never try to argue with an idiot or teach a pig to sing

MY DAUGHTER ANANDA called me the other day and asked, “Dad, how do you argue with someone who doesn’t care about the facts? Who even when you prove them wrong, keep arguing their point and act like you’re wrong?” 1

Having spent countless hours over the past fifty years experiencing this phenomenon myself, I had a pat answer all ready. In a manner that recalled the pacifying panache of Ward Cleaver,2 I offered this advice:

Politely excuse yourself, then walk away and count to a thousand. Then come back and say, “Howzabout them Cubbies!” 3


FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was found with an article titled “Stop Fighting, Kids! Everyday Activities That Help Siblings Get Along” by Dr. Laura Markham.

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1   Actually, her question was pointed at people of a a particular political persuasion and as I didn’t want politics to be a part of this piece, I altered the question a wee bit—with her permission, of course.

2   Ward Cleaver is a character in the television series Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963). Ward and his wife June are the parents of 13-year-old Wally and 7-year-old Theodore, nicknamed “The Beaver.” Throughout the series, Ward was set a standard for parenting that no real father could hope to match—he was smart, wise, confident, patient, insightful, accepting, and always always calm under fire.

3   More famous and perhaps more apt answers abound. Faves of mine include:

Never try to argue with an idiot because he will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience. (Mark Twain) 4
Never try to teach a pig to sing—it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. (Robert Heinlein)

4   Just about every clever saying known to man has been attributed to Mark Twain by some reliable source or another. Most of them may be correct . . .

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