It is utile to express your ideas with others

Reflecting from my friend’s assertion “It is futile to express your ideas with others”, here is my rebuttal.

The Novel Point

Good logic and good data are indeed the essence of a good argument. Of course people could choose to deny it in the end, citing the axiom on which a good logic is based on can not be proved. Nonetheless, the grand point to argue with others (other intelligent people) is not to convince other people that what you are saying is correct so that you could claim victory in the battle to fulfill our intellectual’s mega ego. In my opinion, the grand point for the debate is to foster the clashes that could create sparkling for one’s own enlightenment. To explain further, there are four possible scenarios in an intellectual debate:

1. Let’s say both me and the opponent have good logic but my data is dwarfed by a better one in the debate. This is the most rewarding outcome I hope for. I would then love to absorb the new data and improve my knowledge and revise my logic so that it could better reflect the more thorough data it covers. Great learning experience.

2. Let’s say both me and the opponent have fairly the same level of knowledge about a debating issue, but his/her logic assumes way less axioms and hypotheses than mine. I feel like swallowing the bitterness but have to admit he/she has better logic structure than I do in such matter. I would be willing to be convinced as well and consequently upgrade my logic to incorporate his/her more sophisticated ideas. I consider it great learning experience as well.

3. Let’s say both appear to have well structured logic to one’s own data but I have better data than the opponent. Therefore most likely his logic can not stand still in front of mine. As a result, his argument eventually would be dwarfed by mine. I consider it a humanitarian mission to inspire those who are open-minded and stoic like myself to become more well-informed.

4. Let’s say both appear to have similar level of understanding in debating subjects but I have an apparently more straightforward and concise interpretation than the opponent. I then would love to help those potential individual spirits to improve their own perceptions about certain issues.

My friend omitted the first two scenarios and strictly emphasized on the latter two in his argument. But even himself did admit that he might not have the best data, so there’s always opportunities to learn from other hermits disguised in the populace, even for him. As a parenthetically unctuous blathering dabbler like myself, my own quintessence is far from perfection that could stay invincible over waves of intellectual clashes. The first two scenarios are the primary reasons why I want to exchange my ideas to others in the first place.

As for the last two scenarios, emotionally I am always willing to influence those potential He Shi Bi in this mediocre hubbub. Even though 8 out 10 times people retreat to the last resort to brawl for denial as my friend stated, there will always be some, if not many, insightful smart fellows who appreciate and benefit from those intellectual confrontation with me. For those who are persistently either cognitively biased (failed to recognize better logic) or ignorant (failed to possess better data), I don’t hold any illusion to proselytize them out of their slogan-shouting-fanatic religions. I have no problem being the target of their emotional outcry and denial for my blasphemy and apostasy to their gods, Allah, Jesus, Che Guevara, democracy, universal equity, white power, Gaia or whatsoever. I’d be rather interested in learning why those smart fellows devote their intelligence in something that could easily be debunked rationally in minutes. I consider this also fairly good learning outcome. Cognitive bias is always an interesting topic to explore for me, after all.

Reading is a good way to learn, so does the exchange of ideas to other living souls. I call it as a way to reach the Novel Point, where you could reach a new level of your own logic, data, and understanding of other people’s cognitive perspective from merely expressing your ideas with others. Subsequently you could upgrade your level, and others may as well. It’s the novel point where sparkling of the clash ignites a new area where has not been illuminated in your mind before. I consider that a very rewarding experience. Whether people dig signalling or not doesn’t matter to me, as long as I long for the soundness of the argument, to inspire and be inspired by people, even if I could only get into a good debate 1 out of 100 times.

P.S. Regarding the unfortunate encountering of dumbasses in a debate, I wouldn’t waste my time reasoning with unreasonable rocks as soon as I spot their stupidity and stubbornness. It is futile to lower your level into their quarrel.

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6 comments

  1. Great post, that is certainly one of the enjoyable things about venturing onto online political forums or even blogs with a different political bias. A bit like the legal adversarial system, by defending your position and pointing out flaws in the opponents argument hopefully you get a bit closer to the truth 🙂

  2. utile – being of use or service; “the girl felt motherly and useful”; “a useful job”; “a useful member of society”

  3. Well, it really depends on the subject that you are discussing.

    If you are discussing the controversial topics of social science, then I can see why there would be no satisfactory agreement due to our insufficient knowledge in these areas.

    If, however, you are discussing the more mundane, and widely accepted theories of hard sciences, as in the 2nd law of thermodynamics, then I cannot see how any reasonably intelligent and educated person would disagree with the currently precise, accurate, and replicable experiments. Unless, of course, they are crackpots.

    What it ultimately boils down to, at least for me, is this: the truth can only be proven through the scientific method. Everything else is a matter of speculative hand-waving or pure bullshit.

    1. “What it ultimately boils down to, at least for me, is this: the truth can only be proven through the scientific method. Everything else is a matter of speculative hand-waving or pure bullshit.”

      You neglect the role of logic. Most sciences are also established on a series of axioms, aside from the empirical observation. The question is which explanation makes more sense. That’s where we would apply the rule of Occam’s razor in the interpretation. The 2nd law of thermodynamics wouldn’t make jack sense under quantum physical scale. We should also be speculative, even in science. An absolute belief in modern science is no different than believing the god’s creation for the world. Scientific method is not about science, but the thorough logic beyond the interpretation of empirical observations.

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