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Before you engage in a debate to advance your beliefs, pause to reflect on Ben Franklin’s advice

July 1st, 2017

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin advised on how to keep friends and influence people:

“I took delight in it, practiced it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge into concessions the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved. I continued this method some few years but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence, never using when I advance anything that may possibly be disputed the words, “certainly,” “undoubtedly,” or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, “I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so or so,” “It appears to me,” or “I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons,” or “I imagine it to be so,” or “It is so if I am not mistaken.”

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