Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Debating with people

It's an extremely common tendency to try and justify ones position on any topic by seeking out those opponents who advance the most naive, the weakest and most ridiculous arguments. Or, when arguing with more thoughtful opponents, to attribute to them a more naive or simplistic position than the one they actually hold and attack that. 

In addition it seems that people often appear to deliberately avoid clarity and revel in being abstruse.  My suspicion is they do this in order to give the impression of winning the argument.  In reality though their words convey little, if indeed any meaning.

These tactics might rally those who subscribe to your view, but does precious little to justify your own position. What is needed is to seek out those opponents who provide the most challenging and sophisticated arguments, and to address those specific arguments. If you can outargue them and even make them appear to be foolish, then you'll have some confidence that your position might well be correct.

It is though very tempting to simply attack your weakest opponents.  Or attack the weakest arguments against your position. Or to employ other underhanded strategies in order to "win"
.  It's easy, requires little thought, makes you feel superior, and of course most importantly of all it garners support and admiration from those who share your sentiments and beliefs in the matter in hand.