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Wed Feb 5, 2020, 12:57 PM

Growing Inability to Debate is a Handicap for Those With Truth On Their Side

We call people who disagree with us names -- "Stupid" "Putin puppet" "Sex/race/age-ist" "deplorable" -- but does name-calling flip voters or does it harden their position?

We dismiss news we don't like as "biased" "fake" or "Russian bots" when it would be more effective to respond with truth.

The most common tactics in American debates are now:

1) the Ad Hominem attack -- a logical fallacy which posits that 'X cannot be true because it was said by Y, a known-liar' and

2) the Ad Nauseam defense -- a logical fallacy which insists that 'X must be true because we keep saying it over and over'

3) sarcasm -- which tells us only what you DON'T think is true but not what you do think

Far more effective is using the truth + valid logic + lack of personal attacks. Bonus points for anyone who can attribute this famous piece of political advice:

"Every time they attack you it gives you another chance to get your message out."

Meaning the truth wins. Dunning-Kruger is a real effect and in-person saying things louder and more emphatically than one's opponent(s) can create the perception that the speaker is more confident and therefore correct but in the long run and online the truth is a better weapon because it endures and because it leads away from emotion-laden facts-be-damned arguments into a real debate where the truth can win.

There is a time tested technique for persuasion -- Listen to your opponent/prospect and then speak back to them using the words and phrases they used + truth. Give them the space and opportunity to come to your side without shaming them for past positions.

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Reply Growing Inability to Debate is a Handicap for Those With Truth On Their Side (Original post)
Apollo Zeus Feb 5 OP
genxlib Feb 5 #1
Arthur_Frain Feb 5 #4
Apollo Zeus Feb 5 #5
brokephibroke Feb 5 #2
Newest Reality Feb 5 #3
Apollo Zeus Feb 5 #7
Newest Reality Feb 5 #8
Baked Potato Feb 5 #6

Response to Apollo Zeus (Original post)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 01:07 PM

1. I completely understand this OP

But I see one major flaw in debate these days.

We used to start with a common base of information and assumptions and then have differing opinions about those issues.

These days, people have their own set of information and assumptions. This makes the debate much less feasible since we can't even agree on the basic issues as they exist.

We used to be able to rely on the Media to be that common starting point. But media sources have become so customized and targeted (and frankly bullshit) that reasonable debate is very difficult.

I can have a reasonable debate with someone who thinks Hillary is too moderate and corporate. I cannot have a reasonable argument with someone who thinks she has killed staffers and runs a pedophile ring.

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Response to genxlib (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 01:25 PM

4. This please.

How can you debate with someone who claims to have alternative facts?

These days I usually preface any attempt at serious discussion with “how old do you think the earth is?”

That weeds out a lot of dead end conversations right there.

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Response to genxlib (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 01:50 PM

5. read an interesting analysis on Twitter vs YouTube

that looked at the kinds of (mis)information silos that people seek out. They looked for reasons why YouTube had so many RW ranters while Twitter was more of a free-for-all where people were fact-checked immediately. They held that YouTube is a ranting format where anyone can upload a series of videos of themselves ranting unchallenged about any subject until they build an audience.

RW people have one set of stereotypes and a singular view of the way the world works and this allows any one of them to connect with millions of others. Left leaning people tend to see the world with more nuance and that makes us the proverbial 'Herd of cats.' We are much harder to unify and make audiences out of.


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Response to Apollo Zeus (Original post)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 01:10 PM

2. This is the legacy of Limbaugh

Appealing to the base emotions of the audience.

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Response to Apollo Zeus (Original post)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 01:22 PM

3. Excellent!

That is a great OP and goes along somewhat with my thoughts on the matter.

I would add that, if we want to debate and focus on facts and truth it is up to us to recognize our own tendencies to fall for a knee-jerk reaction and start to tame that. It is a common problem since our limibic system, (lizard brain) is rather primed for that and media and others often exploit this evolutionary survival function that becomes a liability when it is applied to complex situations that require a calm, direct and clear response.

The key factor is to remember response rather than reaction. That may mean pausing more often to note our state and being more aware of our own biases, (which tend to be very transparent and we see "through" them). In that sense, we cultivate our reasoning and logic and it becomes a good habit to let that initial rush of emotive and critical reaction pass rather than cloud our judgement and poison our discussions.

I would add that we may often get a secondary benefit from name calling, being condescending and acting with various forms of prejudice for the opponent and what we might get is catharsis or a brief sense of release, and that's hardly useful and very personal. Imagine honoring your opponent, that dirty rotten, x, y, z? Well, you can see what that might set off in your right here. What? Them? Yet, you take the higher ground by embracing that stance because there would be no debate, discussion or dissemination of truth required if the opponent were not providing the need to and bringing contrast to issues. It is all about who takes the ascendant perspective and a more noble posture, which is reason, logic, respect and determined focus.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 02:04 PM

7. Models often break people into groups based on what moves them

Sales and marketing people have studied this stuff to death. One model breaks people into four groups who are most swayed by facts, emotions, details or big picture. And while I believe strongly in winning with facts, I know that facts alone are enough for many. The basis of confirmation bias is that it feels good to find things that confirm your bias. FaceBook encourages us to feel rather than think by giving us reaction options that are only feelings, not thoughts. Eg "Like, love, laugh, wow, cry, angry" -- not: "agree, disagree, untrue, illogical"

I used to produce data for well paid execs and my boss coached me "If you give them the correct conclusion they will resist it but if you make them think that THEY saw it (first) then they will embrace." I try to carry that technique into more confrontational discussion.

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Response to Apollo Zeus (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 5, 2020, 02:30 PM

8. Good strategy

It does help to have experience in fields that utilize those methods. The shift in advertising over many decades even demonstrates what you mentioned. It was more common, early on, to emphasize two things for a product, its features and benefits as well as why it was better than brand x. Very often, now, the commercials are about feelings emotions and the product is merely inserted into the flow of the feelings, or the commercial is about how creative it is in itself, (or funny) and that's self-referential.

There is something called the logical levels, (from minutely specific to ultimately abstract via deductive and inductive logic). The value of understanding those levels is similar to that of knowing how they are utilized pervasively to sway opinion, (need I mention Chomsky's seminal, Manufacturing Consent, et al?) and that relates to what you were saying. However, being able to intentionally move up and down in them is both powerful and provides quite a shield from unwanted manipulation and influences when it becomes ingrained.

Being the mother of all biases, yes the confirmation bias can be a lurking weakness until we start to pay attention to our own, which is not really difficult and, in my experience, allows for more degrees of flexibility and freedom--both of which are important to debate and influencing opinions. I think it should be approached in a way that biases are not bad in themselves, (they are an extension of survival methods) but they can be limiting and deceptive when left unheeded and that's a matter of attention and investigation. In that case, they can tend to make us more predictable and susceptible to an opposition that can read or intuit ours.

I suggest these things as well as we are doing here. It may catch on more if people understand that this is not rocket science, nor does it require majoring in the subject at a University. If we learn about the various kinds of biases and also about the logical levels and the major, logical fallacies we could literally fashion a bastion of truth along with the means to reinforce and grow it because it will become a skill of unconscious competence that also provides a common basis for unity among our compatriots.

And, as you were noting, perception is the key, and that is a good place to start in an age of information where people may be forgetting that it is knowledge that is necessary in order to deal with the information and they are not the same.

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