Rules for Discourse - a guide

Discuss communication, logic, rhetoric, assertiveness, speech, language, etc.
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Daniel
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Rules for Discourse - a guide

Post by Daniel » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:40 am

We need rational conversation now more than ever. I'll update this as I go.

Rule 1 - Always be reasonable.
Begin here. Stay here.

Rule 2 - Determine if the conversation is even worth it.
Too often we find out after we've wasted hours talking to someone that they cannot be reasoned with. We need to learn to eject at the first sign of trouble.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture." - Thomas Paine Learn not to waste your medicine on the dead.

Is there anything I could say on this topic that would change your mind? Any information?
If they answer no, they have closed off their mind to new ideas. Tell them you decline. Tell them it's no longer a conversation but a chance for them to lecture you. Eject.

Are they just trying to prove you wrong? Do they just want to argue? Do they care about progress or collaboration?
If you get the impression that they don't care about finding a reasonable solution, and working together, cut and run. Some signs of this are when they cannot bring it upon themselves to agree with you, even when it's at least obvious that the don't disagree! If you are saying reasonable things and their only focus seems to be on dismissing or refuting everything you say, regardless of what position you take, find the nearest exit.

What parts of [X] do you disagree with?
Another good way to determine if someone is using their own opinions or just parroting those of someone else or some platform they subscribe to. For example, I used to ask people what they disagreed with about their favorite political candidate. If they said nothing, I knew it wouldn't be worth my time to continue. (I still tried to show them how that was a red flag. Sometimes you can get through to people by highlighting something, especially if you're nice and you're reasonable.) The opposite of this is asking them what they agree with about some opposing thing. "What do you agree with President Trump about?" If they say nothing, they are being unreasonable. This is because there are a number of things Trump has done in office that would appeal to liberals, and a number of things that appeal to conservatives. If they say they disagree with everything (or agree with everything), they are ensconced in their own bias.

Rule 3 - Discussion is superior to debate.
Most people discuss things in order to win, it seems. They want to argue, they want to destroy those who disagree with them. Sometimes they do this because they don't know any better, they are simply repeating what they know based on their environment (repeating political talking points). They want to debate. The problem with debate is that there is no collaboration toward the best solution. There is only a contest, where the best solution might be arrived at by default (i.e. an opposing argument is found to be faulty). The superior path to finding the optimal solution is to work together, not against one another. To discuss, not debate. (To be clear, debate is fine in certain circumstances, but for our purposes, let us state that most conversation does not fall into this category.) Debate causes the Backfire Effect, and ultimately becomes counterproductive. The best way to avoid this is to change the dynamic of an interaction from a debate or argument to a rational discussion.

Rule 4 - Always be calibrating.
Once you've begun the interaction, you're not obligated to seeing it through. The situation could change and you could find yourself in a pointless conversation after all. This is why you should constantly calibrate the situation to make sure it's still worth your time. Doing so will save you a lot of unnecessary suffering. Respect yourself enough to exit a bad scenario. If someone is rude, stop them and tell them you'll speak to them when they're respectful. This is just another boundary you need to set for yourself. Don't allow people to suck you into ridiculous arguments, especially if they serve no actual purpose.

Rule 5 - Anticipate and disarm problems before they arise.
There are some common pitfalls you run into when engaging with others. If you can neutralize these issues before they happen, your conversation will be much more efficient. You can save a lot of energy this way. One of the most common issues we face is when people make assumptions about us or our positions.

State your conclusions/position in the very beginning.
Start with your actual position on the subject. "Before I go on, let me start by saying I support the 2nd Amendment. What I want to talk about is..." The problem we run into is we start with premises in an attempt to build up to our conclusions, but people make incorrect assumptions based on your premises or the way you're approaching the topic. "Why do you hate guns?" You end up wasting a lot of time fighting extraneous monsters they put forth, meanwhile, come to find out you both agree on a lot of stuff, but you just wasted 3 hours to find that out. Be clear upfront.

Rule 6 - Maintain your bearing.
This should go without saying. Be calm and composed. If you allow the other person to get under your skin or cause you to react emotionally, you show them they have power over you. They can influence you. You don't want this. Remain calm. Remain collected. This also helps you in times when they are trying to fluster you. The cooler you can be, the more frustrated they will be. Chill.

