GeologicalScienceBlog - subjects include Geology, Climatology, Environmental Science, NASCAR, Beer, Property Rights, Random Thoughts, & Politics from a Christian Conservative/Libertarian/pragmatist viewpoint. As a Dad & Grandad, I am concerned about the overgrowth of government at the expense of freedom. Background - two degrees in Geology (BS '77, MS '90), started studying Geology beginning Senior Year of high school (1971 - 1972) <68>

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Few Debate Tactics for Conservatives/Libertarians

[Disclaimer:  I have never had any sort of debate training.  I have simply observed conversations and engaged in logical thought as to what was effective and what wasn't. 

I often practice class lectures on various subjects, so as to be prepared. Likewise, it doesn't hurt to engage in debate practice-sessions before the fact, wherein you imagine yourself in a one-on-one debate, whether in person or on Facebook. 

If this imagined debate is with a longitme "Modern Liberal" friend or relative, maintaining decorum and civility is paramount in order to; 1) Maintain some sort of good relations with this person; and 2) Prevail in your "argument(s)".  If this polite back-and-forth occurs "in public" on Facebook, you always need to remember that there are likely "fence-riders" on various subjects - awaiting more information before forming their own opinions.  If you firmly - but politely - articulate your logical viewpoints, you may convince them, though you may never know.  [For every Liberal that bitches about "politics on Facebook", 3 or 4 people tell me privately that they like what I write and to "keep it up".] 

As for your "prevailing", you don't want to deliver a public "beatdown" of someone about which you care.  As people don't like to lose face in public, you shouldn't seek to publicly crush their arguments and then expect a "white flag". 

[I would suggest reading up on Dale Carnegie to offset their Saul Alinsky.  Someone has to maintain the "moral high ground".]

You want to "send them home" with some well-articulated philosophical concepts for them to mull-over on their own time.  It may take time for new thoughts and understandings to "bloom".  It may take weeks, it may take months, or progress may never be evident to your observation.  From time to time, you might inquire as to whether or not they have any questions regarding the discussion - just to "feel them out". 

I don't like the Liberal "pop psychology" concept of "confronting someone about..." with a full-frontal assault.  Rather I would prefer to "speak with them" and look for ways to disarm them, i.e., to keep them off guard, not for any sort of ego-driven "victory", but to subtlely and gradually prevail.  Being firm - while non-confrontational - is one good strategy.  If you have evolved "out" of "Liberalism", you might suggest that you "used to feel that way" about a certain issue or issues.

Be willing to acknowledge points of mutual agreement or ambivalence (or evolving opinions) - but limit the number of issues-to-be-addressed and politely resist their attempts at "bait and switch", if they become uneasy at the intellectual weakness of their arguments.  Assure them that "we can talk about that another time". 

As for posing your viewpoints - this is where practice is important - pose them as questions, as is done in words attributed to Jesus in the New Testament when he addressed his accusers.  By honestly asking questions, you appear less confrontational and you force your "opponent" to examine and articulate the source of his/her beliefs.  Don't do it in a "rapid-fire" manner, you are not seeking to overwhelm your "opponent", but to - as stated - "send them home" with food for thought.  Give and take.

Choose your battles carefully, seek common ground, remain calm and confident, admit uncertainty and in-progress thinking, keep your powder dry, and don't say everything you are thinking.  [Forgive the cliches.]   And humbly admit (to yourself) that you are not 100% right and they are not 100% wrong.

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