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BS: Fighting fair in arguments

McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 03 - 08:27 PM
early 14 Oct 03 - 08:00 PM
The Fooles Troupe 13 Oct 03 - 11:22 PM
kendall 13 Oct 03 - 09:22 PM
Bill D 13 Oct 03 - 09:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 03 - 08:20 PM
kendall 13 Oct 03 - 07:58 PM
Bassic 13 Oct 03 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 13 Oct 03 - 03:14 PM
LilyFestre 13 Oct 03 - 06:41 AM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Oct 03 - 10:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Oct 03 - 08:44 PM
early 12 Oct 03 - 08:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Oct 03 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,Grab 12 Oct 03 - 07:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM
John Hardly 12 Oct 03 - 11:28 AM
Dave Wynn 12 Oct 03 - 11:17 AM
Mickey191 12 Oct 03 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Wolfgang 12 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM
John Hardly 12 Oct 03 - 06:07 AM
Gurney 12 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Oct 03 - 11:29 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 10:59 PM
Joybell 11 Oct 03 - 10:46 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 10:42 PM
Joybell 11 Oct 03 - 10:37 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 10:22 PM
Joybell 11 Oct 03 - 10:11 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 10:06 PM
Joybell 11 Oct 03 - 09:09 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 08:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 03 - 08:13 PM
Bobert 11 Oct 03 - 08:12 PM
kendall 11 Oct 03 - 07:34 PM
Gareth 11 Oct 03 - 07:10 PM
John Hardly 11 Oct 03 - 06:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 03 - 06:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 03 - 06:20 PM
Uncle_DaveO 11 Oct 03 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Wolfgang 11 Oct 03 - 05:25 PM
Bill D 11 Oct 03 - 05:03 PM
mack/misophist 11 Oct 03 - 02:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 03 - 01:30 PM
kendall 11 Oct 03 - 12:13 PM
Bill D 11 Oct 03 - 12:11 PM
wysiwyg 11 Oct 03 - 12:04 PM
GUEST 11 Oct 03 - 11:18 AM
M.Ted 11 Oct 03 - 11:15 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Oct 03 - 10:35 AM
GUEST 11 Oct 03 - 09:44 AM
Mickey191 11 Oct 03 - 09:19 AM
John Hardly 11 Oct 03 - 08:55 AM
Amos 11 Oct 03 - 08:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 03 - 08:38 AM
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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 03 - 08:27 PM

"argument" means several things. One of them is just the position that you are proposing. Another would be any reason that you put forward for holding thar position to be true, or for throwing doubt on another position. Then it can mean a reasoned dispute. Or it can just mean another word for a shouting match. But that last meaning doesn't override the others.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: early
Date: 14 Oct 03 - 08:00 PM

hi kendall
my view is debates are for learning,
arguments tend to be more vociferous, contentious and bad mannered,nothing i find is ever learnt in an argument except perhaps the character of your opponent or maybe how hard they can punch once they begin to see defeat approaching!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 11:22 PM

I partly agree with sorefingers above - this is predominately a music forum.

But, and it's a big but, sometimes the spelling or the grammar can be such that it obscures "the sense" of what is being said. Then clarification is often necessary for real communication.

I do admit that when I was younger, I was pedantic about English Spelling and Grammar. But then, as I studied English further, I began to realise just how many "dialects" modern English has all around the world, with so many different "slang" expressions, and while I still like to spell things the way that the Latin & Greek roots of many english words were taught to me "phone" not "fone" - I can mostly cope with things these days...

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: kendall
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 09:22 PM

Republicans and money are redundant. I was starting to lose it, so I called a truce.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 09:11 PM

now THAT, McGrath, is insightful!..plus there are a few who are simply lazy or sheep (perhaps that is under 'stupid')


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 08:20 PM

"...anyone who supports the Bush gang is either blind or stupid..."

Suely there are also some people who are neither of those things, but who stand to make a lot of money out of it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: kendall
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 07:58 PM

early, there is a very good reason to argue without winning. You might learn something.

An old friend and I have been having some very warm disagreements on the Bush administration, but, we have agreed to disagree without declaring war. I told him that in my not so humble opinion, anyone who supports the Bush gang is either blind or stupid and "you, my friend, are not stupid." I hate his stand, not him.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bassic
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 04:14 PM

For me there are two forms of argument. Argument for sport, which I rarely do, and argument that allows me to learn or sometimes teach. I frequently find that one becomes the other, when I think I am teaching I end up learning and visa versa.

