Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Heated argument....Lighted debate

Heated argument - is there any use? May be if it produces  'light' in proportion to the heat generated. Light here means  some new information or insight that is generated from the argument. As soon as we hear the word 'argument', it is better to closely examine that. Because arguments, which are normally  clouded by emotions, are good for nothing. They just generate hot air. Debates are better. Debates tend to bring together logical people with different views to present individual points of views. People then look at each other's presentation of ideas with an open mind and then decide to take away merits in each other's points. One person may be able to convince the other or they may choose agree to disagree. Debates are always civil if they are to be called debates. Can not say that about arguments. With emotions thrown in, arguments tend to become uncivil and get worse every minute.

Read somewhere - 'heated arguments should be replaced by lighted debates.' Actual quotation may be different but the point it made is so compelling that I had to write it down so that we can refer to it all the time. It is so sickening that even in professional world people tend to argue without much merit. Just heat, heat and more heat with no light. It seems like complete darkness at the end of a heated argument. It is like an incandescent bulb burned off. What a waste of energy and time!

We must encourage debate. If everyone agrees, then most of them are not needed. Accomplishments come from differing views. As long as debate or dialog is generating a lot of light and minimal or no heat, it is a good one. If it is generating heat alone, cut it out and get out of it.

Many times, it seems like people get sucked into heated arguments because they want to be proven right. This especially true when you know that you are right. If you are not sure if you are absolutely right, chances are sensible people stay away from arguments. Of course, there are enough bone heads who argue for the sake of arguing even if it is  just to prove their pet point even if it is wrong. We better stay away from such people and god help those who have to butt it out with such people day in day out.

Interesting paradox is why do we care to prove ourselves right when we know in our heart that we are right. Is it absolutely necessary all the time? Of course, if you are required to correct someone, please do so by all means but why bother to get into an argument when who is right or what  is right does not matter. It happens with smart people all the time. Many smart people know a lot. It bugs them when someone who is half smart as them makes a false claim and just because he or she is loud mouthed gets enough attention so that he or she is able to convince even less smarter group to believe something as right when it is not really right. This infuriates our smart person. He knows what is right, he has all the information, he can even drive to conclusion using logical steps. Should he always bother do that? Probably not. If it bothers you so much to put up with crap, just make your point with precede details quickly and stop. Do not get obsessed about making sure that everybody understands your point and on top of it see that you are right. Trying to be always right even when you know you are right saps a lot of energy from smart people. Passion is not meant to convince everyone. Passion is so precious that it should be preserved to do things that really matter.

Another interesting point is we end up wasting too much time and effort proving ourselves or our point right with people who really do not matter. With people who really matter, it is much easier. Even if some of the people who matter are idiots and can not see logic, most of the people who matter are not like that. They matter because they are comparably smarter. Such people will allow you an opportunity to prove yourself right. For such audience, make your best case with all the passion you have. If you are an expert in some field and if somebody makes a totally false claim or point in your area of expertise in a party, is it worth your time and energy to prove yourself right then and there? Most of the people in that party do not care about your field of expertise. Somehow a point in your field has come up in their idle chit-chat and some dumb ass is making false claims and everyone else is listening to him. If you feel getting irritated, interject, make your point and stop. Then enjoy the comedy with a sense of humor. Do not spoil your mood. Enjoy the party. This experience will prepare you well when you have to make the case before some real audience.

Best example I can remember is something a relative of mine told me. He grew up in a village. Then went on get a lot of good education. It was around 1965 and man had landed on the moon for the first time. So, when this man went to his village, he happened to meet his family priest and the topic of man having landed on the moon came up. The priest with his limited knowledge of science and external world and more importantly conservative beliefs did not agree that it was possible for anybody to land on moon. Priest kept insisting that moon is God and per our religion, it is impossible for anyone to land on or reach God while alive. Is there any point wasting your breath trying to convince such a person? It is also important not to hate people when you can not convince them. They are unable to be convinced for a reason. It is not important to you. Just leave it. Change the topic. Talk about something else. As it is hard to convince a conservative priest that man landed on moon, it may be equally hard to convince a well educated person about reincarnation. Bottom line is - save your breath for the occasion that matters.

"For believers, no explanation is necessary. For non-believers, no explanation is possible." Let's just leave at that and focus on more important things than being right every time. It is enough if you are right at the right time. Right times are few and far between.


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