I've found one-on-one debate to be a waste of time because the topic changes around a lot and people talk past each other attacking straw men. I've adjusted myself to use a more dialectical approach. However, I've discovered that when I do this, the other party often get angry after dozens of questions and walk away.
What's even more interesting is that they don't do this when I get them to actually contradict themselves but several steps prior to that point. It's like as if they can smell it coming.
Have you tried using this method before and what were your success rate? What do you keep in mind as a tactic to keep them from getting angry at you and walking away?
asked Nov 13 '12 at 17:37
The reason people start getting angry is that if you follow logic carefully, inevitably you start to imply that a premise of theirs is false.
Since they have accepted this premise, they believe they have good reasons to have accepted the premise.
But the more you pick at their acceptance of said premise, looking for their reasons, the more it becomes clear that they don't have a good reason to believe what they do. Still, they believe that they must believe the premise, even in the absence of good reasons.
That is, their metaphysical premises tell them that they can and should accept some premises without reason.
Why does anyone accept a premise without reason? There are lots of possibilities, but the most charitable one is that they were forced to stop asking "why?" about it -- that applying reason in the past got them into trouble with someone in power. As a child, they concluded "I have to believe this, even if it doesn't make sense. For me, the alternative is to think and to suffer, or to blindly agree and be accepted and loved."
As an adult, they defend such a choice with the reason doesn't work premise: "We live in a world where we can't be rational about everything."
Implicitly, subconsciously, they believe: "Reasoning everything out would alienate me from everyone who loves me and who taught me the views I have today. If I question their ideas, I could end up learning that they were mistaken, and that would be too painful. I'd have to abandon all my current friends and convictions. My entire world would be thrown into tumult and uncertainty. I might even have to get a divorce! So stop asking me all these questions and let me live my life. I've already decided that you are mistaken, and for me to consider otherwise is for me to entertain throwing my life away for something that I do not yet know is any better. If being 'right' would be so destructive to me, I don't want it."
For a person to change his views, he must first see, for himself, that there's something wrong with them. He needs to see that his life is not as it should be, and that it might be better. If a person has no motivation to think about a particular issue, he never will.
For you to be successful in changing a mind, the target in question must strongly believe that you actually have the best of intentions -- that you don't want to wreck his life. Generally, that means being a good friend of his, and living your life your way, setting an example that causes others to wonder how you are so happy when you don't accept the premises they do.
In other words, live well and share your philosophy with anyone who gets curious. One changes minds by being an example of success.
Those who despise success are beyond your help. For them to change, they must somehow remember that there was a time in their life when they wanted to succeed -- a time when they didn't feel they needed to apologize for living -- a time when they thought they could live and be happy, rather than to spend their waking hours fighting a grim battle against the successful in defense of all who fail.