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    Thread: Argumentation Is Pointless

    1. #1
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      Argumentation Is Pointless

      Here's my viewpoint:

      1. Humans don't argue to learn from each other, we argue to win and show dominance towards other humans.

      2. Anything that is done purely to win/show dominance is pointless.

      Logical Conclusion: Argumentation is pointless.

      It's called the argumentative theory of reasoning, and it says that humans didn't learn to ask questions and offer answers in order to find universal truths. We did it as a way to gain authority over others. That's right -- they think that reason itself evolved to help us bully people into getting what we want. Here's how a proponent puts it:

      "'Reasoning doesn't have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,' said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. 'It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us.' Truth and accuracy were beside the point."

      And as evidence, the researchers point out that after thousands of years of humans sitting around campfires and arguing about issues, these glaring flaws in our logic still exist. Why hasn't evolution weeded them out? The answer, they say, is that these cognitive flaws are adaptations to a system that's working perfectly fine, thank you. Our evolutionary compulsion is to triumph, even if it means being totally, illogically, proudly wrong.

      You do this, too. If you're a human being, you're from a long line of people who got to the winner's circle again and again by ignoring facts in favor of advancing your side. So, the next time you find yourself desperately Googling for some factual example that proves your argument is right, and failing to find even one, stop. See if you can put the brakes on and actually say, out loud, "Wait a second. If the things I'm saying in order to bolster my argument are consistently wrong, then maybe my argument is also wrong."

      It's going to be harder than you think. Back when evolution was still sculpting your ancestor's brains, admitting you were wrong to the person you were debating got you bred out of existence. These days, being able to admit you're wrong is the greatest skill you can develop if you want to stay married.


      It can be said that ideas can't advance without arguing, but in reality, it isn't arguing that causes ideas to advance, it's numbers.

      More people believe in A than in B. A will be written into the history books, while B will be mocked as myth.

      Argumentation occurs when there is a conflict of ideas; this is not necessary to spread ideas. In the process of spreading an idea, you will meet conflict, but you will also meet people who believe your idea makes more sense than the previous one, and will adopt it without much trouble.

      Discuss.

    2. #2
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      I agree completely. I would just add that the best ideas have objective experience argue for them.

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ezpata View Post
      Discuss.
      It's unfortunate that think of argument the same way that 4 year olds do.

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      I view an argument as any attempt to convince someone of your opinion while they hold a differing one.

      The issue is, while you may think you're doing it to convince someone of something, you're actually doing it to win and assert your dominance over someone.

      Example A:

      "I think you're wrong!"
      "Yeah? Well I think you're wrong, dummy!"
      etc.

      This is not an argument.


      Example B:

      "I think you're wrong, here's why you should see things my way."
      "Perhaps, but here's why YOU'RE wrong, and why you should see things MY way."
      etc.

      This is an argument, provided said reasons make sense, and are logical.
      Last edited by Ezpata; 02-09-2012 at 05:09 AM.

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      Most of the time people have opinions they're not completely sure about and should logically be more agnostic, but they take a stance for the sake of fighting. It usually is very pointless.

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      Dionysian stormcrow's Avatar
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      Yes, Galileo's argument with the Vatican over the heliocentric model was pointless. It was never about Earth's position in the solar system, Galileo just wanted to prove that he had a bigger penis than the Pope.

      Try harder please.
      Xei, Marvo, Abra and 1 others like this.

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      DuB
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      This is the most transparently and hilariously self-defeating argument ever. It's hard to even know how one would begin to take this seriously. Are we even meant to?
      Xei and PhilosopherStoned like this.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Ezpata View Post
      "I think you're wrong, here's why you should see things my way."
      "Perhaps, but here's why YOU'RE wrong, and why you should see things MY way."
      etc.

      This is an argument, provided said reasons make sense, and are logical.
      So you do understand what an argument is.

      Well what the heck

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      All intellectual growth is self-emergent, people cannot simply give up their cognitive matrix of reality and adapt someone else's because they couldn't figure out how to trump that person in a debate. They can merely learn and build upon their cognitive matrix in order to improve it. The greatest tool to learn is humility, which enables one to have a more open mind. The greatest obstacle to growth is conviction and presumption, assuming you are right and the other is wrong and that it's merely your job to show the other person that they're wrong.

      Evolution has two sides, competition and cooperation. Competition necessitates cooperation as the small and simple must become large and complex in order to gain the advantage. While argument purely for the sake of dominance, or as Mark put it, the 4 year old's version of argument (though I find it strange how many 4 year olds troll these forums), gives the initial competitive edge, evolving your level of communication beyond mere domination enables greater cooperation, greater growth and complexity and overall a greater competitive edge.

      But there's still game theory to keep in mind. There is no point in communicating cooperatively with those of unshakable conviction, as you'll find yourself simply agreeing with everything they say whether or not it computes with your own worldview and your cognitive matrix cannot improve. If someone cannot take an open minded stance with you, there's no point in taking an open minded stance with them. There is nothing to gain from admitting you're wrong to someone who has failed to convince you of anything.

