How to Fail at Arguing Revisited

14 Apr
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Some time ago I wrote a series of posts about how people fail at arguing. I’m not saying that I never fail at arguing, but I try not to. There is an objective truth. Through study, thought, and dialog, we ought to be moving closer to that truth. Failing at arguing is usually disrespectful to others and works toward destroying the movement toward truth.

In “How to Fail at Arguing #4” I wrote about the argument “That just doesn’t make sense.” Today there was another sighting of this argument right here on the SecondJon blog!

Evidently not a long time reader of my blog, Thad left a comment last night failing in this way on my post about Jason Gray’s song that re-defines what it means to love God away from it’s biblical meaning. Thad wrote:

This comment thread blows my mind. The song could scarcely be more clear. The fact that it’s causing this sort of non-sensical dissension is going a long way toward proving his point I think. Some of these comments make it seem like folks are going out of their way to deliberately misunderstand the song. Wow. Just wow.

I’ve never seen the benefit of this style of argument: You disagree with me, therefore you’re nonsensical. You’re so dumb and I’m so brilliant, I can’t bear to bring myself to lower my mind to try to understand you.

It reminds me of an early scene of a movie I walked out of because of the crass humor – Anchor Man. Various characters are arguing about something and Steve Carell’s character yells “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!” In the end, it just makes him look like an idiot for yelling about not understanding what the other guys are saying.

For the benefit of others you are interacting, and for the benefit of firming up or refining what you think, it is worth the effort to figure out where someone else is coming from. How could you ever convince someone else that they’re wrong when you refuse to put any work into understanding what they think?

In addition to subverting any constructive conversation, it’s intellectually lazy.

If I say something that doesn’t make sense to you, think about it, ask for clarification. If you simply respond “you’re being non-sensical,” all you’re saying is that you’re lazy and it’s not worth continuing the conversation with you because you’ll pretend to or try to not understand. It’s the equivalent of plugging your ears and shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU, LA LA LA!”

  • Daniella Sotolo

    Good job! what a great post!