Author Topic: People don't know how to argue  (Read 3077 times)

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Offline Mr. Apple

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People don't know how to argue
« on: January 25, 2011, 11:45:46 pm »
So i'm in the car riding home and listening to Mr. Sean Hannity debate with some call in person on the radio. It was at this moment when i realized. THIS GUY CAN'T ARGUE! Now, I am republican/conservative by nature and have listened to Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and the like for a very long time. but now i can see its just "Your wrong and i'm right because i have control over the phone lines." Now, the very last bit of mainstream media that i was watching/listening to has gone down the drain. When you argue, you don't say your wrong and i'm right without giving evidence! you take what the other person said and turn it around! especially if your a professional. >:(

Has anyone else noticed this.
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Offline Yip

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 12:33:34 am »
I haven't listened to that person in particular, but I have noticed a lot of people don't seem to know how to argue properly and honestly.
Doing things like:
  • Simply making assertions
  • Refusing to admit even when they are shown to be wrong
  • Shifting the burden of proof ("you can't proof this isn't the way I say it is")
  • Making fallacious appeals to emotion, or authority, or popularity,  etc.
  • Confusing an attack against their argument as a personal attack (there is a big distinction between the two)
And so on.

In some cases I think it is that people don't know how to argue, and in others I am forced to question their honesty. For example, you have someone that uses a flawed argument that gets soundly beaten down. That is, the argument is shown to clearly be completely fallacious. And then you later see that person using the same exact argument as though nothing had happened. You gotta question the honesty at that point. I mean, it'd be one thing if they had new evidence or at least acknowledge the arguments against it, but thats very often not the case.

Offline Kobuk

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 03:53:49 am »
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Has anyone else noticed this.

You have no idea. *cough* *wink*  ;)
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Offline Foxpup

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 04:16:37 am »
I wish I could argue that people do know how to argue, but unfortunately I don't have any evidence to back up such an extraordinary claim.
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Offline Kobuk

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 04:22:40 am »
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People don't know how to argue

It's not about arguing. It's about how to have a debate.......and to do it civilly too and to RESPECT others and their opinions.

Case in point: This very forum. Far too long have I and the other staff seen countless threads degenerate into flaming, baiting other members into replying, insults, etc., etc. This Debate Forum was created to at least try and bring some civility to various controversial and debateable topics that members may wish to discuss. The rules are quite clear here about what WS expects when members debate:
http://forums.furtopia.org/index.php/topic,36687.0.html
And this thread can be applied to not only the Debate forum, but any other forum as well:
http://forums.furtopia.org/index.php/topic,31933.0.html
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Offline Yip

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 05:35:09 am »
It's not about arguing. It's about how to have a debate.......and to do it civilly too and to RESPECT others and their opinions.
I believe Mr.Apple means the skill of argumentation, as in forming effective arguments. Which is closely related to debate. Though I feel I should point out that proper good debate should be about gaining a better understanding of the positions of others and/or of helping them gain a better understanding of your position, and if possible reaching a state of agreement. If done honestly and respectfully, this is a very healthy exercise.  Contrast this with "debates" where the focus is entirely on proving your side is right no matter what. Those almost never get anywhere and are more than likely to end up with flamewars and other nastiness.

And while I agree that you should remain civil and respectful towards others. I disagree about the need to respect their opinions. For example, if someone sincerely believes that the world is flat, that doesn't change the fact that it is a completely ridiculous idea and I should not in any way be expected to show it respect. Although others have the right to hold their beliefs no matter how stupid they may be, that does not mean the beliefs themselves need to be shown respect. It's the difference between attacking the person and attacking the argument, like I mentioned earlier.

