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Mtl_zack's avatar

Why cant people admit they're wrong?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6748 points ) April 26th, 2008

whenever i have an argument and i totally pin the other person, they never admit they’re wrong, even when i give them solid evidence. they always say “but you said (insert something that can be pronounced wrong but means something opposite here), and then complain about not giving a valid argument.
also, why cant people change their mind about something when arguing? if someone brings up a valid point and then i agree with that, they stare at me blankly until i give a criticism.

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13 Answers

judochop's avatar

The art of argument is not proving that you are right, it is only proving the other person wrong.

“My chief objection to a quarrel,” Chesterton wrote, “is that it ends a good argument.”

gailcalled's avatar

Mtl; this is a similar question with some interesting answers, altho it is not specifically about the art of arguments.

Breefield's avatar

Mmmmm, dogma!

nocountry2's avatar

I think people object to the ego involved – why do you want so badly to be right? I have no problem agreeing to a sound argument, but I hate it when the other party phrases it in such a way that by agreeing I am somehow also agreeing to their superiority and “rightness”, rather than simply a good argument. It’s largely why I avoided a doctorate.

simone54's avatar

I’d like to know that too since I’m never wrong.

wildflower's avatar

It’s a matter of pride. Don’t ask the person to admit that they (as a person) are wrong, but rather give them a chance to change their stance or argument. The sense of victory is just as great, but then you also have to remember to be a gracious winner.

And a great movie tip if you want to do well in debates/arguments is Thank You For Smoking (he’s my hero!)

jameiiy's avatar

because of EGO…..I…...when “I” can never be wrong because “I” do everything right

flange's avatar

I love this issue as I enjoy debate and tend to have trouble admitting defeat (but I’ve been getting better). But, for someone who likes it more for the subject matter and all the fiesty give-and-take and less so “pinning” the other person/people, my strategy is always to smile smugly and nod when, in their last ditch efforts, the bring in the straw man arguments. It’s your way of telling them that you know you won!

Zen's avatar

Foolish. Pride.

FujiokaHaruhi192's avatar

I guess it’s just because the feeling of being wrong really sucks. like Zen above said it’s a pride issue. I think it’s just human nature really, because as much as I don’t like to admit it to myself and as much as I HATE it when other people do it I hypocritically find myself doing the same thing!

mollypop51797's avatar

Because they don’t want to show a sign of weakness. It’s hard for me too to admit when I’m wrong, because it’s more important to me to prove to them that they’re wrong. probably not good on my part Anyways, it really pisses me off when they think that they’re always right. I mean, I’m admitting right now. I’m not always right, but I don’t want to just say.. I’m wrong. Does this make any sense?

gorgeousgal3's avatar

Ego,pride, and superiority.

Sinqer's avatar

Maybe because they aren’t wrong? I’m wondering how many have walked away from you thinking the exact same thing about you.

I tend to deal with perspectives more than right/wrong, win/lose. I first try to understand the entirety of the perspective in/from which they are right. There obviously is one, since they speak and argue from it. Note here that I start from the assumption that what they’re saying or arguing is true. In this way I can be a student and learn the entirety of the perspective. I can do this because I have no personal judgement of it being right or wrong.

I often find that questioning them (almost socratically, though I try to avoid it) helps me understand their perspective, climb inside of it, and then I am working with them on building it (a ‘we’ situation, not an ‘I vs. you’). Then I point out the problems I see as we flesh it out and critique it. The method works very well.
I have never seen arguing amount to much of anything, save a competition.

To answer your question as directly as possible, it would depend on the specific individual, and the specific disagreement. And to understand someone’s motives, I would have to ask them.

I’ve come across two motives admitted to me by others more than any other motives: 1-confidence in the fact that they are correct (and most are within the given perspective; it’s the perspective that is ignorant or flawed), and 2— emotional or competitive response (i.e. they enter into a state of reactive argument due to the 2 sided opponent situation) in which winning takes priority versus teaching/learning.

If you are trying to teach anyone anything via argument, debate, or whatever other synonym you choose, then you will likely suffer the same ends. Very few people are what I call Students, and that means you have to prove to them your assertion. Add the fact that it’s perceived in a competitive light, and the fact that they can set whatever standard of proof they consider appropriate by whatever measure, and you have your consistent failure.

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