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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (N. Thornton)
Subject: Re: How to Cheat in Debates
Date: 20 Jan 2003 17:14:12 -0800
NNTP-Posting-Date: 21 Jan 2003 01:14:12 GMT
"Phil Allison" wrote in message news:...
> There are at least ten recognised and popular ways of cheating in a
> discussion or debate - some are so common they seem quite normal until the
> fallacy is pointed out. Here is my list:
> 1. Argue from the particular to the general.
> Reason that if a thing is true in a particular example then it is true
> in general. There may be little similarity between your example and the
> point in debate but your opponent will have to prove this unless he spots
> the fallacy. If he does then feign incomprehension.
> 2. Argue from the general to the particular.
> Reason that if a thing is generally true then it must be true in the
> particular case in question. Refuse to agree that any special circumstances
> apply to the subject in debate. If your opponent points out the fallacy of
> generalisations then complain that he is making a generalisation.
> 3. Beg the question.
> Make a statement that can only be true if the debate has already been
> resolved in your favour, ie use your opinion to prove your opinion. Totally
> confounds the debate if the fallacy is not spotted by your opponent. If it
> is, state that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
> 4. Change the subject.
> Done nonchalantly so your opponent doesn't notice this will pull the rug
> out from under him. If he realises and complains, pretend your new subject
> is the one under debate.
> 5. Quote the absent expert.
> Declare an absent party to be an expert who supports your case. He
> possibly isn't an expert or wouldn't in fact support you but your opponent
> cannot debate this person or yourself on the point since he is not
> 6. Argue from a position of ignorance.
> This is a powerful technique that operates on the principle that
> ignorance is knowledge. It works like this, because you don't know a certain
> proposition is false then you are entitled to presume it is true. Almost
> anything you like can be "proved" with this technique.
> 7. Produce a straw man.
> Propose an example or analogy to the debate that has an obvious outcome
> in your favour, ie a "straw man" that can easily be knocked down. The
> analogy can be highly flawed but your opponent may be trapped into proving
> the straw man has no weight.
> 8. Make opinions into facts.
> Claim anything you like is a fact, provide no supporting evidence or
> arguement and pretend that your opponent must disprove it immediately or
> else agree it is true. Also be sure to ignore his facts no matter how well
> supported. This will test his patience sorely and may cause him to make
> 9. Produce a red herring.
> Make a statement of known fact that appears to be relevant and has the
> potential to confuse the issue. An effective red herring relies on your
> opponent's failure to realise that it is not relevant to the debate. If he
> does, then accuse him of ignoring the facts.
> 10. Insult your opponent.
> If all else fails, your opponent is calm and rational, spots your traps
> and exposes your fallacies and distractions every time then resort to using
> sneers, derision and personal jibes. Your opponent may lose his temper and
> that means you win!
> It is possible to combine two or more of the above techniques for
> increased power to prove anything. By combining #1 and #2 you can argue from
> the particular to the particular, that is use one example to prove something
> about another unrelated one.
> Better still, quote an example only you know about as this makes you the
> expert. If your opponent falls into the trap of asking questions about the
> example then you are in a position to say whatever you like.
> A proficient cheat employs all the above techniques in every debate. He
> jumps easily from one fallacy to the next in order to keep his opponent from
> making any headway. He may not convince his opponent of anything that he is
> saying but will have the satisfaction of having done most of the talking and
> kept control over the discussion.
> When the opponent becomes annoyed with this "barrage of bullshit" the
> cheat will call the debate off saying that: "we are just going around in
> circles" which is of course not only true but was his real aim all along.
> This is known as having the last word, a form of parting blow or insult. A
> cheat knows that you never lose a debate that YOU finish!
> But most of you aready know all this.
> Regards, Phil
One more I remember all too well: quote a refreence that sounds like
an authority, and whose words dont at all backup what you imply they
do. If you can pick something tough to understand, you can trust that
almost no-one will actually wade though it to find out what horse
Oh, and one other one... delusion. If you _think_ youre winning, even
when youre hopelessly losing, there will always be someone who wil
believe you. I call it Phil's special. Or is that ad hominem :)
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