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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Monday, Febbruary 9 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Debate vs. argument

In broad terms, arguing and debating may be the same thing. But for my purposes today I'm going to pit them against each other by defining a debate as a civil exercise based on rules and drawing on logic, good manners, goodwill, and even possibly a sense of humor. And on the other hand, I'm defining an argument as a no-holds-barred, boorish, loud, obnoxious, ill-tempered, ill-mannered and illogical attempt to best your opponent by the force of your voice and the violence of your vocabulary rather than reason and persuasiveness.

I like to debate but I hate arguments. In a debate, my opponent ennunciates a proposition (say, "the world is flat") to which I counter, logically and impassionately, ("no, the world is a sphere. It may look flat from the low point in Death Valley, but from higher elevations you can see the horizon curving out which eventually goes all the way around the whole world, like a ball").

The point of a debate is to persuade your opponent of one or more of several kinds of things. 1. Your prime motive but probably seldom won: that your logic is better than his logic and he should change points of view. 2. That despite your need to "agree to disagree with your opponent," he becomes willing to at least admit that you have some good points. 3. Even though he's still convinced you're wrong, he can see how you came to these conclusions and will at least stop trying to change your mind.

The point of an argument is to reduce your opponent to something less than your equal, and preferably less than human. He's an idiot, a nincompoop, or a moral degenerate, and because you've said so, he wonders whether the effort to keep on living is worthwhile. The best kind of win in an argument, thus defined, is the opponent's concluding that the least he can do is fall on his sword to accept his defeat and acknowledge your superiority in every way. Of course in a real argument of this kind, both members are so convinced their opponent is less than human that neither will ever budge. You never persuade anyone of anything by such an argument, but you have the satisfaction of having vented your low opinion of your opponent, and just as often, you stroke your hurt feelings caused by his misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and/or misinterpreting your meaning, intention, or position.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

One Liners On Life

My husband says I never listen to him. At least I think that's what he said.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good…Maybe you're not the best, so you should work a little harder.

— Jay Leno

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