Debate is stupid (alt proposal)

#1
https://theoutline.com/post/6709/debate-is-stupid

EXCERPT: . . . As it turned out, the debate didn’t go so well for fans of liberalism. Frum himself tried to make sense of it in a postmortem published in The Atlantic, scratching his head at the wreckage he and Bannon had left behind. At first, the post-debate polling suggested that Bannon had won the hearts and minds of the audience, with 57 percent taking his side by the end, compared to 28 percent at the start of the event. Later the Munk Debate officials issued a correction, stating that the audience voted exactly the same at the start and the end, which by the debate’s rules is considered a draw. The situation remains somewhat unclear, but we know this much: best case scenario, Frum got onto a stage with a person who appeals to humanity’s grossest instincts, believing he could defeat those instincts with knowledge, reason, and Enlightenment values — and he didn’t move the needle in the slightest.

[...] But any form of debate is inherently flawed. The aim of debate is not to provide a detailed, cogent, well-sourced answer to the question at hand. The aim of debate is to be the most convincing, not the smartest, and anyone who’s good at debating knows this. This is how former Breitbart scribe Ben Shapiro has a reputation as an intellectual warrior when his arguments mostly consist of saying incorrect things very fast. This is why conservative political commentator Steven Crowder has a series called “Change My Mind” in which he ambushes random college kids with a big binder full of pre-prepared talking points, and pulls the mic away from them anytime they seem like they might actually change someone’s mind. This is how a call to murder pedophiles got my high school audience onside better than my scribbled stats on deterrence rates did.

People — yes, even you — do not make decisions on an entirely rational basis. An audience is more easily won over with a one-liner that inspires applause or laughter than a five-minute explanation of a complicated phenomenon. A false statistic repeated confidently will be more convincing than a truth stated haltingly by some guy you’ve never heard of, and who you’ve already decided you don’t like because he’s arguing against the guy you came to see. Massively complex ideologies with hundreds of years of scholarship behind them are reduced to a couple of fast-talking egos in Dockers thinking about the best way to make their opponent look like a dumbass. Debate is not politics. It’s theater.

[...] Do not be tempted by the promise of easy satisfaction. Watching a debate can make you actively worse at understanding the nuances of a topic. If you want to really know about a subject, here’s my advice: read widely and extensively (and not just the books your favorite YouTuber recommends). Talk to people, patiently and fairly, rejecting your instinctual desire to win. ...

MORE: https://theoutline.com/post/6709/debate-is-stupid
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#2
(Nov 29, 2018 05:53 PM)C C Wrote: [...] But any form of debate is inherently flawed. The aim of debate is not to provide a detailed, cogent, well-sourced answer to the question at hand. The aim of debate is to be the most convincing, not the smartest, and anyone who’s good at debating knows this. This is how former Breitbart scribe Ben Shapiro has a reputation as an intellectual warrior when his arguments mostly consist of saying incorrect things very fast. This is why conservative political commentator Steven Crowder has a series called “Change My Mind” in which he ambushes random college kids with a big binder full of pre-prepared talking points, and pulls the mic away from them anytime they seem like they might actually change someone’s mind.

Obvious partisan bias there. Otherwise, more leftists would be clamoring to debate Shapiro or Crowder, as the left clearly has an edge on emotionally manipulative arguments.

This is a transparent attempt to justify avoiding such debates where the other side regularly wins...with facts.
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#3
Is the goal though in a debate, to always ''win?" I think that debates can be learning experiences, even if we come out ''losing.'' Not sure if there are winners and losers, because so much of debating frequently comes down to personal opinions.
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#4
The purpose of public debates is rarely to convince the opposition. At best, you're using the opposition to convince an audience. It's not about you winning, per se. It's about making the other guy's position less tenable for the audience to identify with. That may not result in yours being more attractive, but breeding skepticism is, itself, a good thing.

Without an audience, the debate format is usually pointless, as neither side is usually very amiable to persuasion. Conversations with that goal in mind are better served with the Socratic method, where one asks questions to help clarify a position and its justifications rather than make any assertions. That way it isn't your claims that are doing the persuasion. It is their own reasoning, as they try to explicitly justify their own position.

Granted, the Socratic method is useful in both cases, as it can expose weaknesses in an opponents reasoning to an audience or get an intellectually honest individual to really think about opinions that may have only been implicitly or emotionally justified.
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#5
(Dec 1, 2018 10:43 PM)Leigha Wrote: [...] I think that debates can be learning experiences [...]


Refereed "classroom debates" that penalize participants for engaging in argumentative fallacies can thereby instruct and condition one with awareness of such. But in the real world -- outside of that purely artificial setup -- sophistries and crafty propaganda become weapons of war. They're instead something to seek and employ for persuading audiences, jurors, panel members, voters, broadcast viewers, spectator crowds, etc. Or so a belief about cherished tactics may go, whether research actually supports their potency or not.

Privately, anyone with their head screwed-on right will still go with their own personal experiences slash successful results rather than piously genuflect to statistical generalizations or the cautions of idealized models outputted by studies. (Abstractions which a person as a particular agent encountering their own contingent circumstances and events does not concretely reside in.) But from a community and vocational duty standpoint, one should work-wise execute and publicly give lip-service and support to the systemic tenets, platitudes, customs, and other regulative thought-orientations of one's profession / tribe (including any ideas advanced, acquired, or preached by research). Outwardly encouraging anomalous "you can go your own way" rebellion is no preservation of a society from unbridled anarchy.

~
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