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Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you have advanced a paradoxical proposition and find a difficulty in proving it, you may submit for your opponent's acceptance or rejection some true proposition, the truth of which, however, is not quite palpable, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should he reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd he is; should he accept it, you have got reason on your side for the moment, and must now look about you; or else you can employ the previous trick as well, and maintain that your paradox is proved by the proposition which he has accepted. For this an extreme degree of impudence is required; but experience shows cases of it, and there are people who practise it by instinct.

Example

 If we spend more on the house we will save money in the end...Now think: borrowing money incurs interest, but do we have enough interest to do it, do you think?...But it's nonsense to argue against nonsense, so let's not do that and do up the house as we should!

Discussion

Sometimes our arguments are so complex and confusing, the other person may find it easier to agree than to try and argue against something that seems to make a kind of sense, although they might not be able to put their finger exactly on what is wrong with what is being proposed, rather absurdly, perhaps, to them.

'Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions' is the fifteenth of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Fallacies, Confusion principle

 

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