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

Es­ti­mated reading time is 1 minute.

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.



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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