I'm finding that more often than not debating with people is becoming rather frustrating. I'm talking about debating with Atheists as well, not just Theists, just people in general are fucking retarded. For ex: The arguments are usually fallacious and the person trying to argue there point is debating for the wrong reasons. They only wish to win an argument, they have no intentions of looking at my side of the debate and say "Yeah, I understand your point of view, but I disagree with you". There's no respect and little maturity about it. And I think the keyword here is understanding.


How can two people with completely separate views, agree to disagree? I mean I've tried my best to debate with people, I really have. But not too many people know how to back up there arguments, or even say something remotely intelligent. It's always something completely ignorant and obnoxious like "Fuck you". 


So, I am familiar with these fallacies but would be interested if others could list a few common fallacies as well. Or even give your advice on how I should cope with everyday people who just want to argue for the sake of winning. I just feel like expressing my opinions is becoming sort of this empty void if nobody takes anything seriously (Someone inspire me so I don't go cry in a dark room, write poetry, and slit my wrists\sarcasm). 


Fallacies I'm familiar with:

Ad hominem- Personal attacks.

Strawman- Misrepresentation of position.

Slipper Slopes-Coming to a conclusion with no prior evidence.

Circular reasoning (Not sure if it's a fallacy, but it's still a piss off none the less). 



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Circular reasoning is a fallacy, a formal logical one even. One fallacy that fits nicely I think with the problem you are describing is "moving the goalpost." This is often when your opponent just shifts the demand of contrary evidence to ever higher standards to keep their original proposition.

But I think the deeper cause lies in the fact that discussions are often not really distinguishable from collisions of reiterated positions within similar time-frames. An offense more often than I'd like am culpable of myself. I am not really able to say anything uplifting, much less inspirational in this respect. I'd have to be so hypocritical, I'd be the one slitting my wrists.

I suggest laying out simple 'debate rules' prior to engaging. IE; "I'm interested in discussing this with you further, but would like for us to abide by a few rules to avoid wasting each others time". This should make brief those conversations not worth having and lengthen those that are. Good luck!
Yeah, good luck making people respect rules. :) I would settle for people respecting common sense. That would improve discussions a lot.
That's actually a perfectly fine suggestion. Rules like, once an argument is satisfactorily refuted it cannot be brought up again or even just having a semi-organized debate with loose time limits can be a boon to actually having a decent dialogue.
Those rules you are talking about are a good idea, but are not very practical. People won't respect them, or they would only respect the rules that suit them better at the time. It would be a bigger waste of time, as you would have to prove them that they have respected a rule that helps their arguments and broke a rule that would have them agree with what you said.

That's not really true at all. Firstly, this is how many debates are centered (particularly with time limits). Second, this is how I have prefaced many debates I have had that have worked well. You are arguing from the point that religious people are inherently irrational about all things and thus that structure will not work because it is in their irrational nature to disregard it, which isn't true (aside from being a fallacy by generalization) they are usually only irrational about certain beliefs which they hold. Poise and structure are two things that differentiate debating from simply arguing.


There are certainly people who will not respect the structure of the debate system which is laid out, but that brings me to my final point in the below response I made, "even if it doesn't change the other side's mind, [debate] is a great tool to reach the audience... whether that is in an online forum or in the audience of a formal debate. They're your swing voters who can be brought over to your side by hearing a rational discourse."

I am not talking only about theists, I am talking about people in general.


From the beginning you have a problem with rules; the rules would have to be imposed by someone. A lot of people may be skeptical regarding that person and his/her capability to come up with fair rules that would not disadvantage anyone. That would start another debate to agree upon the rules, a debate without any rules, it would be a mess, as I don't think peopel will just agree. Most of us are atheists, but that doesn't make us the same in any other way. 'No bullshit!' That's our motto (or it should be). That's all.

Sure, you can say that if someone does not agree with those rules can go somewhere else, but you may wind up someday in a similar situation in which you don't completely agree with some of the rules, that would not be pleasant.


We have here on Think Atheist a few debate guidelines, but I don't think everybody respects them, or at least they don't do it on purpose, they just do what they think it's right, and at the same time I don't think there are any punishments of any form, except when it comes to ad hominem (then the member is warned).

I am with Enigma here.  No rules are needed if you know how to debate.  


When you refute someones point during a debate , informal or formal , you need to take a second to question them:  "Do you agree that your point is at least unfounded and cannot be supported by evidence?" , etc.  If they say 'Yes I agree' , then you move on.  If they say 'No' , then you question them further.  "Well, why do you not agree?  I gave a very good refutation of the argument , what do you feel is still left?"  


Then you try to get them to realize their argument is incoherent or has logical fallacies in it.  


If you can spot the fallacies you need to explain to the debater what they are.  If there is an audience , that is a good chance to educate them as well so they can better understand what to look for in both other peoples arguments and their own.   

If a cat is thirsty and licking an empty bowl wouldn't you wish you could tell them there is nothing in it?  Of course after you giggle at the little kitty?  Little kitty .. awwwwww yeah youre so cuuuuuttttsie wooootsie! Yes you are!  Yes, yes you are!  You like purrrrrrrring?  Yes you do!  


Ok , back to reality .. a person who uses fallacies in an argument reminds me of the above.  They most likely just don't realize it.  Or they are very dishonest and still using an argument they know is invalid because it 'sounds good'.  

There is a very nice "Rational Debating" flowchart at :



The arguments are usually fallacious and the person trying to argue there point is debating for the wrong reasons. They only wish to win an argument, they have no intentions of looking at my side of the debate and say "Yeah, I understand your point of view, but I disagree with you". There's no respect and little maturity about it. And I think the keyword here is understanding.


That's so true... I hate when that happens. That's why I don't participate in many debates; I learned recently, on this website, that people, even atheists (mostly atheists here), are inclined to stick with their opinions and not even try to look at the issue from my perspective (or at least from a different perspective than their own), thus making it a lot easier to understand where my arguments are coming from. I don't really know why they do that; I don't think religion has anything to do with it, because some of them had no strong connections to any religion in the past. If they only do it for the sake of winning, well, that's stupid. Who cares who actually wins a debate, especially on the internet? The most important thing is that we tackle a issue from different positions and reach an informed and mostly true conclusion. At least that's how I see it.


Even though I haven't received any 'Fuck you's so far, the feeling after a debate like that is the same.

In the last year my view(s) on some of the most important issues have taken a 180° turn; some of it happened on this website. For example, my view on abortion has changed (not completely) after the 'Abortion' topic. Sure, I may not have any experience at all when it comes to debates, but I don't want to gain any by dealing with pinheads. You don't gain any experience (as you don't reach a common ground with someone that won't see what you have to say and why you say it) by doing that, you only learn to tolerate them, and I don't want that. And religion has nothing to do with it. You can debate something that has nothing to do with religion with another atheist, and that atheist refuses (more or less noticeably) to at least try and understand your opinion.


I am not saying that all atheists don't change their opinions, but it does happen. This is not a game and a referee has all the right answers, and at some point he tells someone 'Hey, you're wrong. Now change your opinion!' If that were the case, then we wouldn't be atheists, right? How much can you prove? There are questions that have more than one correct answer. It's all relative. Have all atheists always agreed with what you had to say?


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