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Debate or dialogue?

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  • odzer@aol.com
    I just came across this, I think it is nice, simple and clarifies my own understanding of the topic, I might add. I checked with a moderator to see if it was
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 26, 2004
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      I just came across this, I think it is nice, simple and clarifies my own
      understanding of the topic, I might add.

      I checked with a moderator to see if it was considered something useful to
      post here, and was encouraged to do so.

      Of course, the passage i cite below has a wider application. In todays
      politically polarized world, especially painful for some of us in the U.S. who watch
      the country suffer for lack of informed discussion of issues of crucial
      importance for our, and for the whole planet's future, but rather the fury of
      internecine polemicals ad nauseum. (Well, actually, I think the right wing has been
      the agressive side, leading the dumbing down of the discussion, and of
      thinking, but in an earlier era the left had its own time of stridancy, albeit, I
      think, usually based on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern.

      ________

      "In dialogue, one submits ones best thinking, knowing that other people's
      reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it. In debate, one submits
      one's best thinking and defends it against challenge to show that it is right.

      Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs. Debate calls for
      investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs.

      In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements. In debate, one searches for
      glaring differences.

      In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other positions. In debate one
      searches for flaws and weaknesses in the other position.

      Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not
      alienate or offend. Debate involves a countering of the other position without
      focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other
      person.

      Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together
      they can put them into a workable solution. Debate assumes that there is a
      right answer and that someone has it.

      Dialogue remains open-ended. Debate implies a conclusion."

      -------------

      I wish it came with attribution, but I saw none. Still, it seemed familiar,
      maybe someone recognizes it?

      Maybe it needs no comment, but the moderator thought some people might have
      comments to offer.

      This list widely adheres to the spirit of dialogue, I do not mean to suggest
      otherwise.
      Room to improve, yes.

      John Potts
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      Allow me to contribute this to the dialogue, then: when issuing a call for mutual respect and understanding, it might -- just _might_, mind you -- not lead
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 26, 2004
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        Allow me to contribute this to the dialogue, then: when issuing a call
        for mutual respect and understanding, it might -- just _might_, mind
        you -- not lead with setting yourself on one side and broadly insulting
        the proponents of a different perspective:

        On Jan 26, 2004, at 2:23 PM, odzer@... wrote:

        > I think the right wing has been the agressive side, leading the
        > dumbing down of the discussion, and of thinking, but in an earlier era
        > the left had its own time of stridancy, albeit, I think, usually based
        > on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern.

        I also do not agree with the general thrust of the quote you provide.
        Not all positions are equally valid. (Not even all those, as you put
        it, "based on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern".)

        > "In dialogue, one submits ones best thinking, knowing that other
        > people's
        > reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it.

        This is false. This position has validity only if all parties concerned
        share the goal of improving rather than destroying: and that's a far
        too crucial and rare situation to leave it assumed.

        > In debate, one submits one's best thinking and defends it against
        > challenge to show that it is right.

        This is also a characteristic of the scientific method. Those theories
        that withstand challenges are the best; those that cannot are not
        theories at all.

        > Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs. Debate calls
        > for investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs.

        I wouldn't put it that way. I would say, we should not immediately
        dismiss ideas without sufficient consideration, and unless we can
        either disprove it or show that it is formed on insufficient basis.
        (E.g. If I assert that Mars is made of melange and inhabited by spice
        worms, well, I don't really expect anyone to suspend their disbelief
        very long, even if no one can disprove the idea: it has insufficient
        basis to be treated as a serious possibility.)

        > In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements. In debate, one
        > searches for glaring differences.

        Both are important for establishing theory and advancing knowledge.

        > In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other positions. In
        > debate one
        > searches for flaws and weaknesses in the other position.

        Ditto.

        > Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not
        > alienate or offend. Debate involves a countering of the other position
        > without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or
        > deprecates the other person.

        Well, this is just nonsense (and yes, I'm aware of the irony). I wonder
        how the untold numbers of participants in forensics feel about being so
        characterized? In fact, wasn't it logic, the basis of debate, that gave
        us the term _ad hominem_, and showed up its fallacious nature?

        > Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that
        > together they can put them into a workable solution. Debate assumes
        > that there is a right answer and that someone has it.

        Sometimes there is, and someone does. I wouldn't assume that either
        case is correct, generally.

        > Dialogue remains open-ended. Debate implies a conclusion."

        Does that include conclusions about what characterizes debate, or
        dialogue, or that one is superior to the other?