I rarely argue for sport unless it is with someone I know well and I can "read" the signs of body language etc. which tells me that the other person is in a similar "sporting" frame of mind and not taking things personally.

On the rare occasions I have attacked some ones arguments or statements on the Mudcat it has usually been because they have attacked someone else who`s opinions I respect or have made unpleasant or unjustified statements about someone or something I admire. On those occasions I usually regret my responses, not because I have necessarily been wrong, but because I have usually found the other person to have other "issues" at work which prevent any rational discussion of their statements and prevent any "learning" taking place on either side.

I thoroughly enjoy discussing "stuff", especially with the with intelligent and informed people of Mudcat land :-), and explaining my views to other people who might be interested. It helps me grow to have my views intelligently challenged and keeps what little intellect I have alive and adapting to a changing world. Hopefully, from time to time, I do the same for others.

I strongly dislike pointless "mudslinging", to me it is just bullying by another name. And for me, spelling and the like are irrelevant on a site like this unless they lead to a serious misunderstanding, which hardly ever seems to happen. An interesting and real issue on the Mudcat McG, thanks for opening it up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 03:14 PM

I agree with Mr Mc G and add that often folks are so wrapt up in a fight that they forget what they came here for.

But I must add; this website is proof that there are people who don't give a dang about spelling or grimmer or anyother literary device for that matter, but who would be ashamed if they played a bad chord while singing a folk song.

I know my remark is off topic, but I do fervently pray that some folks here get the message - it is a musicians website ; so being kicked around here by some egghead for bad English should be a serious offence esp if the thread is a request for folkie information.

Musicians tend for the most part to be slightly literary since they need be familiar with lyrics and OC a bit of poetry, but to be copy perfect at prose? I don't think so.

If 'literary' folks want to compare notes and compete for netprose professor of the year, they should not be doing it to some unsuspecting picker who is here for the musicana.

my 2 cents


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: LilyFestre
Date: 13 Oct 03 - 06:41 AM

While working in a newspaper office, I once got into a heated argument with a fellow I had never even met. We become great friends.

Sticking to the topic at hand without being rude, hurtful or sarcastic made all the difference in the world.

We all have disagreements, but how you handle them sometimes can make or break a relationship.

Michelle =^..^=


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 10:22 PM

John Hardly "There's also a very good device, honed razor sharp by radio talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Combs..."

That's one of the tricks I referred to before.
Appeal To Authority.
An attack technique is to immediately launch an attack on the Authority - assuming that your opponent HAS made an appeal to authority.

The only authority in the case of remembered personal matters, is of course the person making the statement to you, so what this really is, is a disguised form of the "ad hominem" or "against the person" attack.

So you see, KNOWING about the tricks helps.

So if you were put on the spot by these clowns, you would distinctly disrupt their flow by pointing this out. They probably do not even recognise their technique as this - only that it works and is effective in creating "entertainment". Of course, if you did this, you would want to be pretty confident of your ability to also detect and deflect all of the other cute little tricks...


"Now it is replaced with a distrust of the sources cited, such as, "oh -- they're owned by the moonies, etc." "

This is an attack on the appeal to authority.

Of course, it can be a valid technique. In the days of the rise of the Nazis, they produced breathing propaganda - THEY were the auhtority that was believed by many people, who often did not recognise that they had been misled untill after hostilities ceased, some of them perhaps never recognised this. Some people believe this propaganda to this day, even violently so.


Wolfgang's ""Thanks for the correction"" - of course doesn't work on those with a fixed agenda - it may be politically incorrect to say even a mental attitude problem...

Mickey 191 - about spelling & typos: sometimes the typo/spelling is trivial - the menaing is obvious - at other times it may lead to confusion. I have a good friend who is aphasic (gets the wrong word) - occassionally we end up in the wrong place intellectually cause I dod not catch the fault, but now I usually know what the real word is, and don't have to interrupt the flow to check the wrod.


Spot the Dog "because you are better at argument does not make you right".
As someone who had a decade or more of life and career trashed because of a paranoid schizophrenic boss "helping" me, I couldn;t agree more!

and

McGrath "The fact that an adversary might be talking nonsense is no guarantee that we are right in what we are saying."

is the other side of the coin!


