How To Win An Argument

Featuring….the One Exception.

homer simpson

We hear generalizations everyday…generalizations about the news, politics, industry practices, etc…

The problem with generalizations is they don’t offer the meat and potatoes we crave. If you’re getting tired of reading general statements, this article will provide a fun and detailed method to challenge any sweeping statement and win an argument.

I’m going to explain how a simple ideological twist can debase the entire foundation of grounded opponents. In free forums, the limitations of acceptable responses are elastic. We must take full advantage of this elasticity without breaking the boundary – which would render us dismissible.

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Step 1. Detach yourself from seeing it “their” way.  We have a natural tendency to accept positions that offer value and insight. Statements with that sense of security are easily digestible. But to be an effective debater, we must remove our concern for the “all-encompassing validity” of our opponent’s position.

Our new mentality: “There’s always another way of looking at things”


Step 2. Practice the One Exception. Our primary goal is to rebuke with the best possible exception or outlier. We have to quickly create scenarios others will think are valid. The difficulty arises when creating these scenarios and determining whether they are an “allowable exception” or dismissible.


  • Think about universals such as, “It’s against the law and absolutely evil to break into a bank.”

   Counter: “It’s morally right to break into a bank if children are locked in the basement”


We can’t dismiss this counter because in this rare scenario we’d all agree rescuing the children is the right thing to do, unveiling holes in this general “truth”.


  • Another example via Wikipedia. “Cutting people with knives is a crime.”

   Counter: “Surgeons cut people with knives, surgeons aren’t criminals.”


   Counter: “Penguins are birds, penguins can’t fly.”


You get the idea.


Step 3. Understand motives for universals. To be really effective with the one exception, we should understand why people create universals. Think of them like this:

  • Universals are attempts to establish rules, meanings, or movements that should be simply “accepted” by everyone.
  • Many people accept universals because of reassurance, hope, basic insight, and the simplicity of making sense of the world.
  • Universals are lack the fortification needed to repel exceptions.


Irony: We know the universe is infinitely complex. But some of us prefer to make sense of it all in as few words as possible.


Final Thoughts. The one exception surely upsets the declarer of said generalizations; however, it can be refreshing and entertaining if utilized appropriately. This method is a nice alternative to our natural instinct, which is usually in the realm of ad hominem or dismissal. The one exception forces us to learn more about universals and think creatively about why truths cannot be so broad. By practicing the one exception, we’ll be able to win an argument with ease.


Thanks for reading!


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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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