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Winning Strategies for Debate in Other Forums

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AJ Posted: Mon, Nov 19 2012 1:51 AM
What strategies have produced the best results for you when debating on other forums where you are severely outnumbered?
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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 2:13 AM

There's really no good way, in my experience... Unless they're stupid and you can strawman them or if you can summon help. If you address them in depth they'll dodge questions and points and strawman your views into something they can deal with. Onlookers won't read your response and only see the general disdain for your ideas and what you've written and assume that you're stupid or at leas generally wrong. My only advice would be to be very aggressive and simple in what you're saying

Sorry, that's not very encouraging.

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Loppu replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 2:22 AM

"My only advice would be to be very aggressive and simple"

I would say politeness and respect are keys to victory. Maybe you won't crush them, but, as Milton Friedman said if I remember correctly, you have to be a nice person when you are talking about liberty. So yeah, even if you won't crush them with fancy arguments or something like that, your opponents will see you as a nice person and, what is more important, those who haven't yet decided what to believe will also see you as a nice person. If people think that you are a nice person, your beliefs will have at least some emotional appeal; on the other hand, if they think you're an asshole, it's very likely that they won't like what you have to say.

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^^^ this

if they think you're an asshole, it's very likely that they won't like what you have to say

The Voluntaryist Reader - read, comment, post your own.
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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 2:42 AM

I find that on the interwebz people don't care how nice you are. If you disagree with them you're an idiot... And probably a Republican.

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hack their computer, find out where they live, and kill their dog.  Chop off the head, brand its face with "POWNED", and put it in their kid's bed.  If they dont have kids i guess put it in their bed.

NEVER fails.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 3:26 AM

^

Remember, as long as it's voluntary.

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you know my voluntaryism theory have some flaws in it.  So whenever i have a moral question about the NAP i think "WWCD" -what would cartman do.

here is a heated voluntary exchange between cartman and scott tenorman that escalated rather quickly, but i would say something like this should work to win many debates.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104191/chili-con-carnival#tab=related

[view:http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104191/chili-con-carnival#tab=related]

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Good thread idea. 

Posting in ‘foreign’ forums can be enjoyable, educational and productive, if you have the right approach.  Here is some advice:

  • Be polite, courteous, respectful and humble at all times.  Do not say anything that you wouldn’t say to someone in a bar while their friends are listening to your discussion.  Do not belittle or embarrass anyone.
  • Emphasise things you agree on; hone in on your points of divergence.
  • Do not quote other people (i.e. Mises, Rothbard et al).  Explain things in your own words.
  • Do not tell people to go read/watch something.  That would be rude.  Post links only if and when they ask you where they can find out more information. 
  • If they ask you to read/watch something, do so, even if you know it will be wrong/irrelevant.
  • Try to avoid introducing terms that they might define differently to you.  Examples: government, coercion, voluntary, inflation, profit, free market, law, value, money, anarchy.
  • If they introduce any of these terms, ask them to define them so there is no misunderstanding.  Use their definitions when possible; do not insist on using your preferred definitions.
  • Assume the person/people you are speaking to is/are well-intentioned, open-minded and honest.
  • If someone says something that makes you angry or makes you think they are an idiot, do not respond straight away.  Think about how to keep the discussion fruitful.
  • Be curious; ask questions; do not assume someone holds a particular view.
  • Do not post in multiple threads at once.  Remember you are a guest.
  • Do not call for backup.  Do not ambush.  If someone says something that stumps you, do more reading, or ask for clarification, until you can respond.
  • Do not label people, even when the label fits.
  • Do not try to get them to admit when they have changed their position.  People have egos and don't like them being bruised.
  • Do not feel obliged to respond to every point they make; keep the discussion focussed on the most important points of disagreement.
  • Do not insist on having the last word in a debate.  The last word does not make you the winner of the argument.

What does it mean to ‘win’ an internet debate?

  • They ask you questions; they ask you for links to where they can find more information.
  • You get them to consider a flaw in their worldview that they were not previously aware of.

