Here I'm going to talk about some dirty tactics that bad and dishonest people often use to try to win arguments without actually finding a flaw in your reasoning.
- The untouchable lie
- The gift ploy
- Ideograph abuse
- Linguistic cloaking
- Virtue signaling with something uncontroversial
This technique consists of making a false factual assertion that you would know and that would win the argument if it were true, and then when your opponent calls you on it, you say "Are you accusing me of lying?" and shame your opponent for this ad hominem attack.
When someone uses this tactic on you, the best way I've found to counter it is to point out two things: firstly, that if no one can be accused of lying then everyone will lie, and secondly, lying to win an argument is not as severe an offense as most people think it is. After all, if you're having an argument about something like politics or religion, you can even argue it's morally right to lie if it convinces someone to believe something less harmful. Still, there's no telling how closed to reason the audience might be. I can only wish you good luck if anyone ever plays this card on you.
I detail this one in the linked article, as it contains enough sub-forms to warrant its own page.
As for how to beat this, pointing out what your opponent is doing probably won't end well in a verbal argument. They'll just take the opportunity to sidetrack you into a sub-argument about whether they are using inflammatory language or not, which isn't what you want - you want to focus on the actual debate. What I'd recommend doing against this is honestly inflaming back - if they're doing it too then they can't criticize you for doing it. Even if it doesn't succeed in provoking them, it'll likely help you keep your own cool, as it's a way of symbolically taking out your anger. Whatever you do, don't give into the temptation to flame them - it's what they want, because it turns the audience against you.
This is one that mostly applies to in-person arguments, and especially to non-intellectual debates (ie. where the objective is to get them to apologize or agree to do something rather than to change their philosophy). After a heated argument, you bring someone a gift, often food, and once they take a bite you make another foray into the argument. It's bullshit because it uses what is ostensibly a gift just to put the opponent in a low position where they feel like they owe you a favor, and leverage that to win the argument. And because it's ostensibly a gift, it makes them feel guilty if they call you on it, since you just deny that you meant it as a trick and there's no way for them to prove it. I really haven't found any half-decent way to counter this technique :(
An ideograph is a word with a strong (usually positive) connotation attached, especially one with no clearly defined meaning. Examples of these in modern American political discourse inclue "freedom", "justice", "equality", "terrorism", "feminism", etc. Almost everyone has some words that trigger them like this. The danger is that a smart adversary knows how to use your ideographs against you to manipulate your emotions and make you more receptive to their position. For example, if someone were trying to convince me to support some policy change, they would have much better odds of succeeding if they could find a way to use a word like "freedom" to represent their side. It's important to watch out for your opponent doing this to you in an argument, and try your best to remind yourself that their side isn't actually the one that promotes whatever ideograph they're using on you.
Another thing people do in in-person arguments to mess with your mind is to simply speak for so long that by the time they're done, you've forgotten what their original point was, and so you can't refute it. This leaves you with basically no options except to ask them to remind you. And that just makes it look like you're not really paying attention to your opponent's arguments, which of course casts a horrible light on you. It might be that I'm abnormally vulnerable to this since I clearly have difficulty holding a lot of abstract thought or information in my mind at once. Regardless, what I've started doing to try to counter it is start to speak between their sentences (if you don't have anything prepared you can try something like "Wait a minute" or "Can I speak?" to show you have a rebuttal to make), and if they don't let me interrupt, then at the end I point out what they've done: "How am I supposed to answer you if you won't let me speak?" or similar. If they go for "I'm letting you speak now", be ready with "I tried to speak earlier but you kept cutting me off. Why don't you go back through your arguments one at a time this time so I can actually answer them?"
This is the practice of using words with no clearly defined meaning to prevent the opponent from answering your argument, because they can't figure out exactly what it is. This is separate from ideograph abuse, since these often aren't words with a polarized moral connotation. For example, someone criticizing a work of fiction might say, "the ending is inconsistent with the tone of the story." But to make a criticism like that validly you need to have a clear idea of what a "tone" even is in this context (which I'm sure most people don't - I don't).You'd think it should be easy to just ask for a clear definition and instantly counter this technique. But in practice people seem to almost never do that when faced with this. I've had great success countering it that way, so I guess some people are just really bad at finding the obvious way out of a trap.
Very popular in politics. Debaters often open with a statement like, "I believe violence is wrong" or "America has had a past of racism and slavery, and it's important that we demolish the last remains of that". A remark like this, since everyone can get behind it, charms the audience into being instinctively more receptive to your actual claim, which is yet to come. Obviously, there's a lot of overlap with ideograph abuse, but I don't think the two are the same.
As for how to counter this, there's not much you can do since they haven't really committed a fallacy or done anything necessarily dishonest, but you can at least emphasize when it's your turn to speak that you also don't support racism, or whatever the case may be.