Cheap Samurai Tactics # 4- Slight of Hand

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Golden Delicious by Mike Doughty

His mood is: Diggin it man, Diggin it.

Welcome once more to Cheap Samurai Tactics, the class where we teach you the dirty, underhanded cheats which will allow you to never lose an argument- or at least look as if you haven’t. Our final category is the kind that earns clever fish related nicknames and Latin legal terms, almost none of which I know. Find a good lawyer and ask him all about it for $200 and hour. In the mean time, I present for you, our 4th and final category of Cheap Samurai Tactics:

4. Slight of Hand. So sneaky, it’s almost magic! Much like magic, the trick behind this set of tactics is making sure your opponent doesn’t catch on to what you are doing. Keep them off balance, talk fast, interrupt them when they talk, and of course make use of the other three categories of Cheap Samurai Tactics. If you get really good at all of this, you may have a lucrative career in law, unless you’re no good at Latin phrases.
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Cheap Samurai Tactics #3- Using Words as Weapons

Your Rent a Friend wishes he was listening to No Line on the Horizon by U2.

His mood is: groggy and Meh.

Welcome back to Cheap Samurai Tactics, where you learn how to shake, rattle, roll, and do the grammatical twist it takes to never lose an argument, even if you’re wrong, or simply have no idea what you’re talking about. Nobody likes to be wrong, but let’s face it, all of us will be wrong every now and then. This doesn’t mean you have to admit to it! If you play your cards right you can still come out with the façade of victory. Even better than being right is winning an argument, or maybe just getting in the last word. Frankly, sometimes you have to just take what you can get.

First we leaned how to cover your tracks with a thick layer of attitude. Next, I showed you how to divert attention away from your shortcomings in fact, details, information, or brain power. Today, you’ll learn how to use the spoken and written word to make the truth fairly unimportant to the outcome of a discussion. I present to you the third category of Cheap Samurai Tactics:

3. Semantics. This is the art of wielding words as weapons. Not to be confused with Semitics, which are people of the Middle East, especially the Jews, semantics is playing with language. Used for good it leads to jokes and puns and songs. Used for evil it’s the following Cheap Samurai Tactics.
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Cheap Samurai Tactics #2- Look Over There!

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

His mood is: On the Verge of Screaming for Ice Cream

Welcome once again to Cheap Samurai Tactics for beginners (Listed in your catalogue as CST 101, section 203). Cheap Samurai Tactics are just a form of cheating. Last time, I introduced you to the first of four categories of Cheap Samurai Tactics (CST’s), and gave you the run down on how to use the tactics within. Let’s review the categories:

1. P’Shaw
2. Look Over There!
3. Semantics
4. Slight of Hand

Today we’ll look at the second category:

2. Look Over There!

This is the Art of Misdirection. The key to these tactics is to change the subject without your opponent noticing that you have done so. You don’t have to lose an argument if you can start a new one when no one is looking!

A. Discredit the Source: If you can cast a negative light on the source of information, you can make the issue at hand guilty by association! For instance, if you could prove that recycling got its start with Attila the Hun, blood-thirstiest scourge of the 5th century, you could use that as an argument for the innate evils of reducing, reusing, and all that other stuff. Though, deep down, we all know that, were the devil of hell to say the sky was blue, the darn thing would still be blue. Just keep it under your hat.

A.1/2- “You’re Only Saying That Because…” A variation on CST 2-A. is to attack the motivation of the person with whom you are debating. This is usually in the form of: “You’re only saying that because…” And anything here will do. “…Because you’re a bigot, because you’re a Jew, Because you hate me, Because you’re a Jerk, Because you’re a republican, Because you’re a Nazi, Because you’re a Vegan, Because you’re a man-eating killer clown from outer space, etc.” Obviously the truthfulness of a statement has nothing to do with the motive the speaker has to share it, but the point of the CST’s is not to make logical sense. It’s to WIN WIN WIN!

B. Discredit the Proponents or Beneficiaries: If bad or foolish people agree with something, it must be bad or foolish. If it could be shown that the Ku Klux Klan preferred to travel by taxi, you’d have all the proof you need to denounce every cab in New York as racist. (Of course, everyone knows the KKK actually prefers to travel by bus, as it has more headroom for their big pointy hats. The same is true of witches, and a surprising number of ancient Egyptian deities.).

C. Use a Resume as Proof: Don’t just use a source’s credentials as a reason to trust them. Use it as proof that their ideas are true! Anyone with an MD, PHd, a DVD, or show on TV MUST be right about everything they say (provided it agrees with what you think, of course). And don’t let yourself think they can only be all-knowing in their field of study! A British biologist can write books on theology if he wants to! Can the study of nucleotide base pairs really be THAT different from being an Orthodox Jew? I mean, the man went to COLLEGE for crying out loud!