Grab's "you don't (CAN'T) understand because you are not a XXX"
is tricky. It may be relevant - but then again it may just be a tactic. The only response is "So now tell me exactly WHY I can't understand because I do not have your _particular_ experiences, but I do have _relevant_ ones" which unfortunately requires the dispelling of emotions in order to work...

Mcgrath phrased it well: "If you are arguing that the moon is made of green cheese, and I am arguing that it is made of yellow cheese, I might win the argument, since it does looks a lot more yellow than it does green. But that doesn't mean I'm in any way right about the moon."

There is a serious point to be made here. Two situations..

a) Two 7 years olds at the point of fisticuffs over the colour of the sky.

b) Two nuclear nations with their fingers on the launch buttons, over an alleged terroritorial dispute.

In one case, rationality, truth, etc doesn't matter much, they may be both wrong... in the other case, they may be both wrong too, but things are a little more serious...

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 08:44 PM

Which goes back to what I said in my first post about arguments/discussions/controversies:

"On the one hand they can be fights, trying to beat the opponent regardless, anything goes. Or they can be collaborative exercises - either collaborative in the way that in a formal contest or game your opponent is actually in a deeper sense your partner; or in the way that different people with different ideas can be involved in a joint project.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: early
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 08:35 PM

if you aint gonna win the argument no point having one


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 08:28 PM

"surely a debate/discussion/argument/whatever is all about seeing how strong the other person's case is" - surely it's more about demonstrating that your own case is actually valid, not just stronger than someone you happen to be arguing with.

If you are arguing that the moon is made of green cheese, and I am arguing that it is made of yellow cheese, I might win the argument, since it does looks a lot more yellow than it does green. But that doesn't mean I'm in any way right about the moon.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST,Grab
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 07:55 PM

What gets me really annoyed are the "irrational" tactics. The "why do you have to be right" approach is one, generally favoured by spouses. The "you're not a woman/black/poor/Irish/Roma/gay/married/parent/Catholic so you don't understand" is another classic which gets used pretty damn often (you know who you are ;-) to say that your argument is invalid because of who you are, not bcos of what you're saying.

As far as going for the "weak points", surely a debate/discussion/argument/whatever is all about seeing how strong the other person's case is, and whether they can justify what they're saying. In that case, all weak points in the argument are fair game - a weak point in one apparently-unrelated area may roll up your whole reasoning. Ad hominems aren't though, and I think pointing out typos/grammar should be considered an ad hominem attack on message boards like this, especially since many ppl are not English speakers and/or are unfamiliar with typing.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM

When I mentioned weak points I was mainly meaning points where someone's argument is seriously open to challenge. I think we should be more interested in the weak points that seem to show up in our own arguments than in those that show up in the case being argued by an adversary.

The fact that an adversary might be talking nonsense is no guarantee that we are right in what we are saying. And my main concern in a real discussion is that what I say should be able to stand up and make sense. Otherwise winning is just a waste of energy, except in the case where it's just a play debate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: John Hardly
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 11:28 AM

"because you are better at argument does not make you right".

Yeah, but it almost always wins. Take for example the Quayle/Benson debate. The great line "You are no Jack Kennedy" was a huge zinger..

...but largely a non-sequitor. Quayle wasn't claiming anything but the same political experience as a young Jack Kennedy, but Benson, seeing a huge rhetorical vulnerability, handed perhaps the biggest single debate loss in political history with one line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 11:17 AM

I can't remember the personalities but I once watched a debate on TV in the UK where a senior politician was ripping apart a younger and less eloquent colleague. The less eloquent person replied with " because you are better at argument does not make you right".
Nice thought.

Spot


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Mickey191
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 10:26 AM

It's my feeling that to correct someone's spelling or grammar is simply rude, unless one person is a teacher and the other a student. It's an ego enhancing trip for the corrector. Nothing more. If one is having a serious debate or discussion, doesn't it just obfuscate the point being made? It's just one upsmanship, and many observers may be alienated by that kind of pettiness. A mispelling maybe a typo - so how we to really know the difference? Perhaps the person is a great speller but a lousey tipist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM

John,

I see what you mean with the weaker points if it is spelling etc. When I see that I often put (the smaller) part of the blame on the reaction of the one attacked.

"It is spelled 'desperate', dumbass"

of many possible answers this is one of the better ones:

"Thanks for the correction"

Not acknowledging an error in a minor point can lead to disastrous interaction.
One party: They don't mean my spelling (figures, or whatever) they mean my position so I won't even start giving in and they can't spell/think/argue themselves by the way.
Other party: They are not even able to admit an error in a minor point, so why do they think it is worth listening to them in their major points.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: John Hardly
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 06:07 AM

By "attacking the weaker points", I took that to mean (at least in part) bringing up the things that do not matter to the arguement itself -- rather are just good fodder for a put-down. Happens all the time, such as...

