The Dandelion Group
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Technique of the week

It's absurd

Min sijak? Are you serious? There are more eloquent ways to reply to cynical comments.

Q&As are unfair. While the questioner has time to prepare, the presenter has to be on quick on the comeback. A hasty response can moreover wreck your performance within seconds. The solution is to research for well-intended remarks and to use a specific method of deduction as a back-up.

Reductio ad absurdum proves with the help of contradiction. Instead of providing direct evidence, you defend (or attack) by showing how absurd the opposite scenario would be. Use this technique wisely. Such a rebuttal not solid enough to act as a smoking gun but it helps you in challenging situations because you disarm your opponent and buy time for a serious response. Mastering it will boost your confidence and deductive thinking.

How to react to absurdity

  1. Prick up your ears whenever you hear someone use the words “never”, “usually”, “always“ or similar. It is an opportunity.
    (e.g. When there is a terror attack, there is always an Arab involved.)

  2. You can also pull a reductio ad absurdum when someone claims “the people” or “nobody” is doing it.
    (e.g. The people want fewer refugees.)

  3. Reduce the argument to absurdity. Build on its assertions so that people see the link.
    (e.g. And if ‘the people’ wanted to kill immigrants or deport them back to a war-torn land, should a government do this?)

Exercise

The statements below derive from the questions of the latest Arab Barometer. Rebut them.

  • No women should travel independently.

  • Women should never inherit as much as men.

  • Husbands should always remain the final decision maker in the family.

Ben Wilhelm