      Spoiler for more in depth:
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 02-09-2012 at 06:09 PM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    10. #10
      Xei
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      1. Very dubious assertion.
      2. Demonstrably false consequence of dubious assertion.

      Logical conclusion: get this thread the fuck out of my science forum.
      PhilosopherStoned likes this.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      1. Very dubious assertion.
      2. Demonstrably false consequence of dubious assertion.

      Logical conclusion: get this thread the fuck out of my science forum.
      I believe it's time for another episode of "Using Xei to argue with Xei."

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      DuB
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      The OP claims that argumentation is pointless. He supports this claim through... argumentation.

      If that is not transparently self-defeating then I don't know what is. The hilarity of it is perhaps more subjective.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      1. Very dubious assertion.
      2. Demonstrably false consequence of dubious assertion.

      Logical conclusion: get this thread the fuck out of my science forum.
      You're dubious.

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      There's never really a need to argue. You can just simply state your view. Listen to other people's views and either pass them by or use them as tools for exploring the world of ideas and building better views. No argumentation is necessary, it only serves as, as the OP states, primitive fighting through words.

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      Humans don't argue to learn from each other, we argue to win and show dominance towards other humans.
      how many arguments have you won using the very techniques of an opponent that previously bested you in debate? no one wins, ever

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      There is definitely a part of people that does not like to be wrong, and will keep trying to argue even when their position doesn't make sense. People usually accept things that reinforce their beliefs and fight things that go against their beliefs.

      The problem with the main point, is you are assuming all argumentation is the same and for the same reason. There is no reason to believe that at all.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ezpata View Post
      1. Humans don't argue to learn from each other, we argue to win and show dominance towards other humans.

      2. Anything that is done purely to win/show dominance is pointless.
      Your problem is with point 1. Not all people do this. [Name redacted by fascist moderators] generally does for instance but I generally don't. When I'm arguing with someone, it's because I believe that one of us is wrong and for the sake of both of us, I'd like to get to the bottom of it. This is highly useful when both people are taking the same attitude. When somebody is arguing to be right rather than to discover right, then it is very annoying. That's why I don't even bother to read [Name redacted by fascist moderators]'s posts any more.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      Czar Salad IndieAnthias's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ezpata View Post
      Here's my viewpoint:

      1. Humans don't argue to learn from each other, we argue to win and show dominance towards other humans.
      Possibly true but learning is at least occasionally a painful byproduct.
      Last edited by IndieAnthias; 02-09-2012 at 11:30 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      Your problem is with point 1. Not all people do this. [Name redacted by fascist moderators] generally does for instance but I generally don't. When I'm arguing with someone, it's because I believe that one of us is wrong and for the sake of both of us, I'd like to get to the bottom of it. This is highly useful when both people are taking the same attitude. When somebody is arguing to be right rather than to discover right, then it is very annoying. That's why I don't even bother to read [Name redacted by fascist moderators]'s posts any more.
      It's funny because if you had read my post in this thread you'd understand exactly what's wrong with that attitude.

      There is nothing to gain from admitting you're wrong to someone who has failed to convince you of anything.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 02-09-2012 at 11:43 PM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Ezpata View Post

      Example A:

      "I think you're wrong!"
      "Yeah? Well I think you're wrong, dummy!"
      etc.

      This is not an argument.
      Oh yes it is!

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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneiro View Post
      Oh yes it is!
      oh no it's not, dummy!

    22. #22
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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneiro View Post
      Oh yes it is!
      Oh no it isn't XP

    23. #23
      Dionysian stormcrow's Avatar
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      With regards to the Op, even if we accept the dubious premises, it does not deductively follow that “Argumentation is pointless”. Furthermore the Op clearly states in the premises that the point of argumentation is to display dominance. The argument refuted itself before it even took off the ground.

      Arguments arise when two rational players assert contradictory views. The reason why logic is so cut and dry and black and white (in some cases) is to weed out ambiguity. It is either raining outside (R) or it is not raining outside (¬R). If it is the case that it is raining then the negation of R is false. It simply cannot be the case that it is raining and simultaneously not raining. There is no room for relativism or ambiguity of any kind. Like it or not, some things are demonstratively true and others are false. The point of argumentation is not just to be right but to demonstratively show how and why, R for example, is the true. Argumentation is not pointless; it is the vehicle of intellectual progress. If your feelings get hurt in the process then you are not doing it right.

      Omnis Dei mentioned that arguments can be competitive or cooperative. Ponder this example. Two physicists are arguing over which mathematical model best fits the observational data. There is more than just rational self-interest at play here. The discourse concerning which model best fits reality is not primarily motivated out of self-interest but to collectively come to a better understanding of reality. In this case argument doesn’t always imply a winner and loser. If both physicist set out to further our understanding of reality then by finding the right model (regardless of whose it was), they both win.

      Since OD brought up Game Theory this type of game would be called a Non-Zero Sum game because one player is not benefitting from the others loss, they both “win” because finding the best fitting model was their collective intentions in the first place.

