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debate... - silver Harloe

About debate...

Previous Entry debate... Jun. 30th, 2008 @ 09:01 am Next Entry
I was in a chat room associated with a game. Someone asked a question about the game (specifically, how people were playing it, or, rather, cheating at it), and a third person answered. I questioned the answer. People disagreed with me, and rather than reiterate my opinion as if they said nothing, I questioned their arguments. And then I mentioned that, incidentally, I agreed with the original answer, but like debate for its own sake, because I learn by having my assumptions challenged. Someone said I distracting from conversation, so I pointed out I was merely continuing existing conversation started by two unrelated people. Someone said I was violating the "terms of service" and I pointed out that mere debate wasn't a violation of terms of service, as I wasn't personally attacking anyone, just asking questions. Someone said I was a "know it all," and I pointed out that if I thought I knew everything, I wouldn't debate, and certainly wouldn't take positions I disagreed with. I said "I debate to learn". Someone told me to STFU and go to another room, and I said, "that isn't an argument, that's an evasion." Once I reached my goal for the game for the day, I departed the room with the comment "people who dismiss debate are acting more like 'know it alls' than people who welcome having their views challenged. have a good day and goodbye."

A few things bug me. One is that my impression (possibly flawed) is that people (as a mob) seem to think debate is useless, when it was one of the founding virtues of the United States. Another is that, in my recent memory, whenever politicians have a "debate," they don't actually debate anything, but just state their opinions near each other. Another is that few people seem to be willing to argue something they don't believe, just to experience the thought process. Another is that the whole concept of barring speech or banning books or movies seems to be acceptable to many people - as if Truth were hurt by debate (I think it isn't) or that questions were unpatriotic (I believe the opposite is true - a patriot always questions, as part of their duty to democracy) or that consensus is somehow better when handed down from on high rather than reached by reason (I obviously believe the latter).

Of course, in a fair world, I'd now be forced to argue for repression of free speech, silencing of debate, and ignoring reason as tools for reaching democratic consensus.
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Date:June 30th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
I think a part of the problem is that for a sigfigant and vocal chunk of the american population you cannot persuade through argument, so "debate" becomes just an excuse to shout at someone or to present their position with no real need for response or counterpoint.
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Date:June 30th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
you were in chat last night? ;)
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Date:July 1st, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
I agree litch, most people I try to debate with tend to think I am arguing with them. I believe too many people confuse the two concepts. Unfortunately much of this confusion can probably be blamed on our wonderful education system and the promotion of emotional response over logical in the media and society in general.

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