Confusion, it starts with some prick mouthing off. You know he is wrong and so you step up to set him right.

You quickly lay out your argument with finesse and poise, a salvo to baffle and tantalize the mind. When the next thing you know he is arguing the meaning of your words and telling you that you must be crazy for believing all that.

Taken aback but not one to back down you settle in for the fight with an uneducated fool. Laying it down like a well versed poem, you point out his flaws with no gentle repose.

Follow it up with a slap on the head from the education that he's never had. And just when you think you have stumped the buffoon he comes back at you with zest and zeal.

He mutters incoherent inconsistencies and painful one liners galore. Shocked and appalled by his intellectual dishonesty you take a moment to pause and wonder if this guy is sane.

In that moment exclaims "ha! I've got you!" as your blood begins to boil. Resolving to crush him once and for all you lay back in with your next salvo of reason, this time with fire.

And when you are done, spent and worn out he quips that you are just mad because you wish you were right. And with a twist of his wrist and a flick of his finger he turns to walk away.

In that moment you suddenly wonder, what it was that you were arguing over. When in the end he still thought he was right and it was clear he was not.

It was clear wasn't it? It must have been you gave every reasoning argument verbatim. But then why did it feel like he had somehow won? He must be insane or rather undone.

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Comment by kris feenstra on March 20, 2012 at 1:35am

These things can get bizarre.  I find there's an odd moment in some arguments where I wonder if everything I am thinking about my opponent is being thought about me in turn, probably with a comparable level of conviction and certitude.  In fact, my counterpart in the debate is often kind enough to point out what a jerk I (allegedly) am, so there's not much left for speculation.  In some cases I cannot believe that I am anything other than right, perhaps not in the sense of having all the answers, but at least in the sense that my logic is correct and my arguments are fair, impartial and valid.  

In this light and in comparison, my opponent may seem irrational, biased, hypocritical, or even a bit deluded, and yet my opponent treats me as if I'm the one with the problem.  I guess that brings me to the crux of the issue: do irrational, biased, hypocritical or delusional people see their flaws for what they are?  If not, then how can I be certain that I'm not the one with the problem?  If my opponent is the head case, he doesn't seem to know.  If I am, I don't seem to know.  I'm not saying it's an impossible issue to sort out, but it's not really satisfying even if you do.  The best case scenario ends up being that I'm in the right, but I wasted my time arguing with a frustrating ass.  The worst case scenario is that I'm the ass.  Lose-lose scenario, imo.  I guess the third likely option is that the pair of us are silly bastards alike.

Comment by John Kelly on March 20, 2012 at 2:12am

The best part is when people start making assumptions about their opponents and then use those assumptions to interpret anything else they read from the opponent. It happens to me all the time. If you try telling them they were wrong about their assumptions, they are so self-convinced it is impossible to get them to realize it.

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