The Written Debate
Vox Day had a recent article that I found interesting and similar to my own views on the subject.
The article was on the benefits of written debates versus video/speech debates:
If you ever wondered why I no longer do video debates, this is precisely why.
Viewer 1: JD won the debate. I remember watching it. Vox had a formidable opponent and made sure his arguments were well delineated. JD breezed by all of it, and Vox knew it. So what?
Viewer 2: No, he never understood it. If he had, he would have addressed it. Instead, he assiduously avoided it.
Viewer 3: Having read the transcript, I do not see anything which would be described as a technical rebuttal to Vox’s technical points. Just blanket dismissal and repeated references to large numbers.
Viewer 1: Did you watch the debate, live, as I did? The transcript does not show the context between two human beings in debate.
No, what the transcript lacks is not the “context”, but rather, the irrelevant rhetorical posturing.
This is why I now insist on written debates, because the written format eliminates the ability of the charlatan to posture his way through a debate in which he is over his head, and permits the audience to review and re-review the material until they fully understand what both sides are saying. And this is probably why I engage in considerably fewer debates these days, because the charlatans are terrified of risking the methodical exposure of their ignorance.
I’ve had similar thoughts whenever I’ve read versus listened to a debate. Whenever listening to a debate, I more often get annoyed than not. It’s usually talking over one another, yelling about things, dodging actual questions or topics brought up, and gaslighting around the subject.
I rarely see a use to listening to debates and have often chosen to skip them. It’s mostly rhetoric. Which is great when you want to learn rhetoric, but rather useless when wanting to learn actual materials.
Written debates force substance and data. You can’t rhetoric your way through the written word as easily. The spoken debate is all rhetoric. Which is really just boring posturing.
Written debate pieces cannot be ignored without clear evidence of avoidance. Spoken pieces can be easily ignored or sidetracked, in favor of rhetorical responses. Written requires extensive time and thought to be put into each paragraph. Spoken is based all around who can think on-the-spot faster.
I’ve often found people who are very intellectual are terrible at debating because they take time to consider their positions and their responses very methodologically. Whereas the more shady, but rhetorically cunning, are better at the spoken debate. Probably because both require differing skill sets.
I’m not really sure which I’d be good at, if any. But I know I don’t personally get much out of spoken debates, besides an emotion of annoyance.
It’s also important to realize that dialectic is usually only effective on the intelligent audience, not even the two in the debate. But for the average, rhetoric is more powerful. So, it makes sense it becomes the go-to.
Examples of these are clearly present in our political debates every year. Each party has to use it, whether or not they want to.
Written debate is clearly superior to those seeking established, reasoned truth. It provides little wiggle-room for rhetoric though, which is why it is not super popular.
Something to keep in mind when you listen or read debates.
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