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Old December 15th, 2017, 09:14 AM   #1
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Debating tactics: natural or learned ?


I've notice a frequent debating tactic which I will summarize below to the best of my limited ability. I was wondering if it was "natural" (i.e. the average human is wired to debate in that way) or learned in certain circles which shall remain nameless..

And if both, how to recognize those who do it "instinctively" because they dont know better and those who do it in a conscious way as per playbook

This is a 4 step debating tactic

1- Accuse
2- Discredit
3- Insult
4- Run Away

In Step 1 the debater's goal is to place in early an accusation, preferably finishing with the suffix "ist"... Could be "racist, facist, imperialist, zionist" or any other emotionnally charged derogative term.
The game is to place it first but not too early... He can't open with it.. He has to wait for the right opening by nitpicking something the opponent wrote...
He has to be careful not to let the opponent beat him to the goal post and accuse him first.... Sometimes this attack is complemented by a simultaneous defense but in my view it weakens the tactic because it is quite often of a rather contrived variety (aka... "my garderner's wife is black so I cant be a racist")

The goal of the accusation is to force the unwary opponent to spend time and energy trying to negate the accusation, which is in any case usually impossible... Its hard to prove a negative, and thus its hard to prove that one is not, for example, "an imperialist pig"

2- If Step 1 fails for any reason, the debater proceeds to step 2

Here the game is to pretend the opponent is not qualified to debate the subject... where as of course the debater is superbly qualified (aka, my cook has a 2 PhDs in colonization and he told me that....)....
When the opponent parries (for example he, his family, his parents, grand parents, children and in fact his whole country have been colonized for times immemorial) he will be told that his personal experience is not relevant (the way he was colonized is not representative of anything whereas the debater, who himself has never been colonized but HAS talked to formerly colonized people present at the fireman's ball etc...)

If Step 2 fails which it often does as the debater is himelf in fact quite weak on the topic he debates, as he usually debates it from a dogmatic position he then resorts to more or less subtle insults... The game here is to disqualify the opponent by goading him into gross insults of his own.... Therefore the debater has to be careful in his choice of insults and hope that the opponent will commit a foul by using much worse ones...

If Step 3 fails then the debator has lost the debate. His tactic is then to run away BUT to do that by claiming foul play.... The game here is to delegitimize the opponent's victory by instilling doubt , pretending there was injustice and foul play, and that somehow the deck was stacked against the debater.. This is to deny the opponenet the supposed fruits of his victory (aka "I've lost.... but you've not won")

In addition to the above these debaters will either shy away from facts or attempt to present incorrect data (aka fake news)

NB: yes, obviously I've exagerated the examples... that's not what is usually written but it gives the general idea

Last edited by tomar; December 15th, 2017 at 09:19 AM.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 09:23 AM   #2

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I think that this is a perversion of debating tactics. It only works where the debate takes place in a forum where there is no personal contact between the people watching the debate: i.e. television and social media. If there is direct contact, the person employing your strategy would quickly find himself hissed off the stage.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 09:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Vagamundo View Post
I think that this is a perversion of debating tactics. It only works where the debate takes place in a forum where there is no personal contact between the people watching the debate: i.e. television and social media. If there is direct contact, the person employing your strategy would quickly find himself hissed off the stage.
I would just like to clarify that it is not "my strategy".. Its one that I have observed in many forums including here.....

And I have seen at least step 1 and 2 used in "public" debates..... And step 3 in a milder form.... You are right that Step 4 is usually not used in those cases, though there may be instances when it was....

