2012-08-30

This Isn’t An Argument, It’s Contradiction.

…in my opinion it is respectful, intellectually honest, and strategically effective to take, as a default, an approach to others with whom we disagree that follows certain rules of thumb:

  • search for common ground as a starting point

  • do not start with the assumption that you are correct, but rather examine all points of view for logic and evidence

  • try to honestly understand the other side, and address the best version of the arguments and positions you are arguing against

  • avoid making negative assumptions about the goals, motivations, and attitudes of your opponents

  • when you are confident that your position in the correct (or at least superior) one, your goal should be to gently educate others, not ridicule, pontificate, showboat, or condemn.

  • go out of your way to acknowledge legitimate aspects or virtues of the points of view with which you generally disagree (giving the Devil his due).

  • freely admit your own error and make appropriate corrections. Avoid the temptation to evade, deny, or minimize your own error.

Steven Novella

From a handy list on arguing.


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