Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

When debating online at what point do you agree to disagree?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) March 1st, 2016

I’m specifically referring to circumstances when you might be debating a controversial and or political topic with a person and they will just not see reason. No matter matter what you say to them, they will refuse to accept anything contrary to their current frame of thought.

At what point do you give up on taking the debate any further with such people?

This is not directed at any of the Jellies by the way, this is a question I brought up on Yahoo three years ago.

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27 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I love it when we can agree to disagree as to me that means it was a good healthy debate but the second ad hominem attacks start flying then the debate is over.

zenvelo's avatar

I won’t repeat myself more than once.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I will stop when the debate feels more like feeding a troll than an actual conversation. And a troll’s signs can be pretty obvious.

janbb's avatar

I used to go back and forth more than I do now. Now I try not to let myself get overheated and I realize that nobody changes their minds. I will usually state my position and then not engage further.

marinelife's avatar

When the other person starts on personal attacks.

If, after several different approaches, they remain intransigent.

Seek's avatar

I’m stubborn. As long as the other person sticks around I’ll keep talking.

Mariah's avatar

Yeah, even if I know I won’t convince my debate partner, I might still affect other people who are reading the debate. Unless it’s getting mean/personal I’ll keep going.

thorninmud's avatar

I’ll admit that I’m not always true to my principles in this, but I look for the point at which it becomes a battle of egos. When I realize that my motivation is just to come out on top, or look better than the other guy, then I know that nothing good can come of it. But I can point to examples where I’ve crossed that line.

Pachy's avatar

I avoid debating oneline, especially about religious or political issues. It’s too easy for for opposing parties to misinterpret written words in posts and email.

ucme's avatar

Okay, well it’s really very simple. I have 2 criteria…

1) Chew them up & spit them out with superior intellect & a dash of devlish charm.
2) Move away safe in the knowledge that the oxygen wasters are not having any of mine.

Kropotkin's avatar

In one recent case, the opposing party kept writing huge long comments that never addressed any of my points, with claims that I was indoctrinated.

My final reply stated that I wasn’t going to reply or even read any more posts. And he still replied—with what appeared to about a dozen long paragraphs that I didn’t bother reading at all.

Sometimes I’ll just find an argument isn’t really interesting enough to continue and my time can be better spent doing something else.

Other times I will relentlessly deconstruct my opponent until they give up. I’ve done that on Fluther once or twice.

Sometimes I’ll stop very early on if I detect that the other person is simply crazy or excessively dogmatic. Though some cases can be more interesting, and I’ll go back and forth for longer just to try to work out their thought-processes.

jca's avatar

For me, it all depends. Depends on my mood, depends on the topic, depends on how logical or illogical the OP is being. Many times, I’ll present my argument and walk away. If it’s my opinion, I usually don’t argue. I’ll take the stance of “it’s my opinion” and if someone doesn’t like it, they can get mad about it till they’re blue in the face.

A long time ago, on here, there used to be really long, heated arguments and debates about religion. There was one Jelly, who does not come here any more, who would write many very long posts about religion. Asking questions, arguing with people. I used to avoid the arguments, but would simply say “can’t we all just get along?” Those were the words of Rodney King after the Los Angeles riots over police brutality. I refuse to argue about religion. My beliefs are my beliefs, others’ beliefs are their beliefs, I’m not looking to bring others around to my way of thinking and I’m not looking to change my beliefs because someone feels they’re illogical.

LostInParadise's avatar

If someone ignores the points that I am making then there is no point in continuing. I will also discontinue if I feel the other person’s point hinges on faulty logic.

Barring that, the best that can be done is to break disagreements into their component parts:
1. Disagreement on what the facts are
2. Disagreement over how to interpret the facts
3. Differing values

Once the disagreement has been broken down in this way then we have succeeded in taking the discussion as far as it can go.

rojo's avatar

As with @jca for me it depends on my mood.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I recently lost an argument here with @Darth_Algar. I walked into it knowing he was wrong and I was right. When he asked for respectable citations to back up my statements, no problem, I thought. All I needed was extra-biblical evidence that the Jews had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, approximating the story in the O.T. I new right where to go.

To my absolute shock, I couldn’t find a damn thing! So, to buy time, I threw some academic-sounding shit at him from a so-called Jewish scholar’s site, but the opinion was based on supposition and very unorthodox interpretation as to the so-called evidence. The guy was actually moving dates around to fit physical archaeological evidence. Algar, of course, didn’t buy it. I spent five hours searching for anything: archaeological, primary and even secondary historical documentation, and found not a fucking thing.

I really was in shock. I had lived 62 years and not known that there was no extra-biblical evidence of the Egyptian enslavement and nothing on the ten ecological disasters referred to as the ten plagues in the O.T. The next day I conceded to Algar. Up to now there has been no extra-biblical evidence concerning this aspect of the Biblical Saga. I’m still a bit shocked. I thought there would be something, for chrissakes. But nada.

So, it’s at that point, the point where my opponent has better sources of information than I do where I have to question my stance and begin to entertain the possibility that I am wrong. In this case, I conceded, then thanked Algar for the learning experience and got the hell out of there.

