Why do we debate?

  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Mar 17, 2009 10:51 PM GMT
    I'm asking this because I'm a perpetrator myself, getting involved in debates where rationally I know the chance of educating the people I'm "debating" with is minimal, much less actually changing their mind.

    So why do we do it? Why do we engage the "The Bible say's it's wrong" people?

    Why do atheists feel the need to argue with the religious and vice versa?

    How many people here have *actually been swayed* by an online political debate?

    So why do we do it?

    Clearly I do, but I still can't say why.
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    Mar 17, 2009 11:41 PM GMT
    I am wondering the same thing myself, since all that some people seem to be interested in is heaping abuse on others they do not agree with. Why? I suspect because sub-consciously their belief system is entwined with coping with insecurities, neuroses, or fear of rejection from a society or culture.

    I try, unsuccessfully at times, to state my case then leave a forum. I sometimes engage in a debate hoping to learn something from others. Sometimes that happens. For instance yourself and TigerTim know a lot about science, an academic area I have not focused much on since University.

    Unfortunately you are the exceptions. Many people approach a debate with a closed mind and an axe to grind looking to put down others so they can feel good about themselves. A feeling of power and superiority over others is very addictive.

    Oh well there are other venues besides RJ that can feed my mind.
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    Mar 17, 2009 11:46 PM GMT
    uh because instead being out doing something productive we are online entertaining ourselves... I hope nobody here takes this shit seriously, oy!
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    Mar 17, 2009 11:51 PM GMT
    The gay rights thread...you know the one that could cause a brown out if too many people try to load it at the same time?

    350+ responses...lots of passion on both sides....too much text to digest.

    But it swayed me...
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    Mar 17, 2009 11:53 PM GMT
    Ah I don't try to change anyone's minds, if I do that's cool, if I don't I don't care. I also know a lot of people on this site are a bit loony, and you cannot have a normal intelligent debate with people like that.

    I just express my opinions based on what I've experienced, or the way I see things, based on what I've studied. If I'm bored and see a topic I like I'll add my opinion to it, and the naughty boy side of me sometimes like riling up the nut bags, and getting them all heated and crazy.
  • OptimusMatt

    Posts: 1124

    Mar 18, 2009 12:00 AM GMT
    Well CLEARLY it's because I like to hear myself think.

    Ladadadadada - tralalalalalala.

    God that was good. icon_razz.gif

    ACTUALLY, I participate in the forums because I'm NOT the smartest, or the wisest, about anything. I have strong beliefs about how the world SHOULD be (though I recognize the disconnect between MY 'should be' and someone else's 'should be') and how the world really is.

    Sometimes I don't really know why I believe the things I do other than there's a little white light in my gut guiding me, telling me how to be a better person.

    By participating in these debates, even if I don't sway anyone to my viewpoint, I sometimes figure out why I believe the things I do.

    Case in point - I'm not a big fan of pride parades, but I vehemently believe they should be allowed. I wasn't really sure 'why' I believed that other than the gut feeling.

    Having read, responded, and ruminated to that 'gay rights' post we've been involved in I realized WHY I feel the way I do about pride parades, and put it in there. (benefit #1 - Matty knows a little bit more about himself. Still rather brutishly ignorant at times icon_razz.gif)

    Hidden benefit #2 - I hope my own insight helps someone find the courage to walk down the street holding his lovers hand. Sappy and soppy I know but still....One can hope.
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    Mar 18, 2009 12:05 AM GMT
    When we talk about debate, especially online, very very few people engage in an exchange of ideas that is done in such a way as to:
    1) specify exactly what is being discussed
    2) explain each person's relevant core values
    3) identify possible places of agreement or at least respect
    4) clarify what differences exist and why

    If you go in that order, by the time you get to the 4th stage you might actually have a slight chance of establishing a mutual understanding that can be quite rewarding, in addition to building a relationship in which it is okay to entertain the hypothetical idea that the other person might have some valid points to consider.

    But back to reality -- people go straight to the 4th stage, bash out their differences, and then get lost trying to retroactively (and chaotically) work through stages 1-3, which is hopeless because by that point your hormonal system, emotions, and psychological defense mechanisms are locked in so tightly that you:
    1) aren't really sure what is being discussed (or are derailed on a minor point)
    2) don't really give a damn about the other person's values, because you've already established a dozen ways in which you disagree, therefore the other person's values are clearly wrong, right?
    3) any potential agreement or common cause is irrelevant, because what's the point, if you know they're not ready to agree with your entire agenda?


