punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,


My dad had an unusual gift of making people feel stupid. While discussing this with someone who had similar problems as a child, we tried to diagram how these conversations would go. What resulted was a string of IMs about techniques so evil and horrible, that I am scared to post them lest it give some evil person ideas. I think I may someday post a list of countermeasures, and maybe make an e-book out of it called, "How Others Manipulate You and Ways to See It" or something. Not that I have decent counter tactics, like f I wrote "How to Build a Pipe Bomb" it wouldn't necessarily prevent you from being hurt in an explosion.

One of the more common tactics that I will discuss is the way some people try and make you look like a liar. My dad and her dad had this down to a science. It's amazing how it works and I am not sure if our fathers did this because they really thought they were trying to stop our lying, or just wanted us to look stupid. In my case, I am pretty sure it was the latter. I am curious how this looks in professional debate techniques. My friends Neal and his brother Glen were debate team champions in their school days, and Neal used to fascinate me with terms like "petitio principii," "reductio ad absurdum," and other tales of tautology. I often wished I had similar training in the face of people trying to prove me wrong in something I am most assured is right, or at least exactly how I saw it.

The premise of a liar hunter starts with the assumption the other person is lying without thinking of alternatives. Thus anything and everything the victim says is interpreted, to its fullest extreme, as proof of the accuser's theory. For instance, the devilish phrase, "What the hell is wrong with you?" or its cousin, "Are you stupid or something?" Posed as a question, it's actually a statement that something is wrong with you. "When did you stop beating your wife?" Thus, you are put on the defensive if you're not aware of how to handle this tactic.

It reminds me of an old joke my friend Neal had with his dad which infuriated him. "Suppose a rooster lays an egg on top of a barn," his dad would say. "Will it roll on the east side or west side of the roof?" The answer is apparently, "Ha ha, roosters don't lay eggs; hens do!" This implies the person who tried to answer anything regarding the egg itself was an idiot. Neal immediately brought up the point that to answer such a question established a hypothesis independent of reality. Maybe roosters do not lay eggs in real life, but you said "suppose," which means you set up a premise and and answer demanded a postulation on the premise. "Suppose the murderer was someone the victim knew?" is a good example from a typical mystery novel. But in this case, it was the questioner trying to make you look stupid, and his dad merely repeated that someone raised in the suburbs was so disconnected from reality, they were blinded to the fact roosters are male. People who set up false premises in questions are not looking for an answer, they wanted to be be right and destabilize your argument until you doubt even your own reality and experience.

This is one of the core reasons that privacy is, or should be, an essential right to an adult. It disarms someone looking for postulated evidence that can be used against them. Does this related phrase sound familiar?

"If you did nothing wrong, what reason do you have to hide?"

A good answer is, "If I did nothing wrong, what reason do you have to look?" Sadly, that's a logical answer, and people out witch-hunting are not swayed by debate or reality in most cases. They want to look because they have no evidence. And when they violate your privacy, they will pick and choose among what they find and use the rest of the privacy obscurity to their advantage as they paint a different picture.

When I speak to a lot of people who said they lied a lot as a kid, they were similar to my stories: "my parents didn't believe the truth." My parents were not looking for truth, they were looking for justification of their own insecurities. If their daughter is out, she's a slut. Their son is out, he's taking drugs. And after random and inaccurate predictions followed by arbitrary punishments, parents are not looked to as towers of stability, but an obstacle that cannot be defined, reasoned with, or even figured out. Suddenly, ALL parental things come into question, and parental rules lose meaning. Looking for stability as children and teens are wont to do, and programmed to do, they look elsewhere. And that works out randomly. In my case it worked out, although I have never really figured out how. In my friend's case... she got an STD that still haunts her to this day. Because her boyfriend at the time, who assured her it was okay, and if she really loved him... you know the rest.

I am curious as to what you have to say about this.
Tags: childhood, debate, liar, logic, pathokinesis
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