A little healthy debate never hurt anyone. After all, it’s fun to engage with those who have different opinions, broadening our perspectives. But, there are some arguments you just can’t win. Some people dig their heels in on their hill so much that you’ll never be able to get them down.
#1 Every Other Bill
My co-worker had someone ask her for “the clean bills” when getting change back. Like lady, what? Do you think we print fresh, sanitized money every day? We’re handling the same stinking money you are, and I guarantee the bill you used had trace amounts of number two in it, just like every other bill in the world.
#2 Calculus Class
During my second-year calculus class, I got really lost on one topic and went to the professor for help. I explained my reasoning, and what I did, he took a look and started making notes. He was looking more and more concerned as he went. Eventually, he said "Ah-ha! You made two mistakes that coincidentally canceled out. Thank God, for a second there I thought I was going to have to co-author a paper with you."
I love the fact that he teaches math at the university level and for one second believed that some idiot undergrad had discovered something unknown to math. That is why he is a genius (and one of my favourite all-time professors). He does not believe he’s infallible, unlike idiots who can't believe they are wrong.
#3 There’s No Point
Once, I worked with a guy who, by his own admission, would only pick arguments to get his jollies. This dude once tried to pick a fight over the weather forecast. “Nice day, isn’t it?” “Yeah, well, my app says 60% chance of showers. What are you doing, saying it’s a nice day when it’s going to rain?” “Relax, dude, I was just making conversation.” “Oh, so now you’re trying to change the subject because I’ve confronted you with the truth!” I just stopped talking to him.
#4 Won’t Back Down
When I repeat things my aunt (and an ex) have said in the past, or believed in the past, she just says, "I never said/thought that.” But, what’s worse is that they won’t back down. "Winning" and feeling "right" is all that matters. It's the sign of insecurity and a fragile ego. Unfortunately, they’re convinced of the opposite.
#5 Beach Boys Banana
One of my friends was singing the minion song “Banana” and I told him that they ripped it off from the Beach Boys. He looked at me and said, “Um, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. It’s the movie that created the song.” I literally showed him the song “Barbara Ann” that was released in 1965 and he still wouldn’t believe me.
#6 Refunded Pizza
I manage a pizza restaurant. One day, this customer came in wanting to return a pizza, insisting he ate less than two slices. There are eight slices and he had three and a half slices left, so obviously he had way more than two. I also had a really strict manager and refund policy at the time, so there was absolutely nothing I could do for him.
He kept arguing with me, saying he only ate two slices when I had the pizza right in front of me. I kept telling him that there are eight slices to a pizza. We went back and forth for a while with him insisting that I didn't know how to count. I was there for three years, I knew how many slices we cut our pizzas into! But he wasn't having any of it. I never "won" the argument. Eventually, he just got so aggressive and violent that the police had to be called.
#7 The Same for All Stars
My fifth-grade teacher was convinced that the light emitted by stars us actually the sunlight being reflected off of them. He was not a flat earther and this was in 2010. Although this was in Africa, he still had access to the internet, encyclopedias, TV and other sources of information that would tell him how stupid he is. He actually tried to defend himself by saying that since Venus can look like a star in the night sky, therefore this should be the same for all stars. I asked him about the sun being a star but he just said he was correct.
#8 Misinformed People
I do a lot of writing on r/OutOfTheLoop. My whole schtick is long, very detailed, well-sourced comments that dive into the context behind the story rather than just giving a surface answer. These usually take me between one and five hours to write up fully, depending on just how in-depth I go. Every single time one of them takes off, my inbox becomes a veritable mess. You can't teach people who don't want to learn. Even if you could, if you've got four, six or eight threads where people are putting up misinformation that sounds plausible but is actually wrong, it's really difficult to answer it all in any sort of timely fashion.
#9 Very Loud Call
I was sitting at a train station after visiting my sister at her university. This woman came up to me and started telling me about how she hated cellphones. She said she could feel the cellphone signals going through her brain when people made a call and how it gave her headaches. She went on and on about how she didn't have this problem before cellphone and that there were more cellphones these days bothering her. She was adamant that cellphones be banned in public spaces.