        --
        =============================================
        Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org

        ho bios brachys, he de techne makre.
        Ars longa, vita brevis.
        The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
        "I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take such
        a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."
      • Ginger McElwee
        Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one s beliefs. Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one s beliefs. Dialogue involves a real concern for the
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 26, 2004
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          Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs. Debate calls
          for
          investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs.
          Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not
          alienate or offend. Debate involves a countering of the other position
          without
          focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates
          the other
          person

          This is a very interesting piece. However, I think it oversimplifies
          and vilifies debate.
          Dialogue is defined as a conversation, and debate as discussion
          involving considering opposed arguments. When I think of debate, I think
          of the formal debate where definite rules are followed. Granted that
          debate is much more contentious, but I do not think that it can be rude
          unless it is falls into fighting. The things candidates have that are
          called debates are a perversion of what debate is meant to be. Also I
          cannot imagine a good conversation where one doesn't continue to hold
          one's own beliefs. Certainly in conversation, one must be respectful of
          another's beliefs and remain open to seeing another's point of view, but
          not suspend belief.

          Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that
          together
          they can put them into a workable solution. Debate assumes that there is
          a
          right answer and that someone has it.

          This statement is the most important one in the piece. I think that any
          kind of communication that does not include a willingness to learn from
          another person is doomed to be of little use. That's why I dislike news
          shows where the participants yell over each other's statements. Without
          listening to each other, they will never be able of form a good answer
          to a question.


          Ginger McElwee





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • dianejoy@earthlink.net
          ... From: Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@elvish.org Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 15:03:34 -0500 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Debate or dialogue?
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 27, 2004
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            Original Message:
            -----------------
            From: Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@...
            Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 15:03:34 -0500
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Debate or dialogue?


            << Allow me to contribute this to the dialogue, then: when issuing a call
            for mutual respect and understanding, it might -- just _might_, mind
            you -- not lead with setting yourself on one side and broadly insulting
            the proponents of a different perspective: >>

            Thank you, Carl, for saying what I wanted to say far better than I could
            have said it (especially with complete brain lock and steam starting to
            rise from my head).

            Nevertheless, here's my two cents, including the quote

            On Jan 26, 2004, at 2:23 PM, odzer@... wrote:

            > I think the right wing has been the agressive side, leading the
            > dumbing down of the discussion, and of thinking, but in an earlier era
            > the left had its own time of stridancy, albeit, I think, usually based
            > on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern.

            Are we to assume that the right does not have an equal amount of "much
            thought and heartfelt and generous concern?" The solutions to various
            problems may be different, but the amount of effort to solve the problem
            and the compassion are equivalent. (So is the stridency). Of course, left
            and right have a different definition of what a particular problem *is,*
            with a different estimate of a problem's severity and its root cause, not
            to mention a different solution. After all, don't we celebrate
            *diversity?*

            Not that I want to start a political dialogue on this list. [shudder] I
            don't. I'd prefer to confine these remarks to the subject of appropriate
            dialogue (which to my mind, Carl has covered admirably), to subjects of
            literary merit or to Tolkien.

            ---"Agressive"
            Carl wrote:

            I also do not agree with the general thrust of the quote you provide.
            Not all positions are equally valid. (Not even all those, as you put
            it, "based on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern".)

            Indeed. 2+2 = 4 no matter how badly many folks would like it to be three
            or five. In literature or other artistic endeavors, it takes years, many
            minds and much ink to prove a particular theory. As an example: Tolkien's
            greatness is not a matter for debate; I am quite certain they'll be
            reading him 300 years hence (possibly with translation dictionaries, if
            everybody then speaks Rap instead of English; brr!). Phillip Pullman, on
            the other hand, has yet to prove his mettle, though he may be critically
            acclaimed at the moment. Wait fifty years, and we'll see if he lasts. --
            "Agressive"

            "In My Heart I Know I'm Right (aka libertarian)"



            --
            =============================================
            Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org

            ho bios brachys, he de techne makre.
            Ars longa, vita brevis.
            The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
            "I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take such
            a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."


            The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

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          • Carl F. Hostetter
            ... Ah, but as we used to say in my physics classes, when desperately trying to derive a correct answer: 2 + 2 = 5, for sufficiently large values of 2 . ;)
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 27, 2004
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              On Jan 27, 2004, at 11:10 AM, dianejoy@... wrote:

              > 2+2 = 4 no matter how badly many folks would like it to be three or
              > five.

              Ah, but as we used to say in my physics classes, when desperately
              trying to derive a correct answer: "2 + 2 = 5, for sufficiently large
              values of 2". ;)

              > "In My Heart I Know I'm Right (aka libertarian)"

              Me too!
            • odzer@aol.com
              ... for mutual respect and understanding, it might -- just _might_, mind you -- not lead with setting yourself on one side and broadly insulting the proponents
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 27, 2004
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                >
                >Subject: Re: Debate or dialogue?
                >
                >
                >
                >Allow me to contribute this to the dialogue, then: when issuing a call
                for mutual respect and understanding, it might -- just _might_, mind
                you -- not lead with setting yourself on one side and broadly insulting
                the proponents of a different perspective:

                Fair enough, I regret that, and apologize. My grammar and spelling errors
                betray the lack of care, review in that passage too! I accept that our side fails
                to consider more fully the perspective of some of those who are on the 'other
                side' in many issues. But I want to, and will respond when asked to consider,
                and am respected for difference of opinion. Yet I personally have not
                encountered any request for dialogue, and listening to the statements of Rush
                Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et alia, exposes me to people and views not amenable to
                dialogue.
                But we should be ware of going into politics too much here, though I will
                await guidance from moderators if this goes too far off topic.

