Wed, 20 Apr 2005

Conversational Terrorism

I stumbled across this while doing my daily rounds of the Internet: Conversational Terrorism. It's a short exposition on some of the (ever more common) techniques people use to avoid intelligent debate in favour of "winning" an argument.

Highlights for me include "Wishful Thinking" and "I'm not saying this". I cringe every time I hear someone say things like:

  • "I'm not a racist, but..."
  • "Yes, but you're a [white male, feminist, capatilist pig, hippy]"

The sad part is that I know I'm also guilty of using these techniques. We seem more interested in winning an argument than in discovering truth, or seeing a different point of view. It's encouraging to be able to see these non-arguments in daylight, think about how we use them, and then try to stop.

Just remember, every time you use one of these techniques, you're denying yourself the opportunity for at least one of two things:

  • Learning something new
  • Teaching something new

I like to think that I would prefer to grow than win. Of course, it's nice when you can do both at the same time :-)