I'd like help with debate/logic in everyday normal situations (not religion related)

Sodium Pentothal
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I'd like help with debate/logic in everyday normal situations (not religion related)

This isn't about religion but about debate/logic in general. In real life everyday situations, I generally just don't even bother getting into a debate. I am always conscious about not coming across as condescending and I avoid jargon and replace them with laymen terms/explanations (even if "appeal to authority" or "correlation isn't necessarily causation" is a LOT simpler and less wordy), but experience has shown me over and over again that 99% of the time, people just simply seem incapable of understanding basic, fundamental logic (no wonder people are so easy to control). It becomes particularly frustrating and infuriating when you are polite and when they start to lose, e.g. repeatedly unable to come up with a rebuttal, they start to call you "crazy" (why? because you can't understand logic?) or resort to disrespectful and dismissive cop-outs (as opposed to simply conceding or just saying "I don't know" ).


I've been able to avoid any kind of debate in an everyday setting with normal people and friends for quite a long time, but having just had one recently (and trust me, despite my reluctance, THEY continually tried to re-start it with me and I'd re-engage hoping that things will be civil this time), I've been grossly disappointed again how seemingly pointless logic is with the masses. Is the Socratic Method doomed to a few percentiles of our population?


How have you guys handled debates in everyday situations? Is it pretty much a case of "you just simply don't bother debating unless it's in a formal, intellectual setting?" Or is there an even easier to-understand way of communicating logic?

"If I don't think something can be explained conventionally, it must be magic. And magic comes from God!" -everyday religious person

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I'm probably as

I'm probably as inexperienced as you when it comes to debate, so bear in mind that this is just a 2c rather than expertise here.

1) Try not to make them defensive
If their ego/self esteem is tied to them being right, this is going to make them less open to admitting to themselves that they are wrong. It will also direct more of their efforts to defending their ego rather than determining truth.

One way to do this might be to phrase things like "I personally can't accept that because I feel..." as it changes the focus of the argument. Rather than feel they have to save their face by throwing out rebuttals and make themselves look justified, you have instead raised their ego a challenge along the lines of "Here's my reason for disagreement and if you can understand this where I am coming from
It kind of gives them a positive encouragement to 'chase' where you're coming from and take your points on board in order to find an answer to them.

As it happens, I don't often take this approach in real life but have found it very effective when people have done it to me, so I should probably make a mental note to try it sometimes. Not that we should always do away with direct debate, but if in a particular debate ego appears to be getting in the way of understanding, a less direct approach can remedy this.

2) Don't expect instant results
Questions that we debate about tend to be incredibly complex with millions of angles. Even if you had the most perfect, ideal and winning argument, there's a good chance that are unlikely to fully comprehend it on the spot. Sometimes we are on auto-pilot arguing against what we expect to hear rather than genuinely taking the points on board. That doesn't mean that the arguments completely pass us by - there's a good chance that they have been absorbed into a subconscious which is likely to be bearing them in mind.
What I'm saying here is that the best of arguments take a while to sink in, but they gradually do and the listener finally finds that the point stands.

A good example is Paul Montana.
The guy was pre-suppositional theist.
He used to get into heated arguments with people in this community, both throwing their points back and forth, both sides feeling like that they were screaming at a brick wall. Over and over the same debates were repeated, seeming to get nowhere.

However, the points slowly sinking in.
Not so long ago Paul announced a rejection of pre-suppositionalist arguments for the same reasons that had been argued against him many times, declaring that belief in God was a matter of faith rather than logically proved through the arguments of the pre-suppositionalists.

So my advice would be not to worry if the argument gets heated or aggressive, so long as you can both cool off at the end of it and not mind that you still disagree. The points that were made likely had a subtle effect, sowed seeds in your opponents mind, that you can now leave to grow in their own time. You, likewise, will gradually reflect on the debate yourself. Even if you don't find their arguments convincing you will still be able to reflect on where they were coming from, why they didn't accept your arguments, and how to improve and explain it better the next time round.

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Hey I understand exactly

I have be been in debates involuntarily for awhile, sometimes I initiate them if I see a that they dont believe what they preach. I have brought two people over to rationality so far, because I recognized the didn't have true faith. 

Hey I understand exactly where your coming from as I have just recently been having the same issues repeatedly with a friend I rather not debate because frankly he is an idiot. I try super hard to be politeand avoid the topic but he rather insult and tell me "your Crazy and Delusional, God does exist!".

Then I have another friend who claims Spiders are aliens.

Its really hard to avoid such a topic the minute somebody realizes you don't think like they do especially if you rely on logic and reason. you just made yourself a martyr for their theological stoning.

if you read my myspace blog http://blog.myspace.com/slaynesouls

You will notice I have been kicked out of cars for my beliefs.

If God didn't want atheists than we wouldn't exist..

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Have you ever been in a

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody made a suggestion or expressed skepticism in the form of a question?  If it was done well, expressed as a sincere request for information, did it seem not at all condescending and make you more inclined to respond thoughtfully?

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert

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I've found this series of

I've found this series of essays by Hambydammit to be very relevant and helpful:

 Argument and Debate: Forms and Techniques, Part 1