Critical Thinking #1: Honest v. Dishonest Debate Tactics, (Review )

Note: This is a response to a posing in August 2015 by John T. Reed. Mr. Reed goes on to list the 2 ways which you can HONESTLY debate someone, and then the myriad of ways one can DISHONESTLY debate another. Mr. Reed has no affiliation with this site, and this review is based on reading his website.

The webpage can be found click here.

Mr. Reed lists 2 ways to HONESTLY debate. They are:
1. pointing out errors or omissions in your opponent’s facts
2. pointing out errors or omissions in your opponent’s logic

He then goes on to cite dozens of ways you can DISHONESTLY debate. Here are a few:
(1) Name calling;
(2) Changing the subject;
(3) Straw-Man arguments (misrepresenting a person’s views);
(4) Conflating facts and opinions;
(5) Manipulating language;
(6) Badgering a person (keep repeating the question);
(7) Finding small errors (arguing the minor points while avoiding the major ones);

Mr. Reed early on expresses his frustration at how people debate. To quote him:

One of the great disappointments of my life is discovering how thoroughly dishonest most people are. Some people will, on the slightest provocation, fire off a statement or paragraph that contains three, four, five, or six different, intellectually-dishonest arguments in a matter of seconds. Alan Colmes who regularly appears on Fox News is one of them. Juan Williams is another.

The page is well worth a read. Going through it, these examples can regularly be found in both the media and politics. People do get exposed to these dishonest tactics and often do not realize it.

Why This is Important to This Site
Aside from being a very interesting read, the lessons here are applicable in the topic of law.

Mr. Reed argues that debate consists of: (a) Facts; and (b) Logic. In other words, the logic which connects those facts form the basis of argument. Similarly with the law, it mainly consists of: (a) Facts; and (b) Law. Facts are tried, and their applicability to the law is then contested. Actually, the practice of law really is just a form of debate.

Overall it is a very thorough list.

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