1. pointing out bad spelling
2. pointing out bad grammar
3. I had someone who didn't like that I didn't argue points in the ORDER they thought I should.
4. I'm sure we can all think of those time when we came away from a discussion with a feeling of "of all my points why did they choose to argue with THAT one? It wasn't even important to the whole of the debate."

There's also a very good device, honed razor sharp by radio talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Combs...

Whenever a point is made (that is broadly seen as acceptable) require a source or example. Most people (not all, I understand) remember the concept impressed on them by an event or situation. Few remember details, like what day it was, where they were, where they read it, etc.

I'm not saying a good arguement shouldn't be well sourced. What I am talking about is a way of bogging down a debate on the details when the principle would remain unchanged anyway. (incidentally, this has become used less and less on the internet because now sources are but a few clicks away. Now it is replaced with a distrust of the sources cited, such as, "oh -- they're owned by the moonies, etc."


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM

Acouple of points as I see them:

In this written forum it is easier to be nasty to an 'opponent' than it would be face to face. I've seen some published letters from erudite and learned men (usually men) that are agressive and abusive, and would likely get the speaker a bloody nose if they were spoken rather than written.
There are visual clues to the mood of the opponent which are missing in correspondence, and these clues give the protagonists time to retract or explain. After you have clicked the 'submit' gadget it is too late, and you have no chance to say 'Look, lets have a drink and I'll explain.." so you go to bed and think "The bastard! I'll have to..."

As for going for the weak points, Hell yes! Why attack the strong ones?


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 11:29 PM

The tearful "Why do you have to be right?" sort of behaviour - can of course be manipulative behaviour in itself.

Lots of other good comments above too.

One point to make is that at one time, there was a lot of effort invested in something that has now lapsed - the study of what physical gestures to make when making a speech to emphasise your point. A sort of Victorian era Body Language, which they carried to extremes, but which is based on natural impulses, but that many of us have to be shown explicitly in order to learn.

In a forum such as this, tone of voice, body language, etc are absent.

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:59 PM

Well danged, bellster. I figgured that if you came back with yet... another rebuttal... I was gonna jus' throw in the towel and declare you the winner but.....

Awww, who cares... You win....

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:46 PM

Been fun messin' Bobert. See you around
                                        J


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:42 PM

Great. I've got an awesome stamp collection and this stamp should fit in right nicely...

Sorry, I'm jus' messin'... Pay no attention...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:37 PM

Sorry! Fancyfree and tricky. A Koala stamp for spelling to you Sir.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:22 PM

Man, you really got to work on yer danged spellin'.. it's "cola", no "koalas"!!!... What is that? Aussie spellin', 'er what. Well, you aoin't gonna bambozzel me with them fancy spellin's... Hey, 'round these parts they just call it "Big Gulp" rather than "Super Koala"... Same stuff....

If we're gonna keep up this "argument", then you gonna have to loose the fancy spellin' tricks...

It's cheatin' and you know it....

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:11 PM

Oh No! The Giant Koala! I knew one day I'd conjure him up! Sorry! Back ! Back I say! Not super swift - koalas. It's the eucalyptus oil.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:06 PM

Ahhhh, Joybell:

Ahhh, you talkin' to me???... I mean, you talkin' to me???... Hmmmmmm? Checked out yer mama's closet fir comabt boots? Yeah, didn't think so....

Awww, jus' funnin'...

Don't worry 'bout me none. Ive had my shots and don't bite hard...

But I sure love messin' with the serious folks...

(But, Bobert, don't you realize that this is some serious stuff here?...)

Sorry... Screw all of you!

Jus' funnin', Part 2...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 09:09 PM

Lots of good advice here. Especially for a relative newcomer. The tendency to jump right in without studying the discussion is a common problem I'm sure. I am already cringing when I think of it. I really enjoy The Trickster in his/her playful and clever mode -- not nasty mode. The tendency to see funny aspects of even serious issues always sidetracks me as I'm sure it does many of my new friends here. Well intentioned clever humour,is a good ingredient in an argument I think and it's already very obvious in this thread.
Extra stars and a koala stamp to a great mind that is also funny I say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:40 PM

No, that is rude, McGrath... See, yer insultin' them personally rather than pick in their moms... Ignore the "knucklehead" remarks that I made about the, ahhh, nuckleheads and repeat after me:

I won't be rude...