I answered with something along the lines of, "Yep, there are more cellphones around now. It’s kind of annoying when people make loud phone calls in public spaces." She stood there, kind of waiting for me to say something else, but the train came and we both got on it. On the train, there was some guy taking a very loud call. The woman walked up to him and told him that the cellphone signals were hurting her. He started arguing with her. Two minutes later, they were in a full-on screaming match. I just stood quietly by, grateful that I had the sense not to argue with her.
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#10 Calm Before the Storm
I don't usually argue, but my parents are always confronting me with the term “smart-Alek” and all that nonsense. They are, especially my dad, stubborn and people without the knowledge of anything. He can discuss everything, even if he doesn't know even about it. He starts calm and then starts shouting in a few seconds...
#11 Hate Speech
I corrected a study PETA showed on Twitter about the amount of fecal matter found in meat. They said, “This new law Trump made now proves there’s poop in the meat you eat.” I stated that almost all food has small traces of it, vegetables included. The FDA allows a certain percentage of fecal matter as well as bug particles in almost everything, such as chocolate.
For example, the average chocolate bar contains eight insect parts. Anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate is deemed safe for consumption by the FDA. It’s important to also wash vegetables and fruits before consuming them because traces of E. coli can be traced into the dirt it’s grown in. Not just the dirt, but the water used for irrigation, organic fertilizers, or droppings from birds and other animals that go into fields. This was brought up to attention after an outbreak occurred in the UK where several people caught it. I got blocked for “hate speech.”
#12 Karen Mom
My mom is a Karen and I can't just handle it anymore. Sometimes she says, "Oh look there, a very brilliant person who thinks that 5g radiations won't cause illness.” I just asked her how she thought radiations works and she replied, "I don't, and you? Seems like you think you’re the smartest person here!"
I gave up. When she tries to convince me, I just say, "I don't care" and go in my room. Everyone in the house just hopes that she won't talk about this with me around. They know that I'll stick myself in my room and won’t play cards or Monopoly with them. It's the only thing they think they can do at this time.
#13 Overpriced Lemon
Talking to my stepfather about literally anything, but most specifically cars. I drive a 2012 Dodge Avenger and any time my car needs repairs, he goes on about how it's because I pay for an overpriced lemon. The car has been pretty reliable and I've obviously had to pay for things over the years, but nothing big that shouldn't have happened.
Just the other day I paid $1000 for a rear axle brake job including callipers. My dad then went on a rant about how if I drove a Ford it would be so much cheaper. Back in his day, blah blah blah. He doesn't even own a car and hasn't for 10 years because he doesn't like driving sober. I’m just irritated and annoyed about having my car attacked when I personally like it.
#14 Still a Woman
I had my tubes removed when I was 22 years old. One time, some guy tried to tell me that meant I was actually transgender and was pretending to be a man. His reasoning was that no reproductive ability equals not being a real woman, obviously. He wouldn't listen that I simply didn’t want children and I was very much still a woman.
#15 Evil Anime
My friend and I tried to explain to another kid in our class that anime isn’t evil. He just wouldn’t listen. His only explanation for his belief was, “My mom looked it up and said it’s demonic, so I’m right.” We told him his sister was obsessed with Pokemon, and he said he was going to get her in trouble because of it.
#16 Political Beliefs
Hanging around right-wing Christian conservatives is a good way to make me tear out my hair. I'm not even going to knock their political beliefs because I've debated intelligent conservatives. But they will defend with their lives the idea evolution is total garbage or that gay marriage will destroy the fabric of America.
#17 Preserving His Ego
The worst is geniuses who are idiots. My brother’s a very smart person who has decided to use every intellectual tool available to him in order to justify his racist and deeply misogynist beliefs. With one hand, he holds up debunked pseudoscience and with the other, he attacks everything you know and sows doubt.
When he can't keep his opponent on the defensive and they start to question his evidence, he just shuts down. But until that point, he will use good intentions and notions of goodness against you. He’ll try to win the war through mental domination instead of really debating on any objective level. He shouts from a pulpit but professes no religion. Nothing is sacred. Nothing really matters.
Except "winning” because he feels he’s under siege every minute of every day. To win is to survive. It's inspiring to see someone struggle to change the world instead of letting it change him. But at some point, he made the decision to divorce himself from pro-social values because he became so alienated from other humans that he stopped valuing humanity. He wants to see himself as post-human, but I know that he’s just a man. Like many others, he reinterpreted ostracism as apotheosis in order to preserve his ego.