    In summary, the actual motive for the overwhelming majority of debates is simple: to enjoy the emotional experience of feeling good about being right, particularly in the face of someone else's clear wrongness.

    Typically it solidifies your personal feeling of conviction without ever addressing the ideas and issues in a meaningful way.


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    Mar 18, 2009 12:19 AM GMT
    Simple. Because it's fun and stimulating to see how right or wrong you actually are and because you learn a few things too even if you don't want to.
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    Mar 18, 2009 12:32 AM GMT
    Guy101 saidSimple. Because it's fun and stimulating to see how right or wrong you actually are and because you learn a few things too even if you don't want to.


    sometimes it starts out as being fun

    then ends up as you must get the last word inicon_surprised.gif
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    Mar 18, 2009 12:35 AM GMT
    I debate to:
    1.) Explain my views
    2.) Try to convince the other viewpoint of my views
    3.) Learn about the other party, their veiws, and why they have them.
    4.) Learn new things

    and most important....

    5.) Try to find some common ground--a point of moderation between myself and the other party; "de-radicalize" the other side... or my own.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Mar 18, 2009 12:37 AM GMT
    Well BioMatty, I'm glad it helped someone!
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    Mar 18, 2009 1:43 AM GMT
    Sometimes it sharpens you own arguments. One other thing nobody’s mentioned so far is that it allows you to identify and connect with other people who share your perspective – I met TigerTim on here during a debate over Ayn Rand.

    And sometimes it’s amusing to see when a troll lacks the comprehension skills to know when they’re beat. icon_lol.gif
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:01 AM GMT
    Mostly I just like to watch people in vicious yet utterly pointless battles for moral and intellectual superiority. I admit getting caught up in many of the flame wars of the past and I still have my moments of weakness, but for the most part others' anger just makes me feel warm inside. That, and sometimes it's just a damned good show.
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:04 AM GMT
    hotshotcdn saiduh because instead being out doing something productive we are online entertaining ourselves... I hope nobody here takes this shit seriously, oy!


    There is truth in these words, and it's a nice sunny day outside, and I should be outside!

    I feel all topics should be open to debate; all! So the fat can be put on the table to chew, as many don't want to look at the other side, of an issue. I will take the side of something I don't stand for, to test my own belief system, and I feel this is a good thing about debate, to test a persons belive system, as it may be full of holes, or not as strong as they think it is, as they have never really thought about it.

    Oh my dad voted democrat, and so did his. So I too vote democrat. icon_rolleyes.gif

    Also with this evil thing political correctness, it has tried to take many topics of the agenda, for discussion, as we are all meant to just accept what they say is right! Censorship is a form of repression. So I try to counteract that with debate.

    There is not much difference between left wing and right wing, when it comes to hate. So I sit in the middle.
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:08 AM GMT
    Satyricon331 saidSometimes it sharpens you own arguments. One other thing nobody’s mentioned so far is that it allows you to identify and connect with other people who share your perspective – I met TigerTim on here during a debate over Ayn Rand.

    And sometimes it’s amusing to see when a troll lacks the comprehension skills to know when they’re beat. icon_lol.gif


    Yes, I remember a legendary exchange between you and BakeJensen that lasted at least a couple days. He didn't know he was getting is ass handed to him because he lacked a basic understanding of what he was arguing about before you started beating him over the head with documented facts and relentless logic.
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:25 AM GMT
    I love to debate. Debated all throught high school and college. I like to debate and sometimes fight. When I feel I am 100% right, the goal is to change others minds. When I feel I'm pretty sure about something, but not quite, then I like to hear other's opinions.
    But what really amazes, saddens, and angers me at times about these forum debates, is that even when you make valid points, others start asking or attacking your person instead of your ideas. Or when they do respond, it's some looooong and boring diatribe that no one wants to read.
    Then it turns into an all out brawl, or "flame war." Then.... when it gets too nasty you get all of the little cry-babies who report the offenders. Which IS SO amazing to me. You would actually hope to get that person kicked off a site because he didn't play well in the sand box.
    Then you have people who say things like this, (after the fact of course):
    "I am wondering the same thing myself, since all that some people seem to be interested in is heaping abuse on others they do not agree with. Why? I suspect because sub-consciously their belief system is entwined with coping with insecurities, neuroses, or fear of rejection from a society or culture." So now they are analyzing why someone said what? Could it be that they just thought you were full of shit?

    One of the best lines from one of these "experts" is:
    "Many people approach a debate with a closed mind and an axe to grind looking to put down others so they can feel good about themselves. A feeling of power and superiority over others is very addictive."

