What do you do when a friend wants to engage you in a debate on politics? Ask yourself these questions:
- do you have time for this?
- is s/he in good faith?
- are they responsive to logic?
- are they arguing for arguments sake?
- what is there to win?
- are they capable of free thinking?
- if you convince them, so what?
The cost of starting a debate is the cost of sending an email, an IM, or a obnoxious comment. Zero. The cost to you to respond is your time. The tar baby’s time value is zero. Yours is not.
If you answer, you have just punched your fist into a tar baby. Like Br’er Rabbit. The more you fight it, the more entangled you become.
Once you respond to the challenge, you must refute him. To what standard? To his standard. And what is the payoff for convincing him, if you succeed at this task? How long will it take?
As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Human Action, “Man is subject to the passing of time. He comes into existence, grows, becomes old, and passes away. His time is scarce. He must economize it as he economizes other scarce factors.”
When you encounter a tar baby, just walk away.
If anybody ever sees me arguing with someone, please do this to me: