Lesson 2.12

Dirty Debate, And How To Stop It

Dive into this topic by watching the video, followed by key explanations and exercises below:

Key Concepts:

  • Sometimes productive cognitive friction and debate gets derailed because we simply “debate dirty,” especially when we feel like we’re losing.

  • Even when we’re not “debating” per se, these behaviors can undermine the good points we make in discourse.

    • Labeling people or their ideas is one of the most subtle things that undermine legitimate arguments in some people’s minds. By labeling someone, you immediately associate them or their ideas with other things that carry baggage.

    • Interrupting, raising your voice, or emotional delivery of a message can completely change the way people take it in.

    • Anything you can do to make your points stand on their own, without distraction and without special help from theatrics or verbal tricks, will ultimately help your group push forward.

Practice This:

  • For the next week, pay attention to every time you hear someone label someone else in the course of describing their point of view.

    • Watch a couple of Cable TV news panels (or listen to some podcast interview shows) and notice when people refer to their intellectual opponents or their ideas with sweeping labels like “liberal” or “right wing” or etc.

    • Listen in conversations for when people refer to others as “idiots” or “bossy” or other adjectives and labels, and ask yourself it these people’s points would come off more trustworthy to people who don’t agree with them if they left the labels off.

    • If you’re keeping a Lie Journal like I suggested in Lesson 2.11, try adding a list of labels you used each day to refer to others. (I recommend using Evernote on your phone for these—or a list app like Wunderslist.)