The Art of Winning Arguments

Rick and Morty in Court

A hypothetical situation: the survival of humanity depends on you alone. You must convince your fellow man that submitting to the rule of a vastly superior alien force is the smartest thing to do, all things considered. To make things challenging, you must operate despite awareness that our would-be overlords seem to derive some sort of unknowable benefit from anally probing their subjects. Ubricateans are unusual, as far as invaders go.

The problem: you haven’t won a debate since third grade, when that prick Malcolm kept insisting that Superman was way stronger than Goku. Well, there was also that one night right after your first term in university. You almost won an argument on some minor aspect of semiological theory then. Bravo, indeed. Unfortunately, talking to yourself after drinking alone for five hours straight does not, in fact, count as an intellectual exchange of ideas. “If a tree falls in a forest…” and all that.

The solution: debating is an art which can be taught like any other,if you have the time. And the money. And oratorical talent. And practise. And lots of experience. Yeah, it’s not really a walk in the park, to be honest. It would take decades of serious commitment for anyone to become a true scholar of logic and rhetoric. Indeed, some might say that trying to do so by the end of this article would be a half-arsed, cynical exercise in artificially bloating your self-esteem.

But you can tell them all to bugger off, you brave, clever person! The aliens sure won’t bloody wait until you convince anyone that they’re totally, bum-bulgingly awesome! Besides, who needs rubbish like learning how to “have a proper debate”, when “winning a debate” is where it’s really at? So let’s just leave all that nonsense aside and get right into the important stuff.

Every argument, no matter its size or scope, boils down to a clash between two or more fundamentally contradicting opinions; in this case, yours and that of someone who’s clearly wrong. Let’s call this someone ‘Richard’ for the purposes of the exercises that follow. Now, Richard is of the opinion that submitting to off-world dominion is not in humanity’s best interests. Using these quick-and-easy tips, however, you will prove him wrong!


Trust your experience

The first thing Richard is likely to do is offer evidence in support of his point of view. He cites interviews with several prominent world leaders, comprehensive polls from many different countries, and in-depth analyses of hundreds of focus groups (made up almost entirely of Californian cattle farmers). It rapidly becomes evident that everyone seems to be not very keen on the whole alien thing.

Richard, unknowingly, has just made his first mistake: he has compromised his own argument by allowing external factors to influence it. You must never do this, under any circumstances, ever. It is a misguided effort which only reveals weakness on your part. Your world-view should always remain rigid like a mast in storm, harder than a stone tower and definitely not describable using words like “wobbly” or “limpish”.

Before anything else, this is the correct attitude to have during a debate of the master kind. If something doesn’t feel right to you, then the only possible explanation is that it’s wrong. This is because, by the very nature of subjective reality, your own experience is the only thing you can truly trust. Remember that film, The Matrix? Richard basically thinks he’s Neo after choosing the red pill… but then he’d just end up getting himself and his girlfriend killed, which isn’t smart. Besides, “Cypher” is a way cooler name anyway.


Handle emotions properly

Now that you understand the mindset you must be in during a debate, it is time to move on to proper conduct. For his part, Richard is the kind who speaks softly, structures his arguments and never loses his temper. To be honest, he’s really starting to get on your nerves. Nobody likes a goody-two-shoes because everyone knows they must be hiding something, the bloody Cosbys.

This is precisely why you should not be afraid to display a little emotion during your debates. Feelings are a quintessentially human thing and are thus nothing to be ashamed of, except in all situations when you’re not arguing. Emotions can be a potent weapon in a debate, especially if you can channel them into very physical manifestations. Some master-debaters are so proficient that they can cry at the slightest provocation, thus shutting down their cold, bullying opponents through displays of sheer emotion.

You, on the other hand, likely have a ways to go before you can use the awesome power of shameless bawling. To start off, it might be easier to tap into a more readily available emotion: good ol’-fashioned rage. The rule of thumb here is that there is no rule of thumb: the more pure, unfiltered wrath you can muster and externalize, the better. After all, you don’t have to trudge through listening to your opponent’s arguments if you can successfully out-shout them. As an added benefit, it will get your point of view across efficiently and unambiguously.


Know your enemy

In strategic planning, “knowing” your opponent means understanding how they think and, based on that, anticipating what they are about to do. In master-debating, it means actually stalking your foe at least five nights a week. The important part to remember here is that, unlike your regularly-scheduled Friday evening creep prowl, the objective here is practical: to dig up any little bits of trivia that might discredit and, hopefully, demonise your opponent. Checking their Facebook might help in a pinch, especially since it means you wouldn’t have to deal with any pesky police.

