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Arguing Constructively

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posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:32 PM
Came across this and thought it was something to share with ATS. The level of discourse here sometimes gets pretty bad. Lately there's been a lot of attacks, ridiculous arguments and just generally some pretty ridiculous back and forth.

I try not to be one of those people who complain about the quality of ATS declining and such, but this bickering and shallow arguing sucks. I miss the more intelligent less #ty arguing ats used to have.

I hope people that pop by this thread take the time to read through the whole thing.

I debated on putting this in the philosophy section, but stuck it in the mudpit to see just how much actual discourse ats can muster on this subject without it devolving into the things mentioned in this article without the usual restrictions on the other boards.

The vast majority of people on earth argue in a destructive fashion. Debates, especially in online spaces, are viewed as a battle of the wits in which egos are put on display and there can be only one "winner".

Instead, we should be arguing in a constructive fashion: treating arguments as an opportunity to expand knowledge, finding points of disagreement, and collaborating towards a common truth.

"An argument should be a collaboration between two people to find the truth."

If I had to distill this guide down to one sentence, it would be the above.

Arguing more effectively requires detaching yourself from the idea of "winning" in the traditional sense. Instead, you should declare victory when you have argued in good faith and kept an open mind.

True collaboration requires that both parties open an investigation into why they may be wrong and consider changing their beliefs. Which brings us to the three core tenets of a constructive debate mindset:

Acknowledge You May Be Wrong, and Be Willing to Change Your Mind

Go into every debate with the mindset that you may not know everything about the topic at hand, and in fact may be wrong.

Arguments Are Not Soldiers

In a war, all soldiers take an oath to fight for their own side, no matter what amount they agree with its principles.

Because most people go into debate with a war-like mentality, they feel they must fly the flag for all points that their side supports, regardless of how much they actually agree with them.

The red state gun-owner must be pro-religion, anti-abortion, anti-drugs, anti-tax, and skeptical of gender issues.

The blue state Subaru-owner must be anti-religion, pro-abortion, pro-drugs, pro-tax(ing-the-rich), and concerned about gender issues.

Most annoying is that given the societal expectations for this divide, being for or against one issue immediately assigns you to a "side" in the views of everyone involved. Breaking out of this Arguments as Soldiers mindset involves two steps:

1. Do not be afraid to agree with the arguments of the other side when they strike you as reasonable, and critique the arguments of your own side when they strike you as unreasonable (better yet, try not to have a side).

2. On the flip side, avoid stereotyping your debate partner based on one opinion. If you are engaging with someone in debate for the first time, assume that they agree with you on every other position than the one they are defending, until proven otherwise.

There's Always Someone Who Thinks the Jedi Are Evil
Brace yourself, Star Wars references incoming:

In a given debate, almost everyone thinks they are a member of the Jedi order, fighting for all that is virtuous and good in the universe. Yet for every Jedi, there's a Sith out there who thinks that the Jedi are evil and wrong and that they are actually the ones fighting for virtue and good. Remember that this person might even be you.

Of course, you are not a full agent of good, and your debate partner is not an agent of evil, or vice versa. You are simply citizens of the galaxy who happen to be operating with different sets of information. Look at the situation from a different perspective: if you were raised with Sith beliefs from childhood, don't you think you might believe the exact same things a Sith would?

In debate, your goal should not be to strike down the side of evil with all your hatred, but rather work together with them to uncover the true facts about the universe, and in doing so perhaps change both your perspectives.


if you wish to improve the constructiveness of the debates you engage in, you must first spend time re-inventing your entire mind.

Recognize and Avoid Logical Fallacies
In part caused by cognitive biases, logical fallacies are errors in argument that give off an air of decisiveness, despite making points that don't hold up to logical scrutiny.

Recognize and Avoid Cognitive Biases
Cognitive biases are limits and mistakes in human judgement that prevent someone from acting rationally. They are present in every aspect of human life, and in tense situations like arguments, they tend to appear more often as emotions are heightened and the brain gets overloaded.

Think of a debate as a pyramid:

In general, the lower on the pyramid you are, the worse debate you're having. The goal should be to start as high as possible and continue to work your way towards the top.

The blue side represents the discussion surrounding facts and the red side represents the discussion surrounding the philosophy behind them: how the arguments must fit together before one side is right or wrong.

There's a bunch more, but i'm going to leave it at that and hope people read the full article and that I haven't broken ats' rules about quoting things. I tried to pick the most relevant parts.

I'm going to start off by saying, whatever side of the political spectrum folks fall into here, i've seen a good number of these things from both sides.

