Debate skills?
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26-09-2013, 10:33 PM (This post was last modified: 26-09-2013 10:42 PM by evenheathen.)
RE: Debate skills?
Quote: in his case, sarcasm is the default position.

Just reread and realized. Sorry. But I think my main point stands.Angel

(I know, I'm just a pot looking for a kettle)

"It's a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
― نجيب محفوظ, Sugar Street
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27-09-2013, 05:42 AM
RE: Debate skills?
I don't understand why this thread is in this area, but I'll respond.

This is my only criticism. Everything else you said is spot on.

Allies don't really mean anything. Take the ever-famous Galileo example. His allies were few. The Pope had plenty of allies. The Pope's credibility had nothing to do with his allies. Like this, if I say something counter to logic, and I get a majority consensus, I am still wrong. It is true that people who have a reputation of being knowledgeable backing your logical argument can add to your credibility, but bear in mind this does not necessarily make you right, or your opponent wrong.

The rest of what you said was correct. We are human, and we are faulty, all of us. Like you, I try not to let emotion in, but I find it quite hard to bite my tongue when my opponent resorts to insults as a means to give themselves credibility...or rather try to lower my credibility so that theirs is higher by comparison. I have seen excellent - poignant debaters belittled by idiots with a big mouth who opted to take the higher road by not stooping to their level. Just something to keep in mind.

I will add to what you said, if you don't mind. As a debater, you should always keep and open mind. If you get into a fixed position without allowing the possibility of error on your part, then what is the point in debating one another? Very rarely do I debate and come away ceding my argument entirely. Never have I done that on a topic which I have felt well educated about, however my position has been altered slightly on occasion. I learn. It should be the purpose of every debater to not only explain why you are right, but also to learn when you are wrong.

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27-09-2013, 11:01 AM
Re: Debate skills?
In making the point about consensus, I outlined that agreement of course does not make you right. But no one agreeing with you is a good sign you may be barking up the wrong tree.

Obviously for big things like what Galileo or Darwin or Einstein discovered, there is no way that anyone could be behind them and agreeing with them from the outset since they are presenting something new entirely. I am not talking about such situations and consensus, I am talking about debates on forums like this.

Let's say I am debating with a theist on here and I begin to make my arguments and at first, I have 5 or 6 people agreeing with me. Then I say something stupid or make an unjustified or false claim (let's say that I make the claim that the Bible gives an actual numerical age for the Earth in Genesis). If I do that and then see that those who were formerly supporting my argument have backed-off or are telling me I am wrong, it is a good sign I have either made an error or that my argument is flawed in some way (perhaps it is incomprehensible).

It is about listening to your proponents as much as it is about listening to the arguments of your opponents. And that is why consensus matters.




Also, I put the thread in this section as a kind of general suggestion for the forum community as a whole. Thumbsup

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27-09-2013, 11:06 AM
RE: Debate skills?
Ah, I see. But I am thinking big picture and am reminded of the late, great Mark Twain. "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."

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27-09-2013, 11:15 AM
Re: Debate skills?
Absolutely. That man had a great way with words. I think he is basically saying something that Hitchens said with a bit more explanation though as opposed to general rules for debate.

It essentially goes like this (I am sure there is a video of it somewhere). If you have 100 people in a room and 99 of them all agree on one point and one person disagrees, that persons opinion immediately becomes important. They may not be wrong, but it is essential you listen to them to find out. Then they are either likely correct and the opinions will begin to sway and debate begins, or they are likely wrong and the split remains 99 to 1.

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