Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Faulty Logic: Debating won’t bring us closer to truth (reallifemag.com)
59 points by kawera 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments

The author references reddits "Change my View" subreddit, and dismisses it as a failed experiment, "the instances of the original poster actually changing their view were discouragingly few."

I think this is an unnecessarily dismal take on an interesting community. While out-and-out 180 degree reversals of viewpoint are comparatively rare, a very notable portion of posters approach the debate in good faith, and often the discussion results in a softening of views, and an admission of "maybe it wasn't quite so black-and-white or extreme as I originally thought".

i.e., where the author of this article asserts

> Today, the fundamental orientation of online debate culture is toward universals, which are more likely to spark a reaction. There is a heavy reliance on words like “always” and “never,” as well as a tendency towards extreme responses to perceived social ills:

I think the CMV community, on occasion, manages the miracle of pulling away from universal absolutes, and towards an empathetic understanding of concrete situations.

CMV is a great community. I also found its dismissal unpersuasive.

In my opinion, the phrase "discouragingly few" shows the author's unrealistic expectation, not the quality of CMV debates.

In general, I think people over-emphasize eureka moments under-estimate the ongoing slow shift of view, in which good debates can be a strong contributor. This goes not just for changing perspectives, but for solidifying them as well. When I look back a decade, I see myself holding many views that are now entirely different, and many that have only been strengthened (and many that I have stopped caring about one way or another), but diminishingly few eureka moments. It's the aggregate of accumulated experience that had produced those changes, much of which was reading and participating in debates that seemed to go nowhere in the moment.

And don't forget the fence-sitters who might not be participating, but might very well end up changing their views.

I very much disagree with the thesis. Logic is asymmetric: logic works better for the true side. As for the "rhetorical power of social media networks", it's symmetric: it may be advantageous for the author's side right now, but tide can turn and it can favor the other side.

The author talks of "hate speech" and assume the certain side should win, otherwise debate is useless. This is wrong. The true side should win, and you don't know whether your side is true or not. This epistemic humbleness is the essential ingredient of the useful debate.

I think logic is fairly neutral when it comes to truth. It's just a method for organising axioms. Whether the logical system you choose actually favours truth or not, really depends on the axioms you choose. Further more, even with the right axioms you still have the problem of imperfect decidability because in practice we have imperfect observations of all the relevant data, and non-infinite computational power to examine all the relevant permutations of that data.

Now I'm not saying logic isn't useful for seeking truth; with a lot of care applied to the choice of axioms and examination of the data it can still be very helpful in weeding out untruths.

The problem is a lot of these debates are permeated by rhetoric which is more interested in some predetermined conclusion than seeking truth. Even subtle tweaks to a good logical approach can get you out into the weeds very quickly.

But when comparing against reality, there's very likely a shortest logical description. That what makes logic assymetric as the OP said.

Define length of a logical desciption. Number of statements? Number of axiomatic categories involved? The categories being agreed on? That's all quite shaky IMO.

Here it is:


Literally unusable in real world arguments though ;)

And don't forget Solomonoff Induction, which builds a total order over hypotheses using Kolmogorov complexity.

"Very likely".. So are you agreeing that some things don't have a "shortest logical description"?

That leaves a lot to interpretation ;).

I'm leaving open the possibility that something may have multiple shortest descriptions, because Kolmogorov complexity is incomputable, so any approximation we use will necessarily be a partial order, not a total order.

Now explain that in a time-constrained debate.

This is incorrect. It takes very few people to start an information cascade. The wrong side can win just as easily as the right one.


The wrong side can win, but not just as easily. I claimed that the true side has an edge, not that the true side wins every time.

  > The wrong side can win, but not just as easily
"One thing is sure," replied Dupin, quoting from Chamfort, "that all common knowledge, all traditional opinions, are foolish, for the very reason that the majority agrees with them."

This does not contradict what I said.

The true side has an edge in logical debates. If we exclusively used logical debates, the true side would be the majority. Since we don't, the majority is often wrong.

