Annoying “Gotcha!” Conversation Stoppers

Things people say in arguments that annoy me:

"You can’t say that!" – Mr. Politically Correct. (A response: "I just fucking did. So respond.")

"Correlation does not equal causation!" – Mr. I Took Statistics 101. (A response: "True, but some correlation in the right way does show something.")

"In the end, you can’t judge someone else’s choices. You’re not in their shoes." – Mr. Relativist. (A response: "True you can’t judge 100% without 100% information, but don’t you think that some choices are better than other, some values better than others, some truths more sensible than others?")

"But here’s a counter-example!" – Mr. I-Think-One-Anecdote-to-the-Contrary-Disproves-a-General-Theory. (A response: "That’s the exception that proves the rule.")

13 Responses to Annoying “Gotcha!” Conversation Stoppers

  1. I love your response to Mr. Politically Correct. Political correctness really irks me.

    I also appreciate your response to Mr. Relativist. The two often go hand in hand, as if it isn’t politically correct to make a judgment call. Choices and decisions must be weighed and measured, which requires judgment.

  2. Chris Yeh says:

    Hate to break it to you, but if someone tells me “That’s the exception that proves the rule,” I tell them, “Show me some real data, not just anecdotal evidence.”

  3. I like these, and I would add:

    “Let’s agree to disagree.” This one annoys me to the extent that I myself have started to say it. Rational people given the same information should differ in their factual analysis very rarely. A response: “Let’s agree that you agree with me.”

    “We really can’t continue with this discussion until you’ve read x.” I would agree with this analysis in certain, highly technical situations, but most of the time it’s hogwash. If the argument in x is so convincing, then why can’t you reproduce it to me in a few sentences?

  4. Ryan S. says:

    I can’t really agree with your Mr. Relativist critique. If you remove the “In the end…” portion of the sentence than I would be more inclined to agree with you. The fact is, there are no universal values. Value is not intrinsic, it is not in things. It’s in our own individual perceptions, which is why we trade, ie. You prefer my paper $$$ and I prefer your product. If we didn’t value things differently than there would be no impetus for exchange. This is what is known in economics as the Subjective Theory of Value. It’s unfair to criticize others for their desired ends as we are all essentially different people with different personal preferences. The only reasonable place to levy critiques is upon the means employed to achieve a given end because it is possible for others to choose an inexpedient method to obtain what it is that they want. It’s a mistake to impute your personal preferences upon others as though that is what they “should” want.

  5. Tim Taylor says:

    This is a really funny post Ben. I particularly like the very first one!

    One add:

    “It is what it is” Mr. Spiritual (do you really have nothing more to say on the subject???)

  6. Sunita says:

    “Things always work out for the best.” -Mr. Destiny (Response: How could you possibly know that?)

  7. Mark says:

    I agree with Garrett, and I’d even say that response “That’s the exception that proves the rule” is itself one of the worst discussion stoppers. Especially since it’s illogical.

  8. Tina says:

    Great one from work today, as we were discussing foreign affairs:

    “Two against one isn’t fair!” Mr. Everybody-Else-Is-Ganging-Up-On-Me
    Response: It’s perfectly fair. If your ideas were valid you wouldn’t have to worry about how many people you’re arguing against.

  9. Tina says:

    Great one from work today, as we were discussing foreign affairs:

    “Two against one isn’t fair!” Mr. Everybody-Else-Is-Ganging-Up-On-Me

    Response: It’s perfectly fair. If your ideas were valid, you wouldn’t have to worry about the number of people you’re arguing against.

  10. khc says:

    I think I disagree with Ryan S. It may be that we can value something the same in the same situation, but that we are in different situations. If it is raining and I have two umbrellas and you have zero, you value my second umbrella higher…but I would value that second umbrella just as high were I in your position.

    That people do not agree that there are universal values does not mean there are not universal values.

    “Rational people given the same information should differ in their factual analysis very rarely.” This is a smart sentence. Good point, Andy.

  11. altadel says:

    link to straightdope.com

    read it all the way to the bottom for info on exceptions and rules.

  12. tim says:

    Another response to “Correllation does not equal causation” . . . “Yes, but all things that are causally related, are also correlated.”

    Another response to “In the end, you can’t judge somebody else’s choices, you are not in their shoes” . . . “Are you suggesting that I not use my judgment?”

  13. John says:

    Huh? There’s nothing wrong with informing people of counterexamples to what they’re saying. If you do it right they’ll appreciate it. And your recommended response to counterexamples doesn’t make very much sense to me.

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