How to win (most) arguments

I picked up Win Every Argument in the airport on my way back to Bangkok and I am glad I did. It really helped put perspective and practical examples into the way that I teach critical thinking. Mehdi Hasan starts with a great quotation from Joseph Joubert, “It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.”

The book covers some of the main techniques of reasoned arguments and rhetoric, although taking a less purist view of some debates. For example, there is an extended discussion of why “ad hominem” attacks are sometimes justified. Most of the examples are from the author’s own experiences of debating and interviewing political and other figures.

The book takes the reader from the start of an argument (grabbing attention) to how to end an argument and everything in between. I particularly liked the emphasis on understanding your opponent’s arguments better than your own and spending time on research. There is also a good discussion of dealing with misinformation, lies and BS, and the importance of vocal delivery including pitch, power, pace, and pauses. Highly recommended.

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