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If someone tries to sound smart in repartee by saying,

Well obviously blah blah blah

but what they said is actually wrong, then what's a good comeback to that, or what's a good way to phrase the comeback?

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11  
...your mother. –  Sam Apr 26 '11 at 5:15
    
@Sam: cheap answer... that's a good comeback to everything. –  Dancrumb May 26 '11 at 21:31
1  
That reminds me ... To a mathematician, the statement Proof: obvious means, If you've been following what's going on so far then I really don't need to spell this out for you. One day, in a maths lecture, a professor writes a minor theorem on the board and adds, "Proof: obvious." Then he stops, looks, thinks, says, "Is it really obvious?", thinks some more, spends 5 minutes scribbling on some scrap paper and muttering to himself, and finally says, "Yes, it is obvious." and resumes the lecture as if nothing had happened. –  Pitarou Jan 12 '12 at 17:05

11 Answers 11

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Obviously?

Simply questioning the statement comes right to the point. You didn't actually say that you were looking for a witty comeback. Just that you wanted a good response.

You can always add:

How can it be obvious, seeing it is false?

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2  
+1, this is a very tasteful but direct "comeback", without the sensationalism of being clever or smart-ass. –  tenfour Apr 26 '11 at 8:57
1  
+1 for "Obviously?" Extensions along this line could be things like "Obviously? How so?" "I find things less clear. What about [this]?" –  MrHen Apr 26 '11 at 16:10
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+1 for "Obviously?" but the second suggestion is obnoxious. Sounds like a good way to end the civilized part of the discussion. To me it would reflect very badly on whoever said it. –  Jason Orendorff Apr 26 '11 at 17:24

My favorite:

And I would agree with you, except we would both be wrong.

Zing!

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Someone overeager to sound intelligent is likely to enjoy going into depth. Simply asking "What do you mean?" or "Can you explain it further?" is a good way to keep them talking. If the details in their obvious point start breaking down it should open the discussion up for a direct counterpoint or counterexample:

Obviously blah blah.

What do you mean?

Blah blah blah.

What about [example]?

Blah blah blah.

And [point]?

[Backpedalling goes here.]

The real wit here is that a group of intelligent listeners will likely notice the inconsistency before the speaker does. If they care enough, they will continue the line of questioning for you and the original statement will be dismissed as a falsehood.

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If what they said is wrong, there no need for a witty comeback, LH. Simply point out that they are mistaken and be prepared to substantiate that.

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2  
Although, a witty comeback doesn't hurt. –  Sam Apr 26 '11 at 5:17
    
@Sam Yes it can. If your witty comeback is taken as a humiliating putdown, you've turned a productive discussion into a battle of egos. –  Pitarou Jan 12 '12 at 17:15
    
@Pitarou, please see my response to OP above. –  Sam Jan 17 '12 at 3:23

Well obviously you're clearly mistaken

or

Well obviously you've not checked your facts

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If you're sure they're wrong, then stare them in the eye and say

Obviously Not, ...

or you could be nasty with

"Yeah, obvious to one who talks out of his a$$, but for the rest of us .."

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The right response depends crucially on what you want to achieve. The most common mistake people make in this situation is to miss the big picture and want the wrong thing.

You asked for a comeback, which suggests that you want to look good, gain the admiration of other listeners, and puncture the speaker’s ego. I don’t know the context, but I’m guessing what you should want in this situation is either to quit wasting time in an argument that nobody is going to learn anything from, or else to cool off the discussion and get it pointed in a productive direction.

To do that, first check to make sure your body language, facial expressions, and tone are friendly and not confrontational. Then, ignore the word obviously and politely address the substance of the argument instead.

(This question is tagged repartee, which suggests a totally different goal. But repartee is a witty exchange; it takes two to tango, and your stereotypical obviously speaker is not going to be a good dance partner. Judging by these answers, a global community of StackExchange users is not a very good dance partner, either. Zing! ;-)

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This repartee is happening on the internet, not IRL. What you describe is what the other party is trying to do, since I did not it. –  language hacker Apr 26 '11 at 22:58

Another one to kind of stop them in their tracks might be to simply interject prior to them finalizing their assertion with:

Actually... or Not quite...

If we take into account different circumstances, for example, in an instance where what is being considered might seem obvious even if in fact incorrect, then a less abrasive approach might be:

Well, naturally one might think so, however...

Each of which is to be followed by a short, concise flurry of information that makes 'no bones about it.'

Come to think of it, there's another reply you could use based on the above reference; maybe witty, albeit a little irrelevant to the target given that it might not be read into:

I see bones in it... (or some variation of)

An overview from the above link:

This is a reference to the unwelcome discovery of bones in soup - bones = bad, no bones = good. If you found 'no bones' in your meal you were able to swallow it without any difficulty or objection.

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What makes it obvious?

Ask them to explain further, and question until they realize that their point is NOT obvious, and even incorrect. Ask in a non-sarcastic manner, as one truly not understanding why it is obvious.

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Well obviously blah blah blah

Such and such may seem obvious to you, but counterpoint.

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You say, "I don't believe that you know what 'obviously' means."

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4  
I use Indigo Montoya's line to Vizzini in "The Princess Bride" - "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means" –  gregnotcraig Nov 14 '11 at 5:06

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