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Author Topic:   A general discussion of debate (goals)
Nuggin
Member (Idle past 599 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 1 of 57 (364201)
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


It seems to me that a lot of time and energy has been wasted on these boards (by myself and others) trying to pose arguments that convince others to agree with our point of view. After much frustration I took a break and re-evaluated my approach to the subject of debate as a whole.

Having given this some thought, I’ve come to the realization that virtually all the discussions here can be summed up as a problem of conflicting worldviews.

For example, a scientist approaches a topic with this worldview:

There is an absolute existence that we try to describe through our system of beliefs. Where our beliefs differ from observable fact, it is necessary for us to alter our beliefs to fit the facts.

Whereas a fundamentalist would use this worldview:

There is an absolute system of beliefs that describes existence. Where observable facts differ from our beliefs, it is necessary to alter the facts to fit our beliefs.

For the scientist, the idea of altering facts to fit beliefs is beyond reason. For the fundamentalist, the idea of abandoning one’s beliefs is unacceptable. As such, these two can never come to an understanding.

Every argument will be boiled down to these opposing sides. No amount of evidence will sway the fundamentalist. No amount of scripture will sway the scientist.

Let’s not waste each other’s time.


Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 30935
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 2 of 57 (364202)
11-16-2006 9:21 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Promoted from PNT
by AdminJar
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 3 of 57 (364217)
11-16-2006 9:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


It seems to me that a lot of time and energy has been wasted on these boards (by myself and others) trying to pose arguments that convince others to agree with our point of view.

I try to convince the creationists.

There are many people who are trying to make sense of the evidence. Some of them are members, and some are lurkers. Those inquirers hear the creationist arguments, and they hear them at other places, not just at evcforum. When I respond to creationists, it is not with an expectation that the creationist will be persuaded. Rather, it is because the bogus creationist arguments need to be rebutted for the benefit of the inquiring minds.


Just say no to McCain 2008; he abandoned principle when he caved on habeus corpus
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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1074 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 4 of 57 (364226)
11-16-2006 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by nwr
11-16-2006 9:44 PM


nwr writes:

It seems to me that a lot of time and energy has been wasted on these boards (by myself and others) trying to pose arguments that convince others to agree with our point of view.

I try to convince the creationists.

There are many people who are trying to make sense of the evidence. Some of them are members, and some are lurkers. Those inquirers hear the creationist arguments, and they hear them at other places, not just at evcforum. When I respond to creationists, it is not with an expectation that the creationist will be persuaded. Rather, it is because the bogus creationist arguments need to be rebutted for the benefit of the inquiring minds.

I couldn't agree more.

My grandmother died at 107, as racist and difference-hateful as ever. I used to confront and contradict her racist pronouncements at various family tables and functions, constantly shushed by relatives who insisted there was no utility to arguing with someone who couldn't change.

But I wasn't trying to change her. I was talking to the young ones.


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at any time, madam, is all that distinguishes us from the other animals.

-Pierre De Beaumarchais (1732–1799)

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---------------------------------------


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Nighttrain
Member (Idle past 2100 days)
Posts: 1512
From: brisbane,australia
Joined: 06-08-2004


Message 5 of 57 (364229)
11-16-2006 10:10 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Signposts
Hi, Nug, I don`t think you will see wholesale conversions because of the arguments presented here, but I like to think we offer not only rebuttals to phony propaganda, but signposts to those who have the need to put their beliefs to the test. When I made the journey from belief to relief, I didn`t realise the extent of material available to the truth-seeker. So it was mainly putting together what I could afford and find. The internet has changed that, of course, with so much on offer, and for free. Now, an enquirer can get a variety of approaches to consider in almost real time (esp. via EvC :D). No need to put off the query, the answer/s is out there. Somewhere.
So think of being here as a honing process where you get better at presenting your side. There`ll always be a newbie bursting in with 'Evolution is just a pile of crap'. :D
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jar
Member
Posts: 30935
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 6 of 57 (364234)
11-16-2006 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


one important part of any debate
When we watch a debate, it is not expected that one of the people will convince the other. Instead, each side will hopefully present their best arguments for their position. The audience can then judge and make up their minds based on the material presented by both sides.

