I’d like to offer my own two Thanksgiving tips, which have the dual benefits of being both succinct and not crazy. First, the only person who ever “wins” a Thanksgiving dinner political argument is your oblivious drunk uncle, who, each year, like clockwork, craftily passes out in the corner chair. Second, if you have to research topics and memorize talking points at sites like Vox.com so you can “win” a debate, you (a) probably don’t know your you-know-what from your elbow and (b) might very well be the worst person in the world.
Don’t worry, though, there are lots of fun things to talk about at Thanksgiving dinner! You could bring up the mysterious tension between general relativity and quantum field theory. You could celebrate the news that the guy who played Tim Riggins on “Friday Night Lights” is going to be on the next season of “True Detective.” You could inform everyone at the table that fingernails do not grow after you die.
Or—and get ready, because this one might sound a little crazy—you could show interest in other people, and maybe ask them some questions about themselves. But the best advice on heated Thanksgiving discussions, somewhat ironically, might just come from the hostage negotiators cited in the New York Times. As Frederick J. Lanceley, a former senior negotiator for the FBI, delicately put it: “Just shut up and listen.” Indeed.