Does swearing automatically lose an argument?

Question crack #1: answers to the internet’s perennial problems

No, of course it fucking doesn’t.


Many arguments on social media become heated to the point that people use societally defined ‘foul language’ in their responses. Additionally, many people will expressly use ‘cursing’ or ‘swearing’ (words such as ‘fuck’, ‘shit head’ or ‘poof-potato’) simply as a way to provide additional nuance and specificity to their communications.

It is stated by some individuals involved in online arguments that ‘resorting to swearing’ is a strong indicator the swearer has nowhere else to go with the argument and can only sling insults rather than carefully convince or persuade. By extension this line of thinking suggests that a logically valid and truthful answer is rendered useless by tacking a quick ‘motherfucker’ on the end. It is the contention of this article that this is not the case.

Take the following example of a question: What is the result of the mathematical expression ‘2+2’?

Let’s consider four different potential answers:
i) 7, ii) 4 you fucking idiot shit, iii) 5 asshat, iv) 4

Two of these are correct, two are incorrect. Specifically ii) and iv) are correct, while i) and iii) are incorrect. This is based on the simple fact that 2+2=4.

If however we were to take the view that swearing renders an answer incorrect we would end up assuming that 2+2 equals either 4 or 7. Not only is ‘7’ not the correct output, but it’s also not equal to 4 — an answer deemed to also be correct. Ergo, the lack of swearing does not make the answer correct.

Similarly adding ‘you fucking idiot shit’ to the end of answer ii) above does not alter that answer from being generally understood as ‘4’ — it simply benefits from the addition of an impassioned modifier. Since ‘4’ is the correct answer we can deduce that swearing and being right can go hand in hand.