A random, eclectic mix of thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences – LIFE

How to Argue Effectively

Haven’t you always wanted to know how to argue effectively? I came across this, and given my fun sense of humor, found it hilarious. I had to share it with you.

How to argue effectively
By Dave Barry

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on
any topic, against any opponent. People know this and steer clear of me at
parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me. You
too can win arguments. Simply follow these rules:

Drink liquor.

Suppose you are at a party and some hotshot intellectual is expounding on the
economy of Peru, a subject you know nothing about. If you’re drinking some
health-fanatic drink like grapefruit juice, you’ll hang back, afraid to display
your ignorance, while the hotshot enthralls your date. But if you drink several
large martinis, you’ll discover you have STRONG VIEWS about the Peruvian
economy. You’ll be a WEALTH of information. You’ll argue forcefully, offering
searing insights and possibly upsetting furniture. People will be impressed.
Some may leave the room.

Make things up.

Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove that
Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that YOU are
underpaid, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let a bunch of Peruvians be
better off. DON’T say: “I think Peruvians are underpaid.” Say instead: “The
average Peruvian’s salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is
$1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross poverty level.”

NOTE: Always make up exact figures.

If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make THAT up too.
Say: “This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon’s study for the Buford
Commission published on May 9, 1982. Didn’t you read it?” Say this in the same
tone of voice you would use to say, “You left your soiled underwear in my

Use meaningless but weighty-sounding words and phrases.

Memorize this list:

Let me put it this way
In terms of
Per se
it were
Ipso facto
So to speak

You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as “Q.E.D.”, “e.g.”,
and “i.e.” These are all short for “I speak Latin, and you don’t.” Here’s how to
use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say, “Peruvians would like to
order appetizers more often, but they don’t have enough money.”

You never win arguments talking like that. But you WILL win if you say, “Let
me put it this way. In terms of appetizers vis-a-vis Peruvians qua Peruvians,
they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have
enough money per se, as it were. Ergo, ipso facto, case closed. Q.E.D.”

Only a fool would challenge that statement.

Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks.

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your
opponents when they make valid points. The best are:

You’re begging the question.
You’re being defensive.
compare apples to oranges.
What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody (other than engineers and policy
wonks) has the vaguest idea what “parameters” means.

Don’t forget the classic: YOU’RE SO LINEAR.

Here’s how to use your comebacks:

You say: As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873…

Your opponent says: Lincoln died in 1865.

You say: You’re begging the question.


You say: Liberians, like most Asians…

Your opponent says: Liberia is in Africa.

You say: You’re being defensive.


You say: Since the discovery of the incandescent light bulb…

Your opponent says: The light bulb is an invention.

You say: Well DUH!

Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler.

This is your heavy artillery, for when your opponent is obviously right and
you are spectacularly wrong. Bring Hitler up subtly. Say, “That sounds
suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say,” or “You certainly do remind
me of Adolf Hitler.”

Source: http://home.tiac.net/~cri_d/cri/1998/argue.html


Comments on: "How to Argue Effectively" (11)

  1. Haha. I knew a guy like this in college and you know what, he had a TON of friends. No girlfriend though. At least that made sense.

  2. Julia (AKA Jules) said:

    haaa! I ALWAYS do the above to my mum, somehow she wins!


  3. whiteladyinthehood said:

    That was really, really funny!

  4. I have printed this out so I can re-read it if ever I need to win an argument 😉 With this I will be unstoppable!

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