#18 Alien Encounters
Trying to convince a former roommate that the moving dot in the night sky was a satellite and not a UFO. I literally gave him a mini Ted Talk on the near-impossibility of a hypothetical UFO being in our sky and the more likely scenario that it was one of the umpteen man-made objects we've put into orbit. His response was, "But there's still a chance it could be aliens! You don't know !" I said, "the chance is so close to zero, it might as well be zero." "But it's not zero! That light was an alien!” Sweet Jesus.
#19 Around in Circles
The libertarian office mate. The guy was great at sales, knew his stuff and made good money. But he just didn't understand that yes, he did have a privileged upbringing that made his success easier than someone who wasn't a white male from a family with its own business that he worked at. He was so deep in his own echo chamber that I realized I didn't have the vocabulary to explain things to him. Hitting him with a shovel wouldn't do anything but make me feel better.
#20 Invalid Opinion
I guy I know was arguing with me about how a certain food tastes compared to the other. His reasoning for why my opinion didn’t matter was, “Well, you eat bad food, so you can’t have an opinion.” I responded along the lines of, “I eat bad food and good tasting food as well. So, I definitely can tell the difference.” He said that didn’t matter and my opinion was invalid.
#21 Clowning on Him
My grandad posts leftist memes on Facebook to rile up his boomer friends. One of them, Jeff, gets really upset and replies with Breitbart articles and things like that. For a while, my older brother and I would try to argue with him. But we then realized that he doesn’t even read what we write. He points out spelling mistakes and posts stupid "owning the libs" memes in response. So now we just clown on him.
#22 Who’s the Expert Here?
I'm a bra fit expert at Victoria's Secret and the number of customers who walk in, ask to be fit and then freak out when I tell them anything other than what they've always worn is ridiculous. Like why even ask? Oh, and moms who are in denial that their 13-year-old daughters might wear a larger size make my head hurt.
#23 I Have an Idea
I was explaining to someone that we could not just print money to fix all of our problems. She was very adamant that we could just print trillions to help the people who are struggling right now and could not grasp that it would completely screw over our economy in more ways than one. So, yeah. I gave up on that one…
#24 Biting My Tongue
I have a graduate degree in theology. Upon learning of my education and work, people will ask me questions. If I vary from what their preacher says, I get heat. While I typically will engage in answering a few more questions, often biting my tongue, I’ll eventually excuse myself, acknowledging that there isn’t going to be any type of agreement reached. While they can get frustrating, those conversations are for the people listening. I’d rather someone witness me using sources, examples, and scientific studies than emotions and appeals to popularity.
#25 New Debate Tactics
My dad seems to think he’s smarter than everyone else. The guy is 56 and works in farming. He doesn’t know anything about technology or computers past what Facebook is. Yet somehow he thinks he can argue with me, who has studied computers for five years and repairs computers at the biggest technology support company in Europe.
When he’s trying to argue about why the internet connection is bad in our house, I’ll make a valid point and prove it. That’s the part of the argument when any sane person would just admit defeat and be like, “Yeah, you know more than me. Well played.” But my father says something unrelated to the topic we’re arguing about.
Most of the time I’m just completely confused as to how his brain could even make that connection. I usually just go, “There’s no point arguing with you. You’re ignorant and you won’t give up”. But lately, whenever he says something unrelated to the topic, I say, “What you just said made no sense. It has no relation to the topic we are discussing. Would you like to return to the conversation we were having or do you want to shut up?” That seems to work.
#26 You Don’t Understand
My co-worker is all about homeopathic medicine. He was taking some over the counter nonsense one day and I googled it. I showed him that it had been scientifically proven to not do anything. He simply disagreed and said, "It is good medicine. You just don’t understand homeopathy.” I responded by quoting Tim Minchin, "Homeopathic medicine, by definition, is medicine that has either not been proven to work, or been proven not to work. Do you know what they call homeopathic medicine that has been proven to work? They just call it medicine." He just shook his head and said, "I wouldn't expect you to understand."
#27 It’s Easier This Way
Arguments with my mom. As soon as you bring up something you'd like her to stop doing, she takes it so personally and goes off on a rant about how she's stupid and she's a terrible mother. It doesn't matter how valid the point. I've learnt that if I want to keep things peaceful, make it look like you’re taking the blame. It sucks, but it's so much easier.
