Spotting poor debate tactics

Spotting poor debate tactics

Oct 28, 2016, 5:37:03 PM Opinion

I've heard and had used on me over the years some downright dirty tactics in debating - some of which I would like to share to help you spot the signs of a poor debater!

Whenever you hear 'I don't believe this but.." or "A lot of what is said here is wrong.." before an argument is made on any subject, challenge it at the earliest opportunity. This is a very poor tactic made by people who have to begin with, a weak argument. There are many tactics involved with 'poisoning the well' when it comes to discussion and debate, and it's healthy to make yourself aware of these tactics, and to avoid any emotional blackmail and/or losing an argument out of fear, rather than objectivity. 

Another tactic is the appeal to a subjective morality. It's pretty easy to spot, because when an opposing view is put forward, the opponent will either use a outwardly sarcastic tone, or use body language or visual clues to discredit it. Sometimes however this cant be helped, especially when it's coming from strong opposition. The most stupid arguments are ones that attempt to project the assumed collective morality - used a lot by Cenk Uygur which is completely insulting to intelligence, the "Right?... Right?...". Call these out when they occur.  

Comparisons to hate-figures is another classic that needs to be tackled head on. If someone is making the (painfully common) to Hitler  or the Nazi's in any argument that does not directly correlate - it's a tactic to gain support through collective hatred and not through logic.

Finally, the most common of all. The ad hominem. The attack on a person, not on the subject in an attempt to discredit a viewpoint. This one is the worst of all and is a complete cop-out unless directly correlated to the subject. 

Most of these tactics can be beaten with one, simple query. "Why?". Try it next time you're in a debate. It sometimes has hilarious consequences. Using it too much however can get pretty annoying, so only use it if any unwarranted tactics above come your way. 

The process for debate is to arrive at a conclusion, with material for each side to think about, or to change a viewpoint entirely. Debate is to help us grow, explore new ideas and learn. Anything using the tactics above frequently and unchallenged, is subjective opinion only. It's not about 'winning'. 

Published by Amuro Rey

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