The 'problem' with this (which is not a problem, in my opinion) is that logic often leads people to conclusions which make them extremely uncomfortable. I don't think it's so much that people cannot use logic to come to conclusions, but rather that they simply do not like the conclusions that they come to. Today there's widespread cognitive dissonance on a whole array of topics.

This is being compounded by a widespread effort to promote emotion to being something reasonable to consider in discussion and debate. It makes one wonder if this is just a brief blip or if we're beginning a historical repetition. The word pathetic is quite interesting and appropriate. It is derived from pathetikos which is essentially somebody that is sensitive or otherwise subject to emotion. It would be interesting to understand the exact events which evolved the word to its current connotation.

The true side does not have an advantage. I provided a link to more information about the subject.

I think the premise that in debates one argument is "true" to be questionable. Which one is "true" generally seems to stem from what people value, which is inherently subjective.

It's often clear that one ideological disposition relies on laughably untrue rhetoric more than the other, but on their best days, the left and right both agree on facts, they just disagree on their interpretation of them and what that means we should do.

Debate doesn't work because the idea of the right is to restrict resources to the "deserving" (individualism, tax breaks, etc) and kick around everyone not in the in group. The left says that we can make a more equal society and so we should try to solve our problems by redistributing resources.

This is not a gap you can bridge with logic, it's a fundamentally different moral interpretation of reality. This is sharing vs defending.

EDIT: However, Noam Chomsky gave a very interesting talk about how moral senses develop and change. There is some flexibility in our moral systems. For instance, until like, a year or two ago, casual homophobia was acceptable in public, now it isn't amongst a growing swath of the population. It's kind of fun to look at old Tweets by media personalities and see how much they've changed their positions (something very desirable) either because their beliefs changed or because their audience did.

Do you think somebody on the right would describe their position as "Yeah, we like to restrict resources to the deserving and kick around everybody else!" When you start with strawmen as a fundamental basis, then of course you're not going to be able to have any sort of debate. And this is perhaps an ironic example of why debate in contemporary times is quite futile. As we segregate ourselves off into ideologically aligned groups, we begin to fall further from reality both in terms of our own views but even more so in terms of understanding views of those whom we don't agree with.

this doesn't strike me as a fair assessment of the left vs right. I'd be inclined to rephrase the comparison (based entirely on my own mental model of fiscal left/right politics) as "the left wants to prioritise economic equality over incentivisation, where the right wants to prioritise incentivisation over economic equality". The fiscal right is at least theoretically about allowing market forces to dictate the movement of resources, where the left uses the state to redistribute resources when it deems the market to be unfair.

I'd argue that the tragedy of the commons points to a way through that. When it becomes clear that a group optimum (via regulation) can (over a period of time) be better for an individual's self-interest than a Nash equilibrium, anyone reasonable would probably have more tolerance for some forms of regulation than they would before realizing this.

Or, for a more reasonable description of the differences: the American right is interested in equality of opportunity, while the American left is interested in equality of outcome.

There are good points to be made for both positions, although 2018 sees both parties skewing heavily from these historic emphases, one more than the other.

Just a data point, as a lifelong democrat I definitely view the American left as being more interested in equality of opportunity than equality of outcome. Although that's gotten a bit muddled in recent years, since I see a split between the center-left Democrats and the more "progressive" wing. (Not sure there will be much of a home in the future for people that believe an expanded EITC is better than a massively-increased minimum wage.)

I also had trouble following the author's point. It appears the author is saying that since people don't change their mind as often as the author would like, then it means that reason doesn't matter. (That's probably a wrong or (unintentional) straw-man summation.)

The weird part is that the author seems to take pains to draw a distinction between reason and rhetoric, but it seems her general conclusions conflate the two. If I have a conclusion based on logic, and someone comes at me trying to convince me with rhetoric based on ethos or pathos, it's not going to be convincing to me no matter how many points it scores on the audience. But that doesn't mean logic won't change my mind.

