Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Heads I win, Tails you lose

Agenda arguments are all about winning. It amazes me that so many people lose these arguments. If a salesperson is trying to get you to buy something that's a bad deal or you can't afford then just say no.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Arguing for the sake of arguing

Pure Ideology/Ideology: Ideology/Ideology arguments are just arguing for the sake of arguing; this can be enjoyable or frustrating depending on the circumstances and temperaments of the participants. Except for correcting the misconceptions and misstatements that contaminate these types of arguments (facts and agenda), a pure ideology/ideology argument will never change anything. Hopefully, the two sides will "agree to disagree". If not then escalation can easily lead to armed conflict. When someone "wins", the result is conversion.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"I just haven't convinced her yet that I'm right"

This post and the next few ones are going to be about a Grand Unification Theory of Argument (negotiation, debate, discussion, fighting) that I conceived while thinking about the above. Last night the wife and I were out having dinner and were engaged in a discussion when the server came up to our table. She heard us arguing and said "uh, oh". She laughed when I reassured her with the above statement. But it was true. The reason that it was true is that my wife and I love each other and this was just an interesting fact/fact disagreement. What do I mean by that? I think there are three basis of disagreements: facts, ideology, and agenda. Now these are rarely pure in any argument. For example, in my discussion with my wife, we were pretty much having a minor disagreement about facts, but we also had an agenda of keeping the evening fun. I want to look at each type of argument and the winners and losers in each.

PURE FACT/FACT: As soon as the facts are produced, the disagreement ends. Sometimes, not enough is known to end the disagreement and hopefully that stimulates the participants curiosity to find out the correct answer. The "winner" in this argument feels good because they were shown to be right. The "loser" may feel good because they learned something; they may feel neutral because they didn't care that much anyway; or they may feel bad because they feel that they were disrespected or bludgeoned by the "winner" or because they are embarrassed or feel stupid. Generally this type of disagreement is not so tricky and there are few land mines as long as you avoid being an a**hole about being right (or wrong). A lot of people think that most academic disagreements fall in this category, but the truth is that few academic arguments are of this type because academics are trained to pay very close attention to the facts.