Friday, August 10, 2012

How to deal with intellectually dishonest debaters

As a MLM skeptic, I often run into people who ardently believe that their "pet scheme" is absolutely legitimate, even when it's not. When I point out deficiencies in their thinking, or evidence that the company haven't told them everything, there are generally two reactions

Positive: Oh, I didn't know that, thanks for pointing that out, it's something for me to think about

Negative: F___ you! I know this thing is legitimate and you've just being negative!

Most of the negative reaction folks will then pile on various bad arguments as cataloged in this blog, or as John T. Reed put it, "intellectually dishonest" debate tactics.

So how do you react to them?

Generally, by acting somewhat bemused, calm, and collected.

By cataloging the bad arguments, and explaining WHY each of the bad arguments are bad, and why they are indeed, wrong, I hope that all people would learn from that.

Yes, it's for the people who promoted such suspect schemes too, so you don't make stupid arguments.

However, you can't be an intellectual robot either. That's why you need to adopt a somewhat beneficent manner, slightly bemused, and react with a bit of wit and sarcasm, but nonetheless point out holes in their thinking. And if they do a shifting goalpost on you, remind them of that.

Sometimes, mimicking their sentence structure can be amusing. 

Always conclude by thank them for something, either a new wrinkle on a particular technique, or for confirming bad arguments, and so on.

NEVER use foul language in return. Just thank them for demonstrating potty-mouth and make supporters of that scheme look bad, and hope they are not the typical supporter.

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