And most conclusions along the lines the author describes are normative conclusions. If, through logical debate, it's discovered that both parties are reasoning correctly, basing their conclusions on different moral (axiomatic) values, and neither has changed their mind, that is perfectly okay and should be considered a victory for responsible dialectic. Dialectic is about finding shared understanding and unsound reasoning, not about humiliating your opponent for having different values than you.

I haven't taken a close look at Kialo but if, for all their structure, there isn't much effort spent on the logical relations between statements, then... well, it might still be helpful to a degree, but I can also see it inviting a lot casuistry.

It is a questioning of the merit of debate versus just plain virtue signaling. The last sentence summarizes it pretty well:

"The idea of “debate” imposes an adversarial framework on online interactions, as well as privileging logic as a tool of discovery."

>> It appears the author is saying that since people don't change their mind as often as the author would like, then it means that reason doesn't matter.

It's more that if you want to effect positive change (like "ending slavery"), reason doesn't get you far. To the contrary, a very reasonable argument could be made to non-slaves on why freeing the slaves would be a mortal risk to them. Changing "morals" on the other hand, is effective, because morals transcend reason. This is the playbook of the left.

Agreed. The author says debate privileges logic as a tool of discovery, as if it is a bad thing! What does the author propose to privilege as a tool of discovery instead? "moral honor"? Really, LOL.

So I disagree with the thesis that debate doesn't bring us closer to truth. I think it does, just astronomically slowly. For example, I often get in arguments where I vigorously debate one side, and then realize I might be wrong, and I may continue to argue in order to "win", but deep down after the argument my beliefs have changed slightly in the opponent's direction. I feel like this process over time has gradually approximated to some sort of truth, the truth believed by all of the people I've ever interacted with. Even after this noisy process, there is still a thread of reality left where people have at least concluded internally what is truth, and there is only one set of axioms which allow all of the parties to arrive at their separate conclusions. In short, as the number of people you debate approaches infinity, I think the truth emerges.

EDIT: I also think it is really ironic that she is using reason to say that reason doesn't actually let us arrive any closer to the truth: why write the article at all then?

> I may continue to argue in order to "win"

I do that too sometimes though I think the reason is deeper than simply winning. The few times I concede a point, the opposition is very likely to ridicule me for that (on the internet at least that is my experience, even in so called "welcoming communities").

It's a rather hostile behavior to laugh at others for having learned or discovered something new.

The author of this article really took a lot of time to write an intelligent and reasoned post that is, unfortunately, painfully oblivious to a core truth that underlies everything she is unsuccessfully trying to understand.

Fake news, online hate, disrespect, etc are part of an extremely innovative and subversive reactionary movement (for better or worse).

This movement is a reaction to the failing economies of the late 20th century (generously padded over by ever-so cherry picked statistics), the fact that secularism never really came up with any kind of raison d’etre, and the hijacking of legitimate means of truth seeking (government departments, universities, think tanks etc) by powers with ulterior motives.

Saying “the earth is flat” is the best example of this. It’’s such an amusingly false claim, to continue to believe it and declare you believe it is a kind of emancipation from / attack on the systems of power. There is nothing they can do.

Also the best example of the last point regarding “hijacking of legitimate means of truth seeking” is replacement of public intellectuals like James Kenneth Galbraith, who lead all rationing for the US during WWII, with the likes of those desperate for more PR, sales, and conference speeches such as serial-plagiarizer Fareed Zakaria.

Since when were government departments and think tanks legitimate means of truth seeking? Some, sure, and at some times.

But on the whole you can practically guarantee both of those methods will be primarily PR mechanisms, and / or used for the advancement of those who control them.

Universities used to be, but they are becoming increasingly politicized again.

Universities were never non political. What you more likely mean is they used to agree with you more. None of these social institutions were ever non political, the political context has changed, the national politics have changed, and you've changed and I've changed. I just want to push back against anyone thinking anything going on is new, all of these social and political institutions have always been sites of political struggle.

