"Debate has become meaningless and futile."

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Much Ado, Oct 30, 2008.

  1. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    Sometimes I think it is Groundhog day. I load up a PRSI thread, and it's the same circular arguments being paraded by the same posters, with never a hint of any sort of consensus or even agreement to disagree. Strawmen and dead horses battle for the limelight whilst fact and reason lose themselves behind a shadow of polemic and aggression. I put it to you that, with the election so close, debate about Obama and McCain has become both meaningless and futile.

    Both sides throw smears, low-rate links, clips and articles often in full knowledge that what they are aruging is bogus, but continue regardless because politics is now a sport, where you pick a side and defend it.

    I'm guilty myself. There have been times in the past where I have been arguing and then been completely floored by brilliant logic and surprising factual evidence, and yet I have continued regardless. We're stubborn and we're arrogant, and once we've set our minds on one side we refuse to change. Debate online is only going to worsen our contempt for the 'opposition', and waste bandwith with trolling.

    So. Is it fair to say that debate with days to go before the 4th is not going to achieve anything? Indeed, do online political debates ever change anyone's perceptions, or are we all fans in an arena that is as gladiatorial as it is political?
     
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #2
    It's all good fun and it's not going to change many people's opinion. However, informed people should try and push back against lies and smears, especially when they're peddled by a campaign or its surrogates.
     
  3. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

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    Alabama
    #3
    I agree with your first three paragraphs.

    I answer yes to your first question.

    I choose the latter to your second question.
     
  4. Much Ado thread starter macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
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    UK
    #4
    I think the same principles are true for any debating, though, not just online. 'Fun' as it may be, the role of scrubbing away the flotsam left by trolls doesn't achieve anything. I wish people would listen to each other.

    EDIT: Yes, my answer is that debate over this election is not only dead, but has been since the conventions.
     
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #5

    To be honest, I think it's slightly condescending to assume that no-one here is listening to each other. I learn things here every day and I'm always particularly interested when someone from a conservative point of view comes here and argues their case with intelligence and recourse to facts, without swerving into smears, distortions and Fox News talking points. However, over the years that has become increasingly rare.

    This is a particularly partisan time, this close to an important election. It's going to bring strongly-felt partisan views to the surface. Each side feels they need to defend their corner, and after the disappointment of the last eight years when a presidency has historically low approval ratings, and when 80-90% of the country also feels it's on the wrong track, it's bound to amplify these feelings of division and urgency.

    Just recently, we had a short conversation amongst the mods about closing this forum down for the period of this election. However, I argued for it to remain open. I want those who are interested in political discussion to have a place here to discuss this historic election, and I know that there are a lot of Obama supporters here that want to share their thoughts on an election that seems to be going well for Democrats for once.

    In the past, this forum has had a far heavier input from conservatives and Republicans, occasionally triumphant in their perceived successes. However, as the nation goes, so does this forum to some degree and some know they just might be on the losing end of an argument. Some others are just jeering from the sidelines for their team, occasionally forgetting that they're not supposed to be attacking the players.

    One important reason this forum exists is to provide an outlet for political content on this site and siphon it off from the other parts of the site, where its presence would be disruptive. It is not meant to be a debating chamber of any consequence; it is equally of therapeutic value for those who feel the need to talk to others here about politics and social affairs.

    Don't take it too seriously.
     
  6. O. Frabjous-Dey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    #6
    That's a fantastic reply, Blue Velvet.

    I'll agree that lots of debate, especially Internet-based debate, is just an exercise for the participants to spin their wheels. And it's pretty easy to see when someone is willfully propagating bogus arguments.

    But I know that I've had to question my viewpoint when people presented a solid, well-researched case for their political views.

    I don't know. People come to forums for different reasons. Sometimes you want to spin your wheels, and sometimes you want to get at the truth of the matter. The Internet's a big place, and there are places where the signal-to-noise ratio is high. Don't give up hope of finding them.
     
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #7
    How many minds are changed in ANY of these forums? I've seen very few "fanboy" conversions in computer forums. In fact, it's generally the same "circular" arguments, often hashed out by the same people over and over.

