Saturday, October 18, 2008

Debate Strategy #1

"If you are going to debate, you must realize it won't be all fools and halfwits so easily refuted. Sooner or later, you will find someone who will rebut your position (or, seem to) with devastating effectiveness. They will rip apart your position, gut your arguments and eviscerate your responses. If you have taken a stand on the right side of an issue, you should not let this stop you. Instead, delve deeper into the arguments and logic, and search for better answers. If you learn you are wrong, good. If you find you are right, but learn new ways to prove it, even better. This is continuing growth and development as a rhetorician. In this, you cannot lose."

I've written several times now about global warming. Unfortunately, now that I represent a gun rights organization, my chief political labors focus on those goals, and my other interests (such as global warming, creationism and so forth) take a back seat.

But every now and again, I enjoy seeing articles that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. For instance, this article from the Anchorage Daily News entitled Alaska glaciers grew this year, thanks to colder weather.

I sent this article to a classmate of mine who thinks I'm a nice guy, "despite being conservative." He responded that increased precipitation is a prediction of global warming. I then asked him, if both the waxing and waning of glaciers proves global warming, how could anthropogenic global warming be disproved? He didn't really have an answer for that.

So, debate tip number one: Always take the time to determine how a person's argument could be falsified. If it cannot (IE, glaciers melting/growing) then they do not hold a legitimate point of view, because one of the requirements of a theory is that it CAN be falsified. Otherwise, there's really no point in debating it. And don't be afraid to ask them, "what would you accept as evidence that would change your mind?" Most people, if you're having a good-natured (or even hostile) debate, won't mind telling you what would change their mind.

Thus, you are given the opportunity to select the appropriate weapon before you even begin the debate.

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