Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Why do you debate?

Asked by Demosthenes (14470points) January 28th, 2020

Are you trying to change someone’s mind? Are you trying to refine your own ideas? Are you trying to understand the opposing point of view? Are you trying to prove your opponent is an idiot? All of the above?

What do you want out of debating someone and what do you usually get out of it?

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44 Answers

Coolhandluke's avatar

I don’t. I don’t talk politics or religion.

ragingloli's avatar

To demonstrate my vast intellectual superiority over you lesser beings.

gondwanalon's avatar

It’s interesting to see how other people think.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I don’t necessarily want to change a person’s mind. But, I enjoy hearing others thoughts. It might change my mind.
Or, at least change my outlook on certain subjects.
IMO. Debate, is essential for all of us…
It helps us see, other viewpoints. And, why they are what they are.

Zaku's avatar

I want people to stop destroying our planet, stop driving other species to extinction, stop eradicating wildlife habitat, and to have more empathy for animals, and to stop abusing each other, and to stop being so foolish and ignorant, and to play more interesting computer/war/role-playing games, and to stop making criminally idiotic Star Wars films.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Usually the debate consists of Pro and Con for a specific point.
Thus both learn valid reasons of the opponents views in such a way way as to have the effect of changing the mind view s of the other.
It expand understanding of a particular point for all.
Then decisions are more reliable and thought out much better.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

This has to be my favorite question of all time!
As for me, my reasons have varied but the main one is to prove just how important I am!
and I really love to hear people bitch

cheebdragon's avatar

Depends on the topic, but usually….

KNOWITALL's avatar

Simply to try to understand a different point of view and why they feel as they do. Unfortunately many aren’t able to communicate that well.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

BUT @Zaku that gets in the way of making huge profits$$$
I don’t know why I debate I think I want to get something I fell strong about across to someone who seems to care less about it.

JLeslie's avatar

Depends. If I feel pretty sure I’m right and the other person is wrong, I’m trying to help them.

If it’s just differing opinions, then I’m interested in hearing their opinion. It’s kind of like brainstorming, you don’t know where the conversation is going to wind up. I might change my mind or learn something new.

Certain topics are more right and wrong oriented, while other topics have all sorts of grey areas.

flo's avatar

Re. ’‘Are you trying to prove your opponent is an idiot’’? There is no reason to feel like someone is trying to prove….is an idiot, if someone is just debating. A debate most likely doesn’t include ‘you’’ and esp. a lot of ’‘you’‘s.

Look at the answer permalink
’‘I think that knee jerk reaction to being challenged or questioned in any way shows an insecurity about their own position, or even intelligence. They feel attacked. Saying, “ Don’t argue with me” for those folks really means, “Don’t attack me.”’’

flo's avatar

It’s either debates or censorship/ dictatorship.

Darth_Algar's avatar

So that people may know, in no uncertainty, how wrong they are.

Pinguidchance's avatar

@Demonsthenes your ipse dixit contention is intrinsically indefensible.

The a priori assumption of debate is devoid of substantive evidence and consequently logically fallacious.

To blithely offer reasons for the putative polemic powwow is fanciful and the presumption is completely oppugned.

The coup de grâce besmirchment: the attachment of motives suggesting the derivation of personal benefit from the scandalous accusations.

It’s almost as if you wanted to start a debate.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Pinguidchance Philopolemic, are we?

(I had to look up “oppugn”—a cromulent word).

To answer the question: my choice is “all of the above”, if I am being perfectly honest, though I strive to avoid the desire to “win” and keep it to the aim of refining and testing my presumptions and positions by submitting them to dialectic (in some cases, I believe something to be true but realize I don’t know how to argue in favor of it, so I’ll ask questions to hear the arguments for and against). And although I may make many assumptions about why people hold a view opposite of mine, I often find I am wrong (just listen to the many wrongheaded and loud ideas about why people vote the way they do) and a debate is enlightening. At least, that’s the most positive outcome. It doesn’t always work out that way. :)

Patty_Melt's avatar

Mostly I don’t anymore.
When I did, it was for varied reasons.
I don’t like much of anything anymore which seems confrontational.

Pinguidchance's avatar

@Demosthenes to further embiggen the succulence, truculence and cromulence of neologismically imperfect rhyme and reason: it’s fun to learn.

ucme's avatar

Healthy debate stimulates the mind & educates the ignorant.
That being said, I avoid debating when the subject is trivial tosh or the individual(s) involved are quite clearly brain dead!

seawulf575's avatar

@KNOWITALL summed it up pretty well. I like to hear other viewpoints, but really strive to understand the thought processes that bring that viewpoint about.

Pinguidchance's avatar

@seawulf575 “I like to hear other viewpoints, but really strive to understand the thought processes that bring that viewpoint about.”

