October 19, 2008

How to Argue On the Internet: Now With Allegory

Let's bring back our old friends, Bob and Joe, for a quick scene that will help me make my point:



JOE is walking along, minding his own business, when BOB runs up to him. He is obviously in a hurry, and can barely breathe.

BOB: Dude, this is amazing!

JOE: What?

BOB: I found buried treasure, dude! It must be worth millions!

JOE: Seriously?

BOB: Yeah! Oh, man, I can't believe this!

JOE: Knowing you, I can't believe it either. Where is it?

BOB: What do you mean?

JOE: I mean, where is the treasure? You said that you found it, right?

BOB: Yes, dude!

JOE: Well, where is it?

BOB: Why do you need to know that? Don't you trust me?

JOE: No, I don't. But even if I did, I'd want to see the treasure for myself. Where is it?

BOB: I'm insulted, dude! Why won't you take my word for it?

JOE: I shouldn't have to! You said that you know where the treasure is!

BOB: It's on the beach, dude! I was just there five minutes ago! There was gold, and silver, and some other metal that's probably worth a lot, and-

JOE: The beach is miles long! Just show me where it is!

BOB: No, dude! Go find it yourself!

JOE: I shouldn't have to find it, because you already did!

BOB: And you don't believe me!

JOE: I have no reason to believe you! Why did you even tell me you found anything?

BOB: I did want to share it with you, but since you're being such a dick, I'll just keep the treasure for myself.

JOE: Great. I'm so happy for you. Asshole.

They walk off in opposite directions.


Let's think about the scene for a second. Who won this argument? Obviously, it was Bob. Because he didn't give away the location of the treasure, he gets it all to himself. Joe can try to find it, but only Bob knows where it is. In fact, Joe doesn't even know if it exists!

Of course, there's a lesson here that can be applied to Internet arguments. Bob won by keeping his source a secret, and you can do the same!

The next time you're debating a topic and someone asks you for evidence, claim that you have lots of proof to back up your point. Whether you actually do is irrelevant; The important thing is that your opponent believes you. He'll probably ask you to show him the evidence, but don't give in! Just keep telling him you have irrefutable proof that your position is correct.

As we saw above, your opponent may ask you to tell him where you got the evidence, but don't give in to this trickery, either! Just like Bob, keep your answer as broad as possible. Whether it's the beach, The New York Times, the dictionary, or any other source, he'll soon realize that it would take far too long just to prove you wrong, and then you'll be the winner! As an added bonus, this makes him look like a liar, because he'll say that you haven't told him where you got the information, but you clearly have!

Finally, if he brings up a strange, arcane concept called "the burden of proof," immediately change the subject and/or call him a racist/fascist/etc. Logic is a thing of the past, and it has no place in a world primed for Fundamental Change™.

Until next time, this has been How to Argue On the Internet. Thanks for reading.

Posted by CD at 09:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 01, 2007

New SIT Feature: How to Argue On the Internet

It occurs to me that I've spent a lot of time discussing general logical fallacies on this blog, but not a lot of time on stuff specific to online debate. Therefore, I'm starting off 2007 with a brand new feature called "How to Argue On the Internet."

Today's lesson: Spelling out punctuation makes you correct.

Do you ever find yourself debating important issues with people who just won't accept that their ridiculous opinions are stupid and possibly evil? Isn't it frustrating when they won't admit that they've been lying about the true nature of the world? Well, there is a solution, and it's so simple that I'm amazed more people haven't figured it out.

Just as an example, let's say you're trying to convince your jingoistic chickenhawk adversaries that the war in Iraq was/is wrong. You start by simply stating the facts:

"The war in Iraq was wrong."

But those morons still don't believe you! I know it's difficult to deal with, but this can easily be turned into a Teachable Moment with the addition of one simple word. Observe:

"The war in Iraq was wrong. Period."

And that's all there is to it! How can they argue with you now? By concluding your argument with the word "period," you've effectively ended the discussion and made disagreement impossible! With this simple yet elegant tool, you can finally make all your fantasies reality, and nobody can dispute their truth and brilliance! Just look at these hypothetical examples if you still don't believe me:

- Killing is always wrong. Period.

- Guns are bad. Period.

- George W. Bush is the worst president ever. Period.

- Fidel Castro is a great and honest leader. Period.

- The sky is a light shade of green. Period.

- Flibbity flobbity floo. Period.

Now that you're armed with this amazing rhetorical device, you'll never lose an argument again!

That's all for this edition of "How to Argue On the Internet."


(FINAL NOTE: This may or may not signal a return to more politically oriented blogging rather than "hey guys, listen to this cool song I wrote while I whine about not having a girlfriend!" I haven't decided yet.)

Posted by CD at 10:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack