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Political Debate as Sport


michaelj
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This seems like an interesting place to discuss this.  Particularly given the propensity among people here to apply "mental models" to thinking about investments, etc.  Of course it applies beyond political debates.

 

Below are a few characteristics that often indicate that someone is approaching a debate or discussion as sport (to win, to entertain (one's self or others), to blow off steam, etc.) rather than as constructive exchange of divergent views. Of course there's often overlap between the two, and while debating for sport isn't inherently bad, it's useful to be able to identify which of the two you're engaging.

 

- Nitpicking

- Insults/ad hominem attacks

- Deflection/prevarication

- Straw-manning

- Goal-post moving

 

What else would you add?

 

 

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Hi Michaelj,

 

I like your observation.  But I would modify it somewhat.  Polemical journalism thrives in countries where libel laws are lax.  Here in the USA, we have very lax libel laws where public figures are involved - and politicians are the ultimate public figures. What passes for political journalism today is mostly polemical journalism - highly aggressive positions with attacks designed to undermine the opposition.  (See for example https://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/matt-taibbi-and-polemic-journalism-modern-era). Another perfect example is what transpired yesterday.  The MSM jump all over what turned out to be fake news in an effort to discredit the Trump administration.  What transpired yesterday on this board was simply mimicking what was being presented by the media.

 

I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

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'Debating Societies' and 'Debate', has long been a training tool to teach future politicians and lawyers how to think on their feet; little different to the use of chess, to teach strategy. Those who are naturally good at it, emerge as a class by themselves, and often - as tomorrow's leaders.

 

Noticeably absent are the marketing and media people, for whom the advantages should be obvious; similarly the 'strategists'.

They are there (they just don't seek out the light), and like everyone else - are determining who their future opponents are likely to be, and how they operate. The 'Dictators Handbook' advises, that to be succesful, those future opponents need to be either undermined or eliminated. The 'Oligarchs Handbook' advises collusion, and 'market segmentation', to maximize the benefit to all.

 

In the drug world we get 'cartels', in the political world we get tribal 'parties'.

Each competing daily for marginal benefit, and ALL colluding to keep 'new' players out of the charmed circle.

Hence 'territory' or 'power' has to be taken; through either the gun, or the vote.

 

Different take  ;)

 

SD

 

 

 

 

 

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What else would you add?

If interested in debates, here's an interesting reference with examples of various additional "techniques".

When the level of debates is elevated, the party that wins is the audience.

 

https://www.shanesnow.com/articles/intellectual-dishonesty#articles/debate-rules

 

'Intellectual dishonesty' is just wordsmithing to avoid using having to say 'lied', or is 'lying'. 

The little white lie isn't really lying, right? simarly, ommission isn't really the same as lying, right? alternative fact is just denial, & not really lying, right? And to call it out is to just piss in the punch-bowl, right? Real party pooper!

 

Con all the people, all the time, and this is what you get.

Until the music stops.

 

SD

 

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I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

 

Winning at all cost is the nature of the debate, by design. That’s the difference between a debate and a discussion. In a debate there are at least 2 parties, where each party tries to win, with winning meaning to sound convincing to the spectators.

 

In a discussion, each party is supposed to listen to arguments of the other party perhaps win them over with better arguments or rationale. Political discourse is in most cases a  debate and very rarely a discussion. Same here in the forums.

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I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

 

Winning at all cost is the nature of the debate, by design. That’s the difference between a debate and a discussion. In a debate there are at least 2 parties, where each party tries to win, with winning meaning to sound convincing to the spectators.

 

In a discussion, each party is supposed to listen to arguments of the other party perhaps win them over with better arguments or rationale. Political discourse is in most cases a  debate and very rarely a discussion. Same here in the forums.

 

I disagree Spekulatius.  There is a clear difference between the healthy desire for competition and winning and the unhealthy need to win regardless of the cost. 

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I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

 

Winning at all cost is the nature of the debate, by design. That’s the difference between a debate and a discussion. In a debate there are at least 2 parties, where each party tries to win, with winning meaning to sound convincing to the spectators.

