WAYS PEOPLE SABOTAGE CONSTRUCTIVE DEBATE THAT DRIVE ME NUTS:
A: “I find that offensive!”.
That is not a valid position, it’s a whine. It doesn’t present any case to the debate. You find it offensive; great. I’m sure when integration was in debate, some old racist in Mississippi found it “offensive”. There are fundamentalists out there who find birth control “offensive. Aren’t you glad that a bunch of fundamentalists didn’t stop that debate dead in its tracks?
You go on ahead finding something offensive and the debate will go on without your input because you are bringing nothing worthwhile to the table.
B: “Well, that’s your opinion”
How I feel about something is an opinion, like whether I like eating mushrooms or not.
An event or occurrance, with a number empirical cases (things that undeniably happened) to support that the event actually happened is not an opinion. That can be anywhere from a supported hypothesis to an undeniable fact.
If I say the moon is not made of green cheese, that is not an opinion. There is a supporting data that the moon is not made of green cheese. I would go so far as to say it is an undeniable fact, but it is, at the very least, a supported hypothesis.
Moreover, not all opinions are created equally. The method by which Neil De Grasse Tyson forms his opinion is worth more than the method used by Sarah Palin (that is my opinion, but I can back it up with empirical data as to it’s veracity). Nobody likes to be told their opinion doesn’t matter, but if it’s based on poorly formed thought process with shoddy data, it doesn’t matter.
Of course, the corollary to this is do not bring unsupported evidence into a debate
C: “That’s my belief”
Again, not a valid position. I believe the moon is made of green cheese; that’s my belief. Does that give the belief any more weight?
Belief is completely worthless in a debate.
Give me some empirical evidence of cows on the moon, the presence of bacteria to create cheese, what the moon was made of before all this cheese was made to replace it, and what was the substance that made the cheese green and we can have a debate.
D: “There is no proof that it didn’t/isn’t” (in response to “there ‘s no proof that it did/is”)
Ah, the old burden of proof reversal; one of the cheapest fallacies in debate.
Not how it works. If I state something, it is on me to furnish empirical evidence to support that statement.
Expecting the other person to prove a negative is not worthwhile technique.
STUPID PERSON: Target is full of invisible demons who want to take your soul.
SMART PERSON: Evidence? There is no evidence of invisible, soul taking demons in Target.
STUPID PERSON: There’s no evidence they’re not there.
There is no way to prove the absence of soul snatching, Target dwelling Target demons. You can say anything you want, and the only thing we have to go on is a stupid person’s say-so. Now if that stupid person were to somehow collar a little demon, produce him, provide verifiable evidence he existed in Target in his invisible state, and was in the business of taking souls, we might have a debate.
But in these burden proof reversal cases, don’t hold your breath!
E: “Statistics lie”
No science in that. There is nothing about a statistic that is inherently dishonest.
Statistics with deliberately falsified data lie. Poorly designed statistics give faulty information. Biased statistics were flawed from the start. Statistics can be manipulated, misinterpreted, or placed into irrelevant context.
However, statistics, themselves do not lie. Statistics are essentially narratives following a certain format.
And, as with any narrative, it is important in a debate when presenting a statistic that it is soundly constructed, and convey the correct information with a thoughtful and through study.
You want to take these four shortcut to avoid thoughtful debate, your position has no validity.