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Common sense rules for debating political topics.

Posted by on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:24 AM
  • 9 Replies

Online debates can be exhausting, frustrating and are often not beneficial. The following offers ten rules that will provide a framework for more productive discussions.

Do not use words or labels that haven't been researched for at least thirty minutes. As tempting as it is to throw out "debate stoppers", misuse of political labels is counterproductive and needlessly prolongs debate. The labels are seemingly endless, but can include the following: socialism, communism, Marxism, capitalism and corporatism.

Before commenting on an extracted quote, spend at least ten minutes looking for its original context. The quote will often mean exactly what was surmised, but careful attention in this area can save a lot of needless exchanges. There are often reasons quotes are conveniently divorced from their larger context.

Before commenting or engaging in a debate, spend a few minutes ascertaining whether there is any pertinent information on Snopes.comPolitifact.com orFactcheck.org. It is not even necessary to believe these sites are completely unbiased, but simply to recognize they may offer a piece of the larger context that would have been missed.

Read one or two articles from a couple of different vantage points. It is easy to become comfortable simply reading the sources or blogs that reinforce your viewpoint, but a huge aspect of productive dialogue is the willingness to openly explore the opinions of those who disagree.

Do not debate emotionally. It is never productive. You can be passionate about a subject, but emotional appeals and angry rebuttals quickly devolve into worthless discourse.

Keep the debate focused on the merits of the argument that have been submitted. Focusing on the nefarious intentions of your opponent or the political figures in question often sidetrack the conversation.

Do not using sweeping generalizations. Attempting to paint "the whole" as the sum total of a selectively extracted minority on the periphery is a disingenuous and fallacious way to proceed with dialogue. Specificity is a great way to avoid this, as well as a conscious effort not to manufacture contradictions with "they" arguments. (A politician asserted X, thus their party or "they think" precisely the same way.)

Avoid "trump card" arguments. This can involve the aforementioned appeals to "nefarious intent" and can also include a convenient, non-related rebuttal that gets used when backed into a corner. If you are willing to engage on point Y, keep it focused on point Y.

This encapsulates the previous two rules, but become familiar with typical logical fallacies. Arguments that do not follow a logical foundation are futile and generally a waste of time.

Use sarcasm sparingly and never as a substitute for a substantive response. Frequent use of sarcasm often belies a lack of substance or indicates a deflection

http://voices.yahoo.com/ten-rules-online-political-debate-8167061.html


Thoughts? Anything to add? 



by on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:24 AM
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Replies (1-9):
TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Your expectations are high for this crowd. Almost all you hear are nonsubstantive, emotional arguments.
JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:39 AM



Quoting TranquilMind:

Your expectations are high for this crowd. Almost all you hear are nonsubstantive, emotional arguments.


I am afraid that you are correct. Which makes debating frustrating because I want to have good debates but its hard when some ground rules aren't followed. 

AlekD
by Gold Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:42 AM

You are mistaking this for a debate forum. It's a discussion forum. Similar but different. I've been toying with the idea of making a debate group with pretty strict rules and procedures, but I don't know if people would be interested or if I have the energy to run it.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

Do not use words or labels that haven't been researched for at least thirty minutes. As tempting as it is to throw out "debate stoppers", misuse of political labels is counterproductive and needlessly prolongs debate. The labels are seemingly endless, but can include the following: socialism, communism, Marxism, capitalism and corporatism.

Before commenting on an extracted quote, spend at least ten minutes looking for its original context. The quote will often mean exactly what was surmised, but careful attention in this area can save a lot of needless exchanges. There are often reasons quotes are conveniently divorced from their larger context.

Before commenting or engaging in a debate, spend a few minutes ascertaining whether there is any pertinent information on Snopes.comPolitifact.com orFactcheck.org. It is not even necessary to believe these sites are completely unbiased, but simply to recognize they may offer a piece of the larger context that would have been missed.

Hear hear!


LucyMom08
by Gold Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Sarcasm can be a valid tool in getting a specific point across...and not as a deflection either...
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM



Quoting AlekD:

You are mistaking this for a debate forum. It's a discussion forum. Similar but different. I've been toying with the idea of making a debate group with pretty strict rules and procedures, but I don't know if people would be interested or if I have the energy to run it.

If you want to do it I would be willing to help you mod/admin it.  We do quite a bit of debating on this forum though, and it would be better served if we could focus on the issues and not get side tracked so often.  Things that are spinoff ideas belong in their own threads in my mind. 


Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Quoting AlekD:

You are mistaking this for a debate forum. It's a discussion forum. Similar but different. I've been toying with the idea of making a debate group with pretty strict rules and procedures, but I don't know if people would be interested or if I have the energy to run it.

It has been tried.  Might be worth another go.


LucyMom08
by Gold Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM
I don't think that's true...yes, you can hear emotional arguments, we do discuss some pretty controversial topics...but I don't see it in every conversation...and a majority of things discussed on here aren't nonsubstantive, you can find opinions of course, but there's also quite a bit of fact...you just have to be willing to listen objectively...

Quoting TranquilMind:

Your expectations are high for this crowd. Almost all you hear are nonsubstantive, emotional arguments.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

Do not debate emotionally. It is never productive. You can be passionate about a subject, but emotional appeals and angry rebuttals quickly devolve into worthless discourse.

I think the line not to cross is when a poster starts insulting the other posters or the groups they belong to, in ways that are not relevant to the debate at hand.

So for example, if the debate is about abortion, feel free to attack the Roman Catholic church over its stance on abortion, but don't bring up pedophilia.  And don't assume that all Catholics think identically and attack a particular poster for being Catholic, if that doesn't happen to be relevant to their position on abortion.  (But feel free to call them an obstructionist idiot, if that is justified by the behaviour they are demonstrating in that particular thread.  But not if it is just because they disagree with you.)

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