Also:

  • Decide whether a debate is worth having.  Is the person you are talking to likely to change their mind?  Is this your aim, or are you trying to appeal to onlookers?
  • Do not engage in a debate on a subject you do not have a strong understanding of.  Spend time educating yourself before trying to educate others.
  • Do not have high expectations.  People do not usually change their minds quickly.  People rarely acknowledge when they have learned something from you or you have changed their mind on something.  Do not expect to be thanked.

Here is an example of a discussion I am currently having with some Zeitgeisters:

http://www.tzmforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=290

Please DO NOT post in that thread (or anywhere else on the forum, really).  That would undermine me, and would come across as an ambush.  I have posted this as an example of a debate that I think has gone fairly well, so far.  I do not think the posters there have really thought about the problem of economic calculation before, or understood what exactly the problem is.

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Groucho replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 3:45 PM

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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cab21 replied on Mon, Nov 19 2012 4:48 PM

Bring up god.

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AJ replied on Tue, Nov 20 2012 12:01 AM
Graham, those look like excellent rules to keep to. I think many people imagine that following such guidelines would be so restrictive that they would never make much progress and would be eaten alive by the opposing hoard. In my experience the opposite happens, especially when you can frame disagreements as the miscommunications that they frequently are.
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cab21:

Bring up god.

Hahahaha

 

I think an important question to ask here is 'what is winning?'

If it's the other person formally conceding and accepting your superior rhetorical skills, grammar and erudition then no, winning isn't possible. 

 

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Faustus replied on Tue, Nov 20 2012 7:19 AM

Graham on that Zeitgeist thread project cybersyn was brought up and you replied

"Thank you. I had not heard of this before. Do you consider this to be a kind of "proto-RBE" system? Are there any essential differences between Cybersyn and the RBE model?"

I don't know if you were humouring him or not but the idea that cybersyn was ever anything close to a Venus project style RBE is a myth. Propagated by Joanne Meadows Fresco's right hand woman. Like the RBE idea Cybersyn was wishful thinking. They should not get away with suggesting to people that it was ever anything more then a shiny façade.

Greg Borenstein explains in this video

 

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@Groucho

lol, would you like to play Global Thermonuclear War?

I think we should always remember that our target audience is mainly those bystanders to the debate who are on the fence. Highly unlikely you'll convince the person you're debating with, but you might just convince a bystander. So I also favor being respectful of everyone, if only because it makes people more likely to listen to you.

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AJ:
Graham, those look like excellent rules to keep to. I think many people imagine that following such guidelines would be so restrictive that they would never make much progress and would be eaten alive by the opposing hoard. In my experience the opposite happens, especially when you can frame disagreements as the miscommunications that they frequently are.

I would say those people have set their expectations too high.  I don't go to other forums expecting to be able to change people's minds, but to sow seeds of doubt and spark some interest in our philosophy.  "I can only show you the door - you're the one who has to walk through it". 

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Faustus:
I don't know if you were humouring him or not but the idea that cybersyn was ever anything close to a Venus project style RBE is a myth.

I genuinely hadn't heard of Cybersyn before, so I've learned something from the discussion, at least.  I was actually pretty surprised to see it posted, because usually Zeitgeisters try to make clear that the RBE is absolutely definitely certainly not socialism or communism, and that it is an entirely new, never-before-thought-of, totally original idea.  Hence my questions.

Propagated by Joanne Meadows Fresco's right hand woman.

Who?

Like the RBE idea Cybersyn was wishful thinking. They should not get away with suggesting to people that it was ever anything more then a shiny façade.

Greg Borenstein explains in this video

Interesting.  I think maybe he meant that RBE is a bit like what Cybersyn was supposed to be, or was purported to be.  I don't mind them making the comparison.  They do seem to be pretty similar, and both schemes fail for the same reason.

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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 8:18 AM

Poster pluckedkiwi from Ars Technica's SoapBox forum seems to be doing some fine work. Is (s)he also posting here? If so, please PM me. 

