15 things you should know about debating.

1. You can't usually "win" a debate, the losing party usually scatter
when they've had enough.

2. Debating with your non-debating friends is like playing paintball
with inexperienced people. It's too easy, and if they're irrational,
immature and/or illogical they won't drop their belief or disbelief that
was wrong, they'll hate you for pointing it out and calling on it.

3. Personal attacks are commonplace. It only happens when the losing
party has ran out of tactics, or if they think that actually helps their
case. It doesn't.

4. Religionists are particularly eager to debate you, until they realise
you're too logical for their bullshit, then they can't scatter away
quickly enough.

5. Keep a record of everything that has been said, every claim, every
counter-claim, every counter-counter-claim. When a claim without
evidence gets forgotten about, remind them that they still have to
provide evidence for that claim. Usually they never do.

6. Definitions are important. If you haven't got them sussed then you
could be arguing about two separate concepts, but arguing as if they
were the same.

7. It may look like your efforts have gone unnoticed, but lurkers are on
the internet and they read everything. You'll never know who you might
inspire! As for the opponents themselves, changing their viewpoints
could take years of logic and debating, but the rational ones who want
the truth always come around.

8. Anecdotal evidence is only evidence for vague usually-obvious claims.

9. If you can get far in a debate, get the opponent to retract some of
their statements, or admit they are invalid. If you don't do this, then
they'll most likely just use them again and have the same debate with
someone else.

10. Separate your logic from your emotions. Emotions are debate-enders
in that empathic arguments are only true for you, and not true for the
rest of reality, and therefore aren't valid in debating conditions.

11. If you were wrong, admit it. It shows more strength than weakness to
admit you were wrong. It's unfortunate not enough people know this and
cling on to their beliefs that inside they know to be wrong.

12. Don't walk out of a debate until it's finished. The opponent always
leaves before I do. Hence number 1 and number 5.

13. Do research, and lots of it. It must be unbiased and accurate by
today's standards.

14. Never claim absolute certainty. Always be open to the possibly that
you're wrong.

15. The best debaters reach a conclusion from every debate. If the
opponent hasn't responded in about a week, it's usually reasonable to
assume they've jumped ship. For any lurkers who might see this
afterwards, post a conclusion, perhaps a recap of how the debate went.

There are many more things to know, but they come with experience. I
have been Isaac.

This post was orginally cast on my blog: http://chaoticisaac.blogspot.com/2010/06/fifteen-things-you-should-...

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