The art of debate.

Listening to Hannibal Buress trying to drunkenly debate Sam Harris on the ‘We the People’ podcast is a tough exercise. I have fallen into a similar trap many times, and I find it interesting to explore this further – if not for any readers, just for myself. If you spend your time researching intelligent debate on issues such as biology, physics, sociology, religion and more, by such noted and known professors and respectable peers – you walk back through life forgetting that those people are a vast minority of the population.

I can sit and watch Christopher Hitchens sit facing a man he abhors, and instead of raising voices, they verbally attack each other with facts statistics & logical thought. At the end, a hand shake or a nod and life goes on as planned. This cannot be said about the friend you have on facebook or twitter who believes we live in a rape culture or that Tony Blair is a war criminal. The amount of times I engage these debates only to find within one reply that I am not speaking to a respectable or intellectual individual, but  an angry person of the general populous who most likely spend more time in the day watching catch up TV than reading books. The worst part of all is that it is a fault of my own to give such levity, to forget who I am speaking to. I don’t doubt this sounds pretentious, but please for a moment think of one area that you are familiar with – more so than the general public.

Let’s say you have a degree in Geography. You see a status about igneous rocks which is clearly false – but only to a select few – like yourself, with the expertise. If you engage & try to explain, then are called any numbers of angry swear words, or a know-it-all and the like, and in the end you have to say “Look, I have some knowledge on this subject, I have a degree & have written studies on radioactivity within igneous rocks in south america – I know a little about this subject!” At this point, you have surrendered yourself to being pretentious in some form, even though, in reality, you have just used up all basic logical arguments and arrived at the conclusion that this person is not going to listen to facts. So maybe the use of authority might help?

It normally never works.

Sam Harris gives fantastic points like mentioning the % of the US population that is black is only 6%, but the murder rate by black people is 50%. Therefore there is a massive issue with black people committing murders at a much higher rate than white people – so when a police officer is called to an area for a shooting & sees a black male jogging in a hoody. He may be justified to stop this person with force based on statistical facts. Before this sentence Sam agrees the horrid crimes against blacks by odious racist police officers & the racist laws against marijuana which attack blacks directly – in response to this great, thought provoking & logical point in defense of the police, he is met with responses like “fuck this shit, you ain’t no this, you ain’t been no black man in Chicago, yo play your stats game, you think you like intellectual, fuck that shit – you ever been black.”

At this moment, one must notice that you have a heavy weight boxer vs a disabled & malnourished child with a massive ego – sure, the world knows the heavyweight will win 100% but the child’s own mind can’t conceive that he is losing.

I might be making the same mistake again but I’m giving you the reader the generous leeway that I believe you are intelligent enough to understand not one part of that response is intelligent or coherent.

I can’t count how many times I’ve “debated” a “friend” who had a misconception about an issue they were not knowledgeable on but very interested in & ended up being blocked. People will lie, and ignore facts, make up their own ones; frankly do anything to notice their folly. It almost never ends with, “Ah, I didn’t see what you meant, good point, look I’ll think this all over & get back to you, take care.” Most of the time it ends with “fuck you, you bigot, I cant belive you actually think that & you were my friend? [blocked]”

I wonder now, are these debates worth it? If only I am willing to change my mind with evidence, is there any point believing the rest can be convinced also? Why are the general population so unsuited to debate? Yet so suited to mass opinions?

I am going back to the 3 hours podcast to endure the rest. From now on I think I will have to give up hope on humanity & instead of thinking every debating opponent on facebook is interested in intellectually honest debate and respectful discourse – I must come to terms with the fact that they really aren’t intelligent enough to have these types of conversations. However pompous that may sound.

An old friend on facebook replied to a very thought out comment from myself with “Sod off.”

He spent £6000 each year on university fees for that. How depressing.



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