Most of us have had experiences where we overhear a friend, family member, coworker, or just some dipshit acquaintance confidently asserting right-wing nonsense they heard from some talk radio psycho, Fox News, or some deranged email. If these people are just misinformed they can sometimes be reasoned with in a respectful discussion, but often enough they just believe these things because they want to, and nothing you say - no evidence you present, no arguments you formulate, nothing - will make them accept and deal with reality, let alone admit being wrong. Well, I have the perfect solution to getting these people to shut up, and it's one I've even used on a few occasions: Challenge them to a bet.
I don't mean some lame bet, like if they're wrong they have to admit it - I mean put something valuable on the line, that would hurt them to lose, and be willing to put something valuable on the line yourself. Obviously you only want to do this when the issue is clear-cut and you are absolutely confident you can prove that: Don't bother if it boils down to some mere opinion - only a falsifiable statement of fact. For instance, "global warming is a hoax" is one that I challenged a guy to a $200 bet on - that was years ago, and at the time we had both been making only $11 an hour, so that would have really made a dent in either of our checkbooks.
The challenge was this: We would call tenured professors at 20 university climate science departments at random, and if even one of them fundamentally disagreed with the statement "Global warming is an observed scientific fact," I would pay $200. He would pay $200 if they were unanimous. Fortunately the guy backed down: As confident as I was in my chances, I didn't want $200 to ride on the possibility that one of our random 20 was a corrupt scumbag who bought his way into a position somewhere, or such a trifling nincompoop as to quibble over semantics.
Now, if you have the means to bet more and so does your opponent, you'll want to do that. Beneath 4 figures, you can rely on having the bet widely known among your social set to motivate them to keep their word, and maybe - if you still don't trust the other guy to keep up their end when they lose - you can have a trusted third party hold the money and arbitrate the victor. But if you have real figures and/or assets you're willing to risk, and don't mind ripping a chunk out of the financial ass of a wingnut, you'll want to set it up legally through Nevada or something. In fact, this wouldn't be a bad way to rope some overprivileged but hopelessly brainwashed Republican into losing their house or car to you, but someone willing to take it that far even among the rich and arrogant would be unusual.
Nonetheless, you win in any case: If they back down under challenge, you win. If they bet you and pay when they lose, you win. If they bet you and refuse to pay when they lose, you win and they're tarnished. But the more that's on the line, just make sure you're clear about the details so there's no weaseling. Still, most of the time they'll just back down when they see you're serious, and you'll very likely win if they agree to bet you. Now, if one or both of you just aren't in a position to bet money or assets, you can bet other things of value: Time (such as hours of work the loser would cover for the winner while the winner still gets paid for it), services (e.g., you get to use their car for a time, if it's something nice), whatever.
The point is to make them put their money where their giant, loud, lying, stupid mouths are. Since most of them are cowards, there's not a lot of risk in the challenge; and since those who have the courage of their convictions are incredibly ignorant and delusional, it's pretty much a guaranteed profit for you if they accept your proposal. The best subjects to challenge on are:
1. Conspiracy theories specifically about what someone will do on or before a given date. For instance, I saw another diary up about someone overhearing wingnut coworkers saying they were certain the President was going to use the Superstorm to indefinitely postpone the election. That's a perfect betting opportunity because it's time-limited: I would go big on that one if you can - car, house, whatever - and definitely go legal. If possible in your state, do it with some kind of standard If/Then policy contract (I don't know the legal term for it), or if not then through a Nevada service. And I mean actually go to Nevada, don't use some kind of website.
2. Claims of fact about history, recent or distant, that are easily proven false with authoritative sources. Birthers are great for this, but only bet with them through a trustworthy arbitrator who holds the money because a Birther won't themselves accept any proof you provide.
Avoid the vague, generalized paranoia and derangement that usually accompanies what passes for discourse among wingnuts. "Obama is a Muslim" cannot be disproven anymore than "Mitch McConnell is a Scientologist" can be disproven. HOWEVER, you can manipulate these dimwits into making false claims of fact that can be easily disproven - e.g., spouting some lazy lie they heard on the radio - and then you make the challenge, mock their cowardice and indecisiveness in front of others, and reel them in. We have wandered in the wilderness for a long time with trying to hold these assholes accountable for the things they say, and now maybe this is one way to go about it: Basically the financial equivalent of challenging them to a duel. Put up or shut up.
This is not a joke. It's a wager!