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The Sarcasm Tell (With an Absurd Absolute) - Scott Adams' Blog

The Sarcasm Tell (With an Absurd Absolute)

This post won’t mean much to you unless you have been following my Master Persuader series. Today I will teach you to spot The Sarcasm Tell. When you see the tell it means you won the argument. But it won’t feel that way to you because cognitive dissonance will cause your opponent to reinterpret the world in some bizarre new way in order to avoid the appearance of being dumb. The form of the tell is this:

1. You make a reasonable argument.

2. The other person runs out of reasonable objections (and has thus been persuaded).

3. Other person is “struck dumb” for a second. Eyes stay open. Mouth stays shut. Cognitive dissonance is setting in.

4. Other person restates your opinion as an absurd absolute and adds sarcasm.

The absurd absolute by itself is a tell, but you usually see it paired with sarcasm to hide the trick. 

Here’s an example.

You: People aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Other: Yes they are.

You: Here’s a link to 25 prestigious publications that have independently reached the same conclusion. They cite their sources.

Other: Ohhhh, because those publications have never been wrong. I get it. Ha ha! You just lost all credibility.

The “never” part is the absurd absolute.

If you want to see the effect in person, study my blog post from yesterday and try out some of those points on a Trump hater. Then report back to me. It will freak you out when you see it.