How often have you been in conversation when someone makes an argument and provides absolutely no evidence or rationale for it? They take the argument as so self-evident that there really is nothing you can do to add to the conversation. No evidence has been provided, the facts–such as they are–have been disregarded, dismissed, ignored, or blithely made up, and the individual–who may one of any number political commentators on Fox, MSNBC, and any number of newspapers, blogs, and television or radio stations across the country, or even worse, have obtained said opinion from such prognosticators–waits for you to respond with their argument as a basis for your conversation. Never mind whether you agree or not, that’s your starting point: a fallacy, a talking point, a place that just is.
It’s a conversation killer. You find yourself with just a few options (though this list is not comprehensive), none of which are necessarily attractive. You can
- Smile and nod. This requires that you lie. You must put on a face, appearing to agree, but really, you’re just lying.
- Ask for more information. “Why do you think that?” This is falls into the category of the WWJD, because it is civil, it’s polite, it allows the person to think through and give a response, and it’s what my Dear Old Mom (hereinafter “DOM”) would tell me to do, back when she still told me what to do. It requires a certain amount of self discipline not always quick to be found, though…
- Disagree. “No, you’re wrong.” And guess what? You don’t necessarily need to say why. Because you’re going to provoke a reaction by the flat disagreement. Quad gratis asseritur gratis negatur, you see. What is asserted without reason may be denied without reason.