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How To Discuss And Argue

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Hug a mod Nano Reef Moderator
Retired Moderator
Dec 27, 2004
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Long Island, NY

Some Thoughts on Discussion and Arguing

This forum is open to all and was developed by request of our own members. Whereas the others forums here at TFF are based predominantly on opinion and experience, our job here is to expand the knowledge of the hobby of aquarism but doing so based on evidence and scientific fact. Here are some recommendations to follow before joining in a discussion in one of the threads.

  1. [*]Prior to participating in a topic of your scientific interest, try to be very well read on the issue. Read up on the internet, at the bookstore or library and, if a paper is being discussed, check out the bibliography and/or references. See if you can find one of the papers and learn about it. Read up on both sides of the issue. You will be a better person for it. Also, check out any current ongoing research on the topic.
    [*]If you need to ask questions of any of the members presenting data or evidence, please keep the questions open-ended and non-threatening. You may be vigorous in your questioning but keep to the topic at hand.
    [*]You don't have to hold a Ph.D to participate here. You can identify yourself as such (new to the forum but educated on the topic)
    [*]90% of good debating is keeping control of the area of interest that you are discussing. Try not to be lead into areas that are considered as unfamiliar territory.
    [*]If you are interested in entering into the discussion, allow the presenter to fully present his/her point of view before jumping in prematurely. This will allow you to gain a broad perspective of what's going on. Once you feel that a solid base of material is presented, you should proceed to dissect his/her arguments one by one.
    [*]As you begin to dissect out the other member's argument, try to avoid the blinding spectrum of fact dumping. Attempt to pick apart one area at a time and allow the other member to respond. By throwing back a lob attack of facts, you give your 'opponent' a chance to focus on one area, and, 'defeat' you.
    [*]Avoid and search out statements that are vague and opinion-based.
    [*]Science asks for empirical evidence. Do not accept an argument without it.
    [*]If a discussion comes to a close, feel free to approach one of the other members if you need a 'post-game analysis'.
    [*]10. Avoid using logical fallacies (link to a webpage explaining the common logical fallacies ) such as appeals to authority, appeals to popularity, appeals to novelty, and straw-man arguments. Using a logical fallacy severely weakens whatever argument you may be trying to make -- rather, relay on facts and strong evidence to strengthen your argument.

    Logical Fallacies
After a little research, here is a list of some things to avoid when entering a discussion:

  • [*]Avoid phrases like "there is evidence all around you"; "in my experience"; "everyone knows that....."I've had 20 fish like that and this is what happens everytime."
    [*]Be informative, feisty and vigrous but do NOT be confrontational
    [*]If you are very much into the debate at hand, 'take five' if you find yourself heating up. Avoid losing ALL your credibility by coming across as insulting. Besides, it could result in a ban or warning.
Have fun here.
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