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Internet arguments and misunderstandings: Productive, or a waste of time?

When you read through conversations on this and other sites, you can't help but notice some individuals who always enter into disagreements with others time and again.

How important is debating, or arguing online?

How far should you go to get your point across?

Is it even worth it to try to convince a stranger that your way is correct?

Here is a cartoon I ran across:


What do you think? Feel free to share any experiences you have had, and how you handled them.

I am not much of a debater, but I am very interested in understanding why people time and again get involved in arguments with others.


Closing Statement from W T

Online debates......productive.....when everyone shows respect for the other's ideas, and conversation takes place in an orderly way...it's ok to disagree.

Online arguments......waste of time......proceed with caution.

I thought perhaps some kind of debate would break out about debates.....but nothing of the sort....everyone's contributions made this conversation a very enjoyable one.

Wonderful links, and book titles were provided.

Thank you to all who participated!!!!

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    May 21 2013: I have to disagree there is very little arguing on the internet everyone is very cordial and knowledgeable.

    For me I learn by comparing information, information that is not compared to other information is not very useful.

    I learn a lot from people who would be banned from this site. This is the handicap with sites that remove posts as too provocative. A while back there was an endless thread about equality centering around a talk by Richard Wilkinson in which I learned every socialist meme imaginable about equality which to me was mind blowing that people would swallow this nonsense hook line and sinker, but they did. These were very educated people that would take me to task about things that I thought, which made me go back and say way a minute is this true or not. I might say something about Pinochet and they might come back and say well I lived in Chile and challenge me to where I would have to confirm what I was thinking.

    3 things

    One is that if you just go around regurgitating "information" you did not learn anything as the information was never compared to other information. You might say Abraham Lincoln was one of the great presidents but then someone else may say well then how come he started the war that killed more Americans than any other? Yet the rest of the world abolished slavery without a war?

    Two is you get to talk to people from everywhere with every perspective imaginable. That makes for an interesting opportunity to compare notes. Hell I'm not sure they are all from this planet.

    Third is that there is a lot of ignorance to the water we swim in, the internet provides a platform to point this out which may lead to more people's ears perking up.
    • W T 100+

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      May 21 2013: Your contribution is very much appreciated Pat.
      I especially enjoyed your experience with the Wilkinson talk. Sounds like you gave your debating abilities a work-out there.

      Your point #1 of the 3 things is very important in discussions. Generalizations are usually errant.
      Just recently, a teacher from Virginia shared an example of a lesson she had in high school. Here, let me share it with you:

      "Once, Mr. Baldino came in and told us to take out our notebooks and take some notes about Thomas Jefferson. We diligently took notes for 25 minutes about how wonderful Thomas Jefferson was, all the things he did for the country, the Declaration, religious freedom, Monticello, UVA, what a hero he was and a true father of our country. Then, Mr. Baldino was called to the office and Mr. Thomas came in. He told us to get our notebooks out and he was going to give us some more notes on Thomas Jefferson. We all moaned and he said, "No resistance, please. This is important." We said we'd learned all there was to know about Thomas Jefferson. He laughed and said he doubted that. Then he began to tell us all the mistakes Jefferson made in his life, like his relationship with Hemings and that he didn't release his slaves until after his death. We sat there, taking notes like good little students, but inside our heads, we were completely confused. What was the truth about Jefferson? Was he a heroic father of our country, or a racist? Was he someone to admire, or someone to critique? Of course, this was the exact point of the activity."

      I think perhaps in the education models where the teachers tell all, and we listen diligently, we do not prepare students to question information, and to also question ourselves every once in a while.

      It's great, like you said, that all of us, young or old, have a place to go to learn, and to share what we 'think' we know.

      Thanks for the wonderful contribution Pat!
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        May 21 2013: Your teacher was the very definition of a teacher
        • W T 100+

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          May 22 2013: Yes, that was a really wonderful example of what a teacher is truly supposed to be.
          I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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