Opinion | At the Debate, Joe Biden Must Deal With Trump’s Lies – By Richard A. Friedman – The New York Times

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Dr. Friedman, a contributing opinion writer, is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Credit…Illustration by Alvaro Dominguez; photograph by Getty Images

“When Joe Biden debates President Trump on Tuesday, he will have to figure out how to parry with an opponent who habitually lies and doesn’t play by the rules.

As a psychiatrist, I’d like to offer Mr. Biden some advice: Don’t waste your time fact-checking the president. If you attempt to counter every falsehood or distortion that Mr. Trump serves up, you will cede control of the debate. And, by trying to correct him, you will paradoxically strengthen the misinformation rather than undermine it. (Research shows that trying to correct a falsehood with truth can backfire by reinforcing the original lie. )

Instead, Mr. Biden should use more powerful weapons that will put Mr. Trump on the defensive — and also tell the audience that the president is a dishonest narrator.

The first weapon maybe the most effective: humor and ridicule. A derisive joke can defuse tense and outrageous situations. In 2007, for example, protesters dressed as clowns confronted a “white power” march in Charlotte, N.C., holding signs that read “wife power” and throwing white flour in the air. It made the white nationalists look ridiculous and avoided a violent confrontation, which would have served the interests of the racists.”

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