Perhaps they used to be better at producing an aura of speaking and deciding from up above or from a mythical social consensus that "everyone" (suitably filtered) agrees on.

No there really was a time a few decades ago when republican professors and democrat professors weren't under or overrepresented by more than a factor of 2. Now it's something like 30 IIRC. And really a lot of the "conservatives" turn out to be libertarians, centrists, or even moderate liberals that are turned off by the more extreme people around them. That's at least in the social sciences, it's slightly better in less politically relevant fields.

Oh the other hand, mainstream politics everywhere seems to edge towards social conservatism and mixed economic stances.

Some countries are more "pure" on one side or other.

From my point of view most western nations are extremely liberal politically. Compared to how they were historically and compared to other countries.

That's true; but I worry about the overall trend. Perhaps it's unfounded but my fear is that we are trending towards less liberality, rather than more, except in a few areas.

> Saying “the earth is flat” is the best example of this. It’s such an amusingly false claim, to continue to believe it and declare you believe it is a kind of emancipation from / attack on the systems of power. There is nothing they can do.

Hmm, reading an article about a flat earther gathering on Ars, I wondered if some of these flat earther weren't crooks who wanted to steal the other: after all by declaring 'I believe that the earth is flat' you're also saying "I'm a gullible idiot"..

I strugle to follow the authors point, but the topic goes to two interesting problems I'd like to pick out to see if there are any opinions on them:

1) Once a person has decided they have enough evidence to form an opinion, they form the opinion then forget the evidence. This makes it excruciatingly difficult to change their minds, because they can no longer check why they formed their original beliefs.

2) Debate will likely be one of two cases:

- A factual debate, where one side who is 'wrong'

- A values debate, where both sides are necessarily focused on different issues

Both of these are very delicate situations where empathy, moderation (as in mildness) and consideration are quite important in getting to a good place. Unfortunately, if participants suspect the audience perception is that they are losing in a factual debate rather than learning about others in a values debate they get very defensive very quickly.

I get the impression that debate these days is more of a game to see whose opinion wins, rather than debating to see others opinions and reflect on your own in order to jointly come up with a better result.

Instead of the word debate, why not use something better understood, such as discussion instead?

> they form the opinion then forget the evidence.

It can get even more interesting when memories are there but have been “edited”, making it easier for the mind to rationalize the present opinion.

Pet peeve: the name "Kialo" in Esperanto doesn't mean the type of reason the people who chose it think it does. "Kialo" means something closer to "motivation" or "cause" [1]. "Racio" is "reason" in the sense of debate or logic [2].

(It's unfortunately common for non-Esperantists attempting to use Esperanto words or sentences not to fact-check their translations. There are plenty of fluent speakers who would be glad to fact-check a translation you're going to publicize. Shout-out to the New Yorker who did fact-check a recent one-off Esperanto translation.)

On the topic of the article though, I've come to believe a similar thing lately, with one caveat – reality is often a forcing function to align the "honor world" with logic. Cognitive dissonance can only get you so far, and e.g. in the workplace I find it easiest to resolve debates by demonstrating hard consequences of some particular faulty logic. The places we see the most disconnect in today's society tend to be the places where demonstrating consequences is difficult (e.g. global warming).

[1] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/kialo

[2] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/racio

This reminds me of something I read once in a book about false memories. 90% of psychotherapy is based on the idea that examining and talking about your experiences is helpful, but that's really just an assumption. There are some situations where it is predictably and categorically false. There are many others where it might be true but remains unproven. Debating is kind of the same way. We believe that at least some forms of vigorous debate will lead to "best of both" understanding or solutions, but can any of us prove that?

