to leave any revenue on the table” or “We need to extract value from this engagement” and “We need to maximize profit potential” to emphasize your bottom line driven focus. How else will you get that Rolex?
- The Brown-nose Perspective : Employ flattery. For example, tell the person how ‘cool’ they will be if only they help you and do as you ask. Inviting people to a special event is a form of flattery. In this mode, you will need oxygen as you will be ramming your entire head up someone else’s ass.
- The Internet Proof: It’s on Wikipedia/Google, so it must be true (never mind you that I put it there and then used your own book/publication as a source for it to prove it.)
- The Angry Man: We’ve all played this angle, so you know the power of this one! If all else fails, throw a fit, yell, call them names, and break things. Slap a table HARD! Whisper threats (not of physical violence)(that isn’t arguing like an idiot, that is arguing like a sociopath (different blog post)) Nobody will dare defy you ever again. If there is no rebuttal, then you win. Here is a great example a friend sent over to me: “…so outweighed by the fallacies as to firmly place you in the category labeled “dumbass”. Thanks for playing.*
- Locus of Origination: If you aren’t from around these parts, you got no business being here, let alone sticking your nose into our business. This works best when combined fluidly with The Angry Man: “Are you a complete MORON or just a Liberal import into Colorado from California that is trying to ruin this state like you did California. I guess you can’t fix STUPID!”*
- The Pabst Deflection: If it has a pretty blue ribbon, it must be good. (never you mind that the ribbon is 100 years old) If you can make your argument short enough, sweet enough, and put it in a pretty package with a pretty blue ribbon on it, nobody will ever look inside. Heck, even if they do look, the package is so pretty they won’t care what’s inside. It could be a pile of dog poo, and they will love it! The best example of this is the many memes that get posted onto facebook. If the picture is pretty, or says something you beleive in and connects point A to point B, nobody cares how accurate it is. It’s TEXT. On a pretty PICTURE -> therefore it MUST be true. Sociopaths use these memes to validate, in their own minds, the most heinous of crimes.
- Complexity Deflection AKA “your argument is too complex, so you must be trying to pull wool over my eyes :)” You are smarter than your opponent. Destroy him with your words. The more grandiose your speech, the better. Yes, someone actually is keeping score.
- Specificity of Precision indirection (more decimal points means I win). Make a base argument a winner by loading it with made up statistics. Never use even numbers. “11% of all marriages are happy.”
- The un/likelihood of it happening because it did/didn’t happen to me (anecdote of experience) / anyone I know (plurality of experience) it hasn’t happened to you or your friends, therefore it doesn’t happen (aka the witness paradox.) If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tremendously powerful tools. Remember, if everyone else is using them then you should, too! As you embark today into the world of idiots, remember : In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is just a lying fool, telling fancy tales.
*Quote is used for educational purposes and originated in a long, trailing post of idiocy by multiple people on that bastion of idiocy known as “facebook”. Quote authors are Mike Wilson, whose profile pic is a picture of his girlfriend, and Nancy Shileikis, a former Target and Hobby Lobby employee. Original thread can be viewed here.