Frankly, I cannot remember a thread here at EvC where I did not come away having learned at least one new thing. It is people like you, NosyNed, Sylas, Archer and so many others that have taught me so much.

While you may not change the position of the person you are debating, there is the much larger audience of readers who may find something you present suddenly makes clear that which had been hidden.

Edited by jar, : No reason given.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1074 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 7 of 57 (364241)
11-16-2006 10:40 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by jar
11-16-2006 10:23 PM


Re: one important part of any debate
jar writes:

When we watch a debate, it is not expected that one of the people will convince the other.

Bingo. That is an element of debate that often falls to the wayside here, which leads to both mututal ill will and unreasonable demands for surrender.

Instead, each side will hopefully present their best arguments for their position. The audience can [be] the judge and make up their minds based on the material presented by both sides.

Bingo again: the beauty of debate (when it works) is like that of our adversarial justice system (when it works): two sharp minds pressing each other hard, in the clear light of a dispassionate audience.

And this is why the ad hominem attack, whether insult or something more subtle, is so poisonous to good debate.

One should persuade the audience with reason and information, not defamation, else the process has lost its anchor to truth-seeking and is merely blood sport.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1704 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 8 of 57 (364277)
11-17-2006 3:00 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Nuggin:

For the scientist, the idea of altering facts to fit beliefs is beyond reason. For the fundamentalist, the idea of abandoning one’s beliefs is unacceptable. As such, these two can never come to an understanding.

These two what can never 'come to an understanding'?

These two groups of people?

If so, you could be right. But I submit the existence of a false premise: Groupthink.

Who says there are only two camps? Who says their membership doesn't overlap?

How would one camp negotiate an 'understanding' with another? How do these camps handle treaties? How would one camp surrender to another? Call a meeting and vote? Lay hands on James Dobson or Stephen Hawking and send him out waving a white flag? Send him out where?

Or do you mean two ways of thinking?

That would be different. Abandon Groupthink and seemingly intractable problems suddenly look more managable.

These two ways of thinking come to terms every day... within each individual. It's an alchemy we all practice.

___


Archer

All species are transitional.


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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2185
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 9 of 57 (364282)
11-17-2006 5:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Waste of Time?
To me there are many more reasons to be here than any 'winning a debate.' It is common knowledge, or at least should be, that some individuals are incapable of admitting even the most minor of mistakes for various psychological reasons. Toppling a 'worldview' is both uncommon and difficult, although it apparently has happened here on occasion judging by the difference between past and current posts along with personal testimony.

As others have stated, I find the personal, and often interactive, learning more valuable than any victory in this debate. I find that even the news travels faster here, and usually with more accuracy and detail than provided by the mainstream media. On occasion, the forum even provides a way to test some of my screwy hypotheses just to see if they have any value.

For me the debate is only a small part of a larger picture.


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 599 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 10 of 57 (364364)
11-17-2006 12:51 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Archer Opteryx
11-17-2006 3:00 AM


Group Think
Maybe you're right, but I submit that a true fundamentalist is unable to operate outside of groupthink.

They've been given a set of theories on which to hang their facts. Those theories are unchangable - since they were set down by an all knowing supreme being.

In this case - Godthink and Groupthink are the same.

People could point to scientists as groupthinkers as well, but I submit that the subtle difference between "theories on which to hang their facts" and "facts on which to hang their theories" means that at the very least scientific groupthink is a mobile field, changing as a whole over time.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 11 of 57 (364382)
11-17-2006 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Nuggin
11-17-2006 12:51 PM


Re: Group Think
Maybe you're right, but I submit that a true fundamentalist is unable to operate outside of groupthink.

That depends on what you mean by "true fundamentalist". Some fundies become fundies as children, but later learn to think for themselves and throw off that fundamentalism. We have examples among the scientists on this forum.


Just say no to McCain 2008; he abandoned principle when he caved on habeus corpus
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nator
Member (Idle past 276 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 12 of 57 (364410)
11-17-2006 5:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


I'm here for the fence-sitting lurkers (and non-lurkers).

I'm also here because I think that defending science against nonsense and pseudoscience is the moral thing to do.

It's also practical, since ignorance, particularly the sort that is religiously-based and willfully maintained, is, I believe, one of the greatest dangers to the future peace, prosperity, and survival of the entire planet, the human race included.


