The art of debating

I was going to blog about religion, but I can’t do that without first discussing ‘debate’.

Let me explain what I mean. Fact is, I’m not very good at debating, and I think there are two reasons for that.

Firstly, I find I get too emotional.  I tend to take things personally and gradually, during a debate, I lose the ability to reason and start to get defensive, taking criticism personally rather than taking it merely as a counter-argument.  It’s a shocking indictment on my own character and it’s something I am ashamed of, that I can’t maintain rational debate for very long without resorting to “fuck you!” type retorts, or cheap comebacks like “up your arse wanker!”. Sometimes I say them inwardly, or under my breath, but you could say I have debating Tourette’s, and like any Tourette’s sufferer, it’s not fucking funny so you can wipe that smile off your face.  Wanker.

And the second problem I have with debates, and the reason why I could never join a political party, is that I always see both sides to any argument.  I can be watching Question Time when some extreme left or extreme right wing nutter says something outrageous and the audience go wild, jeering and booing, and I’m sat there thinking ‘Poor sod, he does have a point’.

Put me in a room with a Communist, a Lib Dem and a Right wing nationalist and listening to them I will find common ground with all three. I could find common ground with any one of them, some more than others, and I’m certainly not saying I sympathise with the actions of any particular extreme party, but I can often see where they’re coming from, especially if they are good at debating.  However, force me to debate something with the three same people, and the Tourette debater in me will end up telling all three of them to go fuck themselves and to stick their phoney, ill thought out policies up their arses. Wankers.

To be a good debater, or even to be an enjoyer of debates, you have to be able to extract yourself from the emotional layer and that’s what I don’t do very well.  People think a great debater is simply someone who makes their points eloquently, but I would argue a great debater also has the ability to receive criticism, absorb it, adapt their position and then play back a counter to the counter argument, promoting further debate, and so on.  Two good debaters is a great spectacle.

However when someone criticises me in a debate, I don’t listen too much to the content, I just see a dickhead sitting opposite who is trying to put one over on me, trying to make me look stupid.  Nob-jockey.

See the difference? See my problem?

So, back to religion.  The biggest problem I have with it is that it’s so divisive and therefore inextricably linked to debate.  It’s almost impossible to discuss religion without fierce squabbles emerging within seconds between the ‘us’ and ‘them’ camps, the believers and the non-believers, those that have seen the light versus the great unwashed.

So this is all very annoying for me because I want to discuss/debate it but I can’t.  And after confessing my Tourette’s tendencies I doubt anyone will ever want to debate anything with me ever again.

Maybe I will discuss religion in another blog…

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