I won't be rude...

I won't be rude...

Geeze...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:13 PM

But a more courteous way of doing it.

"It seems to me, sir, that you are a lying cur"

"Unless I am very much mistaken, your presence pollutes this planet."

Much more style doing it that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:12 PM

Well, if this ain't one heck of a mess! Sure, argumenters will also go after their opponents weak spots. That's purdy danged basic. Kinda like boxing. (Oh, I I see he's got his left hand down to low. Bang!)

Now, I agree with Kendall that you ain't sposed to call nobobt no names and I've tried real hear not to call knucklehead Dougie, troll and Teribus no real bad names, other than "nucklehead", which they, of course, is!...

But that was the old and unimproved Bobert. So I'm ready to take this to the next level, ahhh, since McGrath did open it up fir discussion...

Ahhhh, yo Doug, troll and T-Bird: Yer mama's wear combat boots! There, take that!

Awww, just funnin'...

Actually, my mom has a pair of 'em that she wears when she goes in the woods....

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: kendall
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 07:34 PM

Rumor has it that you suck. Sure fire way to start a fight.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Gareth
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 07:10 PM

Funny how those who start loosing arguments resort to abuse. Like Ard Marcha, Carol, Fionn etc.

Be warned. If you wish to resort to personal abuse, well I'am better at it.

And I've mined a goodly supply of your previous posts.

Gareth - Yor favorite Sheep shagger !


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: John Hardly
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 06:55 PM

Let me try this (Uncle DaveO) method out...

Uncle DaveO, you're full of crap!!!!!!!!

Uncle DaveO, it may be the case that you are full of crap!!!!

Hey, that does work better.

Thanks Dave.

*BG*


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 06:51 PM

Aristotles Rhetoric (Not that I've ever read it. Maybe I will now.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 06:20 PM

It's not that I've anything against picking out other people's weak points, Wolfgang. I'm all for that. The problem is when we use that as a way of avoiding dealing with the things that have been picked out as our weak points. Politicians do that all the time, any time they feel themselves challenged about something they've done or something they've said.

That's even more so when the weak points we use in this way aren't actually weak points in the arguments of our adversaries, but essentially irrelevant vulnerabilities arising from who they are - "ad hominem" and all that. Or attacks by association.

I agree with Dave about the value of sticking in "it seems to me" and so forth. In a sense, of course, these are redundant expressions, because if it didn't seem to me that something was the case I wouldn't be saying it - but it takes the edge off it a bit, and goes some way to make up for the fact we can't see each other. And I find it a lot less irritating to read than these emoticons and IMHO and all that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 05:37 PM

A discussion technique I recommend, and try always to practice myself, is to be free with such locutions as:
it seems to me that....
it appears that....
it seems to make sense that...
my take on this is....
it may be the case that....
as I understand it....


This soft-sell approach is (it seems to me) less likely to be taken as an attack on the other person, and in any case avoids laying down what might sound like "universal principles" which just beg to be refuted.

Not only that, but, if I'm shown to be wrong, I don't end up with so much egg on my own face.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 05:25 PM

There are many points I agree with in the opening post, but let me pick the one point I completely disagree with and so be a role model for what I read to be meant in that point:

I think we should actually seek the weak points in the others' arguments and address particularly these. Maybe that comes from my training as a scientist, but in each theory (or set of thoughts, or ideas) the weak points are the most interesting for in them we can see whether the ideas are really good or not. We have to stretch a thought to its limits to see how far it goes and whether it is good in extreme situations. We can learn most from our thoughts being exposed to extreme tests.

I thoroughly agree, McGrath, that to learn our own week points in a discussion is extremely valuable. But for that we need the others who single out these weak points and shows us where our ideas may (or may not) have problems.

