Sunday, January 10, 2010

Debate, Vigorously And Often

A lot here I'm working on (less the manliness):
How To Debate Politics* Like A Gentleman, from The Art of Manliness

* Or diet (vegan vs. meat-eating), or healthcare (public vs. private), or food production (local vs. global), or ...

  • The other person has a reason for thinking as they do. Try to see their reasoning. This might not help:
    - I’m a very intelligent man and I believe X.
    - This other guy believes Y.
    - Therefore this other guy is a complete moron.
  • Do not ask questions as a way to dig up material to pounce on and attack. Take the time to really understand their sides of the issues.

  • Consume media that presents news from both sides.
    You must make an effort to read, listen, and watch news that may make your blood pressure soar, but will leave you better informed and ready to make fair assessments.
  • Concede a point where appropriate.
    An intelligent and secure man is able to say, “Yeah, that’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that."
  • Don’t use inflammatory language.
    The man who is insecure with the simple, bare validity of his argument will be tempted to resort to inflammatory language and insults.


    During his days as a young state assemblyman in New York, Teddy Roosevelt would frequently lose his cool during debates on the Assembly floor. He’d call his opponents “cold blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid, old psalm singing Indianapolis politicians” or “oily-Gammon, churchgoing specimens,” or simply “classical ignoramuses.”

    Young Roosevelt quickly became the laughing stock of the Assembly and of the state newspapers with his outbursts. After bitterly insulting a senior assemblyman, Roosevelt was rebuked severely, and tearfully apologized for his unbecoming behavior.
I liked that last example. Can you see a politician today tearfully apologizing? (Is an apology a sign of weakness?)
Comic from xkcd.


Seinberg said...

That has to be my favorite comic...

Bix said...

Some things are perennially funny.

The part of this post where it says consume media from both sides. I'm working on that one.

caulfieldkid said...

That last point about inflammatory language. The examples are considered, in classical rhetoric, "ad hominem." Basically, it is attacking the person rather than dealing with the issue at hand. It certainly is one of the more popular ways to argue these days.

I have to say, Bix, that over the time I've been reading your blog I cannot recall a time when you employed that tactic; I commend you for that.

Consuming media from both sides is difficult for me. It seems that no matter which outlet you turn to, the position being presented is hyperbole. If not that, they only present the information that helps their case. I suppose that's the purpose of getting as many views as possible.


Bix said...

Now that you point it out, they are personal attacks aren't they. Ad hominem ... I've had it rise up in me, but then, I've had it done to me. And it hurt. And I realized a couple things:

1. I shouldn't treat others in a way I don't want to be treated.
2. It doesn't advance understanding.

Seinberg mentioned Godwin's law the other day. I had to look it up:

It does seem that online discussions can degrade to a point where you can't say anything anymore. It gets progressively more vicious and personal and eventually someone will call another out as responsible for all things wrong with humanity. And that's the end of that.

Leonard said...

The only politicians I see tearfully apologizing these days are the ones who have cheated on their spouses.
;) peace