How to debate and argue on blogs

How to debate and argue on blogs

Now that I no longer require registration for commenting, we have a much wider and diverse group of commenters. Unfortunately, it also means that many of the same logical and rhetorical errors that we see all over the blogosphere have come home to roost.

Thus for your help and edification, I present to you the You Read It Right: Complete Blog Commenting Guidelines via The Rebelution and Dawn Eden of the Dawn Patrol. From this point on, these guidelines will now be operative and you will be expected to follow them. I’m not saying you’ll necessarily be banned or have your comment deleted if don’t, but don’t expect me to answer you. I may, in fact, say “You broke rule number 6, come back when you fix it.”

As a further aid, I will also point you to a more general resource on Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate. Learn all the classical fallacies like “argumentum ad hominem” and “post hoc ergo propter hoc” and, one of my favorites, “the straw man.” (Don’t fret, they have English translations for those of you like me who don’t read Latin.)

Read them, learn them, love them and we’ll all get along nicely.

An example: Improving your skills of argumentation

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  • The only thing I’ll add-although this could be a smaller point under #4 (which I won’t say what it is because people should go and read the link) is you cannot make an arguement with “Because the Church says so”. 

    A particular peson who thinks highly of his brain in the real world in which I live will say things like this.  The funny thing is that the Church actually backs my position (and I DID articulate chapter and verse to him) better than his empty arguement.

    Oh, I thought of another one.  In debate, you cannot take your opponents agreement of weakness as your proving point.

    Case in point: A friend and I were “discussing” the good or bad nature of yes, Harry Potter.  I aquiesed (spelling?) that while there is clear right and wrong, good and evil, and the spells are Latin forms for what they want to happen (not the conjuring up of spirits) Harry does have a penchant for being disobedient.  My friend took that idea and turned it into her main arguement.

    So if I had not even agreed to that weakness of HP, she would have had nothing to stand on. At that point I just dropped the discussion. If you can’t argue intelligently, don’t argue with me. Prove me wrong with good and well thought out discourse or let’s just talk about the niceness of the weather.

  • Prove me wrong with good and well thought out discourse or let’s just talk about the niceness of the weather.

    Amen, JenB!

    Some days I weep at the inability of most people I meet to engage in good, thoughtful discourse.

  • Melanie,
    Interestingly enough,several years ago, my largely protestant thinking self threw down that gauntlet to the Church: guess who won?

  • JenB,

    One of my favorite saints, Edith Stein, said it well: “He who seeks truth, seeks God.” If we are really in search of the truth and open to accepting it in whatever form we find it and we are truly willing to engage in reasonable, thoughtful discourse then in the end truth will win.

  • Hi Melanie-I thought of this yesterday, I hope you see this.

    Do you find that many women cannot argue to save their lives? I mean argue intelligently. It drives me batty to hear them because it does our fair sex such a disservice.  I love E.D. Hall on Fox and Friends because she knows the art of logic and good debate. ‘course, I just love Fox and Friends anyway…

    And using Edith Stein? Priceless. That all women should have her intellect and ability. At least aspire to it.

  • JenB,
    In general I find that most people don’t know how to argue intelligently. But, yeah, I think women are more likely to be emotional and to stray from logic. (Men’s greatest failing in argument, on the other hand, is a need to dominate their opponent and WIN the argument rather than to understand where the other person is coming from.)

    Edith Stein is one of my personal heros. In general I don’t have devotions to saints and don’t feel drawn to such things, but if I am drawn to any saint it is her.