I'm not sure about prove, but I definitely believe that it can lead to actionable statements. Logical arguments are a layering of priors, arguments, and conclusions, which can be deductively analyzed to find proper conclusions given a known set of priors. I find that a lot of unconcluded arguments are based off of an unresolved set of priors that are never acknowledged, but are blamed on the lack of logical arguments made by the opposing party. Other times debates fall apart when one party approaches a conclusion that they do not agree with and form arguments that conveniently side-step that outcome. Because of these possibilities I think we may write off vigorous ~logical~ debates as relativistic and populist pandering, or uncouth shouting matches, but if logical principles are applied properly with a distinct lack of emotion (not morals) debates can be effective in finding truth.

I thought this was an interesting point:

> In his 2010 book The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah shows that arguments are not what change people’s minds on moral questions — honor is. The end of dueling, or Chinese foot-binding, or the Atlantic slave trade, did not come about, Appiah writes, because of new or more convincing arguments — the arguments against these practices had been in place, sometimes for centuries, before most people were turned against them. What changed was the “honor world” — the group of people who understand and acknowledge the same codes of behavior. Dueling was illegal before it came to seem dishonorable, in part because a newly created popular press brought the aristocracy’s honor code into discussion in lower class circles. This exposure to ridicule or mimicry put a new complexion on a practice that had persisted despite all logical argument against it.

It seems like the culture of rationality, logic, and debating is itself one of these "honor worlds", where defending your positions against logical attack is an expected code of behavior. If you're not part of this culture, you may not be prepared to defend yourself, even if what you're saying is totally true.

I think this is really what the article is talking about -- not that debate is intrinsically bad, but that it only operates well within a particular cultural context. Since most important decisions affect more than just rationalist debaters, the tools of rationalist debate may not be enough to make a correct decision.

Did you just pose a strawman that a rationalist debater would ignore irrationality?

Or that only use of rational arguments is rational, as opposed to rhetoric?

As we stand, accrual debating is likely to entrench views of people rather than change them, even if irrationally.

Experiment and results are more convincing than any amount of words.

The author's examples are all moral issues. There is no "right answer" to a moral question. Morality is all just subjective personal feelings, biases and culture. But even in politics, there's an entire world of questions that do have objectively correct answers. You can't debate "should people be allowed guns" but you absolutely could debate whether guns statistically increase the murder rate. And there's all sorts of data and examples you can point to on that subject.

I do think you could make a more interesting argument for the author's view though. One thing that's always disturbed me is just how highly heritable political views are in twin studies. And that's after excluding the influence of family which share much of your genetics. If people's political beliefs are so predictable, then there can't be that much influence from reason and debate.

Perhaps this is just a consequence of the above. Perhaps most political issues are just about people's subjective moral feelings about things. And that could be mostly genetic.

I agree. And I suspect most political disagreements would be solvable if all participants of a debate approached it in good faith, and were willing to dig into core disagreements about moral issues. The moral disagreements may or may not turn out to be irreconcilable, but there's just so much wiggle room in the implementation details, the details that are objective, that an agreement could be reached regardless.

The main source of problems, however, is that not all participants engage in good faith. Some treat arguments not as tools of truth-seeking, but as instruments of war, trying to win some influence for themselves. Pretty much anything humans create can be gamed by people who start treating it as an instrument to something else; I'm not sure we can even do something about it. Are manipulative people always going to win?

This is not true. If you dig deep as I did with a family member, you get to a question like "So if they can't pay, they should ultimately just die?" and get a hemed and hawed yes.

Maybe it's the optimist in me, but if they hemmed and hawed, I'm thinking they might have been internally rocked a bit, and might be subtly changing their view on their own timetable.

The problem even with what you're saying here is that it's all but impossible to objectively prove beyond a reasonable doubt much of anything on social issues. Take guns. We invariably end up seeking comparisons, yet there is no country that's even remotely comparable to the US in terms of the mix of economy, demographics, size, and culture.

