How to argue with awkward purveyors of home truths

Saturday, 13th August 2011

Here are just a few strategies you can adopt when confronted with troublesome individuals who insist on expressing politically incorrect opinions that cannot be refuted by facts alone.

  1. Suggest any inconvenient belief is merely "their opinion" and by implication at odds with "received opinion" as endorsed by mainstream experts or opinion leaders. Decent people merely choose among a narrow array of officially certified opinions, e.g. phoney debates between mainstream political parties.
  2. Suggest you have your own preferred sources of information or have just read a report indicating otherwise. Of course, your awkward adversary also has access to these sources because they are broadcast and published so widely or even given away for free on the way to work.
  3. If your opponent suggests that the globalisation of labour markets may not be such a good idea for medium to long term socio-environmental stability, do not hesitate to call her, or him a racist. No doubt only racist Australian Aborigines opposed European colonisation and only racist Black Africans opposed French and British imperialism. And what about all those xenophobic Chinese who fought the Brits imposition of free trade in the opium market and isolationist Bengalis who opposed cheap British textile imports in the 18th and 19th centuries?
  4. Suggest your adversary's views are mere conspiracy theories, e.g. Aren't you verging on conspiracy theory territory there? Of course conspiracies never happen because all public and private institutions are totally upfront about their true motives. MPs never lie, at least in the United Kingdom and big businesses are philanthropic organisations. Pigs also fly.
  5. Contact a psychiatrist to help your friend overcome her or his belief issues. 
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