      I find the notion described in the Op to be naively pernicious. It states that the only mechanism which advances ideas is the sheer amount of people who hold the said idea to be valid. But science is not a democracy (sorry for that cliché). The heliocentric model is valid neither by virtue of collective opinion nor deductive reasoning; it is valid because it corresponds to empirical observations.

      And Omnis Dei, if I cant make condescending attempts at dry humor (like "Please try harder") then what am I even doing here?
      Last edited by stormcrow; 02-10-2012 at 12:32 AM.
      PhilosopherStoned likes this.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      It's funny because if you had read my post in this thread you'd understand exactly what's wrong with that attitude.
      Dammit. I saw my name in your post and accidentally read it. Then I went back to read the post you're mentioning. I read the first sentence and the one that you quoted.

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      All intellectual growth is self-emergent, people cannot simply give up their cognitive matrix of reality and adapt someone else's because they couldn't figure out how to trump that person in a debate.
      This is already showing that you argue precisely like OP is describing. Argument is not about "trumping" another person in a debate, it's about clearly showing why the ideas being advanced do not fit reality. It's ok though. The vast majority of people argue like you do.

      Here's the sentence you quoted:

      There is nothing to gain from admitting you're wrong to someone who has failed to convince you of anything.
      There is nothing to gain from arguing with someone that has failed to demonstrate so much as a shred of intellectual honesty because you will always fail to convince them of anything.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      Quote Originally Posted by stormcrow View Post
      With regards to the Op, even if we accept the dubious premises, it does not deductively follow that “Argumentation is pointless”. Furthermore the Op clearly states in the premises that the point of argumentation is to display dominance. The argument refuted itself before it even took off the ground.

      Arguments arise when two rational players assert contradictory views. The reason why logic is so cut and dry and black and white (in some cases) is to weed out ambiguity. It is either raining outside (R) or it is not raining outside (¬R). If it is the case that it is raining then the negation of R is false. It simply cannot be the case that it is raining and simultaneously not raining. There is no room for relativism or ambiguity of any kind. Like it or not, some things are demonstratively true and others are false. The point of argumentation is not just to be right but to demonstratively show how and why, R for example, is the true. Argumentation is not pointless; it is the vehicle of intellectual progress. If your feelings get hurt in the process then you are not doing it right.

      Omnis Dei mentioned that arguments can be competitive or cooperative. Ponder this example. Two physicists are arguing over which mathematical model best fits the observational data. There is more than just rational self-interest at play here. The discourse concerning which model best fits reality is not primarily motivated out of self-interest but to collectively come to a better understanding of reality. In this case argument doesn’t always imply a winner and loser. If both physicist set out to further our understanding of reality then by finding the right model (regardless of whose it was), they both win.

      Since OD brought up Game Theory this type of game would be called a Non-Zero Sum game because one player is not benefitting from the others loss, they both “win” because finding the best fitting model was their collective intentions in the first place.

      I find the notion described in the Op to be naively pernicious. It states that the only mechanism which advances ideas is the sheer amount of people who hold the said idea to be valid. But science is not a democracy (sorry for that cliché). The heliocentric model is valid neither by virtue of collective opinion nor deductive reasoning; it is valid because it corresponds to empirical observations.

      And Omnis Dei, if I cant make condescending attempts at dry humor (like "Please try harder") then what am I even doing here?
      While you make a valid point, I can't help but furrow an eyebrow at condescending remarks in general. I don't understand why people cannot just win the game, they have to rub the losing team's face in the mud in the process. While I appreciate dry humor, I've found that most issues are a lot less demonstratively true or false than I once naively believed. I know you used rain just for the sake of an example, but surely you understand that mild precipitation could not be considered rain nor not rain. I find that people are typically overly presumptuous and eager to draw hard lines, ignoring the ambiguous nature of reality in favor of their cognitive matrix. While a matrix is a helpful guide to reality, a high level of disrespect emerges from confusing your cognitive matrix of reality for reality itself, and assumptions about the falseness of foreign worldviews and different methods of thinking becomes commonplace.

      Truth be told I'm not sure much about life can be cleared of ambiguity except mathematics.

      You're right that it's not a zero-sum game, and there's nothing to lose by comparing your viewpoint with another person's, but mutual respect is required in order to gain anything. Common ground must be found and terminology must be sufficiently resolved rather than utilized as a means to break down the other person's argument. Simply because someone doesn't explain things the way you expect them to, or they phrased their argument in a way you can find holes in, it doesn't mean you have the right to forego mutual respect. I see, too often, rather than attempt to resolve problems in terminology, these problems are used as a vehicle to attack the opponent. If you had proper respect for the OP's position, why would you feel the need to or even see the humor in being condescending?

      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      This is already showing that you argue precisely like OP is describing. Argument is not about "trumping" another person in a debate, it's about clearly showing why the ideas being advanced do not fit reality. It's ok though. The vast majority of people argue like you do.
      Apparently you stopped there when you should have continued. I go on to explain how it is not beneficial to argue for the sake of trumping the other person.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 02-10-2012 at 12:53 AM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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