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Arguments that seal themselves and learn to fight fairly

A particularly powerful fallacy of reasoning in arguments of

personal beliefs, ideologies or world views is the

self-sealing argument.
Self-sealing arguments take

positions that no evidence can refute. While this

it can look attractive and a good way to win any argument,

Self-sealing arguments are useless and potentially

harmful to relationships.

One of the most common forms of self-sealing.

arguments is to claim that the other person is not sophisticated

learned enough or enough to understand the concept being

argument.
It is evident in the following conversation:

John: All families are dysfunctional.

Mike: My family was not dysfunctional. I had a good

childhood.

John: That shows how dysfunctional it was. You are in

denial.

Mike: I’m not denying it. It was good.

John: You are also in denial. You are too dysfunctional to

see how dysfunctional his family was.

Regardless of the argument Mike makes, John will use it as

“proof” your point. Self-sealing arguments often focus on

beliefs, attributes or personal attitudes. The Arguer – John,

in this example, for some personal reason it is set

as the expert, the one who knows, and Mike is relegated to

the subordinate position. Nothing Mike can say will

refute John’s position. Just try it. John will tell you who you are

wrong!

Carolyn, her mother, and two sisters appeared at a

TV talk show as an example of a separated family.

All four agreed that they were upset and angry with

each other for many years.

Carolyn recounted many cases in which her sisters did not try

her with love or justice. She was mad at her mother for

siding with her sisters in disputes and not supporting her.

Meanwhile, Carolyn’s mother and sisters agreed on things

Carolyn hadn’t always done well. She was hard to be

around, and they hadn’t spent much time with her. His

mother kept trying to say that she loved Carolyn, wanted a

relationship with her, but Carolyn rejected his advances.

Then the host of the show suggested that Carolyn sit closer.

to his mother, rather than on the edge of the set. Carolina

jumped up and yelled, “They only do this because

we are on TV. They don’t really love me. She says she does

but she doesn’t. “

Seeing Carolyn was very painful. She didn’t just say no

you loved her, but it seemed you didn’t feel loved. She does not

I want to stop being angry. She wanted revenge on her

family for what they had done, not to overcome the wounds of the past

all had experimented.

Carolyn’s self-sealing logic kept her stagnant. It does not matter that

her relatives said, or anyone else said, she

interpreted it as: “They don’t love me. They don’t care

me. Nothing they did or said could change his mind.

Whatever they said wasn’t the right thing to say, they didn’t

seriously, or more repeatedly, things should have been

different or better many years ago, so nothing can be done

today to do better.

Carolyn was caught up in getting revenge instead of putting

the problems behind them.
She wanted her family

limbs to hurt as much as her. She used

your interpretations of your behavior to support your pain.

Logicians call the personalization of an argument an ad hominem

fallacy, or attacking the person, not the argument.

As a child psychologist, Leon often testifies as an expert

witness in child custody cases. He’s used to last

examinations of lawyers who fight for the rights of their clients

and objectives. Sometimes those lawyers seem to attack

him personally, his credentials, or his goals for the

case. After a particularly grueling court appearance,

Leon’s young associate asked him why he smiled when

He was being so brutally attacked by one of the lawyers.

“Simple,” Leon replied. “When they start attacking me, I

I know that I have won. There’s nothing I’ve said that you can disagree with

with. “

Leon had learned that when the attacks turned

staff, there was nothing else that could be attacked.

His work was unassailable. So they had to go after

him personally. Attacking the person is the reserve position

of a fighter who has to win at any cost and knows that it is

losing.

Facing these kinds of arguments is really frustrating.

Nothing you can say will be accepted as proof that

they are right.
Everything you say can and will be twisted

provide further proof that your opponent is correct. Even carrying

in a conversation with someone who closes himself is a

real test. No matter what you say, your words prove that they are

right.

One of your best responses might be to say, “If your

sustains the argument, you should be able to predict what

it will not happen. If it can’t be used for predictions, then really

it says nothing. Think of a specific example so that we can

talk about it. “Usually they will walk away or claim you

they are not smart enough to see it. Just smile at this point. Your

I got them.

Or if you want to exit argument mode, just say “I

I did not buy it. I don’t think all families are dysfunctional. U.S

I do not agree on this “.

Self-sealing arguments sometimes occur when one

The person takes an idiosyncratic view of a problem and then

arbitrarily rejects or avoids someone else’s position because

is different. Again, no matter what you say, they won’t

Agree and you will say that you are wrong.

What passes for conventional wisdom, or worst of

stereotyped thinking, can be self-sealing arguments.


“Everybody knows that Latinos are great lovers” or “Women can’t

be counted as leaders because they are not trustworthy

several days a month “or” All men are only interested in one

“When people really believe that these statements are

“truth and reality, the way the world really is”, there is no

amount of evidence that will change your mind.

Howard missed an important meeting and lost face with

Your boss. I was furious with Elaine, her administrative support

person. He said that she hadn’t given him the message. Her

said he had. Said she was a liar. Howard did not have

the message and Elaine was unable to produce the piece of

paper with the message. Therefore, Elaine was lying.

When Elaine tried to explain, she had emailed her.

message with the information, Howard replied that the email

did not count. Everyone knew the email wasn’t real

communication.

Howard and Elaine were part of a working group that was

scattered in various buildings over eighteen acres. Tea

the group had agreed to use email for important scheduling

messages instead of physically tracking each other

under. Howard wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the

change, but he was the only one who wouldn’t use the new

system. I would only use “real communication”, written in

on paper or spoken in person.

No matter what Elaine said, Howard claimed he was

right and it was her fault that he missed the

appointment. Its definition of notification did not include

what he had done to notify her.
Discarding email

like not a real communication i could tell she was wrong

using it, and not having to admit that he was wrong for not using it.

With self-sealing arguments, whatever happens will be

prove a point, so the position loses its ability to predict what

it can and / or will happen. Logicians call this kind of

empty or empty arguments. They are a form of logic

fallacy or logical error.

Self-sealing positions are difficult to refute and argue

around. They often acquire the fervor of a religious or

political argument and serve as sounding boards for a point

of view, rather than representing any attempt to participate in

discussion or dialogue. It is often more effective to declare

what is happening, to face the interaction process,

instead of trying to change someone’s position or

influence your thinking.

This becomes an example of knowing when to count.

your losses and stop playing the game.
The only way

to “win” is to stop playing.

Conflict is inevitable. We will always have differences with

our loved ones, friends and colleagues. Is not having

arguments that is the problem, but how do we argue that it is

hard.
Arguing can bring people closer together and increase their respect for each other and for themselves. Or you can put a gap between people

pushing them further and even destroying their

relations.

When we focus on winning at any cost, overwhelm

someone else, it is easy to fall into logical errors, problems

with clearly defining our positions, or even without using

accurate data to support our positions.

By understanding the types of logical errors we can

to do in the heat of an argument, we can refocus on the

problems, clarify our positions and reach a better resolution

of the problems that divide us.

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