How to Argue Like a Child

The following is the formula of discourse on the part of an arguing child. Their case is never about mere disagreement, dissent nor the material at hand. Their ‘disagreement’ is that you should not even be allowed a voice in the first place.

Those who are perpetually captive inside a child’s mind engage in debate by means of the following method; the method of the faking skeptic or immature arguer. The agency who patrols social discourse and seeks to derail any stakeholder discussion which might serve steer science or its social discourse into a direction they disfavor. This style of arguer does not discuss the material at hand; their concealed goal is habitually instead, to discuss you. Their goal is to shut you down, if you dare disagree or even ponder a different conclusion.

The following is the step by step method of an arguing child. Their case is never about mere disagreement or the material at hand. Their ‘disagreement’ is that you should not even be allowed a voice in the first place. When such is the case, their form of argument most often contains the following elements:​

      The Ten Characteristics of Arguing Like a Child

1.  nulla infantis – ‘nuh uhhh’ or ‘nuh uhhh, shut up.’ Fancy ways of simply issuing a baby’s ‘no’. A disputation or pleonasm which provides no actual counter-argument. Usually accompanied by a code-phrased demand that their opponent be silent.​

2.  Sea Lioning/Herculean Burden of Proof – exclaiming ‘prove it! prove it! Unsubstantiated claim!’ to all manner of philosophy, personal experience and things which are metaphysical in nature, impossible or would take a 1700 page treatise to prove.​

3.  Focused on Irrelevance – fails to grasp the difference between a point which is relevant, salient or critical path, from one which is not. Doesn’t care, just needed to feign subject competence.

4.  Fail to Recognize Their Own Argument – when their argument is given back to them verbatim and by quote (without straw man), they do not recognize it, or accuse you of crafting a straw man.

5.  Canned Apothegm/Simpleton Theory – lead in is often first accompanied by an authoritative claim to simplicity or other canned catch-phrase they were taught by a club inside which they are attempting to increase their rank. Fail to recognize that what is expressed simply, often only fascinates simpletons.

6.  Lazy/Silver Platter – typically know very little about the topic and then want you to do their research for them; like a bad lab partner or project worker.​

7.  Threatened by Competence – they grow angry if their opponent incidentally cites personal professional or life experience in the subject – the inappropriate response often revealing an inner wound for which they are covering.​

8.  Insulting & Demeaning (The Actual Goal) – their cleverness is invested into a campaign of insulting or demeaning you, woven into the fabric of put-down humor or their informal argument. They will usually begin the insults on the third exchange. They will float their ‘PhD’ or other comparative appeal to authority in some manner. They think they are too smart for you to detect this.​ As they age in cynical behavior, the insults will come earlier and earlier in the discussion process.

9.  non tu es – ‘no, you are…’. Whatever you offer them in terms of critique they throw back in your face with a childish ‘No, you are…’; however often wrapped up in a pretentious pleonasm in actual personal attack form, usually non-sequitur or straw man – and not an informal critique of method.

10.  Slam Condemnation – they want to end the conversation with a coup de grâce not related to the critical path argument at hand – something to show how superior they are to you and how unacceptable you are, with your ‘opinions’.

One may notice that this process is devoid of anything which pertains to the critical path of argument at all – save for possibly step 5. However, I have found that arguers who conduct their discourse in this manner, do not grasp the critical path well enough to know whether or not their canned apothegm actually is salient in the first place. So most often not even step 5 in this arguing method applies to the subject at hand.

As an ethical skeptic, when you point out this set of methodological errors on their part, you are not committing an ad hominem informal fallacy. You are simply citing that their method of arguing has weakened the ability for anyone to conduct sufficient or scientific discourse. You are asking them to stop, and reengage under protocols of normal human respect. This is a valid topic of meta-discussion and is in no way tantamount to a critique of them personally (even though they may perceive it as such).

The Ethical Skeptic, “How to Argue Like a Child”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 10 Nov 2019; Web,