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The art of debate

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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:08 pm

Logic was established as a formal discipline by Aristotle, a bit before George Boole.

Thinking for yourself has been replaced by The Media, whose received opinion is less trouble.

Reason is what I try to employ in discourse, but it's of no consequence if others prefer to impose their own emphasis.

Good Manners  disappeared with the anonymity provided by the internet.

Honesty has become applicable mainly to those who haven't been caught yet.

Heart Convenient for having become disposable.

Cynicism  You betcha!  Caveat emptor.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Shirina on Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:14 pm

Logic is numero uno for me ... but there are a few more tricks of the trade that I use:

Know your facts before you start typing. Anyone can get it wrong once in awhile, especially when dealing with subjects that tend to change rapidly. But some folks are just plain ignorant, and it's hard to want to engage in a significant debate with them. The only way to prove your point is to go back and provide a remedial education to these people - and that might require half a dozen forum posts before you even get to address your original point. It is amazing to me how so many people (Americans, mostly) are simply factually incorrect which renders the rest of the debate somewhat moot.

Never pretend to be an expert. Those that do often end up face to face with a REAL expert and, damn, do the phonies look dumb.

Do not tout your credentials. Even if you have 20 Ph.D.s and you really are the lead scientist at the Brookhaven Institute - don't tell anyone. First, most people won't believe you anyway, and you're liable to face ridicule. Secondly, people will assume you want them to bow down and accept whatever you have to say because of your credentials. That usually breeds hostility.

Always remember that there is a time to teach and a time to learn. Know what you're good at; understand your knowledge strengths. Also understand knowledge definciencies. Far too many get caught in a debate on a subject they don't know a lot about, and hubris prevents them from shutting their mouths and learning from those who know far more than they do.

Familiarize yourself with formal fallacies. They are used quite often, and simply being able to point out a fallacy reduces the amount you have to type by massive amounts.

Don't type angry. Everyone can fall prey to this once in awhile, but you'll almost never be at your best when you're typing mad since you're using more emotion than logic - and emotion is often illogical.

It's not always necessary to provide links for every fact you use in a debate - most people won't read the links anyway, but links prevent people from blathering, "prove it!" right out of the gate. I usually don't give links unless a) the facts in question are really hard to believe or b) I know the person I'm debating with will demand I prove every word out of my mouth. The trick here is to always be prepared to back up what you say with sources. I warn people all the time that I never put anything down in my posts that I cannot support. Some people have called my bluff in the past ... and guess what. Yeah, I made them look dumb.

Try your best to use correct grammar and punctuation. Even if your points are good, your premise sound, and your logic impeccable, bad grammar and spelling will detract from your argument, and some people will focus on it as a means of deflection.

Never deliberately "dumb down" your posts. Make others learn a better vocabulary or look up information themselves if they want to participate in the debate. Of course, even the best of us are going to run across words we don't know - but the best of us will also look up the word rather than ask the person who used it what it means. If someone asks you to clarify, that's different - and usually you get a feel for the person asking as to whether it was your writing or their brain that is causing the confusion.

Sometimes the best post is the one you deleted before you posted it. In other words, sometimes, in some arguments, the best course of action is to just stop posting in that thread - or at least stop posting to a particular person. Know when the proverbial horse is being beaten, know when you're belaboring the point - if you find yourself making repeat arguments to the same person in the same debate, you've obviously come full circle. For me, it's just easier to say, "Okay, we've argued around in a circle now, so I have nothing left to say," than it is to keep going 'round and 'round and 'round.

And ... no matter how frustrated you get, never bang your head on a) your keyboard or b) your monitor. Neither are designed to survive the impact of a skull repeatedly slamming into it and you're liable to get a headache.

Also, keep your cat out of the room because she will know when you're about to hammer home an excellent point against your opponent and will choose that very moment to lay on your keyboard. At that point, your opponent is more likely to get "ahogifoewihoaibdfkjbsbkcv" instead of your awesome point. cat 

Meow

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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:43 pm

Excellent post Shirina, I do not have a problem with a cat though, mines a dog and just at the wrong moment she nudges my arm wrist or elbow. Hence some re-writing has to be done. Laughing 
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:24 pm

Welcome new thread.
I've spent a lot of time musing about the dynamics of debate and how to ensure all voices are equally heard and realistically valued.
Your 6 categories provide a good structure for thinking about the subject and I wouldn't argue very much with your analysis.
 
Logic - is good as far as it goes, and you can't get very far without putting together an argument that hangs together; however, there are many forms of 'logic' all depending on the basic assumptions being made, which aren't always obvious. If your basic assumption (for example) is that IQ tests measure something fixed and immutable, you would end up making a public idiot of yourself like the Mayor of London did so recently.
 
Thinking for yourself - nice trick if you can do it; however, it's also a rather rare phenomenon - based again on basic assumptions (for example the belief that thinking is a skilled activity that can only be performed by paople with a certain IQ) We learn to 'think' as a part of growing up, and we all do it for ourselves, but it is based on the early learning inculcated by parents and early carers - it doesn't happen in a vacuum.
 