And then some statistics are politically incorrect to discuss, even though they're absolutely critical to the issue. For instance the murder rate among the largest majority in the country is 3.4 per 100,000. For a certain demographic that makes up about 13% of the population, it's 24.7 per 100,000 meaning that 13% actually ends up responsible for the majority of all murders in the nation. There are all sorts of other interesting numbers and figures from the DOJ here. [1]

And then you end up getting into questions of liberty. Alcohol, for instance, is behind vastly more deaths per year in the US than all homicides - many of those being people other than the imbiber himself, yet we view the liberty of the masses to be more important than the misbehaviors of a minority of users.


But I think there's perhaps an even more important point here. Many political issues are 'fake' in the sense that if they were not so highly politicized I do not think anywhere near the number of individuals would politicize them themselves. Imagine you were aware of all the statistics on crime, death, and other things - yet there was no directed politicization of any specific issue so you had to come up with your own views.

Where would guns rank? I suspect the answer would be far down. But they're a handy political tool to divide people which helps ensure the status quo in our government. Abortion is identical. Where would abortion rank if people had to choose what was important on their own? Again, I suspect it would a nonissue but it's similarly very useful in dividing people.

[1] - https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf

You are incorrect. There is a fact of the matter as to what is good.

I do not mean to say that my beliefs as to what is good are always correct. It is quite possible for me to be wrong about such things.

But I am not incorrect when I say that there is a fact of the matter.

Yes and no. You'd have to answer, what's the objective source of morality?

If you're a believer, you may say God - though that still leaves two questions open. One, of implementation details - where is that morality codified, so that we can tell good from bad? In God's word? In our brains? Two, (almost?) all religions teach we have free will. So we can accept or reject God's morality. That decision is based on something that's purely in us. I'd suggest that this something is morality.

If you're not a believer, the only reasonable source of somewhat-consistent morality is the shared architecture of human brains. That is, we're all born with mostly-same hardware and firmware, and as members of human race, we find ourselves in agreement to some basic moral ideas - like "suffering bad", "joy good" - from which each culture weaves its complicated moral lattice.

Is "good" a matter of morality?

Can there be a conceptualisation of "good" independent of morality?

How or how not? To what limits? Or is good axiomatically moral?

There is such a thing as robust morality. This means that it can respond to various real life occurrences while still being consistent; while not resulting in unfalsifiable statements.

Three tragedy of it is lack of emotional "belonging". This is what most moral amd honour systems build upon. Not even of belonging to an elite.

The main question it asks is whether any given question is meaningful and by how much, how it affects yourself, others, who benefits and who does not.

I'd say good is moral by definition :).

As for morality, I don't see how it can be objective. It's not a feature of the universe, it's a feature of a mind. Humans have common values, because we naturally have common brain design.

Not just brains, simular biology too.

Consider that outright murder (in-group) and cannibalism are considered immoral by almost all moral systems. There are very good reasons why. (Both are due to is how fear works and social survival.)

Also why any act of killing is very restricted and the individual is cut out of the group.

Being moral does not guarantee a good outcome...

Can good be defined within a system, without morality?

Can a system of, say, sheep, have goodness or badness? Does it have morality?

Trees? Amoebae?

You couldn't argue with an alien that doesn't share your moral feelings. You can't reference any objective fact or point to where your morality is written into the laws of the universe.

Maybe you could say humans mostly have the same moral feelings since we have 99% the same DNA. But we seem to have no trouble finding important issues we disagree about.

Maybe truth in the end doesn't really matter? Only actions taken from perceived truth that increase the fitness for a moral, rule, opinion or belief. Debate and arguing maybe are just entropy like random mutations in DNA that drive cultures to differences where some are benign, some fatal, and everything in between. Morals or rules you see universally across cultures may have been highly selected due to their necessity. Culture and morals change over time because our environment changes, the context differs. Maybe that could be called truth?

Behind every logical argument is a vehement emotional one. Debates rarely change minds because they rarely address the real underlying anchors.

TLDR: Obtusely veiled apologia for moral outrage culture. (you can skip to the last paragraph).

The reasoning for this is the idea that slavery ended because it was deemed "dishonorable" through a transformation of "morals", not through "logical debate".

