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argumentation - the validation problem

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Jakeman, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    Undue validation of poor arguments through refutation of those arguments is the leading cause of poor debates today. Here is an example:

    person A - "you suck"
    person B - "no i don't"


    Wrong answer. Person A never supported their claim so you don't need to refute it. By refuting their argument you are validating it for them.

    Here is an alternative response that I recommend:

    person A - "you suck"
    person B - "why?"


    Or if you are feeling especially confident:

    person A - "you suck"
    person B - *silence* + *blank stare*


    The non-response can be extremely effective at stopping a bad argument and it often results in the perpetrator backtracking and second guessing themselves. But the important thing is to not validate the bad argument by refuting it.

    And definitely don't do what most people do which is respond with both a refutation and another unsupported claim thereby perpetuating the poor debate. For example:

    person A - "you suck"
    person B - "no you"


    When you commit yourself like this it is very hard to salvage the debate because now both sides are damaged.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  2. dcwilson26

    dcwilson26 MSC Knight

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    The clip doesn't represent your statements very well. When Moore asks "what is your point?, Colbert had already made his point in the previous statement. The awkward silence from Colbert is not because Moore stumped him with some brilliant debate tactic, rather Colbert seemed puzzled at such an out of context question. For example:

    Person A: You suck
    Person B: No I don't
    Person A: What is your point?
    Person B: *confusing silence*

    In the example, Person B doesn't know how to respond because the question by Person A has so obviously been answered already. Person B's point is that he doesn't suck, therefore there is no reason to ask what his point is, especially if Person A is the one who started the debate.

    When Moore insinuates that CNN doesn't report the truth about the health care system because they are sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies, Colbert responds by stating that those companies paid for that time and therefore they "own" the show. He goes on to say that because of this, he would never say anything bad about his sponsors just like CNN. Moore then responds with "What is your point?", a question that has already been answered.
     
  3. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    Perhaps not. It is difficult to find good examples because no one asks "what" when presented with troll bait. Instead they just run with it and start arguing without the proper foundation.
     
  4. Kalgareth

    Kalgareth Peasant

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  5. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    People that I point to this thread keep isolating the political component at the end of my post without ever digesting the meat at the beginning. Unfortunately that part of the post seems to be a distraction and a bad example so I removed it and trimmed some of the fat.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  6. Kalgareth

    Kalgareth Peasant

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    ***Quoted from the NYT article I posted.***

    We walked on, to Starbucks. At the next table, middle-schoolers with punk-rock haircuts feasted noisily on energy drinks and whipped cream. Fortuny sipped a white-chocolate mocha. He proceeded to demonstrate his personal cure for trolling, the Theory of the Green Hair.

    “You have green hair,” he told me. “Did you know that?”

    “No,” I said.

    “Why not?”

    “I look in the mirror. I see my hair is black.”

    “That’s uh, interesting. I guess you understand that you have green hair about as well as you understand that you’re a terrible reporter.”

    “What do you mean? What did I do?”

    “That’s a very interesting reaction,” Fortuny said. “Why didn’t you get so defensive when I said you had green hair?” If I were certain that I wasn’t a terrible reporter, he explained, I would have laughed the suggestion off just as easily. The willingness of trolling “victims” to be hurt by words, he argued, makes them complicit, and trolling will end as soon as we all get over it.

    ***
    You are both, in essence, talking about the same thing, Trolling. Both you and the person profiled give valid examples of how to talk your way out of the traps that are so prolific in these types of dialogue, but I think that his argument of "get[ting] over it", is a bit more effective. If you don't let the discussion affect you then the discussion ends. Any type of response, even in a deflective manner as you suggest, keeps the discussion going. You are still feeding the troll.
     
  7. dcwilson26

    dcwilson26 MSC Knight

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    I should have added that I agreed with everything else in your post.
     
  8. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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  9. Kalgareth

    Kalgareth Peasant

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    Although I understand what you are getting at with this comment, I don't think your linked example is the most appropriate considering the discussions are occurring in an extremely finite forum. Its not like they have hours to debate each others opinions.

    "The result is that the Dem talkers spend the rest of the time disputing the outrageous claims made and thus the GOP controls the entire framing and the entire segment" is the key quote.

    The right wing pundits could drone on for hours when asked "why?" with numerous flawed arguments. Its about the sound bite. The average American television viewer is too lazy to take the time and research on their own the accuracy of the statements and when inaccurate arguments are made over and over again they tend to control the thinking of many observers. The same goes for negativity. Neither side has the desire to have a factual, truthful debate with very real "power" at stake. Debates online, generally with anonymous participants, are far different.
     
  10. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    Good point. However, in practical application a protracted discussion almost never happens because of another aspect of the validation problem, and that is that most bad arguments don't only bait validation from the victim but they require it to have any credence at all. Deny the bad argument the validation it needs and it will quickly fall, and the opponent will sooner throw it out and move on rather than try to salvage it.

    But presentation is key. Validation comes in many forms. You must be careful not to give anything away.
     
  11. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    exercises in denying validation:

    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=9336668570&sid=1

    it only took a few posts to flesh out the main points, followed by numerous repetitions of the same points which were quickly tossed aside. Then starting on the second page everyone started attacking me personally which is the first sign of success indicating that they had abandoned their purely hostile arguments. At that point it was much easier to call people out because they were angry and committed to their hostility without any validation from me to justify those feelings. If I had been defensive and hostile then they would have had cause to be mad at me, but I didn't give them any of that. The thread quickly died after I helped them past their hostility.

    i get the high ground and my opponents are exposed for what they are.
     
