11 Ways To Win An Argument

It can happen at any time. Here's how to bicker like a pro

Pondering a move into politics? Being bullied by your spouse? Accidentally tripped someone over getting off the tube?

Arguments can occur at any moment in life, so you'd best be equipped to come out on top.

Here, Richard Paul and Linda Elder, authors of The Thinker's Guide To Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery And Manipulation, share their mental sparring tips to make sure you do.


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1 | Appeal to fear and pity: purely emotional responses are more powerful tools for immediate gratification.

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2 | Create a false dilemma: making people think that there are only two choices greatly increases the odds they will choose yours.


3 | Build a straw man: always make your argument look like it has substance even if it doesn’t.


4 | Attack the person, not the argument: if you can’t discredit them with fact, discredit them with supposition.


5 | Gracefully evade unwelcome questions: you can also change the question to throw your opponent off the trail.

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6 | Tell your opponent they are unclear, their argument is inconsistent and insignificant and their evidence is unsound, invalid and irrelevant to the “real” issue.


7 | Define words according to how you wish them to be understood rather than by the expert or dictionary definition, and change the meaning to suit your needs.


8 | Throw in some numbers: 82.7 per cent of people are more likely to believe you if you use a statistic.


9 | Attack or ignore evidence that undermines your case.


10 | Be vague, but make it look like you are being precise. Drawing your opponent into endless tangents can convince them that they are the one being vague.


11 | Demonise their side, sanitise yours: utilising all the skills above, ensure the final summary displays a clear choice between good and evil.


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