I just hope this helps everyone here remember, whether you're left, right, center, up, down, diagonal, whatever in your beliefs, we're all here on ats together for, one reason (among a few others but one relevant to this thread), that there's something #ed in the world, there's more going on than anyone's told, there's forces at work against the greater good of humanity and we're all doing our best to keep aware and keep eachother aware of this.

I just want everyone on ats to remember this and whether you're a Republican, Democrat, libertarian, anarchist, socialist, communist, straight up facist, apolitical or, like the average person, have a range of beliefs that fall along various places in the political spectrum, we're all here together because we know there's 'something' instead of arguing and attacking eachother, we should be coming together to find the actual truth. Bickering and attacking eachother over political beliefs divides us.

ATS is a community devoted to denying ignorance first and foremost. Part of denying ignorance is accepting the differences between eachother and finding the truth that lies somewhere in the middle of all these arguments. Whether we agree with eachother or not, that should be the first and most important goal.

edit on 19/10/2020 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:40 PM
a reply to: dug88

Anakin did nothing wrong!

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:41 PM
a reply to: dug88

Great post. Greats points. Thanks for sharing. Doubt itll make sense to most though.

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:45 PM
a reply to: strongfp

Just gotta say, pretty sure anakin did nothing right until he threw the emperor into that pit of death moments before he electrocuted his estranged son to death who with only moments before he had been dueling to the death using laser swords while trying to convert him to the side of a tyranical dictator powered and fueled by hatred and anger who'd been going on a multi decade campaign of conquering and death that culminated in what could only be described as a military backed police state.
edit on 19/10/2020 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:49 PM
a reply to: dug88

Good OP btw.

But to rebut a little... Anakin didn't know what was going on, he's one of those characters who are just 'lost' in a story and you don't know it until they meet their ultimate demise.

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:50 PM
a reply to: strongfp

Yeah but he had this unfortunate character trait of being a whiny little bitch in every scene other than the podrace scene in episode 1 and every scene where he was Darth Vader.
edit on 19/10/2020 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:51 PM
Can you post this on the twitters and facebooks too please?

Excellent post.

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 07:53 PM
a reply to: dug88

Young Anakin was portrayed in the lore and books as a much different person than we were force fed in the movies.

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 08:04 PM
a reply to: strongfp

Kid anakin was aight. Teen anakin was way too emo, young adult anakin was a #bag. I have to admit, my knowlege of the outer canon starwars stuff is limited mostly to knights of the old republic and the Jedi knight series of video games. But i'm willing to keep an open mind and listen to how anakin was portrayed in media other than the movies that redeemed him as a person.

Trying not to derail my own thread more than I have and all.
edit on 19/10/2020 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 09:11 PM
a reply to: dug88

While I do agree, I surmise that the point where someone else tells you what you think, and then based upon what they think you think, calls you a liar, you have clearly won.

Especially if they don't seem to have any valid points of their own along the lines of the topical context.

Anakin was both a Jedi and a Sith. He unified the force but neither side wanted it that way. The force didn't have 'sides'.

edit on 19/10/2020 by chr0naut because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 09:19 PM
a reply to: dug88

I will always argue/debate on the side of freedom, individual liberties.

I will always side with the Constitution.


But an interesting OP all the same.


posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 09:24 PM

originally posted by: strongfp
a reply to: dug88

Anakin did nothing wrong!

I find your lack of sources disturbing.

posted on Oct, 19 2020 @ 09:41 PM
Very good in trying to lift the standards of debate. It can be tough at times getting called out and accepting that you had some things wrong. It is embarrassing feeling like an idiot. How most of us have been there at some stage on some topic puts us all in good company, able to quickly accept it and move on. Denying ignorance is why we are here.

A couple more tips for healthy debate,

Keep the personal attacks out of it. I know it can be frustrating as hell at times when engaged on some topics. Try an use this energy to research deeper and form a stronger argument than lashing out in derogatorily remarks.

When someone does resort to the personal attacks, it does look like they have lost the argument on the deeper issues and just looking for excuses to justify their position. Attacking the credibility of the messenger is a tactic some use to ignore the message.

There is no obligation for you to respond to anything. Just because someone goes all RA RA over an issue does not mean you have to engage with them. Being right is more important than being first.

This world is a big complicated place with lots going on. The deeper we look on any topic, the deeper it gets. There is also a lot of clouded and conflicting information around, censorship is getting stronger and our reality bending media does leave a lot in the grey zone at times. There are a few solid facts around to help piece it all together.

As for this information war going on, keep punchin.

posted on Oct, 20 2020 @ 12:58 AM
a reply to: dug88

Great post thanks. Sometimes my responses are snarky. My threads i keep my posts clean. If you look at my left/ right thread you'll see how it devolved to be about US politics _ off topic posters.


posted on Oct, 20 2020 @ 12:59 AM
a reply to: chr0naut

Another great post

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