A Simple Technique for Successfully Debating the Ignorant

What follows is my new method of addressing someone who doesn’t create sound arguments during a debate, i.e. those backed by fact, data, or some type of objective evidence. Once you suspect that you’re arguing with someone like this, directly probe to see if they have any evidence whatsoever to support themselves.

If they can’t offer any–and especially if they look genuinely confused by your request–respond with something like this:

Well, if you are someone who holds beliefs without regard for actual evidence then I have no interest in continuing this conversation. Basically, if facts don’t sway your beliefs, then there’s no reason I should believe I will be successful either.

This approach will yield one of two responses:

  1. a renewed interest in listening to your evidence

  2. an angry retreat back to his/her beliefs, with no offer of evidence

Either way, you benefit. You either get to have a real conversation or you get to save energy for someone worthy of one. ::

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