7 Mind-F*cking Arguments

Because I Said So

So my daughter took a training class in critical thinking at work. 


And she brought home an excellent handout from the instructor, Haywood Spangler, about how people try to get you to their point of view, but without any real solid reasoning behind it.


My mother-in-law calls this concept in blunt terms, mind-f*cking!


Here are some examples:


1) Genetic Fallacy – Rejecting an idea based on where or who it comes from, rather than the merits of the idea itself.  I call this one, you’re an idiot, so your ideas are idiotic. 


2) Circular Reasoning – Restating the conclusion, rather than proving it. I call this hammering or going no where fast. 


3) Red Herring – Diverting from the real issue as a distraction. I call this the shell game. 


4) Ad Hoc Reasoning – Coming up with a reason to simply reject your every objection. I call this just say it isn’t so. 


5) False Dichotomy – Oversimplifying a complex situation and making it into only black and white. I call this my way or the highway.


6) Slippery Slope – Supposing that if one thing happens then something else terrible must necessarily follow. I call this following the false causality. 


7) Band Wagon – Everyone is doing it, so you need to also.  I call this classic groupthink or be careful not to stand in front of a moving train. 


Basically, when someone is not taking with you, but at you and trying to make you just do what they want, period, then watch out, you are probably being gloriously mind-f*cked. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To War, In The Office

Indian
So occasionally in the office, people perhaps forget where they are…



And instead of working together to solve problems, they go to war with each other and make more problems. 



Yes, there are power politics and plenty of my slice of the pie versus your slice of the pie–whose slice is bigger, whose got more cheese and toppings, and whose slice is pipping hot. 



Most often these office controversies happen behind the scenes or closed doors.



Behind the scenes, you can’t see the knives violently slashing and behind paper-thin closed doors you (usually) can’t hear the screaming!



But every once in a while the “passion” of the work spills over into the public domain–sometimes in a meeting, hallway, cafeteria, or the even the company picnic. 



In all these cases, the professionalism goes out the window way too fast and out comes the drawing of lines in sand, the I’m right and you’re wrong (including wagers for a good lunch or even maybe a nice crisp $100 bill), and threats to escalate (as if this wasn’t ugly enough already).



What comes over people in the moment–perhaps they simply feel like they are in the right or that they are simply defending themselves, or maybe there is spillover from problems at home, ego at play, socialization issues, or even personality disorders.



Whatever the reason, as one of my best friend’s fathers used to say, “When 2 people fight, they are both wrong!”



Or some people say that “they both end up with black eyes”–even if one comes away worse than the other…



And I think if you’ve ever had a car accident with another driver, you would know that the insurance companies agree with this principle, and attribute some portion of blame to each driver–whether 50/50 or 99/1–everybody plays a part whether in an accident, dispute, or an all out brawl.



What’s interesting watching these unfold is how the participants are almost in their own world with everyone else as bystanders, sort of just fading into the distance–so they do everything wrong:



They speak emphatically in absolutes (and maybe even yell a little), cite chapter and verse (but from different books), name drop (ever bigger executives in the organization whether they really know them or their positions on the issues or not), name call and make personal digs, and perhaps–although it should absolutely never come to this–get physical (like slamming their portfolios, coffee mugs, and doors, or I heard one person who even threw something at their colleague).



Aside from these folks typically losing the argument and whatever they were after, what’s worse is they lose everyone’s respect, and maybe even their jobs. 



The arrow of the workplace fight shoots way up, and comes down hard and fast right in their behinds…it’s a stupid, but endlessly painful and deserved ouch.  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)