                ------
                I think the right wing has been the agressive side, leading the

                > dumbing down of the discussion, and of thinking, but in an earlier era

                > the left had its own time of stridency, albeit, I think, usually based

                > on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern.
                -----
                Carl wrote:
                >I also do not agree with the general thrust of the quote you provide.
                Not all positions are equally valid. (Not even all those, as you put
                it, "based on much thought and heartfelt and generous concern".)
                ----
                Oh certainly yes, not all positions are equally valid. But did I imply that
                was my position?. "Heartfelt and generous concern" can distort thinking too.
                Recent findings in neuroscience firmly support the premise that emotional
                processes strongly influence higher cortical functions (and the reverse).
                >
                >
                >
                >> "In dialogue, one submits ones best thinking, knowing that other
                >
                >> people's
                >
                >> reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it.
                Carl wrote:
                >This is false. This position has validity only if all parties concerned
                share the goal of improving rather than destroying: and that's a far
                too crucial and rare situation to leave it assumed.
                ---------
                Not assumed. Sought.
                >
                >
                -In debate, one submits one's best thinking and defends it against
                challenge to show that it is right.
                ----------
                This is also a characteristic of the scientific method. Those theories
                that withstand challenges are the best; those that cannot are not
                theories at all.
                ________
                I hear your point, yes. Important to observe this, however (and you may know
                this too, but worth pointing out for others, I think).
                The scientific method attempts to disprove, **not** prove the hypothesis. The
                'null hypothesis' i.e. that the theory proposed is not true, is set up as the
                one that holds by default, needs to be disproved. What needs to be shown is
                that the data obtained are not consistent with what would be expected if null
                hypothesis holds, and the theory proposed had made no predictions as to what
                data would likely be obtained, and then in fact were, in that or any test under
                the same or nearly same set of conditions. Valid too, is always a high
                probability, never 'certainty' By convention, this means at minimum the data set
                considered has less than 5% probability of being by random chance consistent with
                a prediction, (thus generating a 'type I error, a false positive, usually
                because not derived a truly representative sample of the phenomena in question).
                Often probability of type I error is much lower, 1%, O.5%, 0.1% etc.
                >
                >
                >
                Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs. Debate calls
                for investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs.
                >
                >
                >
                I wouldn't put it that way. I would say, we should not immediately
                dismiss ideas without sufficient consideration, and unless we can
                either disprove it or show that it is formed on insufficient basis.
                E.g. If I assert that Mars is made of melange and inhabited by spice
                worms, well, I don't really expect anyone to suspend their disbelief
                very long, even if no one can disprove the idea: it has insufficient
                basis to be treated as a serious possibility.)
                ---------
                Ok, agreed, the initial assertion too simplistic? Too narrow?
                -----
                "In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements. In debate, one
                searches for glaring differences."

                Both are important for establishing theory and advancing knowledge.
                ------
                OK, a broad tendency for the statement to be consistently oversimplified- yes.
                I think it has a context too, an intended audience, of those who are not
                agreed that establishing theory and advancing knowledge are the goal. If that is
                the shared premise, then yes, debate is a useful method, I agree, if we are
                using that term in the same basic sense for that context of seeking theory and
                knowledge advancement overall.

                >> Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not
                >
                >
                >> alienate or offend. Debate involves a countering of the other position
                >
                >
                >> without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or
                >
                >> deprecates the other person.
                >
                >
                >
                >Well, this is just nonsense (and yes, I'm aware of the irony). I wonder
                >
                >
                >how the untold numbers of participants in forensics feel about being so
                >
                >
                >characterized? In fact, wasn't it logic, the basis of debate, that gave
                >
                >
                >us the term _ad hominem_, and showed up its fallacious nature?
                >
                >
                >
                -------
                Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together
                they can put them into a workable solution. Debate assumes that there is a
                right answer and that someone has it.
                ------

                >Sometimes there is, and someone does. I wouldn't assume that either
                case is correct, generally.
                --------
                I agree with you. I ought to have said something to that effect, but I put up
                the statement w/o commentary, as I ought to have done, but made ill
                considered tangential comments better left unsaid!
                Mea culpa
                ----------
                >> "Dialogue remains open-ended. Debate implies a conclusion."

                Does that include conclusions about what characterizes debate, or
                dialogue, or that one is superior to the other?
                ----------
                Touche.

                My only defense is I actively sought comments, did not put it forth as a
                truth per se. Thank you for yours. They are well considered.

                I suggest in general the statement as offered was insufficiently nuanced, or
                even substantially deficient
                Have you a better to offer?
                [the four stage process-understand premise of a theory; can recapitulate it;
                can challenge/refute it; can improve upon it or propose a better one]

                -John
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