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In many traditional stories the intrepid hero wins through to glory by using the fallacy of accent to find a loophole in some ancient curse or injunction. Perseus knew that anyone who looked at the Medusa would be turned to stone. Even villains use it: Samson was blinded by the king of the Philistines who had promised not to touch him. Your most widespread use of the fallacy of accent can be to discredit opponents by quoting them with an emphasis they never intended.
How to Win Every Argument PDF Book by Madsen Pirie
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‘He said he would never lie to the American people. You will notice all of the things that left him free to do.’) Richelieu needed six lines by the most honest man in order to find something on which to hang him; with skilful use of the fallacy of accent you can usually get this down to half a line. The white coat of technical jargon is so dazzlingly clean (never having been tainted by any real scientific work) that it blinds the audience to the true merits of what is being said.
Instead of evaluating contentions on the basis of the evidence marshalled for and against them, the audience recoils from the brilliance of the jargon. The fallacy is committed because this irrelevant material has no place in the argument, just as loaded words try to prejudice a case emotionally, so does pseudo-scientific jargon try to induce an unearned respect for what is said.
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The proposition is the same, whatever the language; and use of language to make its acceptance easier is fallacious. Although blinding with science can be used in any argument, many will recognize the special domain of this fallacy as the subjects which like to consider themselves as sciences, but are not. Science deals with things from atoms to stars at a level where individual differences do not matter.
The scientist talks of ‘all’ rolling bodies or whatever, and formulates general laws to test by experiment. The trouble with human beings is that, unlike rolling bodies, the individual differences do matter. Often, again unlike rolling bodies, they want to do different things. Although this might prevent us from being scientific about human beings, it does not stop us pretending to be so.
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What we do here is to add the word ‘science’ onto the study, giving us ‘economic science’, ‘political science’ and ‘social science’. Then we dress them in that white coat of scientific language, and hope that no one will notice the difference. The transportation^ flow charts for the period following the posmeridian peak reveal a pattern of décantation of concentrated passeunits in cluster formations surrounding the central area.
You could spend years formulating laws to predict this, and might even be in the running for a Nobel prize. Just remember never to mention that people are coming into town to have a bite to eat, followed by a movie or a show…) The first rule for using this fallacy is to remember to use long words. (‘When the pie was opened, the birds commenced to sing.’) Never use a four-letter word, especially if you can think of a 24-letter word to take its place.
The jargon itself is harder to master, but a subscription to New Society is a good investment. Remember that the basic function of words is to prevent communication. The bogus dilemma is the fallacy of falsely or mistakenly presenting a dilemma where none exists. In the above example, the son has several possible replies. He can claim that the dilemma is bogus by denying that the consequences follow – this is called ‘grasping the dilemma by the horns’. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book
He can simply deny that men will hate him if he tells the truth: on the contrary, he might claim, they would respect him for it. The alternative statements about consequences are called the ‘conjuncts’, and it is enough to show that one or both is false to label the dilemma as bogus. As another option, he might show that the choice is false. This is called ‘going between the horns’, and consists of showing that other choices are possible.
Instead of limiting himself to truth or lies, he might be truthful at some times, deceitful at others. He might make statements which contain elements of both truth and falsehood. The dilemma is shown to be bogus if the choice, which is called the ‘disjunct’, is not an exhaustive one. A third way of dealing with a dilemma is to rebut it. This is an elegant technique which requires an equally ferocious beast to be fabricated out of the same elements as the original one.
But sent charging in the opposite direction to meet it head-on. When you have built it up assiduously by means of graphic descriptions, you turn it to bear on the question of fact. Very few audiences are able to turn it off abruptly; most will allow it to flood out onto the area normally reserved for reasoned assessment. Whether your appeal is to fear, envy, hatred, pride or superstition makes no difference. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book
Indeed, you can use them alternately. Pride in one’s own race, class or nation can be appealed to, even as envy of others is built up, perhaps to the point where an ad odium becomes possible. The argumentum ad modum deserves a special mention because its appeal is to the audience’s desire for gradualism. An audience is most vulnerable to it when they are trying to be reasonable.
They equate reason with a quiet life, thinking that something admitted in due measure is more likely to be right. Like the argumentum ad temperantiam, which urges the middle course between extremes, the ad modum appeals to that most ancient of maxims which recommends moderation in all things. Sentimens is a clever fallacy. Its idiotic claim, that emotion is a better guide, is most alluring to an intelligent audience.
