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Why Topics That Don’t Matter, Actually Do Matter

Let's start here. The narrator is wrong.

Let’s start here. The narrator is wrong.

Do get drawn into debates, they matter regardless of what the topic is. Do not let yourself get emotionally invested in the debate. Do not argue.

There is such thing as a pointless argument. There is no such thing as a pointless debate. Let me clarify a small point, and then get into the topic at hand.

Arguing is about winning. It’s a pretentious egotistical excersize in which one tries to demonstrate to someone else that s/he is right and the other person is wrong, or demonstrate intelligence. It’s basically the equivalent of masturbation in conversation. No one wants to see or hear you do it. Unless it’s your partner, in which case, have at it.

Debate is about the exchange of knowledge, information, and tools of discussion. Formality isn’t important, but courtesy and willingness to be wrong are important. The point of a debate is to weigh information and perspectives against each other to find the truth and learn from each other. It has nothing to do with winning.

Pointless arguments happen when people get emotionally invested in a trivial issue and feel compelled to prove to another party that they’re wrong. I’ll say it again, do not get emotionally invested in a dialogue, it tends to turn debate into argument.

While sometimes arguments can be productive, they can also sometimes be pointless. Debates on the other hand, are always productive in one way or another.

Convincing a serial killer that murder is unethical, for example, might take the form of an argument (winning may be very important) rather than a debate.

Convincing a serial killer that murder is unethical, for example, might take the form of an argument (winning may be very important) rather than a debate.

Take the picture at the top for example. Is the established definition of what a “barbecue” is really important to the lives of either of the men? Probably not. Is the debate pointless? I don’t think so. Even when the topic may not be worthwhile, debate teaches us how to respectfully discuss topics with each other. Through practice, we learn methods of expressing opinions, formulating ideas, and analyzing the way others think. Certainly these things are not pointless.

So please, even when faced with a pointless topic, if you can manage to prevent it from becoming an argument by avoiding emotional involvement and ego stroking (make your own joke), it’s worth your time and you should treat it as such.

About forthesakeofdebate

I enjoy intellectual discussion and learning, metal music, martial arts, and blades. Pretty soon I'll be your favorite misanthrope.

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