The Study Dude – Rhetorical Devices

Debate Your Way to a Win-Win Situation!

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to learn how to argue with subtlety and tact.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

This week’s article examines the book Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion At the outset, this book’s learning curve surmounts any others for people who use loud tones, threats, or name-calling to get their way. True argumentation’s subtleties and niceties will open a brand new world for those cunningly wanting to get their way, artfully.

Label and Frame Away
When I finished an undergraduate degree in Communications Studies, it behoved me to grasp this concept called “framing”, so touted in the discipline. Framing sneakily occurs in advertising, where drinking beer somehow equates to women fawning over you, head over heels in love. The reality speaks more to a big beer gut, loud belches, and inaccessibility during football season?big turnoffs for most women, in other words. Framing also makes the bar scene appear as the ideal place to find a relationship. The reality speaks more to a one-night stand, multiple partners, and creepy Pete knocking at your door. Yet, advertising makes this shallow world somehow claim substance and allure.

So, if a bar filled with potted bellies and addicts strikes you as appealing, how can you use the art of framing to advance your own?and not Coor?s?interests? Jay Heinrich provides ample strategies for labelling and framing.

– When dealing with labelling, don’t just mindlessly follow along with your opponent’s definition, reframe them to fit your own purpose. If your opponent says that you are a wicked slanderer, then say that if being a wicked slanderer entails bringing the truth to the otherwise misinformed public in the form of leading edge news, then you agree with his definition.
– If your opponent says something about you or your actions that appears almost favourable, use that leverage point to attack him or her. If your opponent says that you are a humble yet aggressive agitator, you can pounce on the word “humble”, saying that you sometimes defy your humble nature to speak out against the atrocities committed by people such as your opponent.
– When framing, determine what are referred to as the audience’s “commonplaces”, or general assumptions or underlying beliefs of the audience, weed out the commonplaces that favour you or your position, and start with that in your argument. Then move on to the broadest issue you can think of that pertains to your commonplace. Next, try to make your argument based upon future choice, as choice (versus blame or moral judgement) delights an audience. For instance, if the audience yields a majority of environmentalists, and you are an energy company representative, start off by discussing the value of environmentalism. Move on to give it a broader framework, wherein environmentalism in energy production marks the new era. Then continue on to suggest that the audience has choice in environmental options for extracting crude energy oil. No argument must product a black or white outcome; sometimes you get your way in the middle.

Fallacious Thinking Can Take You?Smack!?In the Midst of a Winning Debate
Once, when I took logic and mathematics courses, I engaged a conversation with this rigid fellow. After every comment I made, he pointed out the logical fallacy I breached. I could have said nothing, just sighed, and he would have found some remote fallacy to describe my insolent behaviour. Even though avoiding this fellow surely amounted to the best strategy, I secretly wished I too could master all the logical fallacies, pointing them out bitterly whenever someone committed one, or, more realistically, whenever I didn’t get my way.

However, reading Jay Heinrich’s book illuminated the truth that logical fallacies are awesome in conversation. You can’t commit an error with fallacies if they advance your interests. Fallacies only prove loathsome when dealing with formal logic; in arguing, fallacies shine like gold dust, sprayed in the opponent’s eyes. Jay Heinrich provides guidelines for the logical fallacies, and then straight out recommends you use them to your advantage:

– Fallacies commit three crimes of logic: (1) they consist of poor proofs, (2) they implicate an incorrect number of choices, and (3) the proof doesn’t naturally lead to the conclusion.
– Venn diagrams (those beautiful overlapping circles in statistics and math) can frame fallacies. If you say one thing is another when the first thing’s representative Venn diagram is only partially in the second’s Venn diagram, then there is a disconnect. For instance, if you said killers are all communists, and some killers are in actuality capitalists, then–voila!–you’ve committed a fallacy.
– Logicians condemn fallacies, but rhetoricians, debaters, and everyday arguers, love fallacies unless the fallacy leads to a battle or distracts from the underlying argument.
– Fallacies sometimes appeal to common sense and emotion. As a matter of fact, pathos (emotion) and ethos (trust) appeal to people more than logos (logic) does.

Foul Play in Argumentation
Growing up, my older brother tormented me. Even as an adult, he tormented me. His style of argumentation committed every foul for debate and argumentation conceivable. Fortunately, he claimed a hefty director role with a global company, making a disgusting six or seven figure salary. With his rise to power, he groomed himself for more effective means of argumentation and communication, and he no longer tormented me. Instead, we now help each other’s goals and objectives, namely with writing and graphic design. You see, we both love to communicate to the public, and his strength in writing complements my strength in graphic design, and my strength in writing complements his editing skills (for smaller projects).

But does it make sense that argumentation should have fouls when fallacious thinking is acceptable? Certainly. It’s okay to dupe others in argumentation with the occasional breach of logic, but an outright lowball insult spans a completely different terrain altogether. Jay Heinrich spells out the fouls that you never want to make when arguing:

– Always try to make your arguments above board, without ever attacking your opponent through humiliation or insults. When the emphasis resides on humiliation, the argument precludes choice, and choice is the essence of the best argumentation.
– Try to keep your tenses focused on the future, providing some sort of future choice. Switching your tense from future choice to present moral judgement or past blame can be considered foul play in debate and argumentation.
– Try to stay open to opposing point of views. In other words, if you close your mind to another, oftentimes opposing, perspective, this marks a foul in debate.
– don’t try to convince people to take the action you want through threats of violence of other negativities. Threats equal foul play in debate.
– Try to veer clear of profanity or crude signs, such as hoisting the middle finger. These offensive words and actions mark yet another foul in debate.
– Avoid using innuendo, such as saying, “My opponent truly does not uphold dictatorial agendas” when you are simply trying to put the association of dictatorship and your opponent into your audience’s mindset. Such innuendo, a strategy for some politicians, is a no go for debate and argumentation.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

References
Heinrich, Jay. (2013). Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

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