3 min read

On the art of convincing the stupid

Intro: I've come to the realization of how difficult it is to convince someone stupid of your ideas. I try to describe a distinction between two forms of arguer where I depict one as stupid and myself as the member of the other. In reality, the whole subject is a gray area, and it's all about the different interpersonal dynamics that happen when two people argue about something. I think my observations are really interesting and you may learn a thing or two about argumentation yourself.

Stupid people employ countless strategies to subvert your expectations and challenge your beliefs. The strategies don't even have to be sensical, they just need to sound good to throw you off and reinforce their belief in any debate since you can't break it all down fast enough. A stupid person may assert their victory, just from your defeat, even though their argument holds little merit, you just couldn't convince them. Let's go through these strategies so we can understand better why convincing stupid people is so difficult.

A typical strategy a stupid person may employ to deter your arguments, is to employ a straw-man. This is a widely known fallacy where you purposely misrepresent the opponent's argument and proceed to refute it instead of the actual subject. What's so special about this tactic when used by stupid people is that it isn't even purposeful, they just misunderstand your argument all together. Someone who has a hard time grasping the meat of an argument, isn't necessarily stupid, but it may actually be your fault. However, the more stupid someone is, the harder it is for them to grasp an argument. That means you need to be extra careful what words come out of your mouth in what order, otherwise they will employ a strawman strategy either they intend to or not. When speaking to someone stupid like that, it is quite necessary to make sure to pass on your intention and arguments undistorted through the very flawed communication medium that is natural speech.

Stupid people may be so utterly convinced by something false, that no amount of convincing can challenge their belief. It is rooted in the inability to think critically about the things that they believe in and the unwise unwillingness to challenge them. An example is they may know for a fact that Bob was at the party, yet when checking the security footage, you can identify every single person and Bob is not one of them. A stupid person may even be so convinced, that they may deny the validity of the evidence and argue for any scenario where the evidence may not be representative. Technically Bob could have been in the bathroom the whole time, or you didn't check the whole video. That is if you're lucky enough to have evidence at all. The more stupid the person you're arguing with is, the more evidence you need to support your claims.

Arguing with a stupid person can be very demanding. As you take great care of unreasonable demands just for the chance to make an impact, they take little care to help you understand their beliefs. A stupid person may contradict themselves on multiple occasions and even say things that they don't believe in. To remedy this, you have to make sure you understand them as they themselves intended, not as they said. And also help them in their journey to form their comprehensive arguments. You have to argue for them and against them at the same time. Once they have a comprehensive argument, they may not even stick to it. Keeping track of all the changes and developing arguments is hard work that should have been done by them, but to make an impact, someone has to do it.

This article is meant as a guide for anyone that wish to improve their skills in argumentation. If you have a hard time convincing your peers of your beliefs, yet think highly of them, you might be at either side of this coin. Hopefully, by understanding this dynamic better, you may employ some of the remedies I have outlined to have better arguments with a variety of people and work together to make each other smarter.