Debating with ditto heads? Wonking with Wingnuts? Are you frustrated by the fact that “facts” just do not work with Neo-Cons? Or that they make up their own facts at will? Have you noticed how often (never) Right Wingers change the subject after you score a point? Do you hear the same points word for word from different people?
There is a technique you can use to argue with a wingnut. Analyze their complex equivalences and cause effect statements. Attack the source of their beliefs, use counter examples, or metaphor. Read on if you are ready to whack a wingnut up side the head.
Debating with winguts can be extremely frustrating. The (never) Right Wingers typically use a strict father frame for all political topics (see George Lackoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant) and therefore will swallow any talking point handed down by the Right Wing Noise Machine. After you learn these techniques, you will undoubtedly be able to make even a neo-con zealot think about the talking points they spew, if not change their belief in them all togther. In my opinion, even making a wingnut actually think about neo-con talking points is a giant step forward.
I have learned a very effective technique for changing beliefs and overcoming arguments by using langauage patterns.
There are several ways to challenge a belief using language. First, I will review the structure of belief statements. Once you undertand the structure, you will be ready to review several tactics that can be combined together into an organized challenge to neo-con talking points. I provide a specific example using five different tactics to challenge a example belief.
The Structure of Belief Statements
First, we need to analyze the structure of a belief statement. Beliefs are typically expressed as "complex equivalence" or "cause effect" statements.
Complex Equivalences – Complex Equivalences are statements which imply that two different ideas, actions, events, etc… are equivalent (A=B or A means B). These statements are used to make definitions of values and to state whether those values have been met.
"The fact that Bush was elected twice means he has the support of the people" or "Liberals hate Bush, they are unpatriotic." are examples.
Cause-Effect – Cause Effect statements link a value to another idea, action, event, etc… Common verbs used in a Cause Effect sentence include causes, forces, leads to, makes, etc… These statements are used to define the origins and outcomes of ideas, actions, or events.
"Activist judges lead to a weakened America" or "The Clinton Administration caused 9/11 " are examples.
In order to completely define a belief, complex equivalence or cause effect must be established. "Democrats don’t care about America’s security" is not a completed belief statement because the beliefs associated with this statement are not stated. Further questioning is required, such as "How do you know Democrats don’t care about America’s security?" or "What do you think the consequences are of democrats not caring about security?" or "What makes Democrats not care about American security?"
The answers to these questions will complete the belief statement. For example, "Democrats don’t care about American security because they don’t support the Iraq War" or "Democrats don’t support the Patriot Act, so they don’t care about our security" or "Democrats lack of concern about our security means they will never be the majority again."
Each of the preceding statements are full complex equivalence or cause effect statements. Each represents a full belief statement which can then be challenged with the patterns that will be discussed in this series.
Now that we have reviewed how to recognize or elicit a completed belief statement, we can go on to how to challenge and change these beliefs with language patterns.
The tactics utilized for attacking a belief are arranged into the following categories:
- Breaking Down the Belief
- Redefining the Belief
- Attack the Intention of the Belief
- Increase the Frame Size of the Belief
- Use Metaphor
I have put together quick examples of five tactics you can use to verbally challenge a belief.
There are 20-25 different tactics within these five categories. I have chosen five of the tactics to use as a demostration.
"Democrats don’t support the War in Iraq because they don’t support the care about national security"
First tactic – Drill Down on the source of the belief
Ask for specifics on each side of this cause effect statement. How, what, when, where, etc…
"Are you saying all democrats don’t care about national security?"
"Which Democrats don’t care about national security?All of them?"
"How does not supporting the Iraq War mean that Democrats don’t care about national security?’
"Is the Iraq War the only one that must be supported to care about national security, or do all wars have to be supported?"
"When is is acceptable to not support a war?"
Second Tactic -Redefine the parts of the belief
X does not cause y.
"Democrats don’t support the War in Iraq because they do care about National Security"
"Democrats don’t support the War in Iraq because it is weakens our national security."
Third tactic – Counter Example
Are you aware of any examples when X did not cause Y? Do you know of any time where X caused something other than Y?
"Do you have to support every war in order to care about national security?’
"Is it possible to care about national security and not support a war?"
"Not supporting the Iraq War doesn’t mean Democrats don’t care about national security, the Iraq War is not about national security."
Fourth Tactic – Change the original intention
You have this belief so you can X.
"Do you really believe that, or do you just refuse to listen to an opposing view on the Iraq War?"
"Are you against all dissent in war time, or just dissent by the opposition?"
Fifth Tactic – Environment of the Belief
Insist that the belief has undesirable consequences
"Is the belief that useful? How does it help to suppotr national security by stifiling discussion?"
"What is the real reason you feel the need to alienate half the country?"
"How does it serve national security to label and isolate millions of Americans?’
One more key point. You must chain these tactics together in order to be effective. One single attack on a belief will not break it free. Four, five, six challenges in succession will be very effective. You will often find that after three challenges, a new belief emerges, and the chain begins again. This progressively weakens the foundation of mud and sand on which most neo-con beliefs are built.
Many of you may have picked up on the fact the this technique is all about process, not content. I am not suggesting counter points to any specific arguments, I am elaborating on proven techniques that provide a process to challenge any belief. You can use to this process to effectly argue any topic. If you string three, four, or five of the verbal tactics together, you can challenge virtually any belief.
These techniques were originally developed by Robert Dilts, and are called Sleight of Mouth patterns. There is a book called Sleight of Mouth, though I believe it is out of print. If you want to dive into the jargon of lingusitics, external behaviors and internal states, google Sleight of Mouth.