Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Heart of Debate

This beautiful post by Ed Sizemore reminds me about what matters in debates online (or elsewhere).  It's simple and elegant, concise and well-written and totally worth your time.  Here are some of my favorite quotes.

"We all hold irrational beliefs, it’s okay. Just know what your irrational beliefs are and accept them as such. It doesn’t make them any less powerful or true. Also, you’re not required to defend everything you believe. Only philosophers and pretentious jerks are that anal."

"The point of a debate is to exchange ideas. To challenge the beliefs of someone and to have your beliefs challenged. Now, obvious we all are deeply attached to what we believe. Some beliefs are foundational to who we are. First, you need to be honest with yourself and determine which beliefs you aren’t prepared to discuss in a detached rational manner. These will be beliefs that you leave off the debate table. As with the last point, there is nothing wrong with not being willing to debate everything you believe."

"Remember, just as you don’t mean your arguments to be a personal attack against your discussion partner, so too they don’t mean their arguments to be a personal attack against you. It’s all about trying to get someone else to see your point of view and vice versa."

"I don’t have to agree with you to like you and think you’re a great person. I don’t even have to agree with you to want to hear what you have to say."

How great would online debates be if everyone followed these rules!  I can dream, can't I?

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