I am not irritated at all by those who go for the weak points, I'm irritated by those who think they as persons are attacked when one of their arguments is attacked. And I'm irritated by those, often the same ones, who cannot admit in clear words they have been wrong in one particular point (of may they have made) when they perceive the 'opposition' to have a different (political, or whatever) leaning in that particular discussion.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 05:03 PM

one of the most 'interesting' things about we humans is our ability to look directly at truth and reason and logic--and totally ignore it in an argument...for reasons of self-interest, hormones, family tradition, national pride..etc...it makes little difference. It is a VERY rare person who usually follows exactly what neutral (a computer, perhaps?)analysis might suggest. And some issues, of course, simply don't lend themselves to 'solving', so arguments BECOME rhetorical and a test of will rather than reason. And we have 4-5 million years of evolution telling us to WIN, not to be logical ...philosophy & logic & 'fairness' are a pretty recent development, and competition is embedded in the genes when it comes to some problems.
   Did you ever see a Bull Moose in mating season even considering being fair? Or two very hungry babboons with one piece of fruit? We humans are not so very far above those behaviors, we just have the ability to reflect on it.....well, some of us... ;>)


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: mack/misophist
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 02:44 PM

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the fact that there are topics that should be avoided like the plague. Certain people have such an investment in certain ideas that even the most diffident rebuttal is seen as an attack. For example, my cousin and I get along fairly well but when it comes to politics, I call him a fascist and he calls me a commie. Then we laugh and shake hands but that's as deep as we dare take a political discussion. Also, when arguing (debating?) with women I'm sometimes hit with a tearful "Why do you have to be right?" In other words, some exchanges are not about facts but something else. I never understood what.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 01:30 PM

"...sage sayings like "count to ten", etc. In other words, don't just jump in: stop, analyse, think, etc...Ensure brain is in gear before mouth is in motion..."

One good thing about the Mudcat as a place to argue is that it is a lot easier to do this. It's tempting to jump in and send in a reply qickly, either because someone has said something that lays them open to attack, or because they have said something that arouses a strong feelimg - anger or perhaps enthusiasm. But I've found it's a lot better to hold off. Quite often when you reread the post that set you off, you realise you hadn't quite read it right.

It's a good idea to remember that what we write here stays on the record. We can't unsay things. And as Mickey191 points out, posts we made months or even years ago can be dredged up, and can sour things.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: kendall
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 12:13 PM

Rule number one. Never argue with someone whose opinion you don't respect.
Two, do not attack the other person.
Three, no name calling or discounting the other person's viewpoint.
Any Neanderthal can stoop to "fighting", it's more fun to make them look foolish by asking tough questions.

My wife and I always went by these rules. Sure, we split up but it was for other reasons, I still admire her mind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 12:11 PM

"You don't need to know the phrase "ad hominem" to know that it isn't fair to attack the person rather than debate the ideas/opinions in an argument,"

...indeed! But if you DO know the phrase and others like it, and what they mean, you 'may' be able to not only detect bad arguments by others, but to adjust yourarguments so that they are not unfair and obviously slanted.

There are two issues working: one is how to define and identify bad and unfair arguments and work out reasonable ways to discuss issues; the other is the problem mentioned above about people who simply NEED to be right and couldn't care less whether they are fair or not...or need to cause dissention.


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Subject: Upsets
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 12:04 PM

In my experience, it's only in close, honest, individual relationship that one can begin to approximate discovering the real reason for others' behavior. Within such a relationship, one might be able to sensitively and accurately untangle what the person thinks they ought to be doing, and what they think they are actually doing, and why. Understanding the behavior patterns of a group can then have some basis for generalization. The pastoral relationship is an example-- by mutual agreement, a certain relationship is formed so that a view from outside can be approximated. It might lead from there to prayer for the person, or to counsel, or encouragement, or even to a sermon that might address the needs of the majority of the group. But the basis and the motivations are found within the relationship.

So, IMO, from outside that kind relationship, the most useful question is not usually, "Why is so-and-so behaving so badly?" but, rather, "Why do I so often fail to live up to my own values?" Because the funny thing about any rules governing human behavior and interaction is that one can only apply them to oneself, within one's own values, unless one's value system makes it incumbent upon one to judge other people's values and behaviors.

This is a practical matter more than a moral matter, because most of us can only really hope to know our own heart and reasoning process, and that only somewhat accurately. To test this idea, just think of all the times you have been misunderstood because people could only see your outer behavior, and had no idea what you were thinking or feeling at the time, or why. Add to that the times you have realized, in hindsight, how you have sometimes lied to yourself about your thoughts and feelings and motivations, and it soon is clear how inaccurately we perceive ourselves, much less others!

The lovely thing about it all is that we humans are quite capable of making agreements-- not rules-- with one another about how we will try to conduct ourselves in relationship with one another, and choose ahead of time how we will try to untangle the inevitable snarls and missteps in keeping our agreements...