    I just bow to the superior mental intellect of some of you. I must study responses better and learn to stamp my feet and cry. And when that doesn't work...REPORT THEM.
    -Keith
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:38 AM GMT
    animanimus saidseems to me that, generally, when someone is comfortable with their own thinking, they couldn't give a rat's ass what someone else thinks.


    Interesting....I don't know. When I know I am 100% right about something, I like to debate with the intent of finding out why my opponent thinks I'm not right. Plus when you feel you are right without question, you do want to change the opponent's mind as well. (Oh my gosh...now I sound like one of these stupid religious people who think it's their duty to change people to their way of thinking. icon_eek.gif Kill me now! LOL!)
    -Keith icon_twisted.gif
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    Mar 18, 2009 2:50 AM GMT
    A debater doesn't argue from the standpoint of certainty, and being at peace with his opinion enough to remain mute about it is, I think, the quintessence of hubris.

    Every debater feels the heat of dissent as an attack, and disagreeing with another's premise lays their heart bare. In most professional circles, theorists publish a position in a journal intended to evoke debate, challenging others to contradict their findings. They do this knowing that they can be wrong.
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    Mar 18, 2009 3:00 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio saidA debater doesn't argue from the standpoint of certainty, and being at peace with his opinion enough to remain mute about it is, I think, the quintessence of hubris.

    Every debater feels the heat of dissent as an attack, and disagreeing with another's premise lays their heart bare. In most professional circles, theorists publish a position in a journal intended to evoke debate, challenging others to contradict their findings. They do this knowing that they can be wrong.


    Quite reflective. I don't agree, but I see where you are coming from.
    For me, debates can be frustrating when you state your case with valid points, and people try to zoom in on things that have no relevence to the points you've made.
    -Keith
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  • nv7_

    Posts: 1453

    Mar 18, 2009 3:30 AM GMT
    ....because I need you to know I'm right even though I don't know you and I dont' really care what you think......kinda. icon_biggrin.gif
  • styrgan

    Posts: 2017

    Mar 18, 2009 3:35 AM GMT
    "There is nothing which is not the subject of debate, and in which men of learning are not of contrary opinions. The most trivial question escapes not our controversy, and in the most momentous, we are not able to give a certain decision. Disputes are multiplied, as if everything was uncertain; and these disputes are managed with the greatest warmth, as if everything was certain." - Hume.

    Nothing is proven, and nothing is totally clear to us in our limited knowledge. In many debates, it's hard to tell if there is some overreaching truth for everyone, or whether our own unique perspectives are the only truth we can really grasp. If someone is humble enough to be truly seeking knowledge, they should find their eyes opened at least every once in awhile. I know I have had a few points on this site where someone said something in the forums, and all I could think to myself was, "I never thought of it quite like that!"
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    Mar 18, 2009 5:05 AM GMT
    Because I'm ALWAYS right. And that's that. icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 18, 2009 5:10 AM GMT
    Musclequest saidQuite reflective. I don't agree, but I see where you are coming from.
    For me, debates can be frustrating when you state your case with valid points, and people try to zoom in on things that have no relevence to the points you've made.
    -Keith
    Debates ARE frustrating, but good debaters learn more than just the skill to present their cogent arguments. They also learn the skill of deflection. It sounds like you've been hurt by personal attacks. Deflect it. Bend like the willow. God, I'd hate to go all Karate Kid on you, but content is only one part of debate.
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    Mar 18, 2009 5:23 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    Musclequest saidQuite reflective. I don't agree, but I see where you are coming from.
    For me, debates can be frustrating when you state your case with valid points, and people try to zoom in on things that have no relevence to the points you've made.
    -Keith
    Debates ARE frustrating, but good debaters learn more than just the skill to present their cogent arguments. They also learn the skill of deflection. It sounds like you've been hurt by personal attacks. Deflect it. Bend like the willow. God, I'd hate to go all Karate Kid on you, but content is only one part of debate.


    Thank you for schooling me. I was on debate teams in h.s. through college.
    Just not accustomed to having a debate turn chaotic with personal rubbish. (For which I apparently am guilty of.)
    But when I need advice I will certainly turn to your superior skill and intellect. icon_eek.gif
    Thanks!
    Keith
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    Mar 18, 2009 5:45 AM GMT
    jprichva saidMusclequest--

    Do you have any idea how angry you sound all the time? Is it unintended? Is it deliberate? The contempt you have for your adversaries drips right off the monitor.


    I'm absolutely sure I have no idea what you mean. icon_confused.gif
    Cheers,
    Keith
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