Dave Barry’s “How to Argue Effectively” Has Aged Well

You can read it here.

My favorite bit:

Use Snappy and Irrelevant Comebacks

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:

You’re begging the question.

You’re being defensive.

Don’t compare apples to oranges.

What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody other than engineers and policy wonks has the vaguest idea what “parameters” means. Here’s how to use your comeback: You say: “As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873…” Your opponent says: “Lincoln died in 1865.” You say: “You’re begging the question.” You say: “Liberians, like most Asians.. ,” Your opponent says: “Liberia is in Africa.” You say: “You’re being defensive.”

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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