Friday, September 15, 2006

Worthy of Debate

In chele's recent blog entry, "Put Down Your Dukes," she mentioned the fact that sometimes stupid arguments masquerade as worthwhile debates. I couldn't agree more.

I'm fine with a bit of back-and-forth on a topic, but often there comes a point at which one or more involved parties realize that all the points have been made, those points won't get any clearer, and no one's going to change their minds.

That's a good time to move on.

Another is when it becomes apparent that your discussion partner is disingenuous. One sign of this is when you address their points and their rebuttal is simply to restate them. The Cosby Show said it best, "Saying it loud don't make it right."

That's a good time to move on.

Not to put it all on the other person, it's also a good idea to recognize when you have too much emotion tied up in the topic-of-discussion, to have a reasoned, rational, civil conversation. Whether the reasons for your emotions are "good" or "bad" is irrelevant to the question of impedance. In other words, when those feelings become obstacles and barriers in the discussion, that's not doing anyone any good.

That's a good time to move on... to a discussion topic or discussion partner you feel is more worthy of debate.


YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said...

I've read plenty of blogs that I totally disagreed with....then I remembered that lil' "next blog" thingy in the upper right hand corner.

princessdominique said...

I agree, if you are too emotionally invested in a particular topic there probably isn't a cool-headed way for you to address it, leave it alone.

James Manning said...

Agreed. This philosphy would apply to every topic except sports, beer, and food.

chele said...

when you have too much emotion tied up in the topic-of-discussion, to have a reasoned, rational, civil conversation

... when I'm feeling like this I it's in everyone's best interest for me not to say anything at all. Unfortunately, I've dealt with folks who can't give me some time to collect myself and they end up on the receiving end of some serious verbal abuse.

Eudaimo said...

Sad to say it, but I used to ber big on "debating" disagreements, but over about 20 years of doing it, I've only seen people change their minds on something a handful of times (Less than 3-4 times).

Leaving aside blatant flame-wars, internet people are still particularly bad in some respects. The internet is practically the home of the idea that if something bothers you, it's so obviously bad/offensive/stupid/idiotic that anyone with half a brain would know. It's enough to simply link to it and say "wow."

Another painful mistake that seems to always share the same breath is to mistate the other person's argument so badly as to ridicule them. A cheater's reductio ad absurdem.


West said...


As I say, if you can't accurately repeat/rephrase your opponent's position, there's little point in debating it.

There are few things as worthless as two people arguing about two different things, if you know what I mean.