Good on you for trying to comprehend other viewpoints.

raum's avatar

All of the above, I suppose?

@Demosthenes I also had to look up oppugn. I’m not sure why. But I find it such a curiously odd word. The way it looks? The way it sounds? Not sure.

@Pinguidchance And up until now, I thought my high school friend had made up the word embiggen! I’m quite tickled to find out that it’s actually a real word.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf Too bad we can’t truly debate here like we used to.

Darth_Algar's avatar


What’s stopping you from doing so?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Darth_Algar People like you, as I’m sure you know.

Just as you wrote above, you want to be right, and others to know how wrong they are. To me, that means you don’t value the truth, because a logical person would use facts, information and data to make decisions. In other words, you don’t convince people you’re right, you just make a statement and that’s it. That’s not debate.

Pinguidchance's avatar

@raum “And up until now, I thought my high school friend had made up the word embiggen! I’m quite tickled to find out that it’s actually a real word.”

Cromulent and embiggen are neologisms from a cartoon episode.

Darth_Algar's avatar


How am I stopping you? I hold no power over when, where and what you post.

Also: you may want to think about tuning up your sarcasm detector. It seems a little off.

raum's avatar

Embiggen is from the Simpsons? I remember cromulent is from The Simpsons. Which episode? Now I want to rewatch it!

longgone's avatar

I’m trying to fine-tune my opinions and learn why others disagree. I don’t just want to know what they believe. Rather, I’m trying to see how different peoples’ views make sense, considering their unique history. That in no way means I agree, but it can be very interesting.

Secondly, I use disagreements to practise respectful communication. As a teenager I used to be a bit of a bully in debates. I know some lawyers’ tricks that bulldoze over people and get them to give up, or even agree. I don’t use those anymore. It feels good to win a debate with those means – in the same way as eating a whole bag of chips feels good. But afterwards, you’re left with nausea.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@longgone Kind of the same here, on your second point. It’s getting easier for me not to respond in kind with ugly people. Good for you!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@KNOWITALL—I swore off political discussions when I came back here. It can be done. It ain’t easy though. Lol!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Unfortunately, it’s not just political discussions, but yes, those are probably the worst, on this particular site anyway. I think if we had a more healthy mix of age groups and political leanings, it would be less antagonistic, but you get the mob mentality here since everyone else bailed, and it’s very odd to me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@KNOWITALL -When I was on Answerbag, many of the “discussions” were a free-for-all of nasty insults which were often entertaining but it got old quick.
From my experience, this site has always leaned left but back when I joined, there were far more right leaning people.
Not so much anymore. Lack of decency in conversations might be why. Intolerance, etc.
It would be excruciating for me to join a group where everyone thought the same and spent their time here looking for validation for every f’n thought that comes into their mind but at the same time, I can do without reading a lot of the name calling rants.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Mob mentality? Nobody’s mobbing up on you, you simply hold opinions that are in the minority.

Demosthenes's avatar

I don’t know. I really don’t give a crap if anyone agrees with me on anything. I frequently make unpopular arguments and post views that neither conservatives nor liberals agree with. I wish people would tone down the attacks and the rants but I also wish more people would post without worrying about how their opinions will be received. I get that not everyone can have the “I don’t care” attitude but I wish more did.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Agreed. There’s a difference between debate, and arguing.

There is little reason to get personal.

We are a lot of things. But. We are a community first.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Darth_Algar I didn’t say me, it was a general comment based on 7 years of observation.

I see more people empowered to be ugly people here the last few years, probably due to not having consequences. But that’s typical of keyboard warriors, I just hate that it happened here, too.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Fluther, is still quite tame, when you hear what is going on in online gaming. Which has gotten a little better. But. Still has far worse personal attacks.

Demosthenes's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Definitely. This site is quite tame compared to some of the other sites I post on, but they have completely different rules, including the ability to block users and prevent them from reading or commenting on your posts. That allows people to avoid arguments and attacks but also fosters the creation of echo chambers, something I don’t understand why anyone posts on a Q&A site would want.

ucme's avatar

I’ve only ever been myself here, don’t know any other way to be.
On occasion, those that find me offensive or just plain don’t like me, have chimed in with their feelings & sometimes a group of them poor souls rock up in tandem as if summoned by the stench of vultures :D

I generally chew them up & spit them out & pity their poor taste in humans.
The rest of you, I get along with, mostly because…well, I’m fab I am!

Demosthenes's avatar

@ucme I’ve only ever been myself here, don’t know any other way to be.

That’s why I greatly appreciate your presence here. :)

ucme's avatar

@Demosthenes You are to be commended on your immaculate taste ;-}
@lucillelucillelucille :-)

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. We have responsible Mods.
That’s not the case, on other sites…

Maybe the one’s whom have headsets, or something similar, have more difficulty with it…

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