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  1. #1
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    10 ways to be better at debating

    I don't agree that debates ODN are of a decent quality. I've noticed, over the years, that people here have some stupendously bad habits when it comes to debate. Worse, these bad habits rub off on others and the quality of debate for everyone goes down.

    So here are some things I'd like to see change.

    1. Don't pretend the real world doesn't exist.
    Too many debates have moments where a member denies something that's common knowledge. It's an obnoxious stall tactic that serves only to frustrate others. I shouldn't have to prove that Christians believe in Christ or that the anti-abortion crowd isn't in favor of abortion. We're here to debate. Not to try to confuse a jury.

    2. Don't abuse context.
    There have been some really stellar debates on this site that have been utterly derailed when someone muddles up the context of the original debate. It's great that you want to think outside the box and I don't think anyone should have to censor themselves. At the same time, your brilliant insight might do far better in it's own thread so as not to derail the original. For example, If the op is about the merits of an abortion law, this is not an invitation to attack the notion of law, itself.

    3. Know your opponent's stance.
    I see the worst violations whenever evolution comes up (though it's not limited to that). The anti-evolution crowd seems to wear their ignorance of evolution as a badge of honor. I can't tell you how profoundly trollish this is. If you can't debate without attacking a line of straw men, then you can't debate. Take the time to understand a stance before you attack it.

    4. Don't play dumb.
    If you can see what your opponent is trying to say but don't like how they've worded it, then SAY THAT. Don't engage in some trollish deliberate misinterpretation of their words. Don't pretend you didn't get it. If you're sitting at your computer and thinking to yourself, "Well he meant X, but how can I reply to make it sound like he meant Y" then you're being a troll. Instead just say something like, "Hey man. That kinda sounded like Y. I can tell you meant X. Here's why I don't agree with X..."

    5 Do not be your gender's stereotype.
    Women and men are of equal intelligence. We're genetically identical down to just a couple of chromosomes. So if you're a guy, please don't talk down to women or assume they're wrong because they're female. If you're a woman, please don't post a string of overly emotional replies or personal tales and then get mad when other people just don't "get it". And don't pretend like you don't know exactly what I'm talking about.

    6. "A crappy argument presented by you, evidences absolutely no shortcomings by me."
    Don't accuse people of being "close minded". Being open minded simply means that you're willing to listen to and consider all points of view. It does NOT mean that you have to take them all seriously. If you tell someone "pigs fly" and they explain that pigs cannot, in fact, fly... yeah, don't accuse them of being "close minded".

    7. Be willing to admit that you're wrong or that you've used a fallacy.
    Yes. We all like arguing and we all like being right. But you're not going to be right all of the time. Be that guy who's man enough to admit it. Or at the very least admit that you bungled an argument by using a fallacy.

    8. Do not engage in "bansmanship".
    Brinkmanship is a term from the cold war. Look it up. Bansmanship is arguing in an obnoxious way deliberately to try to evoke a trollish response from your opponent in hopes a mod will ban hammer them. It's being juuuuust enough of a troll yourself to try to get the other guy to cross a line... without crossing it yourself. If you're at your computer thinking to yourself "How can I word this to really piss this guy off" then you're being a troll.

    9. Don't dismiss sources without a counter-source.
    This comes up a lot in evolution debates but is certainly not limited to it. There are hundreds of junk websites with junk science on them in favor of intelligent design. Don't just toss out the claim because it's backed up from a junk website. Explain WHY it's junk by giving a counter-example. If you don't have one, then resign yourself that the best you can claim is bias. We all need to find a more intellectually honest common ground between "This website say it, so it's true." and "Your website is in support of your argument so it's biased and wrong."

    10. Erase the line by line refutation you just wrote of this list.
    Seriously. If you don't think it applies to you, then just make sure you never let it. If you think it never happens, you're wrong.



    Oh and I freely admit that I've been guilty of all of these at one time or another. But so have all of you.

    Let's all debate better.

  2. Likes byrd5d, Someguy, Kivam liked this post
  3. #2
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    11. Don't be needlessly sarcastic or nasty. This is probably the most important one of all, since when you drop into nastiness for no reason, it all but forecloses any possibility that the "other side" will actually listen to anything you have to say.
    Ah, well - apparently my kids were too distracting to stay as a sig. I take that as a compliment

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  5. #3
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Kivam View Post
    11. Don't be needlessly sarcastic or nasty. This is probably the most important one of all, since when you drop into nastiness for no reason, it all but forecloses any possibility that the "other side" will actually listen to anything you have to say.
    I would just include that under point number 8. Being needlessly sarcastic & nasty = bansmanship.

  6. #4
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    These all seem like something of a personal preference more than an objective rule list.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  7. #5
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    I don't agree that debates ODN are of a decent quality. I've noticed, over the years, that people here have some stupendously bad habits when it comes to debate. Worse, these bad habits rub off on others and the quality of debate for everyone goes down.

    So here are some things I'd like to see change.