Should this fail (say, if Richard covered his tracks pretty well, that sneaky little Cosby), then there are other ways to crush one’s credibility. Lying, for example. A little lie here and there wouldn’t hurt anyone, which is why you’ll have to use big, ugly ones to really screw Richard over. This is harder to do without circumstantial evidence on your side, but perseverance is most effective. Even the mightiest tree falls in the face of a constant stream of liquid shit.

If done correctly, Richard will be reviled by at least half of his peers faster than you can say “unverified claims”! Though this will likely also result in his life taking an unfortunate turn, don’t feel guilty for it. The entire point of arguing with dicks like Richard is that they’re wrong, despite thinking they’re right. This essentially means you can feel free to shower them with dehumanizing allegations and creative death threats to your heart’s content, since it’s common knowledge that this is what people who are wrong deserve.


Be prepared to act

Against all odds, Richard seems to be immune to your stream of verbal and psychological abuse. At first, you assume that he was into amateur poetry as a teenager and, thus, developed a resistance to external criticism. But, as it turns out, Richard is just… ugh… that well-adjusted. He is not hurt by the baseless accusations you throw against him, but merely “disappointed”. Blast it all, it seems you might actually have to engage him in a classic exchange of logical arguments after all.

Or you could simply kick Richard right in his namesake when he’s not looking, like a true master-debater would. Let’s not forget that your Ubricatean backers are not known for their soft-handed approach, unless “soft-handed approach” is the Ubricatish pronunciation of the kind of death ray they used to vaporize Vaxlon 5. Thus, in the spirit of your future masters’ culture, physical violence counts as a valid method of negotiation.

Admittedly, this method leaves itself a bit more open to criticism than the ones above. Beating people into submission because they don’t agree with you is generally frowned upon, to the point that it’s considered to be antithetical to very idea of debating. In truth, however, it is the oldest tool in the master-debater’s arsenal, right next to the timeless “incomprehensible yelling” and “lying through one’s teeth”. At the end of the day, disputes are never truly resolved until one of the disputers lies dead at the other’s feet. It is simply how nature works.


Never lose gracefully

Uh-oh. This probably would have warranted mention a bit earlier, but under no circumstance should you try to beat the ever-loving shit out of Richard in front of other people. Now that you have, a mob is quickly gathering around his unconscious-but-distinctly-not-dead-yet body. They make it quite clear that they do not care for you repeatedly hitting him with whatever phallic object you happened to grab half a minute ago. Soon enough, they begin shouting things like “Get away, you monster!”, “Take the poor man to a hospital!” and “Oh my God, what’s that in his left ear?”. You calmly try to explain that Richard is wrong and also a child molester, probably, but they won’t have any of it. What’s worse, a few of them are starting to display signs of open hostility towards you, when all you’re guilty of is being right! Seeing no other option, you retreat in the face of a rapidly growing opposition.

This is a crucial learning moment, young upstart. By all appearances, you seem to have lost against Richard. Your rigid views, unrestrained emotions, murky machinations and attempts at physical violence have all failed to convince your fellow humans of your righteousness, and they now stand against you as one. For the first time, you may even begin to consider whether you were wrong from the very beginning. Maybe butt-probing aliens aren’t the best thing for mankind. Maybe you’re just a vacuous, aggressive prick who goes with the flow of whatever he’s feeling. Maybe Richard isn’t a dick, after all.

These sentiments are perfectly natural to have and also very important to suppress, because they’re more misleading than a middle-aged man’s online presence. Of course you’re bloody right! You have aliens on your side, for sodomy’s sake! The entire world turning against you just means there’s a whole lot of people who are wrong. However, since it’s a tad difficult to beat up, well, everyone, it might be time to ask for a little help. What good’s an alien armada if it can’t knock a few stubborn heads around?


Hunt down the dissenters

Congratulations! You have won (sort of)! Long live the Ubricateans! However, your fight is not yet over. You see, it is not enough to merely win an argument. The goal of any true master-debater should be to prevent anyone from daring argue with them about anything ever again, as they have already, undeniably proven that they are right! But how can you do this, you may ask?

Thanks to you, your new masters have now taken over the Earth with minimal opposition – which, of course, would have happened anyway, on account of their possession of planet-destroying super-weapons. Still, they reward you for your continued loyalty by putting you in charge of the Punitive Human-Ubricatean Combat and Reconnaissance squad (colloquially known as the feared “PHUCR brigade”). In other words, you have been granted a very potent weapon with which you can silence dissenters at your own discretion.

Ah, but what’s this? As it so happens, Richard (and a bunch of other people who have previously disagreed with you) ended up forming an underground resistance against the new Ubricatean leadership. A leadership, it might be added, that has a habit of punishing dissidents through the creative use of very uncomfortable rectal implements. Now, if only there was someone with the power and authority to bring Richard and his band of not-agreeing-with-you misfits to swift, painful justice…

Gather your brigade and go wild, master-debater. You have earned it.

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