Best-Of Advice

On discussions with idiots

Dear Coquette,

My friend Joe says he wants women to discuss how they “don’t have to make an effort” regarding “sex, dating, sports, lifting things, buying drinks.” What should I say to him?

If at all possible, ignore him. If you can’t do that, challenge him. Whatever you do, don’t discuss anything with him. All Joe really wants is the debate. He wants you to counter his opinion by saying that women do have to make an effort. He wants you to validate his ignorance by establishing that this is an argument that naturally has two sides worth defending. It doesn’t. Joe is simply wrong.

If you choose to challenge him, the trick is to come at him with a barrage of Socratic questioning. Force Joe to justify his own opinions with something more than anecdotal evidence. He won’t be able to do it, because idiots who are wrong can’t make a rational argument based on facts.

Practice saying the phrases, “What’s your point?” “Where are you getting your information?” and “Why do you believe that?”

Remember, don’t let it become a debate. He’ll want to know your opinion so he’ll have something to attack, but you should never feel like you have to defend a position. You are not responsible for proving the opposite of his opinion. The burden of proof is on Joe.

You don’t have to prove that you’re right. Joe is the one who has to prove that he’s not wrong, and if he tries shifting the argument to you, simply say, “It doesn’t matter what I think. You’re the one who has to justify your beliefs.”

Inevitably, he will try and rile you up by pushing your buttons, because once you’ve backed him into a corner of his own ignorance, the only thing he’ll have left to do is get you flustered with comments that are rude, mean, or personal.

Stay cool, and don’t get emotional. When it starts to break down, just say, “It sounds like you still have a lot to think about,” and gracefully exit the conversation.

Don’t expect to change Joe’s mind, and don’t expect to “win.” There’s not supposed to be a winner, just one loser talking himself into a circle.


One thought on “On discussions with idiots

  1. Chris says:

    This is hilarious because not only will it work, but if the Socratic Interrogator is a woman, it will get him upset while seemingly proving his point because he’s appearing to make all the effort, and failing. Obviously, there’s effort in developing this skill and keeping one’s cool from the other side, but he can’t see that; he’s too wrapped up in the nonsense.

    The truth is Joe’s got no game and limited intelligence, likely spouting off this original point that he heard from some guy who’s down on himself and the whole scene.

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