#28 Okay, Talk to Them
I was the manager of a popular bar in a college town. I had to help out one of our security guards who was being screamed at by a mother trying to get her daughter and four of her friends into the bar with fake IDs. They all looked to be maybe juniors in high school and absolutely nothing like the person on the ID.
There were two undercover cops inside the bar, looking to bust people for underage drinking. This woman was screaming in my security guard’s face and I told her to leave. I also said that we’d be keeping all the fake IDs until the person on the ID came to pick them up. Her response to me was, “You stupid jerk. All the men in my family are in law enforcement. It’s illegal for you to do that.” At that point, I laughed and went to get the undercover cops.
#29 Man of Science
I’m a trans guy. Every time I try to tell my dad there’s science behind people being transgender (he claims to be a man of science) he changes it to religion. He then says God isn’t wrong. I then say God loves everyone and he just goes quiet. But he never changes his mind. He tries to be respectful, at least, and uses the right pronouns and a neutral nickname when referring to me. But hoo boy.
#30 Holding a Conversation
A teacher who hates computers tried to tell us that computers can't keep a conversation. I know a thing or two about AI. After it learns quite a bit and passes a Turing test, they can keep a conversation. She then told me to stop lying and send her a link if I was right. I sent her five because I loved AIs. She tried to get me suspended for disobedience.
#31 Dropping a “Friend”
I used to have a friend who was personally insulted if I didn’t believe him. Like, he thought I was disrespecting him if I didn’t agree with him. It wasn’t that big of a deal until he went all Holocaust denial and revisionist. Of course, that was right before the bigotry and white supremacy. We aren’t friends anymore.
#32 Questioning Your Methods
Working and training people. I'm open to people asking questions or questioning reasons for doing things, but the minute you start bringing up your educational background as a means to win an argument is the minute I just stop and look at you. Bring me logic for why you’re questioning methods or policy and I'll absolutely listen to you. Schooling does not mean you are more educated in this specific field than anyone else.
#33 Arguments With Idiots
It's possible to win an argument with an idiot, but they have to respect you first. There are some people who refuse to listen to anyone who disagrees with them at all. I've found they're much rarer than people expect, though. Typically, it's because they found an opinion they believe is morally superior, and so any disagreement is seen as an ethical failure. The trick is to get them to explain how they reached their opinion in detail. Often they're not entirely sure.
#34 Just Gave Up
I was playing Xbox with a few friends. Now to be clear, we’re all knuckleheads. We were talking about the UFO stuff that’s been happening recently. My stance was there have always been UFOs, it just stands for “unidentified flying object.” So if I throw a brick and it hits you in the face before you identify it, then it was a UFO. But my friend then proceeds to talk for 20 minutes about how UFO only talks about aliens. I then said that the UFO has nothing to do with aliens. This argument went on for about an hour before I just gave up.
#35 Splitting the Friend Group
I had a friend in college who was an art major. He made a statement about the economic policy Obama made and its effect. Being an economics major, I agreed with him and explained the benefit from an economic perspective to our other friends. He proceeded to tell me how I was wrong and that I was racist and didn't get it. I am white, he was not.
He tried to argue with me and my other friend chimed in that I was agreeing with him. He still wanted to be the only one who was right, so he tried to press the subject. I tried to calm the situation but it didn't work. Eventually, the friend group ended up splitting over that argument. He might have just not liked me and used that argument to try to spite me. Either way, he tried to argue with me when I agreed with him.
#36 She Was a Handful
When I met a person who didn’t believe that ancient Greek culture or Romans existed. They said, "Oddly enough, all these so-called 'ruins' are in tourist areas." That person also asked our geography teacher while we were still in school, "The river Nil... Sir, why does it flow upwards?" While asking, she made gestures to describe the earth and drew a line from the south towards the equator. She was a handful for our teachers to deal with.
#37 Not the Brightest Bulb
My fiance's dad isn't.. the brightest. He'll start complaining about something that's going on in the world (the whole boomer rant) and I or my fiancee will start explaining why what he’s saying invalid. Then he'll scoff halfway through the explanation and say, "Oh that's just a load of nonsense." Then, he’ll walk away.
#38 Arguing With Toddlers
I was trying to explain to a Facebook friend (who I didn't know very well) why you couldn't inject light. He got angry at me for being condescending and posted a big rant on my wall. Do you know how hard it is to explain why light is an non-injectable substance to someone who just doesn't get it? It literally broke my brain. It was liking arguing with a toddler.
