- A List of Classic Social Science concepts to be aware of in any Argument:
- “Winning” an Argument
- Cognitive dissonance
- Confirmation bias
- High-Ground Strategy
- Thinking Past the Sale
- Pacing and Leading
- Psychic Psychiatrist illusion
- Walking Talking Contradiction
- Rhetoric is Not Action
- History Does Not Repeat Itself
- Facts are Weaker than Fiction
- Rationality versus Irrationality
- Acknowledging that this Argument was good Exercise:
Or Just Don’t Get Into Arguments At All
Life is short. Love one another….focus on common ground. But if you’re getting into an argument, check these classic argumentative habits. But know that the biggest mistake you can make in life is to believe that your opinion is the correct one, that your opinion should be imposed on all others in your immediate or extended sphere. The second biggest mistake is to think that people will ever really understand what you are saying, even if you try to be as clear as possible. And that’s because others: a) can’t live your life, b) want to project on to you their interpretation of what you have just said and c) will never be able to fully get inside your head. Plus, your counterpart is too busy preparing their next point in the conversation…while you are talking. So accept that a civil argument is mostly to exercise your own mind.
A List of Classic Social Science concepts to be aware of in any Argument:
“Winning” an Argument
Okay, you can’t really win an argument, but the best next thing is to say to your counterpart, “fine, what is the next step based on your argument?” If your counterparty has made a valid point, they will frequently stay mired in the awareness stage in which they are trying to validate the logic of their argument rather then extending it outwardly to the implications and the consequences of their argument. For example, that inequality is evil. All you have to do is say; “So, what’s the next step.” And they will have difficulty because a policy of enforcing equality is way more difficult than the normative claim that equality and fairness is a positive aspiration. Saying “what’s the next step” typically shifts the debate into your corner.
Your counterparty will want to make the first offer in a negotiation, so that they frame the discussion around what they are advocating. That’s why striking a specific price point is critical. You could say that healthcare is a human right for example. That anchors and locks down your position and shapes the discussion thereafter.
Is a situation where you mind holds two conflicting ideas at the same time. When you have a belief that you believe is true and then discover that the facts show otherwise, instead of accepting being wrong, you come up with scrambled thinking to avoid reconciling yourself with the truth that you were wrong. This is also known as negative capability; the most successful management and leadership are able to overcome cognitive dissonance, identify it and figure it out in others. Tells that someone has cognitive dissonances are: 1) using word salad to win an argument, 2) mind-reading the other person’s intentions, 3) expanding the opponents argument with absurd absolutes, 4) tells like “so….your saying” which are misinterpretations of what you are saying. Cognitive dissonance is a flaw that EVERYONE has and can be used to turn others onto your side, if you point out someone else’s cognitive dissonance in a compelling way, you can help them see your world view better, as long as you do that gently.
Is where your brain subconsciously finds evidence in the real world that reflects what you are most thinking about. The human brain builds biases based on patterns observed over time. As a result, biases are impossible to get rid of. The curious point here is that confirmation bias is also where your brain starts pointing out instances that align with what you are looking for as evidence to support your pre-existing view. So when you are in an argument, you might actually have confirmation bias that the other person does not and because neither of you can access eachother’s biases directly, you just argue without knowing which biases are preventing clarity of position from being realized. And of course, if people are involved there are competing interpretations of what the truth is from their perspective….
We “filter” reality and each person is interpreting reality from their own perspective. Bertrand Russel said that there only markers that we are experiencing the same reality are physical markers. A filter is the brain’s interpretation of physical reality. The brain is shaped by the Value Laden hypothesis. Max Weber described this phenomenon in the 19th century; basically, we have values or theories or frameworks (based on pattern recognition and the like) that we believe can predict future actions and we go out into the world, to prove our theories are correct. And sadly, we tend to believe our filters too much which creates confirmation bias.