Offline Avan

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 10:52:56 am »
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People don't know how to argue

It's not about arguing. It's about how to have a debate.......and to do it civilly too and to RESPECT others and their opinions.
Though the skills of formulating a valid argument, and then validly debating that point, are rather crucial to having such a debate, no?
If you have a bunch of people who are simply asserting points without making counterpoints to the other side, then you get a whole bunch of yelling people, and that's hardly a civil debate.
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Offline Mr. Apple

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 12:20:25 am »
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People don't know how to argue

It's not about arguing. It's about how to have a debate.......and to do it civilly too and to RESPECT others and their opinions.
Though the skills of formulating a valid argument, and then validly debating that point, are rather crucial to having such a debate, no?
If you have a bunch of people who are simply asserting points without making counterpoints to the other side, then you get a whole bunch of yelling people, and that's hardly a civil debate.

most "debates" today imo

political = your wrong
religious = you will burn in hell
ati vs. nvidia = you suck!

and coincidently the same thing happened in a big way today. one of my high-school teachers is a little mental so he was swept into a giant political debate and there were about 3-5 people in the room that had an argument as deep as humankind's knowledge of dark matter!
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Offline Rocket T. Coyote

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 11:10:41 pm »
I've been called a bigot for disagreeing or articulating a contrary opinion. Saul Alinsky tactics were sometimes in play--even by religious or educated persons. They accuse you of wanting more death, blood in the streets, and such. Demonization it's called and it's sad that some newspapers will permit such letters to be published.

Some will resort to name-calling when they cannot offer respond in a logical or civil fashion. It means that you're winning the debate. :goldglee:

My friends on The Right Perspective radio show say that Hannity is a $200 haircut with a 50-cent brain.

I have met Rush btw. I also listen to Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
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Offline Drake Blackpaw

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 09:41:31 am »
I'm not sure if most people ever knew how to make a proper argument or debate a point.  It's not a skill that often gets taught in school, unless you are taking an advanced English class or philosophy class and with the radio and TV personality role models we have, it certainly isn't being taught by example.

But then, I don't think most people want to engage in a real argument of ideas.  To engage in a real argument, you need to respect the other side enough to want to persuade and not just bludgeon them and you need to understand that your views need to logically be defended, which means that there could be some doubt to them.  Much better to just blindly and religiously hold on to your view, realize the other side are moronic heathens and beneath the dignity of a logical argument.  (of course, I think most people actually don't have logical backings for what they believe.)

When you really look at the two sides of an argument, there is usually at least some shred of truth and something worth taking from both sides.  But, that's a message we don't want to here.  Better to wrap up the other side in outrageous language that heavily distorts their view so it can easily be knockdown by people who don't want to see that a it was a strawman that was put up for them to see beaten down instead of the real views of the other side.

Offline Yip

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 05:44:38 pm »
It's not a skill that often gets taught in school...
But it should be. More specifically, critical thinking skills should be taught. The focus should be on teaching kids how to think rather than what to think. If you have good critical thinking skills, how to make a proper argument should follow. From my experience, 'debate' classes are often horrible flawed in that they use a structure which forces you on side or the other then tells you do defend that. But that's not what debating should be about. That promotes an environment were participants don't want to admit when they are wrong and were they will avoid areas that make their our arguments look weak. If your goal is to arrive at an understanding of the truth of the matter (which it should be), then you need to be willing to following the reasoning wherever it goes and not be afraid of being shown to be wrong. If you are wrong, then change your position. There is nothing wrong with that, but it usually won't happen in formal "debate".

A couple of dishonest tactics I've seen often used in live debate (meaning such as face to face, where time is an issue so a response must come quickly.) One is called the Gish Gallop. This is where the person throws out claims one after another, most of which containing lies or half-truths, strawmen, or other logical fallacies. The idea is that it takes only a few minutes to throw out all these claims, whereas it takes far far longer to deconstruct it to point out all the problems. And thus to the general public the other person appears to be unable to refute the claims, when really it's only because of the time constraints.

