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From: email@example.com (Bill Sloman)
Subject: Re: How to Cheat in Debates
Date: 19 Jan 2003 06:15:20 -0800
NNTP-Posting-Date: 19 Jan 2003 14:15:20 GMT
"Phil Allison" wrote in message news:...
> "Bill Sloman" wrote in message
> > "Phil Allison" wrote in message
> > news:eTRV9.26474$jM5.firstname.lastname@example.org...
> > >
> > > There are at least ten recognised and popular ways of cheating
> > > in a 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 available.
> > 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 countervailing evidence.
> ** First - the person quoted **has** to be an recognised, independant
> authority AND what they say has to be on the issue exactly, non ambiguous
> and does not require interpretation.
This is 5a in all its glory. If Brian Moore isn't a recognised
independent authority, the species has to be so narrowly defined as
not to exist. He is a fellow of the U.K. Royal Society, which is -
short of a Nobel Prize - about as recognised as a U.K. scientist can
get to be, and he is professor at Cambridge, which is about as
independent an expert as you can get, short of someone with a
professor ship and a private income (and they exist, but nt in useful
The requirement that they have written a specific answer to your
particular question that even you find non-ambiguous is of course,
another variant of 5a.
The real world doesn't deliver information to you on a silver salver -
you have to dig it out of the data available, which is something that
you might have found out if you'd got beyond the spoon-feeding stage
of your undergraduate course.
> > 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.
> ** That is a piece of public entertainment - not a search for the truth.
Public debates are public entertainment - you have to entertain your
public before you can get them to listen to your version of the truth.
> > 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.
> ** Far more often it is exactly as described in my number 5.
> > 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.
> ** See above Bill. BTW You must post the wording of the info you are
Certainly not. It is a total waste of bandwidth, and opens the way to
editing the information to "emphasise" the point that you want to
make. If you are too lazy to go to a web site, then you are too lazy
to take a useful part in a debate.
> > I must say that sermons of the Church of the Beatified Phil Alison aren't
> > all that uplifting.
> ** Number 10 Bill - you have no case to post so you post insults.
I'm not "debating" with you, Phil - I'm using you as a horrible
example of things you are complaining about. This is just one extended
ironic joke, with you as the butt. I must say that describing someone
as Beatified is about as far from what is normally understood by an
insult as you can get.
Calling an Australian citizen an "arrogant Dutchman" is merely an
inexactitude, or perhaps an ignorant stupidity, so perhaps you aren't
tarred with the same brush.
Bill Sloman, Nijmegen
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