But TV is a different problem of its own... There are a number of dirty tactics there... In particular there is usually an "audience" which of course can be manipulated by the TV producers who can hand pick the audience to achieve a certain effect....Said audience can be made to boo or applaude at will.... Or perhaps one can put a beautiful woman just behind his preferred debater and Quasimodo behind the opponent.. Its likely that the general public will prefer to look at the beautiful woman and inconsciouly prefer that debater (without perhaps even understanding why)
Likewise opponents in a debate can be filmed in different ways (to present a better or worse image if required).... And finally the TV presenter can select loaded questions and/or steer away the debate from certain topics and/or towards certain other topics

Last edited by tomar; December 15th, 2017 at 09:41 AM.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 11:28 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomar View Post
I would just like to clarify that it is not "my strategy".. Its one that I have observed in many forums including here.....

And I have seen at least step 1 and 2 used in "public" debates..... And step 3 in a milder form.... You are right that Step 4 is usually not used in those cases, though there may be instances when it was....

But TV is a different problem of its own... There are a number of dirty tactics there... In particular there is usually an "audience" which of course can be manipulated by the TV producers who can hand pick the audience to achieve a certain effect....Said audience can be made to boo or applaude at will.... Or perhaps one can put a beautiful woman just behind his preferred debater and Quasimodo behind the opponent.. Its likely that the general public will prefer to look at the beautiful woman and inconsciouly prefer that debater (without perhaps even understanding why)
Likewise opponents in a debate can be filmed in different ways (to present a better or worse image if required).... And finally the TV presenter can select loaded questions and/or steer away the debate from certain topics and/or towards certain other topics
My problem with televised debates (or televised anything else) is that the audience in "TV land" (that is, we who are sitting in front of the monitor at home) don't interact with anyone--although Twitter might be changing this. Therefore we don't do the normal human thing of talking with regard to what is being said. You're right about manipulation--just as phony and manipulative as the laugh track on a TV sitcom.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 11:36 AM   #5

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The accusation is quite an ancient debating tactic as well as the appeal to authority or delegitimizing opponent by their lack of authority.

The direct insult and run away in public forums is more due to reality TV though it also existed before it was not meeting de rigueur standard for ruling society.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:05 PM   #6

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That's a wrong way to debate. I face it on political forums [not here] and usually I note it's not efficient.

It's a one way strategy. When I use rhetoric I prefer to have a multiple choice and I never accuse my opponent[s] to be "ist". If the opponent is enough smart you will have no more room to move when your accusation will be simply accepted without giving importance to it [this is a rhetoric trick old as ancient Rome].
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:11 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
That's a wrong way to debate. I face it on political forums [not here] and usually I note it's not efficient.

It's a one way strategy. When I use rhetoric I prefer to have a multiple choice and I never accuse my opponent[s] to be "ist". If the opponent is enough smart you will have no more room to move when your accusation will be simply accepted without giving importance to it [this is a rhetoric trick old as ancient Rome].
In a real debate, when you resort to insult, you've lost the debate because you can't refute what your opponent has said. In the televised travesties that pass for debates in the US, that's not so true.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:27 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Vagamundo View Post
In a real debate, when you resort to insult, you've lost the debate because you can't refute what your opponent has said. In the televised travesties that pass for debates in the US, that's not so true.
Well, about the insult we agree, I was making reference to more smart accusations [usually in a rhetoric form] which require a suitable rhetoric answer to retort.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:50 PM   #9
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It's seems that the OP's: Attack, Discredit, Insult, Run Away, works best if you're not first. I suppose one could be pre- emptive by attacking first: "My oppenent will attempt to unload a pile of nonsensical garbage on you. Ignore everthing he says!"

The opponent calmly ignores this and makes his points.

Discredit "All lies and fake news".

The opponent names his sources without directly responding.

Insult "My opponent is an ignoramus who quotes other ignoramuses".

The opponent ignores this and summarizes his points

Run Away: "This debate is a joke. The BS is a mile deep. I have better things to do."

Seems I've actually heard some debates like this but I just can't remember where.

Last edited by stevev; December 15th, 2017 at 01:14 PM.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 01:17 PM   #10

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The best way to deal with similar rhetoric strategies is to ignore them: they want to disrupt a thread for this or that reason. Not allow them to do it ... ignore them.
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