Tactics to evaluate the nature of a debate

Coach John Reed has a good list of Intellectually-honest and intellectually-dishonest debate tactics. These enumerate the sort of tactics and behavior that nominate references in this blog. The reasons to do this are shared here.

This Web site is, in part, a debate between me and others with whom I take various issues. I welcome intellectually-honest debate. It is one of my favorite ways to test my theories and learn. … One of the great disappointments of my life is discovering how thoroughly dishonest most people are. Some people will on the slightest provocation fire off a statement or paragraph that contains three, four, five, or six different intellectually-dishonest arguments in a matter of seconds.

Although I am fond of intellectually-honest debate, about 90% to 95% of the statements made by my opponents to prove that I am wrong have been of the intellectually-dishonest variety. The same thing applies across the board. Almost all arguments consist of one intellectually-dishonest debate tactic after another. It is one of the reasons why our country has gotten so screwed up.

The list includes 40 items from name calling to mockery with changing the subject, questioning motives, cult of personality, and scapegoating in between. It should be used to evaluate one’s own arguments as well as those of others. There is a standard and it is one that is reasonably objective. If you see dishonest debate tactics in your own arguments, then you know you need to dig deeper into your own feelings and views and why you hold them. That is the fundamental honesty: being honest with one’s self.

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