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From: "Bill Sloman"
Subject: Re: How to Cheat in Debates
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 01:09:01 +0100
Organization: Planet Internet
NNTP-Posting-Date: 19 Jan 2003 00:09:43 GMT
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1106
"Phil Allison" wrote in message
> There are at least ten recognised and popular ways of cheating in
> discussion or debate - some are so common they seem quite normal until the
> fallacy is pointed out. Here is my list:
> 5. Quote the absent expert.
> Declare an absent party to be an expert who supports your case. He
> possibly isn't an expert or wouldn't in fact support you but your opponent
> cannot debate this person or yourself on the point since he is not
Which has an obvious variant
5a. Ignore a quoted authority
Declare a quoted authority to be biased, insufficiently disinterested or
inaccessible. Do not bother substantiate this opinion, or find any explicit
This isn't actually allowed in classical stand-up debates, where there isn't
time to go to a library, or to check the sort of work of reference that you
can drag along to the debate, so you are obliged to debate on the basis that
everything that your opponent has said is true. Questioning the truth of
their statements, and pointing out inconsistences with the real world, are
treated as time-wasting.
Web debates are mostly real differences of opinion about real subjects, and
they are not time limited. The web actually does include a lot of useful web
sites (as well as a much larger number of ill-informed and misleading sites)
and a pointer to good web site, or a good literature reference can "win" a
debate between people who are interested in finding out the right answer.
Ignoring a good reference implies that you aren't interested in finding out
an objectively define right answer, and thus that you aren't taking part in
a debate, but exploiting the forum to proselytize your revelation.
I must say that sermons of the Church of the Beatified Phil Alison aren't
all that uplifting.
Bill Sloman, Nijmegen
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