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This week we're discussing disagreement, argument, debate, and how to do it all properly.
As a brief disclaimer: many links for items, books, etc. are done through affiliate links, which means I may get paid a small pittance of money for anything you purchase using these links.
How to Disagree
I disagree with people in my life often. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but I'm almost always grateful to have the discussion. Disagreement and debate is an increasingly lost art, and one that has been replaced with finger pointing, name calling, and extremism.
Debate has been a prevalent practice since the earliest known philosophers. The thought process was that being able to discuss different viewpoints would more quickly lead to consensus. In reality, the goal of debate is to find the truth, not to be right at all costs.
Polarity and absolutes have become more prevalent than ever in the modern world. Whether it's the political landscape, news media, social media, or some combination of these factors, there seems to be more concern with being right than with finding what is factual. It's easier to point fingers and get emotional than it is to formulate a meaningful argument and analyze facts.
In order to debate effectively, we must learn to avoid logical fallacies and remove emotion from the equation. Logical fallacies span the gamut, but they often involve name calling, finger pointing, or circular arguments. Sahil Bloom recently released a comprehensive breakdown of these fallacies, where they commonly pop up, and how to avoid them. Awareness is half the battle, and reviewing this list will likely reveal a number of these fallacies that you unwillingly commit.
Removing the emotional charge from debate is challenging, but necessary. People seem to be having an increasingly difficult time separating the individual from the argument; just because someone has a different opinion, that doesn't make them any less valuable as a human being. We grow up with widely varying perspectives affected, in large part, by our environment and our upbringing. Expecting everyone to agree when their perspectives are completely different is irrational and irresponsible.
Learning to debate the facts and not the person is critical for improving discourse. Most importantly, being able to think critically about our own viewpoints and biases is necessary for increasing the quality of conversation at large. If we are never willing to admit that we're wrong, we can never uncover what is real. It's hard work, but proper debate can increase the quality of your conversations and, in turn, the quality of your life.
The most interesting things I've encountered this week:
What I'm reading: "Reality has a surprising amount of detail" by John Salvatier
This article lived on my reading list for years and I never got around to finishing it. I finally dug into it, and it was life-changing. Learning to appreciate the nuance to seemingly simple phenomena in life will give you a greater appreciation for humanity.
What I'm also reading: "A Few Beliefs" by Morgan Housel
I found this list of underlying beliefs to be insightful and well-founded. There were many gems on this list that I highlighted and saved for later.
For Top Gun fans: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
If you haven't yet seen Top Gun: Maverick, it was a wonderfully unapologetic action movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it reminded me of this book that I had started reading on my Kindle on a long flight. In its pages, Wolfe relays truly outlandish tales from the world of fighter pilots and astronauts.
Quote of the week:
"Optimism and pessimism always overshoot because the only way to know the boundaries of either is to go a little bit past them." - Morgan Housel
That will do it for this week!
If you haven't downloaded your free copy yet, I've distilled all my tips and tricks for learning and retaining information here: Trainedwright Learning Guide.pdf
Lastly, as always, if you found any value in this week's newsletter, please share it with just one person who might like it!
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