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Assumptions; the art of disarming an opposing view

Updated on May 26, 2011

Attempts to discredit opposing viewpoints

We’ve all heard the little quip about making assumptions. “To assume makes an ass of you and me.”

I have always had a problem with making assumptions. I also dislike the idea that, if one disagrees with another’s point of view, one party resorts to name calling, labeling and “accusing,“ claiming that holding certain opinions are (assumed) negative, derogatory, unpopular and not politically correct. Immediately, one is expected to defend oneself thus altering the course of the conversation from an objective one to a personal one. The idea is to disarm the differing opinion by using ridicule designed to cause the ridiculed to argue back;  "I’m not _______.” (fill in the space). This tactic is based on the assumption that certain “labels” or identities are, obviously, unacceptable and should be (it's assumed) denied; that the speaker will quickly jump to a defensive mode, claiming "not" to be what the accuser alleges.

This attempt to discredit is a popular one among those who do not wish to entertain viewpoints which oppose their own. It is also used as a tool to embarrass or reduce the validity of the speaker and place the opponent in the position of defending themselves rather than their point of view.

The quickest way to disarm this is to avoid the expected response. If you are “accused” of being conservative, liberal, nativist, “bleeding heart,” xenophobic or idealistic, simply ignore the jab and continue on with the discussion.

Nothing annoys the accuser more than a lack of reaction to their attempts at destroying the legitimacy of their (apparent) antagonist.

Many insightful, creative and stimulating ideas have been cast to the wayside because of the assumption that the holder of these ideas is, somehow, intrinsically errant in their position. The argument turns to an offensive/defensive sparring and the original content is lost. One is supposed to, forced to (if they allow it) abandon his belief and, instead, defend himself.

Those who participate in this type of censoring are seriously lacking in the art of give and take. Instead, they hide behind a series of labels which they thrust upon anyone who holds a standard which questions their own.

Beware of those who cast aspersions rather than openly explore new and, sometimes, “upsetting” concepts. Keep your wits about you and carry on.


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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Augustine! I wrote this one well over a year ago but, in conversations w/another writer, it seemed appropriate to reintroduce it; particularly in these politically charged times. You find that our viewpoints are at 180 to one another? Hmm...well, probably so..but I, like you, am an Independent thinker. I have never adhered to "party lines." My beliefs and values span the spectrum and would never fully be accepted in either of the major parties. I am a social liberal, fiscal conservative; and, honestly; a Libertarian....Oh, I could "wax prolific," but, I'll save it for another time. I always appreciate your comments; Augustine, as I know you are profoundly intelligent, somewhat of a perfectionist and honest...brutally so, I imagine ... though, w/this caveat..I've never encountered it personally. LOLO...Said with the utmost respect. Thank you, Augustine. Kathy

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

      Outstanding hub. My political views are close to 180 degrees from yours. I'm not a liberal, democrat, or crack pot. I'm a independent who can appreciate good ideas, no matter where they came from. I also respect your views, even though they may be different from mine. How could I argue with you?

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Interesting; particularly in today's politically heated times....

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hello tirelesstraveler. WOW! What a GREAT moniker...we do travel in many ways, don't we? In thought, imagination, in tangible ways and in dreams...

      Thank you for the great comment...and the very astute suggestion: "Breathing in and out before entering the fray is usually prudent." Yes! Excellent advice. Thank youl

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Splendid ideas. An exchange of ideas is indeed difficult when someone is attacking you.

      Breathing in and out before entering the fray is usually prudent.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Steve of Ian fame. yes, well, I believe you know exactly what I meant when writing this piece...yes, insults always come in handy when the 'other' has no real argument. Specially, if one and the other are imbibing at the Pub and all reason flies out the door!!! LO!! thank you for visiting and commenting. Very appreciated.

    • steve of ian fame profile image

      steve of ian fame 6 years ago from Essex

      Pretty much the tactics used in Pubs when someone thinks they are top dog. If the best arguement they have is insults...?

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Liz, thank you for quoting Pat Buchanan who is a man I highly respect. I believe he is right. I appreciate your visit and comment. Kathy

    • Liz Goltra profile image

      Liz Goltra 6 years ago

      I heard Pat Buchanan once say "a personal insult is the last recourse of an exhausted mind." So true. Thanks for posting this article.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Insightful hub and advice some could well to read in the Hub Forums!

      Thankyou for sharing.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      No wonder I always lose the argument! :-)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Great write on a subject that I continually fail to keep in mind. Actually, I wasn't aware that it is a deceptive, sneak attack "tactic" commonly used to disarm and discredit. In the heat of passion, I never stop to analyze that the opposition has an agenda other than the debate. Now, that you have given this subject a name, I look back and see many instances on televised debates and in my own life where I spent more time in defensive mode than staying on track and ultimately losing momentum and being run over...dismissed. Thank you for this insightful, useful and well written read. Appreciate it, Lucky Cats. I will remember this and always keep it in mind. Awareness is key.

    • munirahmadmughal profile image

      munirahmadmughal 7 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      "Assumptions: The Art of Disarming An Opposing View".

      The hub is informative. The author has dealt with the subject in a sobre manner.

      On any matter more than one view can be offered. The viewer has has own limitations but he ignores them and considers that he alone is the all-knowing. This is not proper.Propriety in discussion demands to hear wht other side says and then answer it properly.

      The target must be the truth.

      The truth must ultimately prevail and neither side should ignore it.

      God is with those who are truthful.

      May God bless all..

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 7 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Voted up and useful. Many years ago I took courses (for workplace) on the 10 or 12 different methods of negotiations. This sort of dovetails into some of that. It is difficult to remember not to get sidetracked when in the limelight and being labeled with venom. Excellent information to remember.