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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?

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Members have made 52 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of EThompson Inactive
    • #1
    • December 19, 2012 at 2:51 am
  2. Profile photo of Matthew Gilley Member

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

    • #2
    • December 19, 2012 at 3:59 am
  3. Profile photo of PsychLynne Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 4:38 am
  4. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 4:57 am
  5. Profile photo of Boymoose Inactive
    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 5:10 am
  6. Profile photo of Pony Convertible Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 5:47 am
  7. Profile photo of Larry3435 Member

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

    • #7
    • December 19, 2012 at 5:55 am
  8. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Member
    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 6:46 am
  9. Profile photo of Mike H Member
    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 7:22 am
  10. Profile photo of Richard Fulmer Member
    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 7:43 am
  11. Profile photo of Irene F. Starkehaus Inactive

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

    • #11
    • December 19, 2012 at 8:14 am
  12. Profile photo of GLDIII Reagan

    Sorry Rob, rules are for wimps…

    • #12
    • December 19, 2012 at 8:44 am
  13. Profile photo of Christopher Esget Inactive

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

    • #13
    • December 19, 2012 at 8:47 am
  14. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 8:48 am
  15. Profile photo of Roberto Member
    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 8:54 am
  16. Profile photo of Dietlbomb Member

    Good idea, but sometimes your guests deserve rhetorical battery.

    • #16
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:17 am
  17. Profile photo of Starve the Beast Inactive

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

    Best. Point. Ever.

    • #17
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:18 am
  18. Profile photo of Paul DeRocco Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:20 am
  19. Profile photo of Roberto Member

    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
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:22 am
  20. Profile photo of Simon Roberts Inactive

    It’s “sequitur” not “sequitor”.

    • #20
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:24 am
  21. Profile photo of Cutlass Inactive

    Fantastic, Rob!

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

    Just because I can’t envision changing my mind on something it doesn’t preclude a civil exercise in clarity between sincere people with differing world views.

    • #21
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:26 am
  22. Profile photo of Rob Long Founder
    Rob Long Post author
    Larry3435: The problem is, Rob, if you find someone willing to abide by those rules, or even understand those rules, they are already conservative. · 3 hours ago

    Good point!

    • #22
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:29 am
  23. Profile photo of Rob Long Founder
    Rob Long Post author
    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? · 11 hours ago

    Edited 11 hours ago

    True, I think, but my mind has been changed by discussions here, on a few things. But that’s because members here are smart, and they value civil discussion.

    • #23
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:31 am
  24. Profile photo of Palaeologus Member

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

    No doubt. I’m printing out copies to give my kids, my folks, and my wife.

    Aside from holding them (the prints, not the people) in front of mirrors, what could go wrong?

    • #24
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:31 am
  25. Profile photo of Mendel Member
    Cutlass:

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

    Just because I can’t envision changing my mind on something it doesn’t preclude a civil exercise in clarity between sincere people with differing world views. · 5 minutes ago

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

    • #25
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:38 am
  26. Profile photo of Starve the Beast Inactive
    Mendel
    Cutlass:

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

    Just because I can’t envision changing my mind on something it doesn’t preclude a civil exercise in clarity between sincere people with differing world views. · 5 minutes ago

    Agree. If we were to enforce this rule on Ricochet, about 80% of our discussions would be preemptively excluded. · 0 minutes ago

    There is such a thing as being right.

    • #26
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:41 am
  27. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Timely and tasteful, thanks, Rob…Now Christmas dinner won’t give me heartburn. I very much appreciate it.

    • #27
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:44 am
  28. Profile photo of Chris O. Member

    Lovely, Rob, an excellent guide. Definitely something that will preclude many less than comfortable dinner conversations with those on the other side of the spectrum.

    Let me add a Ricochet Corollary to this that one’s response to the comments of others should not, in civil discussion, include: 1) a written form of a sound effect, such as “bzzt!” or “blagh!” as this is just another form of a non-sequitur intended to impeach credibility without offering a counter argument; 2) a rhetorical question that impugns the intelligence of a commenter; or, 3) anything that tears down another’s argument without offering something positive as an alternative. I haven’t seen it often here, but there are times when we’re tempted to point out the weaknesses in others’ reasoning without taking the risk of offering our own. By all means challenge, but give, in return, something which others may examine.

    On that note, I should mention I’m just back from the pub.

    • #28
    • December 19, 2012 at 9:50 am
  29. Profile photo of Roberto Member
    Mendel
    Cutlass:

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

    Just because I can’t envision changing my mind on something it doesn’t preclude a civil exercise in clarity between sincere people with differing world views. · 5 minutes ago

    Agree. If we were to enforce this rule on Ricochet, about 80% of our discussions would be preemptively excluded. · 13 minutes ago

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

    • #29
    • December 19, 2012 at 10:01 am
  30. Profile photo of Patrick Lasswell Inactive

    If you print these out and put a logo on them, you can use them to raise funds for Ricochet.

    • #30
    • December 19, 2012 at 10:06 am
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