Reason - sits with the other two, in an area of our minds formed by early education and the underlying assumptions that inform our actions and thinking
 
Good manners - now there, I'm right alongside you, as long as we can define good manners as treating others as one would like to be treated oneself. That might mean hearing someone out even if you believe they are talking nonsense; trying to persuade others of ones viewpoint rather than brow beating; avoiding use of even mildly abusive language in any context; avoiding drawing unwarranted conclusions ('because you don't agree with me, you must be a bigot/racist/abuser of small fluffy animals').Ultimately, good manners in debate may mean accepting that you are just going to have to agree to differ, and accepting that you may be wrong, despite all your logic and learning.
 
Honesty - well, I would have a problem with honesty that went so far as to inflict hurtful names on the person you are arguing with. If I honestly and sincerely believe someone is a prat, I don't think honesty requires me to tell him so; however, if I hope to win an argument by reference to my own experiences, best I am honest and truthful about what they are (I once stood on Bob Marley's toe, but it would be going way too far to say we were friends)
 
Heart - oh yes, as long as we remember that even apparently quite nasty and hostile people also have feelings, and that if we are not careful, they can be injured.
 
Thanks for starting this thread - I've really enjoyed putting in my two pennorth.
I realise I may be in a minority, but I do firmly believe that everyone, no matter how stupid, wicked, or obtuse they may appear, has value and that no-one should be deprived of the opportunity to say what they think.
I also think the mantra for anyone engaging in debate should be IT IS POSSIBLE THAT I AM WRONG - that way, we will all think before we speak - which would be nice.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:19 pm

This above all - to thine own self be true.

The dangerous ones, Heretic, are those who believe their own propaganda.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:46 am

I guess, following on from yesterday, we all think for ourselves, but in thinking for ourselves, we draw on a limited number of resources, which will include those people who we hold to be authoritative voices.

Generally these will be people whose opinions seem to be in tune with our own, who have been able to use logic, reason and the fruits of a particular kind of education to construct an argument which seems to hang together and seems to support our own opinions and prejudices, which of course are based on a set of underlying assumptions about the world that neither we nor the 'authorities' we depend upon are fully aware of.

I think very often if you go back to the sources used by these 'authorities' and consult them yourself, assuming you had the skills, you would often find that the source material is capable of a range of interpretations - the 'authority' is prevented maybe by her or his underlying assumptions and belief system from appreciating the full range of these, and will opt for the interpretation that most supports her or his viewpoint.

This is why I feel it's important to look all around a problem, and to try and be clear about your underlying belief system.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:02 pm

As you mentioned in your previous contribution, boatlady, the question of good manners comes down to "Do as you would be done by" that used to correspond also to another description, "Christian Principles"  which has fallen seriously out of fashion.  Maybe a pity, as it's a useful guide to civilised behaviour in our dog-eat-dog struggle for daily existence, even or perhaps especially for those who don't go to church.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:03 pm

Not all the time OW, I would like to think that I am decent enough to talk to etc, that posters can talk to me and treat me as I would treat them. That coming from an atheist.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:09 pm

Horses for courses, stu.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOZzNOkcEgM
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:04 pm

There's no distraction in Boatlady's simple distillation of the argument into "we can define good manners as treating others as one would like to be treated oneself."
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:16 pm

I'm wondering what is the correct way to argue or debate with someone that is just full of bile and hatred.

Me too - usually I just end up saying I agree to differ and then refuse to respond any more. Not sure it's the best way, but it certainly saves wear and tear on the nerves.

Some people enjoy the cut and thrust of debate a lot more than i do, so I wouldn't presume to judge, but to me, if anyone is , as you say, full of bile and hatred, they probably can't really pay attention to anyone else's point of view - so I'm unlikely to 'win' them. Also, the presence of bile and hatred, being as it is based on a fantasy vierw of reality (in my opinion) isn't really likely to result in any insights that I would find valuable, so why would I waste my time?
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:28 pm

People who feel themselves to have been the victim of some deficiency in the human condition are likely to seek a scapegoat.
Who easier to attack than a correspondent to an internet site?
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:09 pm

I've worked in my time with people with both cognitive impairment and with serious mental health issues and have been able to benefit from training in the management and avoidance of aggression.

One of the basic lessons is - when someone is 'kicking off' (i.e. expressing violent and extreme emotion) they can't respond to reason, and the only thing you can do is to do damage limitation by withdrawing yourself and others out of harm's way. Later, when they are a bit calmer, you can maybe start to discuss the rights and wrongs of their behaviour and begin to address any concerns they have.

Similarly, in debate and discussion, once I've stated my case as clearly as I can and listened to the point of view of others, either some degree of understanding has been reached, or we remain in our entrenched positions. Further reiteration of opposing views results in angry exchanges, at which point we are in the position of an individual 'kicking off' i.e. unable to engage with reason - this is the time in my view to withdraw from a discussion, as the next stage is inevitably the resort to ad hominem argument and interpersonal abuse. The debate can always be taken up again at a later pointwhen both parties are able to discuss reasonably again.

I'm not sure it makes very much difference to anything if other people think I agree with a point of view that I don't agree with - it might make me feel a bit frustrated to feel I've 'lost' an argument but I guess I might survive.