 

In a discussion, each party is supposed to listen to arguments of the other party perhaps win them over with better arguments or rationale. Political discourse is in most cases a  debate and very rarely a discussion. Same here in the forums.

 

I disagree Spekulatius.  There is a clear difference between the healthy desire for competition and winning and the unhealthy need to win regardless of the cost.

 

Nobody seeks out competitors; they just lower your profits, screw-up your plans, talk back, get in the way, etc!

One wants to either 1) crush them, or 2) do a deal with them. Per the 'Oligarch's Handbook', we want the marketplace to collectively 'look like' there is competition, while not actually doing it. Lying, without actually using the word.

 

We raise our game because we have to, not because we want to.

That 'good' competitor who will not deal is a 'liability' - not an asset! Better for 'all', if ‘we’ collectively crush them, and allow somebody more ‘compliant’ instead. The ‘rules of the game’ stay ‘as is’, we collectively ‘remain in control’, collectively have the funds to ‘buy’ the outcomes we want, and life is good!

 

All good, until the underlying technology changes. Disruptive change ….

The ‘old’ oligarch gets replaced with the ‘new’ oligarch, just as the old dictator and his/her followers get replaced with the new ones. Obviously the more ‘adaptive’ the follower, the better – and the more things change, the more they remain the same.

 

Brexit. The population (in a referendum) voted to leave. Resultant denial and disruptive change results in a new oligarch (financial sector). Produces desperation for a new referendum (buy the ‘right’ outcome) to maintain ‘business as usual’.

 

Problem is the population voted for ‘change’, because ‘business as usual’ isn’t working for them.

The last time this famously occurred, it cost both Louis XVI, and the Romanov’s, their lives 

 

SD

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I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

 

Winning at all cost is the nature of the debate, by design. That’s the difference between a debate and a discussion. In a debate there are at least 2 parties, where each party tries to win, with winning meaning to sound convincing to the spectators.

 

In a discussion, each party is supposed to listen to arguments of the other party perhaps win them over with better arguments or rationale. Political discourse is in most cases a  debate and very rarely a discussion. Same here in the forums.

 

+1

 

A discussion is where both parties are searching for the truth.  A debate is where both parties already know the truth.

 

I was listening to the Rogan interview with Jonathan Haidt and he was talking about some studies done every year since the 1990's (I'm paraphrasing from memory here, so this might not be 100%)  that showed that in the 90's Democrats/Republicans usually agreed with each other on 6 out of 10 issues.  In other words if you knew someone's stance on 1 issue you could guess their opinion on other issues with a 6/10 accuracy.  In 2010 it was closer to 10/10.  People have segregated themselves into groups and now comply completely to the groups expected opinions.    There is no way that if individuals think for themselves that everyone who is for more gun control also wants to increase the minimum wage, or that everyone who wants lower taxes also wants stricter immigration controls.  People are no longer thinking for themselves, no longer looking for the truth. They are being told what to think and being shamed and threatened with excommunication from their tribes if they sway from total agreement on all issues.

 

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I would also add that winning at all cost seems to be a driving principle for a lot of folks.

 

I agree this is a driving principle for many people - some stronger than others.  There's also some self-selection involved for those who are successful in politics (and therefore drive the narrative du jour).  Getting elected requires an unshakable desire to win.  Then, once elected, the entire job description is to win/advocate for an agenda. I have no doubt Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi hold private views which occasionally run counter to their actions. But expressing those views in a measured fashion, or even occasionally conceding a point, is not part of the job description. Given the position of influence these folks have, parroting their actions is somewhat of a learned behavior among those who are less inclined to think for themselves.

 

People have segregated themselves into groups and now comply completely to the groups expected opinions.  There is no way that if individuals think for themselves that everyone who is for more gun control also wants to increase the minimum wage, or that everyone who wants lower taxes also wants stricter immigration controls. People are no longer thinking for themselves, no longer looking for the truth. They are being told what to think and being shamed and threatened with excommunication from their tribes if they sway from total agreement on all issues.

 

Spot on. This sums up what I've long found to be a bewildering aspect of politics. Particularly when I was younger and had not yet been exposed to the hardening effects of partisan political engagement. 

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