D. Argue Against the Metaphor: At some point your opponent will make use of an illustration to clarify a point. THIS is where you strike! For instance, it has been said that the way men think is different from the way women think: “Women’s thoughts are like spaghetti, because they all intertwine, and men’s thoughts are like waffles because they compartmentalize.” This is where you would shoot back: “So you’re saying that men’s and women’s minds are both made of starches and carbohydrates? You’ve just proven MY point, that men’s and women’s minds work the exact same way.” And then you’d go home and sacrifice a goat at your shrine of Hillary Clinton to thank her for your victory.

E. Focus on the Fringe: In every group, category, or concept, there is a tiny collection of anomalies. If you can keep the focus on that tiny sample, you can deflect any facts which only relate to the 99% your opponent dogmatically insists represents the issue. This is the way people pointed to George Burns and said, “He’s 105 and he smokes a cigar every day!” And to them, this was good evidence that smoking isn’t bad for you. Then there’s the more than 1,000 deaths every day in this country that are linked to smoking. But I digress.

E.2. The Parts= the whole: This is known as the “fallacy from composition.” It is making the assumption that, because each part of something has some property, then the whole must also have that property. For example- an elephant is made up of parts that I could easily eat within the span of ten minutes. Elephant toenail? Easy. Elephant eyelash? Just splash a little dressing on that and it’s gone. Elephant spleen? Serve it with a side of green beans and I’ll chow that down with time to spare. Therefore, since each part of an elephant can be eaten by me within ten minutes, it can be argued that I can eat the whole elephant in ten minutes. Just bring me the extra large bottle of barbecue sauce and have dessert ready in eleven minutes.
There are times when this argument isn’t invalid. If I say, “Each tile on the bathroom floor is blue, therefore the whole floor is blue,” this would be correct. And it doesn’t require a stomach pump when I try and prove it.

F. Turn Facts into Bazaar Absolutes: Like the previous CST, this works by making mountains out of mole-hills. Only, this time, instead of you focusing on the fringe, you’ll imply that your opponent is doing so. They may, for instance, admit that a college education isn’t 100% protection from becoming poor and homeless. This is where you quickly say, “You think people who graduate from college all wind up homeless? Or maybe you want us to believe that every pan-handler in the city has a PhD in reverse economics?” And in that precious second of stunned silence, you shake your head scornfully and walk off as though you’ve just won the argument. I think we can all admit that getting the last word is even better than being right.

G. Feelings!: You will have strong emotions related to certain topics (Or you can pretend to, if you take a few acting classes at your local community college). Nothing is easier than assuming that your feelings prove the truthfulness of something. This is the concept that most marriages are built on these days. This is one of several key reasons most marriages fail these days, but I digress. My point is, if something makes you FEEL bad, it must BE bad! And if something makes you feel good, it must BE good! Of course, you’d never come out and say this, because you’d sound like some unicorn-fairy-rainbow-cloud-dancer from the 3rd grade. Focus on the feelings, let the rest be assumed. If you wanted to defend your position legitimately, you’d probably have you change your position first.

Next time we’ll learn how the pen is mightier than the sword, and how the tongue is like a spark that starts a terrible fire. In the mean time, your homework is to find ways to make use of these handy tools of deviance. And don’t limit it to conversations. If you’re losing at poker, just lay down a pair of matching cards and say “Go Fish.” As my friend, Captain Dan, always says, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.”

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Cheap Samurai Tactics #1- P’shaw!

Your Rent a Friend is Listening to: Church Music by the David Crowder Band

His mood is: Spent like a dollar in a candy store.

In a recent blog I discussed how Christians get called all kinds of nasty names, like “Arrogant” or “Close Minded,” on account of the fact that we label the things we believe as “True.” I know- the nerve of us. Aside from the self-defeating and rather silly nature of this complaint, you’ll notice that it is also an attempt to side against the idea without actually taking any pains to prove the idea wrong. Even if we agree that we are close minded and arrogant, that does nothing to prove that what we believe isn’t still True. This diversionary tactic is one of the many devices I like to call “Cheap Samurai Tactics.”

Cheap Samurai Tactics are, in short, bad arguments. It’s the muscle you get when you don’t splurge on the really good Samurai, and you wind up with the second rate, slightly used, discount warehouse Samurai. My friend, Captain Dan, would use this phrase to describe any kind of short cuts and cheating, but here I’m using it in reference to cheating in an argument or debate. The CST’s are best used when you either know you are wrong but don’t want to admit it, or you don’t care if you’re right or wrong, you just want to fight about something and don’t feel like being bogged down by facts and reason. Perhaps it’s because you’re a lawyer and your client won’t pay you if they get the chair, or maybe you’re an advertiser who is being paid to sell something that serves only to irritate the people who buy it. Maybe you’re just a jerk. Whatever the reason, there are CST’s for you.
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