Far too many people write others off as extremists or ignorant without listening to their point of view. Why not listen to their argument then simply combat it with your own view that’s backed up by known facts. Why not let them speak? If we would allow these people to speak their mind, even if it’s a terrible point of view, then people will see this point of view for what it really is and easily refute it with fact. It’s when we try to silence people’s voices that we seem like we are unable to combat their arguments with sheer fact and logic, causing the person we disagree with to look like they’ve won the debate.
Do Your Research
Everyone will have faults in logic at times; that’s why debate is healthy. Debate should never get to the point that it’s brushed aside as something that’s not needed in society. Debate is healthy, it’s the cornerstone of what makes democracy a functioning system. Everyone is allowed to say things, no matter how crazy, and then others can debate them based on facts and opinions. That’s the difference between a democratic country and a country like North Korea or Cuba, where information is guarded and the internet is prohibited. We have all the information we need at our fingertips and all we have to do is spend a small amount of time to take it in. It’s other people’s job to process the news and come up with the stories. It’s our job to ingest the news, preferably from multiple different news sources as most news organizations have a bias. Then we should be doing our own research to find out what the exact statistics are. A prime example of this was on Obama’s final day in office. CNN reported that his approval rating was at 55%, while Breitbart reported 53%. These are both large news organizations: one (CNN) is slanted to the left a bit, and one (Breitbart) is slanted to the right a bit. When it comes to this example, there’s not much controversy, as you can imagine, as the numbers are only 2 digits from one another. However, on a lot of issues, if you get your news from just one of these sources, you’re going to be misinformed. A great statement from Denzel Washington on the subject of slanted, corrupt, or just straight fake news.
“If you read the newspaper, then you’re misinformed, in a world where there is too much information the media strive to be first and not always to be truthful. Anything you practice you’ll get good at — including BS.”
He’s right. When you don’t keep up with news, you’re uninformed, but when you do, you’re going to be misinformed if it’s only from one source. I would argue that if you don’t want to listen to other people’s opinions when you agree with them or disagree with them, you’re disregarding alternative views as wrong, when in reality, they might have the facts to back up a claim where you don’t. It is better to be wrong and learn something from the experience than be right and feel unjustly righteous. This claim is a big one because no one likes being wrong, especially in today’s society. We all want to believe that we’re pools of knowledge who everyone aspires to be around and speak to. In all honesty, some of the most narrow minded and unintelligent people are those who only see one side of the argument and ignore the other points of view or merely write them off as ignorant and a waste of time to listen to. The greatest minds have the ability to see both sides of the argument, thus allowing them to prepare for the inevitable debate on any views or opinions. The argument can be won because they can cripple the arguments of the opposition with facts and the strength of logic. We, as humans, may be feeling creatures; however, when it comes down to a time that we must act, we do not feel comfortable acting on feeling. We would much rather act on statistics or research data that tells us the probability of the outcome.
Facts & Respect
When it comes to debate and decision making, facts always win out in these situations for obvious reasons. Facts win because it’s tested information as opposed to personal experiences or unknown sources. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of people want to make decisions and base their views off facts because it’s accurate and reliable information. It’s the information that will provide the highest probability for success and/or happiness. Obviously people’s opinions may change based on their personal beliefs and religion, which is understandable as their god or gods in some cases, point them in a certain direction that they believe they are supposed to follow. To respect these views is important no matter what you believe in or what they believe in. To have respect for someone allows you to take their argument from a serious point but also a serious perspective. In fact, having respect for anyone should be the default rather than an exception. We as a society in the United States have devolved into what feels like bickering and ignoring one another.
So what is the future going to hold for debates online? I guess I would say from here it can only get better. With the introduction of new media like Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube it’s never been easier to discount someone’s opinion or toss their statements out as ignorance. Once we become used to new media I feel as though we can become more accustomed to debates within it. Too much information and too many opinions has the tendency to drain people’s emotion so we don’t take opinions seriously and disrespect them often. Although, it’s always very difficult to gauge these things; it could go from bad to good or bad to worse. There’s not really a way to tell reliably. Respectful debates will always be had but to what extent? I feel as though it will come full circle but I’m unsure when or by what cause(s). Hopefully it does, debate is always productive even when no ground is made because it’s the exchange of ideas and opinions. That’s what matters the most.