One of the things that drives me nuts is when people enter into an argument without actually listening to the other side’s perspective. When I was in high school we had instructions in how to debate, and one of the specific roles we were told to fill on our debate teams was to have someone whose job was to pretend to be on the other team. The idea was that this person would become an expert at the arguments that the other side was likely to use, so we could smack them down in rebuttal.
For some reason (probably because the target audience is not interested in hearing refutation), ‘debates’ that I see between religious people and atheists never seem to use that tactic.
If I ever get invited to debate a creationist or a theist, I have an entirely different strategy to employ – I’m going to go up there and pretend to be even crazier than my opponent. “You think the word was created 6,000 years ago? Absolutely nonsense! It was created 3 months ago by the sneezing of an intergalactic duck! It was just sneezed with the illusion of age! I know this because I read it on the back of this napkin, and I feel the truth of it in my heart.”
But then again, the people who argue the science side are usually trying to teach the audience something important, and consider it worthwhile showing respect to both their opponent and her/his position. I am labouring under no such burden – I just want them to see how stupid she/he looks.
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