What do I mean? you ask. What brought this on?
Letters to the editor. Not entirely—I’ve read blog posts that have irked me and seen stuff on television. They try so hard to convince me of something and fail completely because of faulty sources, loaded wording, and obvious bias. Unfortunately, appealing to someone’s emotions (especially fear) can overwhelm their judgment enough to convince them, which is why He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-At-Least-Not-On-This-Blog has legions of followers.
But it’s not effective arguing.
Effective arguing—where you actually prove a point—requires sources (real sources), restraint and—what’s it called?—objectivity. If someone acts disdainful of the medical community and then lists a hundred papers confirming vaccines cause autism, I’m going to think they chose an answer they liked and found the sources to back it up. Even more so if they disparage anything that contradicts what they claim. In all fairness, I’d like to say that there are plenty of people saying vaccines don’t cause autism who do the same thing. Guess what? If they can’t do it, neither can you. Use facts to back up your claim, not dismissing others. If you’re really right, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Now for restraint. This is just because I’ve found people are less likely to listen to you if you start yelling at how they are ruining the country/killing millions through ignorance/I don’t know what. I know. It’s crazy. People don’t like being insulted.
My culminating thought is this: be careful what you take as truth and don’t believe anything because you like the way it sounds. And if you want to argue effectively (i.e. so your argument isn’t full of more holes than a sieve), do it calmly, listen to others, and cite you’re sources.