Taking a debate away from the level of detailed debate to a topic that everyone can agree on. Being intentionally vague has its place in any communication strategy. It’s also known as triangulation, we aren’t trying to win an argument this way, we’re just trying to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.
Thinking Past the Sale
Persuasion tactic where you get those you are trying to persuade to think about what it will be like after the decision is made. The act of forcing us to imagine what you want to have happen is a means of shaping opinion, as long as you can also sell the good and downplay the bad. Visualizations are very powerful.
Pacing and Leading
Pacing and leading is when the speaker gets into the learner’s head, so that they understand your thinking, speech and breath of the speaker and thus this more persuasive because we believe the speaker is speaking for us. As I said in the introduction, your counterparty is never going to fully get you but if you can create the illusion that you get them, you’re ahead of the game. Things like repeating in your own words what your counterparty has just said is helpful. Basically, mirroring the audience or counterparty. Negative attacks on your character is what people remember in these conversations. You should match your counterparty’s cadence of attacks until you’re both covered in holiday stuffing or whatever. Just kidding, chill.
Psychic Psychiatrist illusion
Believing that you can diagnose someone’s sanity just by their outward actions from a far is just wrong. This activity is typically shunned in most circumstances but can be used as an attack on someone who’s leadership you detest.
Walking Talking Contradiction
Policies are obviously going to overlap and conflict with each other. Politicians by definition will make statements that contradict other statements made because facts are moving objects in the sense that time is a moving object. People want snacks and beer and burgers and salad. We are walking emotional contradictors, not logical beings. Get used to it, don’t fight human nature unless you intend to be confounded by it (i.e lose).
Rhetoric is Not Action
If you ask your counterparty to put their money where their mouth is (demonstrate how they live by their opinion /or make a bet) and they refuse, they are simply being rhetorical. Rhetoric, virtue signally is also an extension of the contradiction since emotional statements are often illogical and will contradict themselves. Words matter but to what degree depends on how much you want to undermine the communicator. The difference between assimilation and integration for example, is mostly in the speakers head. Understand that top persuaders will communicate to the the less informed (who have not studied the nuances) with the aim of persuading. Most folks are least likely to detect contradictions and most likely to be appealed to on emotional grounds but when the general public spots a contradiction, we as people get a little high off of the enlightenment that needs to be handled with care or you risk insulting the intelligence of the uninformed. Remember that the less informed aren’t necessarily idiots are all, it’s just they have better things to do then argue about what you care about.
History Does Not Repeat Itself
Using analogies from past events to imply a future outcome that is relevant to whatever argument you are having now is hollow talk. You can’t predictive the future generally, but in particular by saying this current situation is just like this other past situation and look how that past situation turned out therefore the same will happen here, is lazy thinking.
Facts are Weaker than Fiction
Better more reliable facts are helpful but secondary. Facts relating to human behavior and activity can change and evolve. Facts are moving objects therefore any statement is subject to being made false through time-lapse (passage of time). Meanwhile, fiction is static because there are no reference points to suggest it is changing. And people love certainty!
Rationality versus Irrationality
Human beings are irrational most of the time, therefore appealing to the irrational is far more effective. Get used to it. An example where rationality does not take hold is the financial sector. There are systems to analyze finance which managers use to ensure they are in control of the apparatus of capital creation, however, Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street illustrates that irrationality rules the stock market. Human are irrational with pockets of rationality in specific circumstances; the final purchase decision is usually not rational. Love is not rational. And politics is the art of the possible, not the art of the rational. Complicated prediction models with many assumptions have the possibility of being very wrong because the assumptions are rarely dispassionately derived.
Acknowledging that this Argument was good Exercise:
it’s a nice way to diffuse a situation, if you can explain what this argument really was about. It was about exercising your brain. The most important “muscle” in the human body, needs a good work out and so you can finish off any argument by stating the obvious that 1) we’re not going to solve the world’s problems by the end of this argument, 2) it was good exercise…