22 May 2007

Debating the Issues

It never ceases to appall me the inability of people to have a rational debate without resorting to name calling and personal attacks. I had always thought that the idea of debate was to discuss issues, not people. We try to make it a free world, which means not everyone has an obligations to see things from your point of view.

I think this is especially important for people who claim the status of being an "expert" in any given field, whether it is science, religion, philosophy, politics or whatever. If you take it upon yourself to take a particular stance for or against something, then take it with the level of professionalism that you chosen area deserves.

If, for example, you are a scientist debating a creationist, then you make yourself and your "science" look incredibly pathetic in calling the creationist names, and belittling the person. You may be right, but on the other hand, since we are striving for a free world, they have the right not to agree with you. This is true whether you like it or not. Whether you regard that person as stupid, ignorant or whatever, it is not up to you to take it upon yourself to pass judgement by name calling and belittling. It doesn't help your cause, and usually alienates those outside of the discussion who are "listening in".

If you sincerely feel that you cannot debate issues without personal attacks etc., then you would be best not to get into the debate in the first place, no matter how many good points you believe you can make. Maybe do this, start a blog. But still do it without naming individuals or personal attacks.

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