Debating against the irrational

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While this graphic relates to debating christians, it’s really applicable to a wide range of unsupportable positions – all the usual suspects we’ve covered here at rationalbrain.

Interestingly, the flow chart  tries to anticipate a number of the tactics used in debates, with the primary aim of sowing the seeds of doubt in the listener, rather than clarifying a situation. When debater 1 has no real substance to fall back on, a primary technique is to raise a number of complex issues in very quick succession, without actually discussing any of them. This is designed to raise doubt in the listener about debater 2, who doesn’t have a hope of answering the complex issues raised in the available time. This is very commonly used for climate debates.

See if you recognise any of the techniques…

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2 thoughts on “Debating against the irrational

    Debating the dark side « rationalbrain said:
    April 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    […] Well, this past week Dr. Oz invited one of the luminaries of the skeptic movement, Dr. Steve Novella, to speak on the program.  Before the show, the blogosphere was abuzz with anticipation, and it was somewhat pessimistic regarding Steve’s chances of getting the message across, given the past history of debating people who argue from a position based on belief rather than evidence. Not only that, such people generally stack the audience and structure of the session with accolytes, as well as perform some judicious editing before the show goes to air. I’ve written about this sort of thing before – see this post for instance, and in particular the bit on Harriet Hall, who was subject to this treatment while actually being a paid employee of Oprah. See also my earlier post on debating the irrational. […]

    […] Here’s a little more background on this phenomenon, which features a nice graphic on ‘debating a christian’. […]

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