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Rules of Engagement

I can’t count the number of dinner parties I’ve been to — and, probably, ruined — by getting tangled up in a political conversation with a tableful of liberals.  It’s frustrating and exhausting, responding to a barrage of (mostly) non-sequitor non-arguments.

It’s like whack-a-mole, but I’m the mole.

So I think I’m going to get the following chart printed up and laminated, and pass it out before any more of those exchanges erupt:

Should make for a more peaceful social life, don’t you think?

  1. Matthew Gilley

    A modest suggestion – add the following footnote: “A daisy chain of platitudes is not an argument. It is a Hallmark display.”

  2. PsychLynne

    This is fantastic!  I will add this to my “arsenal” which basically includes the following:

    1. ” Speaking for all (conservatives/religious people/Southerners), we all believe (overstate and simplify) because that’s what we’re told…and we don’t think for ourselves much.” Works best with ridiculous, non-logic based arguments…so pretty useful.  I also smile sweetly and drawl as much as possible when saying this particular phrase.

    2.  With other psychologists I often say:  I didn’t realize (gun control/any hot issue) position had become a standardized, validated intelligence measure. 

    3.  Often I don’t go into arguments (for reasons pointed out in the chart–plus I’m more interested in having fun), so I choose to make one wide-eyed point.  For example, healthcare: “I think everyone agrees that having healthcare is good, it’s just that past performance is the best predictor of future performance (science-based statement) and having worked w/ Medicaid, Medicare, and the VA, I’m not impressed by the past behavior.”

    I guess I’m not a flame thrower : )

  3. Crow

    I remember seeing this back when it made its rounds on Facebook. It is funny in a couple of places and has as much value as any decision tree/matrix [he says backhandedly]. As general rules of discussion and polite conversation, its not bad to keep in mind.

    However, if one wished to quibble–and, after all, what’s Ricochet without quibbling?–one might challenge the very first premise of the very first box as follows.

    If you have thought your position through very thoroughly, and do not imagine changing your mind, it does not preclude you from having a polite conversation–in fact, and especially if you are confident in your position and its soundness, this may lead you to have patience with the other party as you lay out your reasoning. Even if they disagree–even if the debate is fierce: take an Oxford debate as an example–a discussion can still be had.

  4. Boymoose
    DocJay: I just fart loudly, swill my drink and challenge them all to a fist fight. Usually they don’t accept at first but then I attack their sacred cows (like extolling the virtues of Sarah Palin killing wolves from a chopper to a PETA lady) with a flamethrower to the point where their wives want them to fight. Then I laugh at their cowardice as I wave my 9 mm around like scarface,” oh yeah, look at the bad guy eh, chew cockaroaches”.You may be on to a different approach though, I will study this system closely. · 5 hours ago

    I like the cut of your jib young man ……

    I have used some of these but Wow put them all together and you have an evening to remember.

  5. Pony Convertible

    I have another rule that I put forth ahead of time.  If you start name callling, you have lost the debate.  This is because you have admitted that you no longer have evidence to support you position and have thus resorted to trying to discredit the opposition, instead of their (my) position on the topic.

  6. Larry3435

    The problem is, Rob, if you find someone willing to abide by those rules, or even understand those rules, they are already conservative.

  7. Jojo
    Larry3435: The problem is, Rob, if you find someone willing to abide by those rules, or even understand those rules, they are already conservative. · 30 minutes ago

    Funny and true! 

  8. Mike H
    Mendel

    Or am I wrong?  Can most people here envision an argument that would convince them that spending another trillion dollars of taxpayer money is the way to restore America’s greatness? · 8 hours ago

    Edited 8 hours ago

    Envisioning an argument and conceiving of the possibility of an argument are two different things. Everyone can think it’s virtually impossible at any point in time that an argument will change their position about a topic they feel they have exhausted. But the intellectually honest considers any position to be up for review if brand new unforeseen information suddenly presents itself, or if someone presents an argument in a new way that suddenly makes it more convincing. Extremely unlikely, but always possible.

  9. Richard Fulmer
    Jojo

    Larry3435: The problem is, Rob, if you find someone willing to abide by those rules, or even understand those rules, they are already conservative.

    Funny and true! 

    Excellent point.  Conservatives believe in procedures (e.g., those contained in the Constitution of the United States), while Progressives reject them out of hand.  Procedures (e.g., secret Union ballots, voter ID) get in the way of their grab for power.

  10. Irene F. Starkehaus

    Probably the funniest and most useful flowcharts that I have seen —>ever.

  11. GLDIII

    Sorry Rob, rules are for wimps…

  12. Christopher Esget

    This is fantastic. It would work wonderfully (which is to say, not at all) in theological conversations too.

  13. Donald Todd

    Perhaps teaching people how to argue without being argumentative would be best.  Reject the straw men and push for an answer on the original consideration.  

  14. Roberto
    Mendel

    Roberto

    Mendel

    Cutlass:

    My only quibble is with “Do you envision anything that will change your mind?”

    Agree. If we were to enforce this rule on Ricochet, about 80% of our discussions would be preemptively excluded. 

    80%? That seems a rather harsh critique on the caliber of Ricochet discussion.

    A while back there was a post asking Ricochet members if being on the website had changed their opinions on any issues.  Most people were hard pressed to find even a single major point where our civil discourse had changed their views.

    I don’t find that a damning critique.  As long as everyone is willing to hear out other voices, there’s nothing wrong with a group of people who are very secure in their own opinions.

    Or am I wrong?  Can most people here envision an argument that would convince them that spending another trillion dollars of taxpayer money is the way to restore America’s greatness? ·

    Perhaps if the funds were used to assemble a Death Star… Yes, I see your point.

  15. Dietlbomb

    Good idea, but sometimes your guests deserve rhetorical battery.

  16. Starve the Beast

    “Do not introduce new arguments while another argument has yet to be resolved”.

    Best. Point. Ever.

  17. Paul DeRocco

    I dunno, when these “discussions” with liberals go south, and they launch their ad hominem insults, they generally appear to be having a rotten time. If you can manage to find it all amusing, while they feel miserable, then you’ve done your good deed for the day.

  18. Roberto

    Apropos of nothing; the chart was created by one Mr. Gorrell, Director of Editorial for the Thought Catalog, no pretension there, who wrote a bizzare analysis of What Your Favorite Breaking Bad Character Says About You which I found highly amusing, despite having never once seen the show. 

    Edit: Corrected after further meandering curiosity, original source: Atheism Resource, Your Source for Everything ATHEISM…From People Just Like You   

    Always find it amusing when atheists insist they have a monopoly on logic.

  19. Simon Roberts

    It’s “sequitur” not “sequitor”.