Rule 7 - No Judgement.
Resist the desire to be judgemental, especially about issues that are subjective (or social constructs). You are not the arbiter of morality, especially when the rules you are putting forth are arbitrary. Wherever possible, limit your morality to a few key simple guidelines, such as being reasonable and just. Allow people the latitude to make decisions about their own lives. If they aren't hurting anybody, why do you care? What does it concern you?

Rule 8 - Repurpose their logic.
People often use logic they don't even realize is defective. Sometimes it is helpful to take their own premise and present it back to them in a way that highlights the deficiency. It is often stronger than using your own logic, or trying to point out the flaws in a way they might not yet be ready to comprehend (perhaps they don't know the vernacular involved, or are unfamiliar with logic). Where possible, though, try to do this without being smug. Remember, the object is not to argue or win, but find solutions and bring people closer. Show them that discussions are possible, and instead of destroying a person who is simply undereducated in logic, use it as an opportunity to teach them.

Rule 9 - You are not obligated to have an opinion.
There is nothing that says you are required to give your opinion on a subject, or even that you have one. You are not obligated to have an opinion. People will want to hear your thoughts on any number of topics, and while most people have good intentions (perhaps they value your opinion), it is always up to you whether or not you wish to participate. It is also an option to say, "I haven't thought about it," or "I don't have any opinion one way or the other." Some folks want to drag you into a lengthy debate, to waste your time, or to prove you wrong so they can feel good about themselves. Sometimes the only winners are the ones who don't play.

Rule 10 - Don't be afraid to say I DON'T KNOW or I WAS WRONG.
Some people are incapable of admitting they are wrong. Either they are afraid to for fear of embarrassment or they are unable to see that they are wrong. Biases, cognitive dissonance, etc. may be preventing them from acknowledging facts in a way that enables them to see they made a mistake. Insecurity is another reason people cannot admit fault; they are simply not confident enough to do so. They may fear what others will think. They may feel they have let their group down. The same things apply to the phrase "I don't know." Some people feel inadequate if they don't know something, even though it's perfectly reasonable. Others are exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which causes them to overestimate their own knowledge on a subject. In any case, it is unreasonable to expect you to a) be knowledgeable on every subject, and b) be correct 100% of the time. The inverse stands to reason. Don't be afraid of using these phrases. Be confident. Set the example.

Rule 11 - No topic is off limits.
If we are to arrive at the greatest ideas in regards to any subject, it stands to reason that the subject must be available and open to discussion. It may be uncomfortable, but that should not stop reasonable people from exploring it further. Oftentimes people will attempt to inhibit discussion of any kind on a subject. Why would they do this? Isn't this censorship? What are they so afraid of? It could be that a group of people doesn't want to discuss an idea because they want their own idea to prevail. So why stifle opposing ideas? Because it is easier than formulating a strong idea yourself. Loricism wants to constantly improve and upgrade ideas - to make progress. A topic that is off limits relegates any ideas relating to that subject to the realm of stagnation. There can be no progress. Where there can be no progress, you can guarantee the best ideas will never be discovered. Do not let fear or ego drive you to stifle discourse on a subject. If your idea cannot stand on its own merit, it is probably in need of upgrade anyway.
Last edited by Daniel on Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The hallmark of a fool is a mind that never changes.

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Death Knell
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Re: Rules for Discussion - a guide

Post by Death Knell » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:53 pm

You're going to have to work these principles into your instructional stuff so it gets constant practice. And if I catch you slacking I'm gonna call you out! :D

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Mik Darkashian
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Re: Rules for Discourse - a guide

Post by Mik Darkashian » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:53 pm

These are good but I really only want to know how to destroy somebody.

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RJ Cleinder
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Re: Rules for Discourse - a guide

Post by RJ Cleinder » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:34 am

Civilized discourse always requires rules or things will descend into chaos, it will become like an intellectual Lord of the Flies. Even in discourse at the highest levels, there are rules or guidelines which are to be followed, they have moderators and consequences. Ordinary discourse lacks these things. So my suggestion is to include the instruction of some system of order into everyday tete-a-tete if you are to make any headway.

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Daniel
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Re: Rules for Discourse - a guide

Post by Daniel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:53 pm

For sure, and I find these cultural rulesets fascinating. How others have managed to "install" such a ruleset into their culture is worth looking into, for example Reddit. From what I understand, they needed to seed the site from the get-go with the types of posts they wanted to see, to create an environment that was productive. In other words, to set the tone before it had a chance to turn Lord of the Flies.
The hallmark of a fool is a mind that never changes.

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