Intelligent people are often afraid of being thought rather cold because they use reason so much. They do not want to appear to be emotionally deficient, and are easy prey to a speaker who assures them that they are just as sensitive, loving and compassionate as the next person, who is also a bit of a bore. This permits them the delusion that they are welcome into the common fold, instead of remaining aloof from it. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book Download
They happily abandon reason as the price of their admission ticket to the human race. Your own wilful use of this fallacy requires careful planning. It is a short-range tactical fallacy, and is best concealed by not letting the audience know if you are talking about ‘some’ or ‘all’. The claim that ‘Texas rabbits are animals which grow to more than a metre long’ is skilfully ambiguous. It is not clear whether it refers to some Texas rabbits or all of them.
Your surreptitious false conversion would then leave your audience convinced that any animal in Texas more than a metre in length must be a rabbit. It would also leave any Texans hopping mad. Near synonyms carry subtle nuances of meaning which can be used to influence attitudes to the statement which bears them. The fallacy derives from the fact that these attitudes are not part of the argument.
They were conjured up illicitly to achieve more effect than could the argument alone. The extra nuances and the response to them are both strictly irrelevant to establishing the truth or falsehood of what is being said. Language abounds with ways of putting our own attitudes into a description in order to elicit a response from others. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book Download
Public affairs programmes on television are great fun for the connoisseur of loaded words. There is an unfortunate conflict of interests. They want to present material to make you share their prejudices; their authority requires at least some semblance of objectivity and balance. While blatant bias does occur, the satisfaction comes in spotting the loaded words at a slightly more insidious level. Which side has ‘terrorists’, for example, and which has ‘freedom-fighters?’
Which countries have a government and which a regime? When you are in the situation of trying to persuade people, you will find loaded words most useful. Your verbal picture shows the bleak outlook of one alternative, and contrasts it with the rosy setting which results from the other. Your listeners need never know that you could have done it just as easily the other way round.
Simple repetition of a point of view does nothing by way of supplying additional evidence or support. Yet it can erode the critical faculty. There is a completely mistaken supposition that a thing is more likely to be true if it is often heard. The argumentum ad nauseam uses constant repetition, often in the face of massive evidence against a contention, to make it more likely to be accepted. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book Free
Utterly discredited political credos, which adherents cling to for other than intellectual reasons, are supported by the ad nauseam fallacy. If an economic system brings general prosperity and gives ordinary people access to the things which were once the prerogative of the rich, it is quite difficult to make out a case that this is exploitation. Fortunately, one does not have to.
The ad nauseam effect means that the charge can simply be repeated over and over again without argument or evidence. Eventually, some people will fall for it. Many of the proverbs we hear in childhood are dinned into us so many times that we often come to suppose that there must be truth in them. This assumption seems able to survive all of the contrary evidence which life thrusts before us, and in some cases survives a simultaneous belief in contradictory proverbs.
It is quite hard to look before you leap without being lost through hesitation, and while many hands make light work, they do tend to spoil the broth. All of which shows the power of the simple ad nauseam. To use the argumentum ad nauseam is easy enough: all you have to do is to repeat yourself. It is harder to recognize the situations where it might succeed. The general rule is that constant repetition over a long period of time is more effective than short bursts. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book Free
You must be totally impervious to arguments against you, always reiterating the same point. This not only bores your audience to tears, it also instils in them the futility of opposing you. And when they give up in total weariness, observers will begin to suppose that they can no longer counter your claims. Some people are surprised to find that both newness and oldness can be used fallaciously in support of a contention. In fact they appeal to contradictory traits in all of us.
We like the security of the traditional, and we like to be fashionable and up-to-date. Either of these can be used as fallacies if we try to make them support claims which should stand or fall on their merits. The ad novitam, like its antiquitam counterpart, introduces the irrelevant fact of the age of the proposition as a means of influencing its acceptance. Because the newness does not, in fact, contribute to its Tightness, a fallacy is committed by appealing to it.
There was a time when the ad novitam found as welcome a home with progressive reformers as its sibling, ad antiquitam, did with conservatives. Those were the days of constructing a brave new world. Times change, however, and the ad novitam now builds its nest amongst conservatives. It settles down comfortably amid calls for the rejection of ‘the old ways which have failed’ and for ‘looking truly fit for the twenty-first century’. How to Win Every Argument PDF Book Free
Meanwhile the argumentum ad antiquitam stirs uneasily as it sees progressives looking back to the good old days of social reform. Advertisers have used the word ‘new’ as a reflex appeal to the ad novitam for many years. Assuming that the public equated new products with new progress, everything from washingpowder to toothpaste has been ‘new, improved’.
Breakfast cereals were forever new, with the main innovation being the increasing resemblance of the contents to the cardboard of the packet. Great were the shock-waves in the advertising world when cereals started to appear which were positively old in style. In faded brown packets, they promised old-fashioned goodness, and rapidly gained sales. The bold attack of the ad antiquitam sent the ad novitams back on the ropes. All kinds of products came out with old-fashioned presentation,