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How to Debate | Common Pitfalls of Discussion and Improving your Arguments


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#1
Delibirb

Delibirb

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Regarding the Contents of this Thread

 
In this thread, I will educate you in improving your debate skills, for the purposes of helping you to produce more fruitful discussions, as well as to "win" an argument. This workshop exists both for newcomers to the debate section, as well as veterans who may need to brush up on their argumentative skills.
 
We'll begin by going over some common pitfalls that can halt the progress of a particular discussion.
 
Thinking you can win a debate
The first and most important pitfall is actually a mindset, not a tactic. Good debates often end in what is essentially a tie. Though one side may concede to their opponent's argument, their mind may not have changed. It is OK to not change your opponent's mind, and you can recognize that their evidence is superior to yours while maintaining your opinion.
 
Ad hominem
This is attacking your opponent, as opposed to the points they are making. This can occur in varying degrees, and while the extreme end of the spectrum is generally forbidden from proper debates, and in fact, society itself, lesser forms can occur with frequency. It's important to never bring up your opponent during an argument; doing so will only end up agitating your opponent, who will become less intent on making their points and more intent on ignoring yours. That's not a debate.
 
Avoiding the question
This is very easy to do, and as such, happens entirely to often, and it doesn't only apply to questions. Cherrypicking a few words from a statement, as opposed to responding to the point as a whole, is a good way to look like a petty child who won't admit he stole a cookie from the cookie jar.
 
Loaded Language
Revisiting the first pitfall, debates are more about getting your opponent to see where you're coming from and to concede to your points, than to adopt your ideology. Thus, as much as you might believe in what you're saying, using loaded language (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) is a fairly effective way to not only make your opponent not want to adopt your ideology, but to want to disregard your whole position as a result of your emotional rhetoric. While you don't necessarily need to be compassionate in a heated debate, you should be reasonable in your word choice; use their own language (in a manner that is not ironic) to convince them to concede to your point.
 
Not elaborating
There is no such thing as being too clear. If you're responding to points with single quip-like sentences, not only are you not going to make your point clear, but you're not going to give your opponent anything to work with in their response. Debates are a back and forth; a wave. It's important to be clear in what point you're trying to make, or what point you're trying to discredit, so that your opponent has something to work with. Be thorough in your responses.
 
Now I'll give you an example of a proper debate. Brosworn and #FreeStratos are debating over whether Breakthrough Skill or Fiendish Chain is objectively better in any given format. In more organized debates, both sides would give a thesis first, before they began to respond to one another. However in the context of a forum discussion, one person would likely begin with the topic as a whole, and lay out their thoughts for whomever to respond to immediately.
 


Brosworn: I think Breakthrough Skill is much better than Fiendish. You rarely even need to negate something for more than one turn anyway, so being able to hit two things, even temporarily, is much better. Also, it's harder to respond to than Fiendish.


 

#FreeStratos: Breakthrough Skill only negates effects, though, which is good but not as good as also stopping attacks. Plus, being ok with temporary negation is situational. If your opponent has a big monster and you don't have removal, you'd much rather keep it locked up until you get it, not having to worry about the effect or the damage. And Breakthrough Skill's second use is only during your turn, which is OK but not always helpful. And I assume you mean that you can MST a Fiendish? Yeah you could, but MST isn't played THAT much right now, as there's not a lot of backrow that stays put anyway. People don't even destroy Pendulum Scales very much right now, because it doesn't matter. 


 

Brosworn: Turns are super back and forth in the meta right now, no one's going to sit on a really powerful monster for very long because any good deck is going to outplay it on their own turn, only to get outplayed on the opponent's turn. So keeping it Fiendish'd there doesn't do anything but waste a S/T zone, and a slot in the deck for something that can negate twice. There are so many monster effects that get used in the opponent's turn now, so it's not really a limitation on the graveyard effect.


 

#FreeStratos: Breakthrough might be better for TOP decks right NOW, but overall, Fiendish is more versatile. You don't even have to care about negating effects when you use it, it's a pretty good way to protect yourself, too. Plus, if it does become unnecessary or its target leaves, you can use it for Full House, which is a fairly commonly sided card. Some Paleozoics even main it. Breakthrough doesn't interact with anything like that.


 

Brosworn: If you mill Breakthrough though, it's still useful. That's especially important with That Grass Looks Greener coming, which means it'll probably be played a lot for some time.


 

#FreeStratos: I guess so. And with all that deck space in those 60 card decks, more backrow hate will probably be played too. But I'm still going to go for Fiendish over Breakthrough for the attack protection, since that's important for my deck.

You'll notice, neither user attacked their opponent - focusing only on their points - and responded to their whole point, not just parts of it. Also, they were both clear in their responses, containing their opinions and evidence to support them in a detailed, but still concise, manner. Finally, #FreeStratos conceded that Browsworn was correct that Breakthrough Skill would be better for some time, but still maintained his personal opinion that Fiendish Chain was better, for him anyway. This is how to properly hold a debate. Though emotions may rise, and though the topic may be more important to you than just the better of two cards, it's important to be logical in your argument, and avoid mindsets and tactics that would serve only to dissolve a successful discussion, not foster one.



#2
cr47t

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TBH this should be pinned, go PM a mod Kano


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#3
Delibirb

Delibirb

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TBH this should be pinned, go PM a mod Kano

I had asked Dad whether this section was a good place to put it, so I assumed he would read it and pin it if he liked it. But I'll ask him to be safe.



#4
Astolfo

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edit wrong thread



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