Thanks for the Arguments – This Is a Master Class on Contemporary Rhetoric

Information does not allow you to win disputes; they are resolved by rhetoric , the art of persuasion. In Thanks for the Argument, author Jay Heinrichs reveals the secrets of mastering rhetoric, identifying logical fallacies, getting what you want through persuasion, and preventing arguments from turning into nasty fights.

Jay Heinrichs was a journalist and head of publishing for 25 years before becoming a lecturer, consultant and tenured professor of rhetoric and linguistics at Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League universities, NASA and the Pentagon. Thanks for the argument: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion was originally published in 2007 and has since been published in six different languages ​​and has also been used in college rhetoric courses. This overview will focus on the 2013 revised edition .

Who is this book for?

In the first chapter of this book, entitled “Open Your Eyes,” Heinrichs takes you through a day of his life in which he experiments, avoiding all forms of rhetoric, argument and belief. It doesn’t last long because, as you’ll learn, these things pervade almost every aspect of everyday life. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you are trying to justify what you need and what you need. As Heinrichs explains throughout Thanks for the Argument , the world is ruled by persuasion and is a skill that can be learned.

If you want to be a more persuasive person in all walks of life, this book is a great place to start. It will teach you to reason constructively, help you become a better speaker and presenter, and even help you become a better leader. Whether you want to learn how to defend your position at work, or you are a parent looking to turn off your smart child, you will find something useful here.

What do you get

Thanks for the Arguments has five main sections: Offense, Defense, Advanced Offense, Extended Agreement, and an appendix with examples of arguments, a glossary, and a summary of all the rhetorical tools covered in the book. The first section, Offense, provides 12 chapters of advice on how to succeed in an argument and what it means to “win” in an argument. You will learn to set goals for your arguments, use the right timing for different types of arguments, make yourself seem nicer and more likable, and succeed in debates. Here are some examples of chapters in this section:

  • In Stress Management, you will learn that all persuasion issues boil down to three main questions: blame, values, and choice. It is important to determine which category an argument falls into because you cannot achieve your goals if you argue over the wrong underlying issue. If you argue about who did what (to blame), you should use the past tense. If you are arguing about whether something is right or wrong (values), you should use the present tense. But if you are arguing about a decision (choice), using the future tense is most beneficial. He skips who, what, what is right and what is wrong, and focuses on how to reach agreement. If you want to keep the argument from escalating into a fight, use the future tense. This promises reckoning.
  • In Make Them Listen To, you’ll learn how to make an audience of one or ten thousand people more receptive, attentive, and more trusting by adapting your character. With the example of Abraham Lincoln, you will immerse yourself in the art of being heard, no matter who you argue with. You will learn how to have the right mindset, how to appeal to the values ​​of others, and how to be disinterested in your own arguments in order to appear impartial. For example, you could never influence someone with extreme beliefs if you didn’t show understanding of their position, show respect for their core values, and show them that your point of view is better for everyone , not just you. …

The second section, “Security,” explains how to catch major logic errors and when you should report them. It also explains how to protect yourself when you are caught in a logical error. It consists of four chapters in total, including some of these examples:

  • In Finding Misconceptions, you will learn how to do just that. This chapter examines the seven most common mistakes in argumentation, or “seven deadly sins,” which are made up of various logical fallacies : false comparison, bad example, ignorance as evidence, tautology, false choices, red herring. , and the wrong ending. Each “sin” is a mini-chapter filled with tips and examples so you always know what you’re dealing with.
  • In Calling a Foul, you learn the key to rhetorical defense: remember that the purpose of arguments is to be persuasive, not “correct.” You will also learn how to choose a battle when someone is called and never dispute the undisputed. Anything that prevents an argument from reaching a conclusion means that no one will succeed. This chapter explains that in order for things to move forward, you must remain mindful and rely on rhetoric to persuade, not attack.

The Advanced Attack section describes more subtle techniques that can be applied to the core skills you learned earlier in the book. These include using quick wits and wit to engage your audience, using specific language to reach different audiences, eliminating mistakes without excuses, and using the right means of reasoning. On the other hand, the Extended Agreement section uses real-life examples to show rhetorical best practices in action. For example, in the chapter “Capture the Audience,” Heinrichs plays Barack Obama’s keynote speech to demonstrate the keys to a compelling and compelling argument. Basically, you see what you’ve learned is being used in the real world.

One trick you won’t succeed

The tactical point assignment is the best trick you can use in any dispute. People who do not know how to argue will score points or try to be the most right in order to “win.” But, as Heinrichs explains, you can get whatever you want out of an argument and not win. By using Aristotle’s approach to concessions, you can nip an argument in the bud and save yourself a lot of grief with, say, another significant person:

When a spouse says, “We almost never go out again,” the wise spouse does not give examples of recent dates; he says, “It’s because I want you all to be alone.” That answer would at least buy him time to come up with a valid time change: “But I was actually going to ask if you would like to go to this new Korean restaurant.”

You agree with their point of view, offer an explanation, and translate the argument into the future , where Heinrichs offers the most productive arguments. You may not win the argument, but you can better manage your opponent’s emotions and focus on solving the problem so that a simple argument does not turn into failure.

Our opinion

This book is a mountain of information and you will definitely get a lot of value for your money. In fact, there is so much to learn, without careful study or repeated readings, you can never save it all. I’m already diving to go over some of the sections again. This is a book that you keep on your shelf and reread from time to time. And that’s a good thing, because the lessons are applicable to many stages of life, whether you are dealing with parents, friends, bosses, lovers, or children.

Some people might think that the rhetorical tactics in Thanks for the Argument border on manipulation, but they never overstep that line. Heinrichs has illustrative examples of everything from getting out of the penalty block to convincing the other half to make love, but he doesn’t take any of them too seriously. As he explains, the point of rhetoric is not to make you better or worse, but to make you argue more effectively. This is undoubtedly what this book does.

Heinrichs also finds a way to convince you while you read about persuasion, which makes the book extremely interesting to read. He even intervenes with “persuasion warnings” when he uses one of his many rhetorical tricks against you . This meta-approach provides great examples of what strong rhetoric looks like and how well it actually works (I’ve come across it a few times). When Heinrichs gives examples, the use of historical figures and pop culture references is also of great help. You will enjoy learning challenging rhetoric from Abe Lincoln and Homer Simpson in the same chapter.

You can buy Thanks for the Controversy, a revised and updated edition of What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion in paperback and on the Amazon Kindle for about $ 11.


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