In other types of arguments, such as when someone makes a racial, religious, or gender-specific generalization, I have no problem calling it horseshit and then cease following the conversation. I don’t argue about stupid shit like that anymore. They are free to express an opinion, and I am free to call it horseshit and be done with it.

flutherother's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus And who gained the most from that exchange? I would say you did.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s over for me when it is clear that making sense is a handicap in the discussion. On ocassion I have been swayed to the opposing point of view. That’s a good discussion when it happens.

Jak's avatar

I try to make sure that I haven’t been misunderstood. My mood determines how many times I try to clarify. I’m not interested in changing someones point of view, so as long as I feel I’ve been clear. Of course, my idea of clarity is sometimes not someone elses, or even my own in retrospect.
Also if I see the person using a “tactic” and not addressing the actual points I’m making then I know the exchange is fruitless.
I strive to understand the other person and some people really don’t have anything to say, they just want conflict. Or they insist on assigning a position to me contrary to what I’ve stated. I’m not vested enough to continue when that becomes clear.

augustlan's avatar

Like @Mariah, I’ll often continue a debate for the sake of other readers rather than the person I’m actually debating. I think I’ve finally trained myself not to go too far with people I know and love (conservative relatives on Facebook). While I enjoy spirited debate about interesting topics, these relatives tend to feel hurt by it. I will still refute untruths, but as kindly as I can, and then I move on.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I set rules for myself now. This is after years of experience on the Internet and IRL.

I simply will not argue the following:

Abortion. I will never make a “pro life” supporter understand my position.

Gay Marriage. This matter has effectively been settled, before then is was inevitable, why would one fight it? My personal opinion is no longer relevant.

Science VS. God. Because this technically is not an argument. One side is talking about apples in one language, the other is talking about oranges in another.

Other issues I will argue, but only to a point:

LGBTETC issues. If you believe as I do that sexuality is fluid you simply have to appreciate that it gets more difficult to nail law to it.

Lawful bearing of firearms. I will leave this one when (as is the case about 90% of the time) an individual is capable of nothing but an EMOTIONALLY motivated argument against it. No amount of logic or the fact of Constitutional protection will change this person’s mind.

Capital punishment. For much of the same reasons above. No loved one of mine has been the victim of a capital crime. I can only provide so much perspective.

Radical Islam VS. American “terror” If you cannot distinguish between American self loathing and true moral wrong we aren’t going to get anywhere.

Veganism. As it simply isn’t humanly possible. Heck, water isn’t even Kosher, but if the concept makes you fell better about yourself, more more power to you. Just please, don’t preach.

Feminism. Like so many other once good rights movements, it has outlived it’s usefulness and now does more harm than good.

The political Left VS. Right. See Science VS. God. Also, Doing what feels right versus doing what is right is lost on far too many. Just because something serves one nation well does NOT mean it automatically serves another.

Trolls? I might likely troll back.

rojo's avatar

@SecondHandStoke nice work.

Ok, now the trolling…......

Abortion – I agree, the two sides cannot understand each others position
Gay Marriage – I agree
Science VS God – Technically agree but to be fair, my side is talking apples.
Firearms – True, the emotional involvement on both sides makes dialog difficult. As does the intransigence of one side to even enter into a discussion about how to make firearms safer or to grasp that most people don’t want to take a way your right to own guns, they just want to find a way to reduce the homicide/suicide rates.
Capital Punishment (as opposed to Capitol Punishment that we all must endure) – Agreed, there are those who just can’t grasp that some people are broken and no amount of effort can fix them and that incarceration for life is not a more humane alternative.
Radical Islam vs American “Terror” – Apples and Oranges. First, you are comparing an entire religion to the policies of a country. Second, you are forced to assume that all Muslims are the same while at the same time assuming that an entire country is of a different, but singular, religion. Third, there is no difference between a cruise missile and a bomb in a baby carriage. Both are weapons designed to commit carnage against an enemy; real or perceived. I am sure a terrorist would use a cruise missile instead of a baby carriage if they had them. Fourth, ........wth, why bother.
Veganism – I agree. In fact I think Vegans are the devils minions. you cannot argue with them.
Feminism – I disagree, it has not accomplished what it was intended for and as such is still an ongoing battle. There are those (Ahem) who will say that it has served its purpose but their true purpose is to turn back those accomplishments feminism has managed to achieved
Left vs Right – I agree with you on this but I think we do not agree on which side is which. Basically, we probably agree on the problems…. no, I don’t even think we do that anymore. The fears of the Right are not those of the Left so our priorities are worlds apart. We need to isolate ourselves from human peril vs we need to stop destroying our only home. We need to feed, clothe and house our own citizens vs we need to implement military solutions to gain or control more resources (but we will call it something good, like “bringing democracy and Christian values to the unwashed”) and keep ourselves safe.

You know, looking over the list, I think that each and every one of these topics could be answered by saying that “the two sides cannot, or will not, understand the position of the other.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Apologies for the spelling.

rojo's avatar

No apology necessary, you got the spelling correct and we are all adults here.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I just can’t stop screwing up…

rojo's avatar

^^ Ray Charles ;0

Agree to disagree?

SecondHandStoke's avatar

What a beautiful song.

Are you trying to make me cry?

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