  12. Kalgareth

    Kalgareth Peasant

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    Those forums seem like an absolute cesspool. Most of the people who replied on the first page didn't even care what you were talking about and just were attempting to minmax everything. Good luck to you on there Jake. Honestly. Aren't there any other forums that are a little bit more coherent with people that actually listen?
     
  13. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I only post on a few forums. I can't recall the last time I had a really good forum discussion. But I thoroughly enjoy the exercise of mingling with lesser posters.

    The best discussions I have are with my brother and Firemane (Lurk).
     
  14. Calendryll

    Calendryll MSC Commander and Donator

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    This really makes me sad. It appears like nothing has changed in the game since I left. The problem with that thread is that nobody can comprehend doing anything other than hardcore raiding. This new expansion has me a little excited. I'm seriously considering starting a new character and enjoying my time from the ground up. Is there anyone left in the guild?
     
  15. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    mostly fuj and I right now, doing our own thing. Fuj has been doing some 5-mans and kara pugs. I am just farming like mad for wotlk.
     
  16. Fujin

    Fujin MSC Knight

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    Cal come back! You know you miss the threesomes
     
  17. smack

    smack Peasant and Donator

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    A lot of people view silence as concession, i.e. presumption of guilt, e.g guilty until proved innocent. I like this option the best because it's not an invalid response but it will stop people from inferring (incorrectly) guilt from silence.

    I get your validation point now. I don't think I got it until reading this thread.
     
  18. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    True, but that's what the blank stare is for. When talking to some one in person you can give the nonresponse while maintaining eye contact or putting forward some other gesture that indicates you are waiting for something. Basically don't let them close the topic.

    But once again delivery is very important. The slightest smug facial gesture or show of disagreement can be validating to them, and if they are trying to "close the topic" on you then that can be enough to satisfy their ego and allow for a prideful exit. If you deny them that satisfaction then you have won.

    It's a total Sam Gold scenario (see Revolver). Ego is at the heart of many poor arguments and it hates being exposed. People will do anything to justify themselves rather than admit to being wrong. The nonvalidation approach is designed to draw out the ego. Think Jake Green in the elevator denying Macha the fear he is trying to evoke. The bedroom scene and the ending scene are similar where Jake responds to threats and accusations with a kind gesture. In each case Macha is enraged and he ultimately destroys himself. Also note that Jake had to first get over his own ego before he was able to take on Macha's; you have to be genuine as this is not a troll tactic.
     
  19. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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  20. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    Recent example of this:

    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2008/09/14/mccains-disrespectful-ad-is-downright-racist/

    The perceived implication that liberals are taking from the mccain ad is that their campaign is playing the sex card (not supposed to be disrespectful to women). And in response you have liberal blogs saying that it's racist to tell a black man to show respect to a white woman (slave mentality).

    Let's try to identify the arguments. On the right we have the following arguments:

    1) Obama is disrespectful.

    2) Obama is sexist.

    On the left we have this:

    1) McCain is racist.

    2) McCain is exploiting outrage over sexism.

    None of these arguments are clearly stated or fleshed out by their proponents, but rather they are given that validation by their opponents. In denying the argument the opponent gives credence and cause to the proposition, and in retaliating the opponent perpetuates the cycle. Now both sides are fully invested and are sustaining to each other resulting in what is basically a critical mass of poor debate that spirals out of control.

    In attempting to resolve this problem we can step in at any point of the debate on either side. If as the moderator you are skilled enough then you can force an exploration of one of the bad arguments. I will play the devil's advocate and debase an argument on the left:

    1) McCain is racist.

    An exploration of this argument might go something like this:


    - why is McCain racist?

    + because he demands that black people respect white women.

    - how do you know this?

    + because in his commercial McCain demanded that Obama respect Palin.

    - does Palin represent all white women? Does Obama represent all black people?

    + well no.

    - argument defeated.

    The key as the moderator is to not put forward any propositions of your own but to simply probe your opponent by asking questions about their position. You might have to go through a couple iterations as your opponent refines their argument. For example:


    + ok so McCain is only racist against Obama because he demanded that Obama respect Palin.

    - where in the commercial did McCain demand that?

    + well he didn't say it specifically.

    - argument defeated.

    Now at this point you have to be careful because when you have completely explored one argument as we just have (the argument that McCain is racist) then your opponent may try to introduce other arguments. For example:


    + ok so McCain didn't demand that Obama respect Palin, but he said that Obama was being disrespectful of Palin.

    They can make that argument, and you can explore it if you want, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the original argument that McCain is racist.

    If you choose to go forward exploring tangents like this then you need to make an indication that this is a completely new discussion and the previous argument has been defeated, otherwise you risk contributing to the problem you are trying to resolve when these tangential arguments start being substituted for and used to justify the original argument. As the moderator you need to force proper organization on the discussion or it will quickly become a mess as your opponent tries to squirm out of your grasp. If you give your opponent enough wiggle room then the resulting protracted tangential discussion itself can become validation for them, and it is the moderator's job to deny that validation.

    Here is an old example of a sparring session of mine that I let get out of control, where the length and haphazardness of the discussion itself became validating to trolls:

    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=85381331&sid=1&pageNo=1

    I'm still working on rehosting that thread. :blank:

    edit - actually in that old thread I was not only giving in to all of the tangents, but I was giving out validation like candy in denying all of the accusations. I sucked back then.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008

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