Winning the argument

This is the second of Professor Angell’s presentations on rhetoric … the art of winning a public debate. The ideas are principally those of Schopenhauer and Aristotle, flavoured with what Angell has gleaned from his experience of debates and question and answer (Q&A) sessions that are a regular part of the international lecture circuit. He will discuss the various universals and tricks of the trade that he has found personally useful.

When he set out on his lecturing career Angell thought that he didn’t need to know about the tricks of rhetoric, and that superior rational argument alone would prevail. It didn’t. He soon found opponents using these tricks against him. So he set about recognizing the tricks … so he was prepared. And he started using them himself.

The first lesson he learned was that his goal was not to persuade his opponent of the validity of his arguments, but the audience. He soon realized that it was totally irrelevant whether or not his opponent came to agree with him – his sole purpose was to destroy opposing arguments in the eyes of the majority of the uncommitted in his audience, by fair means or foul.

With examples taken from his numerous lecture presentations to business conferences all around the world, Angell shows what devastating affect of humour, anger, and techniques like extension, homonymy, generalization, concealment, false propositions, metaphors etc. can have on the outcome of a debate.