Section F: Technique of Maneuver (How to win an argument that you're losing)
0. No Technique
1. Diversion: Changing the subject of a conversation successfullyExample: Reporter: “Mr. President, did you make a mistake in authorizing arms to be sent secretly to Iran?”
President: “Mr. Jones, congratulations on your award as Journalist of the Year. Also I liked your recent article on
2. Disproving a Minor Point: Considering several arguments, but attacking only the weakest oneExample: You said that Lykeisha had limited experience as a cheerleader, very poor jumping ability, and did not
smile a lot during her routines. So you don’t want her on the cheer squad. But Lykeisha was a member of her
cheer squad in both 7th and 8th grades. She belongs on the squad here at Bonaparte High.
3. Ad Hominem: Making a personal attack on the person but not addressing the argumentExample: Judge Ginsbork says he will represent us well as a conservative Supreme Court Judge. This comes from
the same man who smoked pot during his years at Harvard.
4. Appeal to Ignorance: "You can't prove you are right or I am wrong"- The speaker claims they are right because you can't prove they are wrong - usually ending with a questionExample: Sure there’s life on other planets. You can’t prove there isn’t.
5. Leading Question: Asking a question to sway the listener toward a desired response or make him/her uncomfortable. There is no right answer to a leading question, any answer will incriminate.Example: Talk show host to accused child abuser: “Which of your children did you abuse first – your son or your
6. Complex Question: A series of Leading Questions when only one answer is expectedExample: Didn’t you run across campus yesterday? Haven’t you been on campus many nights before? Didn’t you
paint the flagpole lavender? Answer me, “yes” or “no.”
7. Inconsequent Argument: Offering evidence or statistics not related to original argumentExample: Ad: “University proves Grandmother’s Oats the best of all 14 leading cereals! Yes, we have the
evidence. In a study of 14 nationally-known breakfast cereals, Grandmother’s Oats was first in protein. (See page
163 of the March-April issue of Food Research, an official publication of the Institute of Food Technologists.)”
8. Attacking a Straw Man: Interpreting someone's response to be something different; putting words in someone's mouth, arguing against a position that their opponent has not taken,Example: Joshua, you can’t be serious about allowing those kids to use our back lot to play ball. Next thing you
know, they will be messing around in our back yard and pestering us about drinks and bathroom privileges. How
can you allow such intrusions?
9. Victory by Definition: The speaker can't be proven wrong because the counterexamples don't fit the "real" definition of what is being argued. Original speaker is winning by redefining his original terms.Example: Teel: “These students seem to have some school spirit.”
Beel: “Ah, yes, but when I said that students today don’t have any school spirit I was talking about genuine
students, not these rah-rah boys.”
10. Begging the Question: Arguing in circles or restating the original argument itselfExample: The proposed law will certainly reduce juvenile delinquency, because it provides steps which will
prevent crimes on the part of teenagers.