Another is to assert something with such force and confidence that it throws the other person off guard. Often this claim will be something so absurd that it warrants ridicule. But since the person is making the claim with such force, it can be extremely difficult (or maybe even impossible) to refute it without coming off as offensive. It's essentially hiding behind the need to remain civil and respectful. And usually involves confusing attacking the argument with attacking the person making the argument.

Honestly, anyone using these sort of tactics has already lost. They are admitting that they can't actually defend their position. Unfortunately, the general public often can not recognize this and might even claim that this person "won" the debate. It's kind of sad really.

Offline Mr. Apple

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2011, 08:44:01 pm »
^ amen to both above

I wouldn't mind a debate course in my school
it's a club now but I don't usually do clubs.

I just think it's a shame that EVEN PROFESSIONALS (this is the part that really gets me) can't come up with an argument that makes the other side think. Just think how much more productive things like radio shows would be if the hosts made really great points with backup information more than 20% of the time. Words cannot tell how annoying these "your stupid - no your stupid" arguments are getting.
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Offline Sskessa

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2011, 11:24:54 pm »
From my experience, 'debate' classes are often horrible flawed in that they use a structure which forces you on side or the other then tells you do defend that. But that's not what debating should be about. That promotes an environment were participants don't want to admit when they are wrong and were they will avoid areas that make their our arguments look weak. If your goal is to arrive at an understanding of the truth of the matter (which it should be), then you need to be willing to following the reasoning wherever it goes and not be afraid of being shown to be wrong. If you are wrong, then change your position. There is nothing wrong with that, but it usually won't happen in formal "debate".

That's why I've never joined any Debate teams in high school or college. I have no interest in learning how to twist language and outmaneuver someone in order to "win." If I want that, I can play a tactical war game, thanks.  My goal in any debate is to arrive at some kind of universal truth. The person I'm debating with is my partner and fellow philosopher, not my opponent. It doesn't matter at all if I'm wrong, it only matters if we come to a conclusion that seems truer than what we started with.
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Offline Yip

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2011, 07:10:32 am »
The person I'm debating with is my partner and fellow philosopher, not my opponent. It doesn't matter at all if I'm wrong, it only matters if we come to a conclusion that seems truer than what we started with.
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Offline Rocket T. Coyote

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2011, 10:30:56 pm »
I think that Hannity sometimes gets "seminar callers". These folks will say anything to the call screener in order to get on national airtime. Then they read off their talking points without regard to what the host has to say. Hannity's radio program seems to be a magnet for such tactics, but it also happens occassionally on other programs.

Topic shifting is another tactic we've seen. Some folks just can't stay on topic.
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Offline Sskessa

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2011, 10:50:05 pm »
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Some will resort to name-calling when they cannot offer respond in a logical or civil fashion. It means that you're winning the debate.

Not to pick on you in particular, Rocket, but your post got me thinking again about my perspective on debates.

What can "win" mean in this context? If someone calls you names, it doesn't indicate that your position is truer, it only indicates that your debate partner has poor communication skills. A person could say "I think murder should be legal because then only the strongest people will survive and procreate," and someone could say "You're a sociopathic douchebag," in response. Who's "winning"? One person is more "civil," but that doesn't make their position more true.
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Offline Rocket T. Coyote

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Re: People don't know how to argue
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2011, 05:04:18 pm »
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Some will resort to name-calling when they cannot offer respond in a logical or civil fashion. It means that you're winning the debate.

Not to pick on you in particular, Rocket, but your post got me thinking again about my perspective on debates.

What can "win" mean in this context? If someone calls you names, it doesn't indicate that your position is truer, it only indicates that your debate partner has poor communication skills. A person could say "I think murder should be legal because then only the strongest people will survive and procreate," and someone could say "You're a sociopathic douchebag," in response. Who's "winning"? One person is more "civil," but that doesn't make their position more true.

That was actually ellaboration on a quote from Mark Twain. The popular humorist knew a few things about insults.
"The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him. And even the fleas would dessert him for a velocipide."~Mark Twain
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