Debating the Point

Sunday, September 30, 2012 – Debating the Point

I wish I could give you a lot of advice, based on my experience of winning political debates. But I don’t have that experience. My only experience is at losing them. ~ Richard M. Nixon

In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny. ~ John Stuart Mill

The debates of that great assembly are frequently vague and perplexed, seeming to be dragged rather than to march, to the intended goal. Something of this sort must, I think, always happen in public democratic assemblies. ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. ~ Noam Chomsky

If you’ve got the truth you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn’t prove it. ~ Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Time spent arguing is, oddly enough, almost never wasted. ~ Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? ~ C. S. Lewis

I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so. ~ Michael Palin

Get what you can with words, because words are free, but the words of an armed man ring that much sweeter. ~ Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes

Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective. ~ Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

The most important tactic in an argument next to being right is to leave an escape hatch for your opponent so that he can gracefully swing over to your side without an embarrassing loss of face. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

The thing that strikes me more and more, is the extraordinary viciousness and dishonesty of political controversy in our time. I don’t mean merely that controversies are acrimonious. They ought to be that when they are on serious subjects. I mean that almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point. ~ George Orwell, As I Please: 1943-1945

He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A man lives by believing something; not by debating and arguing about many things. ~ Thomas Carlyle

Arguments out of a pretty mouth are unanswerable. ~ Joseph Addison

Argument is conclusive… but… it does not remove doubt, so that the mind may rest in the sure knowledge of the truth, unless it finds it by the method of experiment. For if any man who never saw fire proved by satisfactory arguments that fire burns. his hearer’s mind would never be satisfied, nor would he avoid the fire until he put his hand in it that he might learn by experiment what argument taught. ~ Roger Bacon

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me. ~ Dave Barry

It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them. ~ Pierre De Beaumarchais

Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about. ~ Robert Benchley

It is not he who gains the exact point in dispute who scores most in controversy – but he who has shown the better temper. ~ Samuel Butler

If you go in for argument, take care of your temper. Your logic, if you have any, will take care of itself. ~ Joseph Farrell

Heat and animosity, contest and conflict, may sharpen the wits, although they rarely do; they never strengthen the understanding, clear the perspicacity, guide the judgment, or improve the heart. ~ Walter Savage Landor

Information, usually seen as the precondition of debate, is better understood as its by-product. ~ Christopher Lasch

When you argue with your inferiors, you convince them of only one thing: they are as clever as you. ~ Irving Layton

The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one’s opinion, but rather to know it. ~ Andre Maurois

Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing. ~ Oscar Wilde

Debate is masculine, conversation is feminine. ~ Amos Bronson Alcott


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