For those of us who engage in debate, online or off, regardless of topic, we know that there are awful, horrible debaters and tactics that we run into over and over again. Most of these tactics are caused by ignorance but some, unfortunately, know exactly what they are doing and are engaging in these tactics for nefarious reasons. Things like the Gish Gallop, perfected by Duane Gish, specifically for the purpose of shutting down legitimate debate, are infamous in their long-standing negative effects in live debates.
There’s been an open discussion going on about debate annoyances and I think that it’s interesting how similar most people’s complaints are. The majority don’t like those who post with no evidence or supporting arguments. I found it rather humorous that many fundamentalist Christians posted the same thing, that they expect people to produce demonstrable, objective evidence when they do nothing of the sort themselves. In fact, many of the people who post the loudest complaints, I’ve found are most guilty of utilizing those selfsame arguments themselves. Do as I say, not as I do, I suppose.
However, that made me remember, years back, the worst “debater” I ever saw and amazingly, he wasn’t religious. He was insane. His basic argument was that since his most important priority was to make himself happy, that anything that made him happy must, by definition, be true. It didn’t matter what it was, if it made him happy, he held it up as ultimate truth. His sole support for any argument was “I’m happy, I’m going to believe it”.
Of course, that makes him ultimately worthless to debate, he’s a fanatic at the very least, a complete egotistical asshat. He cannot be reasoned with, he doesn’t care what anyone says, his own comfort is his only means of support and it reigns supreme. I wouldn’t even mention him, except that he insisted on inserting his insanity into every thread, everywhere. He managed to rack up nearly 10,000 posts in the first year alone. He commented on everything and everyone and when people wouldn’t talk to him, he’d post to agree with himself.
Like I said, a total loon.
Oh, I should post my own personal debate hate, shouldn’t I? I first want to say that I engage in debate, not as so many do, as a personal dickwaving contest, but to come to a common conclusion about what position is best supported and most likely factually true. Understanding that in virtually all debates, nobody is ever going to change their mind because neither side is bothering to evaluate what the other side says, except as a means for gaining points with the audience, it still bothers me that people on both sides of the arguments just don’t seem to care who is right and who is wrong. In fact, neither side has any interest in testing their own positions, they are both supremely convinced they’re right and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. One of the most basic tenets of science is to continually test your assumptions. Why can’t debaters do that? Because they’re not really debating, they’re putting on a show for the audience. I find that entirely unfortunate.
So, what’s the worst type of debate tactic you have seen? What drives you up the wall? What makes you want to reach through the monitor and throttle the other person?