"THE STRENGTH OF THE SOUL IS THE WEAKNESS OF THE BODY."
Thursday, February 16, 2012
DISHONEST DEBATE TACTICS
Here is a list of the intellectually-dishonest debate tactics I have identified thus far. I would appreciate any help from readers to expand the list or to better define each tactic. I am numbering the list in order to refer back to it quickly elsewhere at this Web site.
Name calling: debater tries to diminish the argument of his opponent by calling the opponent a name that is subjective and unattractive; for example, cult members and bad real estate gurus typically warn the targets of their frauds that “dream stealers” will try to tell them the cult or guru is giving them bad advice; name calling is only intellectually dishonest when the name in question is ill defined or is so subjective that it tells the listener more about the speaker than the person being spoken about; there is nothing wrong with using a name that is relevant and objectively defined; the most common example of name calling against me is “negative;” in coaching, the critics of coaches are often college professors and the word “professor” is used as a name-calling tactic by the coaches who are the targets of the criticism in question; as a coach, I have been criticized as being “too intense,” a common put-down of successful youth and high school coaches. People who criticize their former employer are dishonestly dismissed as “disgruntled” or “bitter.” These are all efforts to distract the audience by changing the subject because the speaker cannot refute the facts or logic of the opponent.
Changing the subject: debater is losing so he tries to redirect the attention of the audience to another subject area where he thinks he can look better relative to the person he is debating.
Questioning the motives of the opponent: this is a form of tactic number 2 changing the subject; as stated above, it is prohibited by Robert’s Rule of Order 43; a typical tactic used against critics is to say, “They’re just trying to sell newspapers” or in my case, books—questioning motives is not always wrong; only when it is used to prove the opponent’s facts or logic wrong is it invalid.
Citing irrelevant facts or logic: this is another form of tactic Number 2 changing the subject.
False premise: debater makes a statement that assumes some other fact has already been proven when it has not; in court, such a statement will be objected to by opposing counsel on the grounds that it “assumes facts not in evidence.”
Hearsay: debater cites something he heard but has not confirmed through his own personal observation or research from reliable sources.
Unqualified expert opinion: debater gives or cites an apparently expert opinion which is not from a qualified expert; in court, an expert must prove his qualifications before he can give an opinion.
Sloganeering: Debater uses a slogan rather than using facts or logic. Slogans are vague sentences or phrases that derive their power from rhetorical devices like alliteration, repetition, cadence, or rhyming; Rich Dad Poor Dad’s “Don’t work for money, make money work for you” is a classic example. In sports, coaches frequently rely on cliches, a less rhetorical form of slogan, to deflect criticism.
Motivation end justifies dishonest means: debater admits he is lying or using fallacious logic but excuses this on the grounds that he is motivating the audience to accomplish a good thing and that end justifies the intellectually-dishonest means.
Cult of personality: debater attempts to make the likability of each debate opponent the focus of the debate on the grounds that he believes he is more likable than the opponent.