Thread: Arguments

  1. #1
    Nonconformist Narf's Avatar
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    Aug 2005


    I've been in a lot of arguments/debates since I came here. Is that because there are a lot of arguments/debates? Or am I just wrong or controversial so often that I have to keep defending my position? Not that I really care, I'm just curious.
    Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.

  2. #2
    Lead Moderator kermi3's Avatar
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    The former.

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  3. #3
    Bob Dole for '08 B0bDole's Avatar
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  4. #4
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    It's because there are as many ways to solve a problem as there are programmers to solve it. And we all like to think our opinion is the only and correct opinion. I only made a misstake once -- I thought I was wrong, but I was wrong

  5. #5
    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    i disagree.

  6. #6
    Banned nickname_changed's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    You should never have to feel this way.

    Theres a good book about arguments called "How To Have A Beautiful Mind" by the guy behind "The Six Hats of Thinking" (not to be confused with 'A Beautiful Mind' the movie).

    One of the things he talks about is how a typical argument works. 99% of the time, a discussion is between two people who often have different views. They say something, then try and defend it. It's a preconcieved idea and they aren't really willing to change their mind. They feel smart if they win (by the other person giving up) or bullying them by talking over them. People get very defensive this way.

    In these sorts of discussions, whilst people say they're just exploring the issue, in reality they aren't. They're trying to prove the other person wrong by pointing out all the holes in their arguments. If they think of something that could support the other persons argument, do they point it out? Of course not.

    The legal system in most western countries works the same. If a prosecutor has proof that the defendant can't be guilty, do they say anything? Of course not. Thats the defending lawyers responsibility. Its a very crude and inefficient way of exploring a topic, not a whole lot better than the medieval system of a duel to the death to prove ones innocence (the only difference is, the duelers are lawyers and use words rather than swords).

    In a perfect world, lawyers would work together to explore the subject and come up with a conclusion. This would never work though, because lawyers don't make money unless they win cases.

    In conversation or in a meeting though, this method is just as bad. People say something and then work to defend it. I'm sure everyones guilty of thinking up reasons why the other persons argument is actually better than yours, but you don't say so because then you'd be wrong and the other person wins.

    This is related back to the education system. In school and even university, you're punished for being wrong. It's bad to be wrong, and you should never make mistakes. And most certainly, don't ever admit to being wrong.

    The book "The Six Hats of Thinking" is good, because it's an alternative to the traditional "I'm right, you're wrong" argument style.

    Basically, you and the other parties sit down and start talking about the subject. Someone says "right, red hat time" (don't roll your eyes at the dumb hat thing. The red hat means passion and emotion. Everyone just says what they think about the topic. You don't explain why, and you don't have to back it up, you just blurt it out. This is where you say "I don't like the idea of that design" or "I don't feel gay marriage is good for society". Anyone who says "Why?" is to be shot. This is a time for just telling people what you feel.

    Then it's usually black hat time. Everyone works together to point out all the bad things. For example, say the topic is gay couples adopting. Everyone, even the gay people and people who want gay marriage, work together to point out the bad things that could happen if gay couples were allowed to adopt.

    Then it might be blue hat time. This is the time for only pointing out the good things. Everyone points out what good things would happen if gay couples could adopt.

    Then, it's green hat time. Green hat means creativity, and you all work together thinking up ideas of other ways to go about things. Think of ways to overcome the bad things you discussed in the Black Hat time, and ways to capitalise on what was brought up in the blue hat time.

    (Theres a couple of other hats, but they only apply to certain levels of discussion)

    The end result is if people want to sound smart, they work hard in all sides of the discussion. The point out as many good things as they can think of, and as many bad things as they can think of as well. People who refuse to point out any good points on both sides of the argument are simply showing they have a biased point of view and shouldn't be included in the discussion.

    It allows you to explore a topic much more deeply. People don't feel like they have a side to defend. Everyones there to explore the issue and everyone is working together to come up with the best solution.

    We use the six hats where I work, and compared to how our meetings used to be, it's really sped us up. As a small team where emotion and feelings used to come up a lot (especially since we're talking about software), meetings used to take hours and there were a lot of heated arguments over the Best Way of doing things. Now we finish much faster (I'd say about 50% faster), and everyone is usually much happier with the outcome.

    It's also a system used at big companies like Nokia, and I believe in the past Nokia have even refused to meet and discuss issues with partner companies unless the Six Hats method was used.

    Anyway, maybe give the book a read (should be at any local library). It'll probably make you feel a lot less defensive in arguments. The less defensive and more open minded you are, the more you will feel free to explore a topic and you'll enjoy the discussion a lot more. Discussion should be about learning and growth and enjoyment, not arguing and just defending your point of view and trying to be smarter than everyone else. What's the use in having a mind if you refuse to change it?
    Last edited by nickname_changed; 09-09-2005 at 04:40 AM.

  7. #7
    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B0bDole


  8. #8
    monotonously living Dissata's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Quote Originally Posted by stovellp
    It allows you to explore a topic much more deeply. People don't feel like they have a side to defend. Everyones there to explore the issue and everyone is working together to come up with the best solution.
    Heh, I always argue with an open mind. I will always point the holes in my arguement as soon as I know/think about them. But to people think I'm trying to just explore the topic? Noooooo! Of course, I always argue because I am interested in the outcome, so, it wouldn't be all that productive if I went around lying to myself all the time about a topic.

    eh, and "solution" is too tangible, I don't think I've ever been in a debate worth $.02 that ended tangibly... if it was so, there would hardly have been a debate. yeah, but then, the difference is, that system is a discussion (arises from interest in a topic) not a debate (arises from disagreement on a topic), not that that is a bad thing... just the sublime difference between sitting calmly, drinking a cup of coffee talking, and yelling and screaming, angry at your "opponent". ( )
    if a contradiction was contradicted would that contradition contradict the origional crontradiction?

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