 

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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 1:14 PM

^ bump

 

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Jargon replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 1:18 PM

He looks to be employing the "But it's voluntary!" defense (in addition to accusing everyone who disagrees with him of being a "nutjob conspiracy wacko". his is why people think that libertarians hate poor people or worship corporate power. He sounds like he needs to read more. He reminds me of Lee Doren

Why do so many Libertarians neglect the Carsonian thesis? That is, detailing the difference between free markets and historically existent capitalism. I find it much more convincing than the appeal to individual morality extrapolated to the economy and really just a more robust development of Rothbard's analysis of historical capitalism.

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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dont do these http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

politeness is key. 

reducto ad absurdum is rather fun as well because people noramally dont know what to say. 

http://lawperverted.wordpress.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Law-Perverted/397069737008607
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Edit: I had questions but reading Ghraham's debate on the other forum cleared them up. I don't see how anyone could get mad at you for just asking questions like that. I'd like to see other examples of you debating like that because I think you nailed it.

Graham Wright:

If someone says something that makes you angry or makes you think they are an idiot, do not respond straight away.

To help with this, I like to write my immediate, angry response right away. Then I delete it and write my calm and reasoned response. It helps me to get it out of my system.

Check out my video, Ron Paul vs Lincoln! And share my PowerPoint with your favorite neo-con
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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 4:53 PM

Jargon:

He looks to be employing the "But it's voluntary!" defense (in addition to accusing everyone who disagrees with him of being a "nutjob conspiracy wacko". his is why people think that libertarians hate poor people or worship corporate power. He sounds like he needs to read more. He reminds me of Lee Doren

Why do so many Libertarians neglect the Carsonian thesis? That is, detailing the difference between free markets and historically existent capitalism. I find it much more convincing than the appeal to individual morality extrapolated to the economy and really just a more robust development of Rothbard's analysis of historical capitalism.

I don't quite understand your critique. The guy is not an AnCap and the forum is predominantly left-"progressive"-collectivist. I think he is doing just fine and one could probably learn a thing or two from his approach. 

 

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Jargon replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 5:21 PM

Yes I read his responses.

Here is why I dislike his defense. It only goes about one unit of time back/beneath the obvious. He is shallowly applying libertarian ethics to the culmination of a long line of statist economic policies. He's less interested in solving what are plausibly problems and more interested in telling people that they aren't problems. Personally, it amounts to "this is your lot in life, take it like a dog!" For example, he does not discuss at all how Wal-Mart benefits from eminent domain and transportation subsidies, or the oligpsony of labor which makes some people cling to their employment like serfs. Nothing about the Healthcare quagmire, whose high costs often lead people to blame their employers for not helping them. Nothing about why these situations, in which big companies have, what many consider to be, disturbing authority over employees and consumers, come about or how they would be mitigated in a free market.

I'm not saying I agree with his opponents either, who are interested in punishing those they consider unfair, but I don't agree with him either. No one is discussing at all removing the supports of corporate power, which is a more appealing presentation of libertarian prescriptions. He is more interested in applying libertarian ethics to a system which is dominated by corporations whose managers and administrators are removed from the consequences of their actions.

He is misrepresenting the consistent libertarian's perspective on this issue, which is a combination of both: the defense of an employers' right to his property, but also a clarification on the effects of the state's many interventions in the economy, many of which benefit the big at the expense of the small.

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 8:50 PM

^ I still think he is educating by addressing only few issues/questions at a time. Perhaps you could do better by dumping the whole AnCap bucket on the (left oriented) statist pack at once and see how far that gets you.

I tried (poster hf1), and made it to 750+ posts before I got perma-banned. My first post was here which spawned the main discussion thread here (locked) and here.

Comments, critiques are welcome.

