Friday, 21 May 2010

'Winning' the Argument

Well, after moaning about the Tory government last week, I thought I'd moan about something else. I'd call it 'consciousness-raising' but I expect you will call it moaning. This week I want to talk about the way people use language when talking about discussion and debate. Recently at school I've become more and more aware of people saying things like "Oh, I wouldn't bother arguing with Tim, you'll never win." and "I'm not even going to get into this discussion, I'll only lose."

I think there are some fundamental problems with these statements, which are telling about how we view attempts to broaden and widen our knowledge and understanding (or maybe it's just because I'm [unfortunately] at a grammar school, I'd appreciate it if any comprehensive school students could let me know if the same sort of stuff is heard there). By saying you don't want to enter into a discussion with someone because you'll 'lose', you are, in essence, saying you don't want to enter into the discussion because you may be proved wrong. But what's wrong with being wrong? Why do we have to take being 'right' as some emblem of pride, and stick to ridiculous beliefs and viewpoints just because we're too scared of humiliation to listen to the oppositions argument?

I think that engaging in discussion is vital to uncovering the 'truth' (for lack of a better word) of an issue or dilemma. It's essential to look at the reasoning and evidence behind the oppositions argument, evaluate it against yours, without any bias, and come to a reasoned conclusion. Sturbonness and pride are the enemies of progress, and don't succumb to them, because you're better than that. It may seem a little humiliating to be proved wrong by a peer, but why should it be? It may seem harsh, but to close your eyes and ears to all the evidence and logic to protect your own pride is nothing but simple petty vanity.

So next time you hear someone challenge your views or beliefs, don't shush them, invite them to exchange opinions, and you will soon find that your understanding of life will broaden rapidly. Thanks again for reading, and please express your own thoughts in the comments section. Until next time,

Callum MacRae
Website Manager - Painter's Chronicle E-Magazine


  1. I like this :)

  2. Makes sense... It just ends up in misunderstandings and often narrow-mindedness when you refuse to have a 'debate' or conversation with someone...

  3. Sometimes the inability to win is due to stubbornness from the other person

  4. Callum, i'm not even going to bother discussing this. ;-)

  5. On a serious note, I think this applies to some people, not all. Being a proud, comprehensive educated student I can say that my friendship circle was all based around debate and argument on a day-to-day basis. Like you say though, it is in danger of being lost. In order to create a successful debate and discussion, you must allow the other person to fully express their views before making a comment. Some people are afraid of being shot down too early.

  6. I suppose, but what I was trying to say was that by using terms like 'shot down' and 'winning' when talking about arguments, we make it seem like it's a bad thing to be wrong, and that makes people scared of challenging their own beliefs in case they are wrong. If we manage to show people that there's nothing wrong with being wrong, as long as you change your mind when you're belief is proved wrong, we can ensure that people don't stick to beliefs stubbornly, in the face of overwhelming evidence...