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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6531
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 13 of 57 (364415)
11-17-2006 6:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


quote:
It seems to me that a lot of time and energy has been wasted on these boards (by myself and others) trying to pose arguments that convince others to agree with our point of view.

Heh. It didn't take me long at all to figure out that most people will not change their minds, especially not because of a debate on the internet.

The main purpose I post on boards like this is the challenge of writing a good, logical, clear statement. It is a pretty enjoyable exercise for me. Even as the same old PRATTs come up again and again, I like to see if I can restate the actual facts and reasoning in a different, perhaps clearer way, and to try out completely different lines of argument. I recognize that some of my attempts at a different approach end up falling flat, but, hey, that just makes it more of an accomplishment when I hit one that works.

Also, even if I am answering the same old question for the 100th time, sometimes I gleen new insights either from further study on the matter, or as I think a little deeper on it. Sometimes these insights are not appropriate or off-topic for the post I am answering at the time, but the new insights are illuminating nonetheless.

Also, I am sometimes surprised and pleased to see a new creationist tactic or argument that I have not yet seen before, or I have not yet had the opportunity to respond. This makes the debate even more fun, as I then have to think of a counter argument from scratch.

I have been trained somewhat in physics and mathematics, so I am pretty down with formal logic; however, in the beginning I was really very good at arguments relying on inductive logic or in trying to explain the logical reasoning in something like biological sciences, or the type of value reasoning necessary in politics and current events; up to when I joined this board my reasoning practice was limited to the very precise and technical symbolism used in mathematics. I may still fall a bit short in these areas, but I feel I have made great improvements in my argumentation skills.

-

Another, different, reason I come into these boards is that I feel that dishonesty must be confronted and exposed. As Gary Hurd has said, creationists lie; they lie worse than politicians, they lie worse than used car salesmen; they lie even when their argument is undermined by the lie. I feel that lies should be exposed to the public, and that people must point out, in public, to the liar's face, that that person is a liar.

It must be one of the left overs from my days as a strict fundamentalist Christian, but dishonesty and/or sloppy thinking used to promote falsehood are among the most reprehensible things I can think of. When I realize that someone unintentionally beliefs in something incorrect, or is making an argument based on sloppy reasoning, I can be very understanding, even when it becomes clear that the person is, for whatever reason, unable to accept correct facts or apply more rigorous logic, and I will try to offer corrections, not to convince the person of my way of thinking, but to improve their base of knowledge and their thinking abilities. But I become very much less patient when someone is deliberately lying or obfuscating, or when it is clear that they are deliberately maintaining their ignorance on the subject matter.


Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793. But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. -- Albert Camus
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Percy
Member
Posts: 18369
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 14 of 57 (364419)
11-17-2006 6:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Hi Nuggin,

I guess I have to disagree with at least part of the underlying premise:

Whereas a fundamentalist would use this worldview:

There is an absolute system of beliefs that describes existence. Where observable facts differ from our beliefs, it is necessary to alter the facts to fit our beliefs.

Fundamentalist scientists value facts and evidence as much as any scientists. But the fundamentalist scientist has the advantage of already having the truth as revealed through God's word in the Bible.

Many of the truths that other scientists seek using empirical methods are already known to fundamentalist scientists. In fact, losing faith in the inerrancy of God's word can lead scientists astray, which is why scientists once correctly believed there was a global flood a few thousand years ago, and now they don't. Having lost their way they will have to wander aimlessly in the desert for a while before they uncover enough information to lead them back to where they started: God's word.

This gives fundamentalist scientists a huge advantage, because already having the truth they can use empirical methods to discover the details of how God's word was actually fulfilled. When the rest of the scientific world finally catches up they'll find themselves where fundamentalist scientists have been all along.

--Percy


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ringo
Member
Posts: 16344
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 15 of 57 (364423)
11-17-2006 6:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Nuggin
11-16-2006 9:20 PM


Nuggin writes:

I’ve come to the realization that virtually all the discussions here can be summed up as a problem of conflicting worldviews.

Bush and Kerry weren't trying to convince each other.

A debate isn't for the participants, it's for the audience. In a political debate, you might be able to convince a few people to vote for your side. At EvC, you might be able to convince a few lurkers not to vote for YECism in schools.

Every lurker counts.


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