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On Fridays, the National Public Radio (NPR) show "Talk of the… - AdrianG — LiveJournal [APOD]
November 21st, 2004
10:55 am

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From:adriang
Date:November 22nd, 2004 04:04 am (UTC)
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I had not heard of it before. A quick look makes me think that most participants are more interested in stirring up controversy than in exchanging interesting ideas. Do you find it to be otherwise?

Adrian
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From:savagemind
Date:November 22nd, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)
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No, but I greatly enjoy controversy. The reason I mention it is, well, this: http://www.livejournal.com/community/debate/3556205.html

After that it seems to have spread into every other discussion-oriented community.
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From:adriang
Date:November 22nd, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
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I'll have to take a look at that link.

Debate always troubles me a bit. Clearly it has some value. But when I am discussing an issue with someone, part of what I try to do is make sure that I'm really giving the other party a chance to change my mind about the issue. I think the best approach to changing someone's mind on a subject is to make arguments rooted in that persons own beliefs. That means that I have to try to explain enough about my viewpoint to give the other party a fair chance to change my mind, and I have to listen carefully enough to the other party to know how to make such arguments to him or her.

Formal debate is generally not about two parties trying to exchange ideas so much as it is about those two parties putting on shows designed to convince a third party that they won. While debate skills have their uses, they are very different from discussion skills, and it's really discussion skills that I want to develop.

On the other hand, my experience has been that people arguing with me against evolution have rarely, if ever, employed discussion skills as I've described them. I can't say that they've ever been honest enough with me about their own reasons for belief that I have a fair chance to change their minds; And I don't recall them ever attempting to frame arguments in terms of more fundamental things that I've said I believe. It has always seemed to me that they were trying to convince me that the average third party would likely side with them.

This kind of experience in evolution vs. creationism discourse makes me think that perhaps debate skills really are what matter most in these cases. Really, all I could hope to accomplish is to convince the audience that I'm right, and that does have some value. So while I like discourse to be calm and respectful most of the time, I will at least look over that particular debate.

Thanks.

Adrian
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From:savagemind
Date:November 22nd, 2004 07:32 pm (UTC)
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In all fairness to debate, there is no formal debate going on whatsoever.
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From:adriang
Date:November 22nd, 2004 08:00 pm (UTC)
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I'm guessing you're right about that. The word "debate" has a more precise meaning in the context of formal debate, so it seemed like the right place to try to make my point. I can't be as certain, but I suspect still applies to many less formal debates. The real question is, do the arguments presented seem more tailored to appeal to the fundamental beliefs of the people to whom they are addressed, or do they seem more tailored to appeal to the public in general (the audience).

Of course, in the Evolution vs. Creation Science debate, the best we can probably hope for is to appeal to the audience.

Adrian
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From:savagemind
Date:November 22nd, 2004 09:41 pm (UTC)
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Most arguments are self-serving, regardless of to whom they are tailored. The reason why I am so fond of debate is that most members are (brutally) honest about this and without pretense regarding it, save their own massively inflated egos.
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From:adriang
Date:November 22nd, 2004 10:00 pm (UTC)
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Surely there is some virtue in this. 8-)

Adrian
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