As political election dates approach, the public is drawn into debate marathons, in which the characters in question try to demonstrate all their rhetorical abilities to increase their chances of coming to power or protecting its reins.
October brought such a debate to the United States, which has a relatively high rate. Donald Trump, the current US coxswain, is competing for the next position of the country’s president with Joe Biden, a coveter of this chair.
Remember the audience
Be that as it may, with the huge attention-grabbing debate in the United States, there are many judgments and recommendations for success in such battles of opinion and even ideology in the public sphere. After all, the debate provides an opportunity to improve one’s position on a goal or to prevent opponents from doing so.
One of the first suggestions for a debate is usually to define your audience. For example, a news portal Wired.com emphasizes that politicians do not try to convince each other of the correctness of their arguments when they are debating a wide range of issues on the stage. Their goal is to convince viewers and listeners of the “ongoing show”. As a result, arguments and debate strategies are structured around this goal. Thus, everyone else in the public debate is usually advised to set a similar goal – to persuade viewers and bullies not to engage, for example, in an unnecessarily emotional struggle to get their opponent’s voice, which is also unlikely to happen.
Various disputes and debates on the Internet are especially popular nowadays due to the onslaught of social media. “If you are arguing, for example, Facebook comments, then you probably don’t have a very good chance of changing the mind of such a debater. But other people who are probably reading it all have another question. Awareness of the presence of these people can help keep a cool head, even if the opponent does not show any vomiting to listen to the arguments. Such an approach can also help to avoid protracted and unproductive disputes. If you just want to make sure everyone knows that something else has said is wrong, you can jump in the conversation, drop some facts, and leave that room before things get ugly. It is not your responsibility to convince everyone! In addition, you can undermine your own credibility if you engage in an open fight for everything, trying to convince someone you can’t convince at all. Before you start using the Caps Lock key, make a plan for what you want to do and who you want to influence, ”writes Wired.com.
Debating, which might still be called the art of arguing, involves quite a variety of techniques, not all of which are relatively “morally pure.” Often, in such debates, the goal is to deliberately sound better than your opponent at all costs, which shifts some of the much less logical, theoretically oriented rationale for constructive discussion somewhere in the future.
For example, sometimes one of the morally seemingly bad such techniques (although this does not mean that these techniques are also ineffective) is that one party takes up the other party’s argument and comes up with its own version of it, which may even be quite far from original and disputes directly against it (English: Straw Man Technique). In fact, the attack is on the weakest part of the argument. However, experts point out that this is not always the case, and debating the strongest part of an opponent’s argument (Steel Man Technique) can be effective enough to agree on the best way to work together rather than simply win. Namely, in such a debate, just as a charity, the strongest argument of the opposing party is improved and the shortcomings related to it are remedied.
In general, however, it is pointed out that such an initially seemingly simple approach is not used too often in practice and is in fact extremely difficult. It requires going into what the other thinks, says and does. In addition, most debaters usually “want to win at all costs rather than figure out what’s really right.” Or – the loser remains the loser despite the fact that someone then slaps his shoulder understandably and says: “you tried” or “you were already right”.
Also, when you watch a debate, you often come to observe a situation where it starts on one topic, but after a short time they have already moved in a completely different direction. On the other hand, every time one participant tries to say something much less meaningful (the conversation will gain concreteness), the opponent is already asking for something else that follows, for example, from a less precise phrase or a small part of the above. After all, a lot has been said verbally in such a debate, but in reality, the discussion on the subject or the problem itself has not progressed.
Wired.com points out that at the moment, opponents of such a debate are playing a completely different game of posture. Their purpose is to force the opponent of the debate to answer short, sharp and sometimes not always precise statements and questions with long, detailed messages. This strategy, or ‘posture’, involves abandoning, for example, ‘playing defensive’. Researchers point out that such a posture, or pretending to be a winner-aggressor (rather than proving you’re right), also tends to win over audiences, who often find it easier to make brief accusations and statements compared to long, detailed explanations that include the other half. “If you are in a public debate, one of the best ways to deal with this type of debate is to keep your focus and not get lost. If the topic is taxes, focus on taxes. And if you find a weak point in the other party’s argument, don’t just let it go because they’d rather talk about something else. However, if you are not in a public debate, one of the best ways to overcome this strategy is not to play this game. It doesn’t make you less intellectually honest if Twitter just ignore the various “randoma” accusations, ”adds Wired.com.
If, on the other hand, the debate is not public, experts usually recommend looking for ways to avoid rushing through an already relatively heated dispute, which is usually of little benefit to anyone involved. In such cases, a debater who wants a potentially more successful outcome is advised of the Socrates method, which basically involves asking questions and may mean that the other party also changes his or her mind at some point.
Namely, the other person is asked questions while presenting his or her current view, and in this way his or her traditional understanding of a phenomenon is gradually dismantled. The assumption is that such an approach, where the discussion is led by, for example, two people, is much less aggressive than if the point of view of the other’s point of view were criticized.
It can also work, because people do not take any open positions of attack or defense with the format of the questions, but rather this debate is something to think about together. Otherwise, someone may ignore the factual arguments you put forward and desperately wait their turn to get the word out. In the meantime, if a question is asked, the other party must come up with an answer. On the other hand, the more the other party has to think about the answers to these (your) questions, the more likely they are to eventually choose your way of thinking.
Facts and critical thinking
Of course, before any debate, one of the most important things is doing homework. Or – it is desirable to know the facts that support the particular argument before them. Wired.com points out that a common pitfall, often falling on Internet arguments, is that facts are searched for and then adjusted in real time. This can lead to a moderate disaster if it is discovered halfway that such information does not exist. In any case, if you want to debate a topic, you should take the time to find out something about it.
Attention should also be paid to potential logic “short circuits” in your thinking. One example may be that people, as beings, try to seek and prefer predominantly (or even only) evidence that confirms their pre-existing assumptions and beliefs, such as the course of events. The problem is that this approach tends to ignore warning signals that we may not be right. Something is not always true just because an authority has said it. It is also possible to confuse correlation with causality. In general, by being aware of the most common mistakes and reading and studying more, you can come up with more valid arguments next time in the debate.