Of course, being human beans, we don't always recall in the moment of upset that there was an agreement and a plan for how to handle things; we often fail to turn our will away from the proclamation of upset towards the resolution of the relational implications.

These upsets tend to cluster around the things we hold as most important. They accumulate, until the topics we find most meaningful are also the most laden with accumulated upset. I know several people for whom this is true to such an extent that if you try to have a friendly conversation about the weather, pretty soon it becomes another retelling of how they were shafted at work, home, and spiritually, and another attempt on their part to "win" what they see as an ongoing battle with everyone they know! There is a broken record playing, stuck on the same-old-same-old, in perpetuity.

One can think one has started a reasonable discussion with a logical, mature adult, only to find that one has inadvertently pressed the "resume play" button for their broken record, right where it is most broken.

In addition to upsets clustered around particular topics, unique to each person, a lot of upsets accumulate just on the topic of "discussion" or "argument," itself. So even if the topic proposed for discussion is not on someone's personal broken record, their tools to conduct the discussion or argument may have had all their safety features disabled.   

I think the tendency to look to changing others' behavior in order to restore our own comfort level has to do with the fact that in the short term, we can actually influence how others behave towards us; in response to our own action, others can decide they want to behave differently towards us. The inner experience of real change in the "offender's" attitude is what we may really be after, but others are as slow to change as we are, so that's not a realistic expectation. But temporarily, if we squawk "Stop that!" loud enough, whatever has re-activated our upset might be suspended long enough that we can recover our balance. We mistake that for real progress in dealing with people, and we come to rely upon it as a tool. The alternative is doing our own interior work to change, so that what once made us so uncomfortable is now an area of comfortable, flexible response. That's too long-term a view for human wiring, most of the time; a lot of us engage in it each time we recall that we meant to do it, especially if we have adopted some discipline that keeps this intention before us in the short-term.

So I think the answer to the question raised is, "Wal, pal, cuz we all human." No getting around that, and our individual and collective imperfection. Being human means that our tendency to upset, and our willingness to look to someone else's behavior to restore our comfort level, make for messy processes.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 11:18 AM

(Debate mode on!) I can't agree that the ancient Greeks "discovered" the rules of fair fighting, just because they cleverly devised a system now known as rhetoric. I took up the study of logic and rhetoric in my 30s, because all the college educated people I knew were so insistent that one must know rhetoric in order to debate properly. I'm glad I did study it, because I now know and understand the language and system used by college educated people who use that particular set of rules to argue/debate.

That said, I don't think the invented Greek system known as rhetoric is the be all/end all the college educated who embrace it think it is. And it certainly isn't necessary to know logic and rhetoric to be a very effective and fair arguer/debater. You don't need to know the phrase "ad hominem" to know that it isn't fair to attack the person rather than debate the ideas/opinions in an argument, to use your example, Robin. I agree with you that it can be useful to use the rules of rhetoric when everyone knows them. But rhetoric has it's limits too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 11:15 AM

In addition to the excellent observations above, I''l add that there are a lot of people who use arguements as a as an opportunity to vent their own personal demons. We have a family friend who, at gatherings, has an observable pattern of slipping into a conversation circle and making an abrasive, baiting remark and immediatly escalating social pleasantries into hostilities--It can be on any subject.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 10:35 AM

There are certain "rules to fighting fair in arguments" - some of them were discovered by the Ancient Greeks, taught in the subject they called Rhetoric, others along the way thru history. If you like to fight fair, or at least be aware when someone is fighting dirty, then I recommend that you seek out this knowledge.

Logic as a subject is useful, and I once believed that everyone should be taught this at school. It is useful to know things like "ad hominen" - attacking the person instead of the argument - a nice example used against me here recently I could point you to if you asked :-) and others things like tautologies, etc.

But the first thing to remember, and I should put this in the traditional sayings thread, is to remember sage sayings like "count to ten", etc. In other words, don't just jump in: stop, analyse, think, etc.

"Ensure brain is in gear before mouth is in motion"

Easy advice to give, but not always to remember... :-)

Of course, for some people it is the arguinmg that gives their rush - viz the "Monthy Pyton Argument Sketch"

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 09:44 AM

I used to think obstinate arguers needed to be right. But the bit of wisdom I've gained from loving a good argument myself, is that it isn't about being right. It is about not being perceived as weak or stupid, and A LOT about saving face/embarrassment. People who argue blindly and obstinately tend to be fearful and insecure, in my experience.