#39 No Time for This
I once had a customer argue with me (and not in a nice way) because we have the audacity to carry a book for kids that says that evolution is real. I lost the argument because I did not have the time to tell him about how science works. Other customers were around who wanted to buy things and I have a job to do.
#40 Emotion-Based Views
When the person you’re talking with is constantly voicing their views and they expect you to sit through it all without complaint no matter how much you disagree. Yet, when you say something back, they fly into a rage. Their anger is a sign they’re intellectually crippled and can only voice simplistic emotion-based views.
#41 Black and White
I brought up to my family how my brother's girlfriend was slandering him. She was also consistently, and intentionally, isolating him from all of his friends so that she could mess around with her friends on the side without fear of being caught. She’s also generally rude to everybody, dangerously filthy, and shamelessly trashy. Their response? "We're older than you okay? We know more about how this world works and how people act than you do. Stop being so black and white."
#42 Money Leprechaun
I got in a fight with my friend because she was mad that we didn't hang out enough. I kept presenting her with points as to why I couldn’t go out every weekend and she literally said, “Well, just go get money then.” Like, I can't just prance up to the money leprechaun down the street and send a formal request to be given the weekly allowance. Don't even get me started when she believed (and still does) that ham came from birds. Honestly, the conversation drained so much out of me.
#43 Respect Your Elders
It once took me an hour to explain to an extra scholar "teacher" that black holes weren't a hoax. I used research as examples and also told her about Einstein's calculus. After hearing that I should "respect adults" and "stop believing what you hear in the news,” I just told her to buzz off. She was the most typical kind of Karen when I think about it.
#44 Real Men
A guy I work with is convinced that domestic cases can't happen against what he calls "real men.” His reasoning is that any man weak enough to allow a woman to hit him without beating the snot out of her in return is obviously gay and wouldn't be with a woman anyway. I was so dumbstruck by this kind of thinking that I couldn't even respond. Years ago, I let a woman beat her fists on me so hard that she ended up breaking her own hand, but I refused to hit her back. Guess I'm not a real man in his eyes.
#45 Drop of a Hat
Debating cultists is impossible. Even if the gaslighting and revisionism are clear as day, they’ll find a way to justify it and still believe it wholeheartedly. I hate going back to my parents’ house because they’ll start up debates justifying their cult at the drop of a hat. I’ve never won one even though I’ve had all the facts out.
#46 Is There an Adult Here?
I work at Home Depot and customers keep asking for someone older when they run into me. Then they end up getting sent back to me and insist on using the wrong products for the wrong applications. You gotta love it when they tell you they're older so you don’t know what you're talking about. Then they come back a year or so later, complaining that their deck is falling apart or something and they don’t know why.
#47 Factually Incorrect
A reviewer on a paper I was co-authoring gave my team a bunch of comments that were factually proven to be incorrect in other papers. We told him we could not make these edits due to them being factually wrong, (in a polite way) he replied by degrading our paper and us. He even used a particular slur that I think he intended to be "witty.” Needless to say, he was no longer a reviewer and we immediately requested someone else.
#48 Fighting Words
Arguing with my friends on fighting games. I like to do research on how things work, what's meta, what's not and generally have a solid understanding of the game and most characters. My friends who just play the game invariably argue. They ignore any data as to why whatever we’re arguing about has a counter-argument.
#49 We Were Students Once
I'm a teacher in France and we’re basically regarded as trash by the general population. Everybody thinks they know how to run a class or a school because they were a student when they were young. We have generally little to no respect from parents. It was very hard to be told how to do my job, especially in the first months of teaching. I stopped trying to explain or argue with people at family dinners or on the internet. It still bothers me today to be honest.
#50 Empty Promises
I worked in a department store and we had those credit cards you can sign up for. This woman came up to me and said, “I haven’t used my card in like a year but I wanted to check out with it today.” I reminded her that if your card is inactive for more than eight months, it deactivates. She told me to try it anyway, so I did.
I said, “Ma’am, you’re balance is zero. Is there another card you want to pay with?” She replied, “No, that means I don’t have a bill to pay.” After attempting to explain that that was completely incorrect, she demanded to see my manager. My manager tried telling her the same thing and eventually, she just refused to buy anything. She walked out with the empty promise to “never shop here again.”