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Garth SundemRSS Feed of this column.

Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »

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How To Win Any Argument (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Here's how I roll: my wife loves three-dollar bagels from
Go here for Part 1

Here's how I roll: my wife loves three-dollar bagels from the Sunday farmers' market. And so she says, "let's get a loaf of bread, some flowers, and a flat of strawberries!"

When we roll home with only bagels, I feel I've won. No more. I've armed myself with the tools of illogic, thus guaranteeing I win every marital argument from this point forward.

You can too.

Use the following brain-deflating fallacies to ensure dominance in debate club and/or with unsuspecting significant other.
Here's how I roll: my wife loves three-dollar bagels from the Sunday farmers' market. And so she says, "let's get a loaf of bread, some flowers, and a flat of strawberries!"

When we roll home with only bagels, I feel I've won. No more. I've armed myself with the tools of illogic, thus guaranteeing I win every marital argument from this point forward. You can too.

Use the following brain-deflating fallacies to ensure dominance in debate club and/or with unsuspecting significant other.

• Appeal to Ignorance: if it isn't proven, it's false—"Did you SEE me bogart the last of the jamocha almond fudge? No? Well, there you go."
Humans are very, very bad at being random. In roshambo, aka rock, paper, scissors, this leads to probabilities and patterns which you can exploit to give your RPS opponent(s) severe and repeated thumpings. There are two ways to go about this: knowing the psychology and creating new psychology.
Your brain is used to trying to win rock, paper, scissors. And so if you happen to see rock coming down, it's much easier to adjust your throw mid-flight to shoot paper than it is to adjust your throw to scissors (both, by the way, are cheating).
Think you're rational? Think again. Here's but one example, gentle reader, of your brain unbound by reason.

Blue Devil basketball tickets are a hot commodity: there are far more fans than seats. And so some students enter a ticket lottery.

After one of these lotteries, Duke researchers posing as ticket scalpers found that students who lost the raffle were willing to pay $170 for a seat, while students who won tickets would only sell their seats for an average of $2,400.