I saw the clip about Tommy Robinson before - didn't quite know what to make of it - I'm still not convinced it wasn't some sort of scam - I quite expect his resurgence at the head of a more 'respectable' right wing racist movement.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:01 pm

In the real world you need to make sure that you are not seen as challenging people behaving like this while using every and any trick in the book to calm them down. I don't know how to behave in the virtual world.


Agree to differ, withdraw, and refuse to re-engage until a more reasonable argument has been advanced?

After all, online we're not usually talking imminent danger - so isn't there time for this strategy?
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:25 pm

An absolute Master in the art of debate was, of course, Nelson Mandela who was lost to us today.

Nobody is likely to fail in their argument if they follow the same rules.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:41 am

He paid a terrible price for it though.

Precisely. The Man's strength lay in his fortitude and subsequently in his forbearance.

My personal choice would always have been for the "Carrie" solution - a development of the 10 Biblical plagues from Exodus.
Zap the enemy!
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Re: The art of debate

Post by woolyback on Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:39 am

Don't post half sozzled.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:16 am

Often a sensible guideline - hello Woolyback - nice to meet you
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Re: The art of debate

Post by woolyback on Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:39 am

Hello and thank you for the welcome.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by woolyback on Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:53 am

Heretic wrote:Woolyback is a term used by Scousers (people from Liverpool) to represent everybody else.

Welcome.

Heretic


Oh! I thought that name  was reserved for  the Welsh along with sheep molester.... or words to that effect.   silent 

Well... that's what it sounded like  in The Kop end when Mickey Thomas scored.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Phil Hornby on Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:36 am

" I sometimes come across people who without a doubt are cleverer than myself..."

Join the club, mate.

 I would have substituted the word 'often' for ''sometimes' in my case, but I tend not to let it hinder me from throwing in my tuppenyworth...!         Smile
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:40 am

Two interesting thought I try to keep in mind during an argument
1) I may be mistaken - the other person may be right and I may be wrong
2) We may each in fact be saying broadly the same things, in different language.

As you say, we want to win people and not arguments - I find those two thoughts help to keep me alert.


if we cannot clearly explain something in a simple way then perhaps we do not understand it as well as we think we do.

Oh yes    Idea
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Phil Hornby on Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:45 am

" I may be mistaken - the other person may be right and I may be wrong"

I seek at all costs to avoid this thought ever entering my mind...       sarcasm
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:22 pm

Phil,
If you never consider the possibility that you may be wrong, how can you be sure you are really listening to the other person? (and possibly learning something new?)
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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:51 pm

Well said boatlady, you must always listen to the other point of view even if you do not like the poster.  headbang 
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:55 pm

Old Music-Hall song:

Two lovely black eyes
Oh, what a surprise!
Only for telling a man he was wrong
Two lovely black eyes!
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Phil Hornby on Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:36 pm

All I seem to lack is the benefit of my raft of critics stopping to consider whether I am right.


Surely there can be no doubt about it...can there...? 

Any more of this doubting my infallibility and I may have to take my abuse elsewhere...  Smile 
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:22 pm

lol! lol! lol! 
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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:38 pm

boatlady, that is how I like all my debates to end if possible.  Laughing 
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:23 pm

IDS doesn't doubt his infallibility, nor do the sanguine Gove, binomial Grant Shapps, pyromaniac Francis Maude or our valued Chancellor.

Who could ask for better moral examples to emulate, Phil?
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Phil Hornby on Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:31 pm

Ah.

 Suddenly I don't feel infallible anymore....         Shocked
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Ivan on Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:41 pm

Logical Fallacies

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logical-fallacies
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:37 am

What you may be describing, Heretic, is the familiar situation which in French is called parole d'escalier - the crushing retort that you only think of ten minutes too late. "On the stairs going out".
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Norm Deplume on Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:17 pm

oftenwrong wrote:What you may be describing, Heretic, is the familiar situation which in French is called parole d'escalier - the crushing retort that you only think of ten minutes too late.  "On the stairs going out".

I've only ever seen that as l'esprit d'escalier but there could be several variations, of course.
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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:31 pm

Whichever,it has to be something d'escalier for stairs does it not?
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Ivan on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:16 pm

The pyramid of intellect


https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B-dth9FIQAATCKc.jpg
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Re: The art of debate

Post by boatlady on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:16 pm

I've seen this elsewhere - nice to see it here - says it all, really
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Re: The art of debate

Post by stuart torr on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:20 pm

Says everything does it not? thumbsup
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Re: The art of debate

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:27 pm

A similar example can be found in the "comparisons" table:

I'm dogged, you're stubborn.
I'm correct, you're pedantic.
I need my rest. You are idle.
I'm singing. You're caterwauling.
I'm emphasising. You're shouting.
I'm a little overweight. You're obese.
I debate. You argue.

Feel free to add your own dichotomies to the list
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Re: The art of debate

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:56 am

I'm friendly you're obsequious
I persuade you preach
I'm tenacious you're bull-headed
I'm resilient you're repetitive
I'm confident you're supercilious

I'll try and think up a few more. .. Smile
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Re: The art of debate

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