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.


  1. Ah, you mean me I think! Well, in one instance anyway.

    Do bear in mind that most people that would read your blog are probably interested in learning and exploring a topic. We had a long-winded exchange a while back, and I really couldn't persuade you that I *did* understand what you were saying, I just disagreed with it. But we went round in circles.

    Eventually I realised that the problem was that our differences were fundamental. To me, metaphor and analogy aren't *evidence*. Logic can provide proof - as in *self consistency* - but that doesn't equate to existence. Finally, many of your posts start the wrong way round: you presume something, you believe in it, and then come up with an analogy to illustrate this - then say that this proves it is true. But unless your reader already shares the belief and sees it from that perspective, these analogies aren't persuasive.

    So I can understand why you find debating frustrating, because most of the people who disagree with you will disagree with the very foundation of your argument, it's assumptions - which to you will seem like they don't understand.

    However, you are always an interesting read, so keep it up! Being thought-provoking may be part of the problem though. :-)

    (Ex-physicist, atheist but not non-theist, liker of the concept of "larger mind" etc.)

  2. It just seems that sometimes your arguments are based on fallacies, particularly the stuff about probabilities and so on. I was reminded of this by:

    And sometimes it seems that your arguments rest on the idea of "if it is possible for me to imagine it, then it is possible for it to exist". However, of course I may just be misunderstanding you through my own lenses!

    Population vs reincarnation, interesting. Is this the problem that there are more people than they used to be, so where are all the "souls" coming from? If every individual consciousness is an expression of the larger consciousness ('aspects' of the Mind At Large) then this wouldn't be a problem. It is then not individual people that are reincarnated as such, it's that the consciousness that you were is not destroyed. Alternative: there are multiple 'worlds' that one can express oneself through?

  3. I more or less agree with the link. And no that doesn't contradict what I say in my chances of being born entry.