I am always blown away by the number of things I learn from others in debates and discussions.
A note of warning is in order though.
- The right intention: Truth.
- I like to debate to reach an agreement on the essential truth being discussed, rather than to nitpick on the unimportant peripherals just show my smarts or escape the need to admit defeat.
- Correctness vs humbleness: I prefer to be precise and clear in debates – something which is occasionally (and wrongly IMO) perceived as arrogance. Just as in mathematics, there are no foolish, humble or arrogant statements when debating facts and processes – only correct and incorrect ones. Similarly, arguments are simply sound or unsound, and that is what I usually seek to establish. I find it better to call the bluff behind solidly held beliefs (in the context of a debate). Quietly accepting the claim 1+1 = 3 is not a sign of humbleness, and I strongly believe that this clarity should extend to socio-political discrouse among familiars!
- Avoid logical fallacies. (Wiki)
- Adapt the principle of charity. (Wiki)
- Nassim’s summary: “You can attack what a person *said* or what the person *meant*. The former is more sensational. The mark of a charlatan (say the journalist Sam Harris) is to defend his position or attack a critic by focusing on *some* of his/her specific statement (“look at what he said”) rather than attacking his position (“look at what he means”), the latter of which requires a broader knowledge of the proposed idea.”
See something obvious that’s missing here? Please tell me.