 
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AJ replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 1:49 AM
I do think there is a strong "rightist" lopsidedness to many libertarian argument suites, where the positives of corporations are emphasized and the (state-enabled) negatives are passed over in silence. This is particularly odd when debating leftists, since the very anti-state arguments omitted are the ones most likely to be acknowledged and to disarm the opposition. Libertarians are on everyone's side to a degree, and this should be taken advantage of profusely. I think people have it in their heads that a debate must be a fight and to show anything that would please the other side in any way would be compromising.
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shazam replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 1:58 AM

Does anyone want to critique how I have done in this debate? The topic is the Civil Rights Act. http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=165853.0

Anarcho-capitalism boogeyman

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z1235 replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 8:35 AM

AJ:
I do think there is a strong "rightist" lopsidedness to many libertarian argument suites, where the positives of corporations are emphasized and the (state-enabled) negatives are passed over in silence. This is particularly odd when debating leftists, since the very anti-state arguments omitted are the ones most likely to be acknowledged and to disarm the opposition. Libertarians are on everyone's side to a degree, and this should be taken advantage of profusely. I think people have it in their heads that a debate must be a fight and to show anything that would please the other side in any way would be compromising.

I haven't observed this tendency as most libertarians do seem to throw in a disclaimer about corporatism and regulatory capture whenever they discuss corporations. I think it's quite possible and productive to destroy typical leftist/collectivist myths about evil corporations, wage slaves, and coerced welfare on their own merit. The fact that most large corporations enjoy state privileges today does not imply that there won't be businesses and rich people in a free society, too -- without any state subsidies to support them. Egalitarianism and collectivism can be debated quite effectively without constantly invoking corporatism, IMO. 

That said, I do believe that education about economics is of utmost importance. Whichever way one finds to effectively impart economics knowledge would be the most effective one. That's why I think pluckedkiwi was doing a good job. 

 

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Jargon replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 10:32 AM

z1235:

I think it's quite possible and productive to destroy typical leftist/collectivist myths about evil corporations, wage slaves, and coerced welfare on their own merit. The fact that most large corporations enjoy state privileges today does not imply that there won't be businesses and rich people in a free society, too -- without any state subsidies to support them.

Well this is quite a way to sterilize the issue of corporate abuse, when the only other alternative is collectivism. Are Monsanto's, Bechtel's, Haliburton's, GE's, BP's, Raytheon's, or Goldman Sachs' abuses just phantoms of the leftist/collectivist imagination?

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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z1235 replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 10:40 AM

Did you read any part of what I just wrote? 

 

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Jargon replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 12:18 PM

All of it.

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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z1235 replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 12:37 PM

Then I don't see how your post is related to it or to pluckedkiwi's argument in the linked thread that Walmart is not "evil" for not paying its employees a "fair, living" wage, for not paying its suppliers a "fair" price, and for "destroying" mom-and-pop shops. Or perhaps you believe that businesses, customers, employers, and employees would not exist in a free society?

I'd rather not start another capitalist vs. socialist debate, especially not in this thread.

 

 

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z1235 replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 12:42 PM

shazam:

Does anyone want to critique how I have done in this debate? The topic is the Civil Rights Act. http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=165853.0

Sorry, but I found it extremely difficult to follow that thread with all the giant pic sigs, colors, one-line contributions, and whatnot. It seemed everyone there suffered from ADD. Which poster were you, btw? 

 

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Jargon replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 1:17 PM

You're right. Sorry, I was addressing what I thought I read.

Land & Liberty

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z1235 replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 1:20 PM

Jargon, no worries. Thanks.

 

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shazam replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 6:51 PM

I was SPC.

Anarcho-capitalism boogeyman

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Anarcho-libertarian:
Edit: I had questions but reading Ghraham's debate on the other forum cleared them up. I don't see how anyone could get mad at you for just asking questions like that. I'd like to see other examples of you debating like that because I think you nailed it.

I saw your questions before you edited them out.  Some of my bullet points don't apply in some circumstances.  Reading through that thread that z posted, the advice about not posting un-asked-for links / quotes, for example, isn't so helpful there; I think z (aka hf1) did the right thing arguing the way he did and provided links / quotes appropriately.  The difference is the pace of the forum, the number of people involved, and the degree of homogeneity of views.  Because I tend to prefer slow-paced, smaller debates, my advice is mainly geared toward that.  Being up against more than about 5 people is difficult without backup.

I like to write my immediate, angry response right away. Then I delete it and write my calm and reasoned response. It helps me to get it out of my system.

Yeah, that's a good tip.

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