How to Win an Argument

Some tips and techniques

Traverse Davies

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There is only one path to winning an argument — which I will cover at the end of this article, but most of this document will be about how to sway minds to your point of view, usually the minds of people not directly involved in the argument.

First, appeal to emotion but back it up with facts. Nobody is above appeal to emotion; it’s simply which emotional appeals work for you—an example I have used: My father (probably) died due to COVID-19 in February of 2020. When I have had debates over the reality of that particular disease, I often bring that up. It’s factual (he died of unexpected respiratory failure and wasn’t tested). It’s also a hard argument to get around — if you hit back at me in that situation, you come across poorly. You have to hit me with rational arguments, not ad hominem. Since I’m right, that makes it hard to do.

That brings me to the second method. Be right. Do your research, verify your facts, and vet your sources.

If you are right, the people reading can check your facts, and they match reality. I’ve been swayed by someone who came at me with better facts when others had worse facts. In the long run, it turned out that the ones using better facts were wrong… but because they had accurate facts, they convinced me of their point of view. More research and more experience changed my point of view. They would have been so far ahead if the original argument had come with all of the correct stats. This happens a lot with people on my side — I’m a big lefty, and we do have strong evidence supporting us, but because so many on our side come from a point of empathy and emotion, they don’t engage with the facts.

Third, avoid the hell out of fallacies. Focus on the arguments, engage with them, and take them seriously. Counter your opponent's points. It’s okay to insult your opponent, but not instead of countering their points. An example of the right way: You are wrong because you haven’t taken into account the shift in position of the Melbourne sensor from an airport tarmac to a shady garden, you low-life pathetic homunculus of a mock human being. Now, the wrong way: You are wrong because you are a low-life pathetic homunculus of a mock human being.

That’s just a few ways of engaging in argument — there are many more, but these are the main ones I usually use.

Now, how to win an argument: Change your mind because you have been exposed to facts, ideas, and thoughts you hadn’t considered. Learn from your interlocutor. That has always been the best part of debate, of argument. I used to have an issue with the term Cis — and then I listened, debated, and realized that I didn’t hold my original point of view, that I was wrong.

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Traverse Davies

I do survival, self-publishing consultation, and writing. Check out my blog: https://dreamtime.logic11.com