Rants, can'ts, shan'ts, dance…

Everyone is an Expert These Days

Like many other people, I enjoy debating. Not arguing, in the common sense of the word but debating. They are very different. “Arguing” as we are using it here is a situation where you are angry with someone. We could also call it fighting. In debate, you can be passionate and you use argument (like in court, when they say closing arguments), but you should never be angry. Debate is not personal, whereas fighting often is. If a debate becomes personal, it is no longer a debate. It’s a fight. Fighting – especially online – is just stupid. Debating can be very productive.

This is where the problem lies.

The truth is, I care about that a lot because I care about the free exchange of ideas. I care a lot about the exchange of information. And I’m so sick of people arguing shit just to argue because they think they are right. They have no reason to think they’re right; they can’t back up their assertions or prove anything they’ve stated. They just think they’re right and that is the basis of their entire argument: “I’m right because I say I am.” When challenged, these folks often fall back on the old, “Well, I’m entitled to my opinion” spiel. You might be entitled to your opinion but that has nothing to do with whether what you’ve actually asserted is correct. Saying that does not justify your opinion in any way. For example, maybe you’ve asserted that last year was the hottest year we’ve ever had, because that is your opinion. If I argue your assertion with facts that prove last year was not the hottest year we’ve ever had, you cannot then say, “I’m entitled to my opinion” as an argument. It isn’t one. The society we live in bends over backward to validate all opinions, no matter how stupid or incorrect. Just remember that “justification” and “validate” are two different things. I’m only required to validate your opinion in a debate if you can justify it.

So… To all my fellow debating folks out there: never forget that sometimes when you are debating something with another person, the reason that person argues in circles and will not concede a point or a fact is because they don’t actually know enough about the subject to know if you’re right or wrong. You’re wasting your time with these people. Find a worthy opponent.

And to those of you who “debate” like that: You may think you’re intelligent and you very well may be, but intelligence is not a substitute for knowledge in the arena of facts. You’re going to get beaten every time if you are armed with only that.

Debate is not for arguing in circles, or fighting. It’s for actually making points using facts. In a debate, arguing in a circle is a sign that you actually don’t know your shit (because all you’ve done is state a conclusion but you cannot back it up). So are things like insulting people, using strawman arguments, emotional arguments and appeal to authority, among other things. If a debate does not progress past these things, then someone in the debate doesn’t know what the fuck they are talking about. 

There are way too many people anymore who argue things just to argue them. They don’t really know what they are talking about, but they are bound and determined that they are right. This new spike in human narcissism is destroying the actual exchange of ideas and replacing it with useless, pointless bickering. Do yourselves a favor: don’t argue or debate something unless you are absolutely sure that you are right – and you can actually prove it using something beyond your personal experience. You’re bringing down the curve for the whole country.

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