Discover more from The Rabbit Hole
The Destruction of Civil Discourse: Why Current Argumentation Methods Need To Change
Cruising around social media, you’re bound to find an argument between liberals and conservatives about literally anything. Healthcare, taxes, foreign policy, dogs. You name it, they’re bound to be arguing about it. But instead of staying on point, what the argument quickly drifts into is one full of fallacious reasoning. Red herrings, false dichotomies, and ad hominems galore, the state of argumentation for individuals appears to be deteriorating rapidly. In this, we’ll be discussing the techniques of argumentation from both sides of the aisle.
The first issue, and also the most visible, is how both sides publicize basic interactions with one another. Type in “Ben Shapiro Destroys” on YouTube and you’ll find a plethora of videos that start off with that title of Ben Shapiro debating a liberal, regardless of if he actually blew them away with ‘facts and logic’. Look at the Young Turks’ video titles with their capitalized verbs of a conservative having a meltdown or losing in a debate. The memes posted online aimed at both sides tend to have condescending statements that don’t promote any desire for discussion. Once one side is considered unintelligent, it leads to more and more people thinking they can’t have a discussion with them, which leads to little progress when they do interact.
The most recent phenomenon is that arguments have essentially blended together, meaning that if you support one liberal or conservative argument you are expected to believe in all the other arguments associated with that side. For example, if I believe that we should liberalize immigration laws then I am expected to also believe in increasing the minimum wage, deviating away from fossil fuels, supporting the right to have an abortion, etc. The opposite is also true, in that if you believe in one side’s argument the other side will believe you support everything else, and label you as public enemy number one. These both lead to assumptions and tribalism, in that if you don’t agree with the remaining points then you are not a part of the tribe and, therefore, don’t reap the benefits of the tribe. Even though all of the example arguments listed above have little to nothing in common with each other, it doesn’t matter - you get support for your argument from like-minded people and then you are encouraged to support their arguments whether you know anything about it or not because they supported you. This leads to a lot of people supporting things that they have either no stake in, or little to no knowledge about. Essentially, it’s a toxic feedback loop. Team A promotes the idea that Team B is bad, and next thing you know you hate Team B even though you don’t really know much about their views.
The second issue, and essentially what follows the order of events, is that both sides will present arguments that use fallacious reasoning - errors in reasoning - to support their claims. The rule of thumb is that as long as it sounds good, not many people will reject the idea. There are over 100 types of fallacious reasoning, but here we’ll look at three common ones that run rampant. Take Senator Sherrod Brown (D) who tweeted “The #SCOTUS opinion is not just about Roe. Your right to birth control is next. Your right to marry whomever you love is next. All of your rights to make your own decisions about how and when to raise your family are at stake.” This is a prime example of a slippery slope. No legislation has been even suggested at limiting marriage, birth control, how to raise a family, etc on a federal level let alone at a state level. When @SenateGOP tweeted "The Biden administration believes in bigger government, higher taxes, more spending, more debt, higher energy costs”, this is an example of a false dichotomy - limiting options. No mention of what the Biden Administration actually did to do all of those was mentioned, nor was any other possible reason for the higher prices mentioned. It could very well be possible that some prices soared for reasons that the administration couldn’t control. There could be several reasons, but you are presented with only one option within the character limits of a tweet. When liberals argue that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) shouldn’t be listened to since he is being investigated for sex related offenses, that is an ad hominem - a personal attack. Not only do they not know if it is true or not, but his investigation may have nothing to do with the legislation being argued. They simply don’t want to listen to him because of who he is.
As stated above, there are many more fallacies displayed daily that cannot fit in this writing. The moral of the story is - logical fallacies run rampant from every side. Both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives rarely hold themselves accountable to their mistakes and instead pin-point the blame on the other. When people get angry they are less likely to think in a logical manner, and the parlay between sides quickly becomes a circus. In order to keep yourself from using bad logic, use as many facts and data driven points as you can, and stay on topic. Do not allow yourself to get emotional or blindly support arguments just because your associated tribe encourages it. Think.