OTOH, those who do like a good argument or debate generally find their way to "fighting fair" (as McGrath calls it) because they are natural born debaters and critical thinkers. And we do tend to overwhelm a lot of people, especially those who aren't natural born critical thinkers.

But there is a third category not mentioned yet: those who fear and/or despise conflict of any sort. They can muck up a good argument/debate worse than the obstinate ones in my opinion, because they become so deeply disturbed by conflict that one's empathy response to their distress is hard to override. Which makes it nigh on impossible to ever resolve anything with them. It's a Rodney King "can't we all just get along" sort of dysfunction. On one hand, they try and avoid conflict, and on the other, they are drawn to it like a moth to the flame. These sorts of people have a profound need to learn how to deal with conflict, but often never figure it out.

I think the instinct to go for one's debate/argument opponent's weak point is pretty natural though. I'd also suggest that the smart folks learn, by debating/arguing a lot, what their own weak points are, and how to defend/protect those points in themselves. Those are the people who are most fun--those who are a real challenge to argue and debate with, because they have learned the rules of fighting fair well, and have perfected their use of them over time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Mickey191
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 09:19 AM

I've never understood why some people must always be proven right, even after ten people have proven them wrong. They leave with their mind closed and content in their "rightness."

Another angle
I recently was proven wrong on an inconsequential personal matter. I simply misremembered, I apologized twice, realizing there was no question about it-I was wrong. I put the matter to rest. My friend went back four months and proved I was wrong with my own email. Okay-I apologized a third time. The need to be right is so strong in this person's make-up that my three sorrys were not enough. After receiving yet another email I'd had enough. I wrote: from now on this is a given, you were always, you are, and you always will be "Right." Now can we put this to rest?

Have not heard a word in a month. I'm sorry the friendship is over--but one can only take so much BS in one's life. In every other aspect we were compatible and great friends. I don't know what the heck I could have done to appease her. Tis a shame.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: John Hardly
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:55 AM

"One thing that I often find irritating in a discussion, whether I'm involved myself, or just looking in on it, is when people are just going for each other's weak points, while brushing aside any weak points in their own case which are brought to light. If you are seriously interested in a topic, rather than in just winning an argument, the useful thing about any argument is the way it can identify your own weak points, so that you can examine them and modify your position as needed."

THAT is a brilliant observation. I have noticed the phenomenon -- even noticed it to be the main strategy for some in discussions. I've often wondered what would be the result if one was to discipline one's self to NOT answer what they think is the obvious weak spot in another -- ESPECIALLY as that weak spot is SO OFTEN not the main point of their arguement -- and instead, really concentrate on responding to the stronger points others make.

Of course, on the other hand, it is tempting to try to shoot down the red herrings as they were brought dishonorably to muddy the waters of a good clear-thinking debate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: Amos
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:51 AM

WHat makes something important is a wildly subjective variable; and for the not-quite-bright, the most important thing of any and all is plain being right. This obsession makes for rather thin gruel in ordinary living but it is not uncommon.

It also makes for bad tasting "dialogs" in which no understanding comes about because the battle for RIght is too loud.


A


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Subject: BS: Fighting fair in arguments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 08:38 AM

I've been trying to work out in my mind why some exchanges about potentially controversial topics turn nasty and leave you with a bad taste in the mouth and others end up with you feeling you have a better understanding of what you think and of why someone else might see it differently.

And it seems to me that one reason is that there are different models for what is happening in the course of such exchanges. On the one hand they can be fights, trying to beat the opponent regardless, anything goes. Or they can be collaborative exercises - either collaborative in the way that in a formal contest or game your opponent is actually in a deeper sense your partner; or in the way that different people with different ideas can be involved in a joint project.

One thing that I often find irritating in a discussion, whether I'm involved myself, or just looking in on it, is when people are just going for each other's weak points, while brushing aside any weak points in their own case which are brought to light. If you are seriously interested in a topic, rather than in just winning an argument, the useful thing about any argument is the way it can identify your own weak points, so that you can examine them and modify your position as needed.

In a game that can be fair enough, and some discussions are essentially games, and most discussions have a games element. But when it comes to serious discussions about things that matter, playing games should be subordinated. Picking out the bits where someone on the other side has contradicted themselves, that's fun, and that's fair - but the main thing is to respond fairly to the exchanges that seem to indicate a flaw in your own argument.


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