Thursday, April 28, 2011

Debating Rule Number 1 - No Trump Cards

Here, for your edification, is the first of a potential series -- Brown's Debating Rules. Here is rule number 1:

1 - Don't Play Your "Trump Card" if You Want to Convince People

In any sort of debate, there are certain "trump cards" - certain accusations or assertions that one can invoke to suddenly end debate. Often these are played when things are going poorly and against you -- you drop the card and the other side will (usually) cave. What are these trump cards? Here are some examples.

You're Racist (the American Political one par excellance)
That's Socialist, that's Communist (Another American Political one)

and of course, there's theological ones.

You're not Confessional.
You don't care about the lost.
That's too Catholic.
That's sectarian.

And so on and so forth, even all the way to "you are evil" or "you support evil". All of these are used to quell debate and discussion... they are designed to suddenly make your opponent defensive -- perhaps defensive enough to just shut up, but at least defensive enough to move to defending themselves.

This doesn't convince them. How, if you "attack" someone, do you expect to convince them that you are right? You throw their guard up.

Note, telling someone that they are wrong is not "attacking" them, necessarily -- if your purpose is explaining *how* they are wrong rather than mocking them because they are wrong.

When it boils down to it -- all trump cards are nothing but name-calling. Name-calling doesn't convince anyone.

And if you don't agree with me, you're a godless-communist-liturgical dancing-tree hugger... unless you are liberal and reading this in which case you're a pro-corporate-oppressor of the masses-elitist.

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