    Why should the political forums be different in this regard?

    And BV, thanks for going to bat for this forum and for taking the time to keep it (somewhat) under control during this particularly silly "silly season". I know it's not all work for you to be here, but I did notice you spending more time with us than usual...
     
  8. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    The Dallas 'burbs
    #8
    I'm here because if I talked politics at home, I'd sleep on the couch more often than I'd like.

    My wife and I share many of the same views but she works with people who are more pro-GOP and was raised by a very pro-GOP family and every time I've tried to convince her of anything in the past it's only served to start an argument so I've opted to try to keep politics out of the house except when asked to debunk the latest smears she's been emailed or told at work.

    I might try harder if I thought that TX had more than a snowball's chance in hell of going blue, but I've already cast my ballot for "That One" and will watch my political coverage on election night and hopefully go to sleep happy. That's something I haven't done on an election night since 1996, although 2006 was close, results didn't come in for a few days so I didn't get to sleep too easily that night.

    I have a few outlets I can hit among my local friends, and a few online friends, but I use the PRSI as a primary vent to keep the peace at home.

    The debates may be meaningless and futile but at least after a meaningless and futile debate here I get to go sleep in my bed next to my wife who usually isn't mad at me.
     
  9. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #9
    Although I don't post here as often as I used to - I still read through many of these threads when I can find the time. Sometimes the comments are trite, or the dialogue stale...but I often find my attention drawn to an issue I hadn't known about, or find a unique perspective on one I do.

    To me that is neither meaningless or futile.

    Thanks for the great post and support BV.
     
  10. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #10
    There are some topics, like prosecuting illegal and unnecessary wars, the death penalty, international relations, and the position of particular countries within the community of nations, which bear repeated discussion, and where a different perspective can indeed help to modify a person's stance, hopefully for the better. The religious debates tend to be somewhat circular, it's true, but even here it is good to hear a view based on different premises to your own. The forum is about sharing varying viewpoints more than converting the heathen. Any sincere conversions, however, are always gratefully received. :)
     
  11. Much Ado thread starter macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    These replies are encouraging (you put me in my place, BV ;)), and it's certainly true that I have learnt an awful lot from reading some tremendous discussions over the years. Perhaps my issue is more with dogmatism in debate than debate itself.

    I hope so. (Not that you are completley free of the odd hint of sarcasm/withering put-downs in some of your posts, though, it must be said :))

    Ah. I find this forum to be reverse-cathartic. It makes me more pent up as I read. But it is silly season, and there are only 5 more days to go. I'll make a cup of tea and sit the next round out I think.
     
  12. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #12
    It does two things, it allows me to throw an idea against the wall and see if they are completely worthless and after spending a lot of time doing the futile circular debate here, I find that I'm tired of trying to argue my point by the time I get home. Some topics get me riled up a bit, although I'm finding this year a bit easier to stomach since it looks like we'll actually get what I see as the lesser of the two evils elected this time.
     
  13. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
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    CA
    #13
    I agree with BV. I come here to learn. Of the forums I've been a part of, MR has the most intellectual crowd by far, so I'm always learning something on tax theory or getting a perspective from across the pond on something.

    I certainly don't expect to convert or to be converted, but I still believe debate is enjoyable. I fondly refer to it as "mental exercise." Have to keep critical thinking skills sharp.
     
  14. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #14
    That's the thing. There's some excellent content here and a lot of thought goes into some posts. And puns. ;)
     
  15. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #15
    I've read several posts that have helped to change my perspective on different issues. The PRSI is not really my thing because I don't very often feel strongly enough about many of the topics to bother, (or simply cannot find the words) but I do learn loads in here. I've also learned through bitter embarrassing experience that a closed mouth gathers no feet - when I've gone off on something and later found my mind changed. Live and learn and all that.


    So I don't think debate is entirely meaningless and futile, though it can appear that way at times.

    http://upc.*************/uploads/macros/yesitis_noitisnt.gif
     
  16. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #16
    I've changed my mind on issues here before, and I know we once changed someone's mind on gay rights, which to me makes it all worth it.
     

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