“‘I don’t believe in argument,” he said…
…’You don’t?’ Erens said, genuinely surprised. ‘Shit, and I thought I was the cynical one.”
‘It’s not cynicism,’ he said flatly. ‘I just think people overvalue argument because they like to hear themselves talk.’
‘Oh well, thank you.’
‘It’s comforting, I suppose.’ … ‘Most people are not prepared to have their minds changed,’ he said. ‘And I think they know that in their hearts that other people are the same, and one of the reasons that people become angry when they argue is that they realize just that, as they trot out their excuses.’
‘Excuses, eh? Well, if this ain’t cynicism, what is?’ Erens snorted.
‘Yes, excuses,’ he said, with what Erens thought might just have been a trace of bitterness. ‘I strongly suspect the things people believe in are usually just what they instinctively feel is right; the excuses, the justifications, the things you’re supposed to argue about, come later. They’re the least important part of belief. That’s why you can destroy them, win an argument, prove the other person wrong, and still they believe what they did in the first place.’ He looked at Erens. ‘You’ve attacked the wrong thing.’
‘So what do you suggest one does, Professor, if one is not to indulge in this futile … arguing stuff?’
‘Agree to disagree,’ he said. ‘Or fight.’
He shrugged. ‘What else is left?’
‘Negotiation is a way to come to a conclusion; it’s the type of conclusion I’m talking about.’
‘Which basically is to disagree or fight?’
‘If it comes to it.’-Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons. London: Orbit, 2008.