    1. Don't pretend the real world doesn't exist.
    Too many debates have moments where a member denies something that's common knowledge. It's an obnoxious stall tactic that serves only to frustrate others. I shouldn't have to prove that Christians believe in Christ or that the anti-abortion crowd isn't in favor of abortion. We're here to debate. Not to try to confuse a jury.
    How do you know the real world exists, though? Can you prove it objectively?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    2. Don't abuse context.
    There have been some really stellar debates on this site that have been utterly derailed when someone muddles up the context of the original debate. It's great that you want to think outside the box and I don't think anyone should have to censor themselves. At the same time, your brilliant insight might do far better in it's own thread so as not to derail the original. For example, If the op is about the merits of an abortion law, this is not an invitation to attack the notion of law, itself.
    Why would a stellar debate be concerned with abortion law? A stellar debate should involve the cosmos, not abortion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    3. Know your opponent's stance.
    I see the worst violations whenever evolution comes up (though it's not limited to that). The anti-evolution crowd seems to wear their ignorance of evolution as a badge of honor. I can't tell you how profoundly trollish this is. If you can't debate without attacking a line of straw men, then you can't debate. Take the time to understand a stance before you attack it.
    So are you saying everyone is stupid? How DARE you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    4. Don't play dumb.
    If you can see what your opponent is trying to say but don't like how they've worded it, then SAY THAT. Don't engage in some trollish deliberate misinterpretation of their words. Don't pretend you didn't get it. If you're sitting at your computer and thinking to yourself, "Well he meant X, but how can I reply to make it sound like he meant Y" then you're being a troll. Instead just say something like, "Hey man. That kinda sounded like Y. I can tell you meant X. Here's why I don't agree with X..."
    So what you're saying is that everyone plays dumb just to make everyone else look smarter? Surely you can't be serious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    5 Do not be your gender's stereotype.
    Women and men are of equal intelligence. We're genetically identical down to just a couple of chromosomes. So if you're a guy, please don't talk down to women or assume they're wrong because they're female. If you're a woman, please don't post a string of overly emotional replies or personal tales and then get mad when other people just don't "get it". And don't pretend like you don't know exactly what I'm talking about.
    Typical Jewish attitude about gender roles...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    6. "A crappy argument presented by you, evidences absolutely no shortcomings by me."
    Don't accuse people of being "close minded". Being open minded simply means that you're willing to listen to and consider all points of view. It does NOT mean that you have to take them all seriously. If you tell someone "pigs fly" and they explain that pigs cannot, in fact, fly... yeah, don't accuse them of being "close minded".
    ...

    Ok, I can't do it anymore. I agree that yes, I'm WAY guilty of this sort of thing and that debate would generally be far improved if people didn't do such things.

    As for my other comments...


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  9. #6
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    These all seem like something of a personal preference more than an objective rule list.
    I'm facepalming so hard right now.

  10. #7
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    I'm facepalming so hard right now.
    Is this response engaging in your No. 8: "Do not engage in "bansmanship"?
    Last edited by eye4magic; July 12th, 2012 at 12:52 PM.
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
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  12. #8
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Is this response engaging in your No. 8: "Do not engage in "bansmanship"?
    Did you just ask if I'm engaging in bansmanship with the site admin?

  13. #9
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    I'll add one that gets my goat.

    12. Don't just challenge a point if you can easily look it up and directly refute it instead.
    While its easy to just push challenge and make them site sources, if its something you can spend 10 minutes looking up and offering a direct rebuttal that is far more effective and educational for everyone. Especially if the claim you challenge is a negative assertion like "no one every dies for lack of health care in the US." Challenging that is just asking them to spin in a hamster wheel because its not the sort of thing you can effectively prove. but it is something you can very easily disprove with a tiny bit of work and the debate will be far better for it.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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  15. #10
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Did you just ask if I'm engaging in bansmanship with the site admin?
    Yes, that was the question. Is your



    of Apok's comment bansmanship?
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
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  16. #11
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Yes, that was the question. Is your



    of Apok's comment bansmanship?
    That would be a no. But asking me a question with such an obvious answer is.

  17. #12
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    That would be a no.
    Then why would you publicly post that you were facepalming Apok's comment that your debating suggestions were more personal preferences then objective preferences? Where you embarrassed from his comment because it makes sense?

    I have no problem with your suggestions. But I do agree with Apok, that they are personal debating perferences, thus I was somewhat surpised with your facepalm comment.

    facepalm
    •interjection conveying disbelief or disappointment. Used in text-based communication (e.g. online discussion forums.)
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
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  19. #13
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Then why would you publicly post that you were facepalming Apok's comment that your debating suggestions were more personal preferences then objective preferences?
    Because it's not about a specific objective standard, per se. And I was a little disappointed that 'pok didn't have anything to say on the matter (positive or negative).

  20. #14
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    I will post my own list...but instead, use a objective, academic standard (one that would usually be found in most university level crit thinking courses).
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  22. #15
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Apok, I think Zhav's list was more of an etiquette guide than an actual debating guideline. As such, I think it was rather quite good. Does anyone know how much it pains me to say something positive about anything Zhav does???? That must mean something, right?
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

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  24. #16
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    I won't let it go to my head.

  25. #17
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    Apok, I think Zhav's list was more of an etiquette guide than an actual debating guideline. As such, I think it was rather quite good. Does anyone know how much it pains me to say something positive about anything Zhav does???? That must mean something, right?
    I agree with you that in a general sense, it is good...but primarily because it is common sense. I think after he gave most of the categories he unnecessarily ranted and restricted their use too much.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  26. #18
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    I agree with you that in a general sense, it is good...but primarily because it is common sense. I think after he gave most of the categories he unnecessarily ranted and restricted their use too much.
    So can all agree to generally agree, holding minor disagreements aside in the interests of world peace and a brighter tomorrow?
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

  27. #19
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    Apok, I think Zhav's list was more of an etiquette guide than an actual debating guideline. As such, I think it was rather quite good. Does anyone know how much it pains me to say something positive about anything Zhav does???? That must mean something, right?
    I feel your pain...

    Will have to give it to Zhav, he is at least trying. It is the implementation of his rules/objectives I would like to see. Most of all, I wonder if he will be so kind to set the example.
    >>]Aspoestertjie[<<

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  28. #20
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    Re: 10 ways to be better at debating

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie View Post
    I feel your pain...

    Will have to give it to Zhav, he is at least trying. It is the implementation of his rules/objectives I would like to see. Most of all, I wonder if he will be so kind to set the example.
    Now you have just crossed the line.
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

 

 
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