Further points against "debate culture":

- winning a debate is not about the "truth", but about "persuasion"

- ensuing moral relativism

- debates don't actually change minds

I disagree with the last point. People simply don't change their minds in real time and many people are too invested into their points of view. I've personally gradually changed my viewpoint away from the left in large part due to the general failure of leftists to persevere in debate. What a coincidence then, that some of the same people would question the merit of debate altogether...

The author seems lost in this article. It seems she's just seems frustrated that parts of human nature extends itself in the free market of ideas. Everything is about persuasion and winning. That's life...and it extends itself into the exchange of ideas. However you need this exchange to drive meaningful change...and you can only fool people for so long if you don't have logic and reason on your side. So I don't really understand what the author is driving at. I guess they are upset certain arguments they don't like are winning...which isn't really an argument at all.

To be fair, neither the left nor the right are persevering in debate these days. For every X-"ism" claim from the left, there's an equivalent "fake news" gaslighting attempt from the right. The degeneration of politics today comes from both extremes of the political spectrum.

I was ready to hate this piece based on the title, but after giving it a read with an open mind, I'm not actually all that upset with it. The author does have some salient observations buried in there, but ironically enough, the author's language betrays that she is clearly engaged in exactly the type of debate that she finds so tiresome and uninspiring.


> Today, the fundamental orientation of online debate culture is toward universals, which are more likely to spark a reaction. There is a heavy reliance on words like “always” and “never,” as well as a tendency towards extreme responses to perceived social ills

Yet is the author not herself attempting to spark reactions by making broad, universal claims like:

> Debating won’t bring us closer to truth

> Was logic an inappropriate tool with which to approach this question?

> The ostensible divorce of reasoning from identity becomes a meta-argument for universal truths and solutions. It works to shore up the idea that a logical truth will stand on its own no matter who is delivering it.

> The fixation on logic as an ideal vehicle for human progress is less a reflection of the practicality of this means of resolving our shared issues than it is a longing for a moral framework beyond human perceptions.

Seems a bit extreme to pigeonhole all advocates of using logic as a valid piece of an argument as people who advocate for exclusively logical arguments. It's perfectly reasonable to discuss logical arguments divorced of identity. That doesn't mean that a logical argument must be divorced of empathy though. John Rawls' "Veil of Ignorance" and other works make a compelling, logical case, for social justice and liberalism, and that concept revolves entirely around learning to think in terms other than one's identity.

I also found it interesting that right after the author laments how ineffective facts and figures are for convincing people > But logical argumentation rarely makes people change their minds; neither does exposure to facts.

She uses cites a well known academic body that analyzed facts and figures to strengthen her argument! > Cornell analyzed data from Reddit’s ChangeMyView community, where users propose a thesis and invite others to debate. While the results showed that some tactics are better than others...

My final bit of amusement comes from that while she counter-argues that "honor" and experiences are a better way of convincing people > In the behavior of social media users posting under their real names, identity — contrary to logic-proponents’ assumptions — may be among the strongest persuasive tools.

It's mentioned in the same article, that Aristotle considered _ethos_ a fundamental component of rhetoric, along with logic. It's strange to see that she is clearly arguing for the inclusion of ethos and pathos in online discussions over social issues, yet she seems to be sarcastically deriding Aristotle along with the online debating platform crowd by aligning them with hate speech?

> Aristotle saw the possibility of misuse in laying out his theory of rhetorical tactics; in the wrong hands, persuasion could be used for ill. But he generally agreed with the site administrators of QallOut — that it would be easier to convince people of things that were just and good than of things that were not. So “the average Jew would kill you over a penny” should be easy to argue against, and your audience should find arguments against this thesis more persuasive.

On the positive side, I do agree that "sport debate" and the tactics it engenders are often meaningless and sometimes to dangerous to an individual's pursuit of truth. Logic itself as a means to question assumptions though? The author clearly knows better than to think that's actually the case. Like so many others out there, she's exaggerating to enhance the impact of her argument on the listener.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact