I feel saddened by the state of public debate over issues, when point scoring seems to matter more than getting to the heart of an issue and understanding it fully. Wikis offer an amazing opportunity to capture the spirit of the quotes below. See Wiki Issue Exploration Structure for more details on this effort. I hope to add to Issuepedia to help enhance my own knowledge on interesting issues.
"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get closer to the truth" is a motto Karl Popper used for the basis of his critical rationalism in The Myth of the Framework (p. xii.)
"Nothing is a greater help to straighening our own thought than discussion with other people. But that discussion must be by methods very different from those of the propagandist who sets out to convince his opponent by fair means or foul, or of the debater who regards discussion as a kind of warfare in which the aim is victory over an opponent rather than the clearing of one's own mind as well as his. ... to be willing to have their opinions changed by what the other person tells them ... is a necessary condition for the discussion to be of any real value" says Robert Thouless in Straight and Crooked Thinking (p. 162).
When someone puts forward a position in an argument, to be critical here are some questions: What exactly do they mean? Understand their use of language. Is their position true? Is it falsifiable? Would I claim something different? Can I present my thoughts clearly? What facts would cause me to reevaluate my position? Does the reasoning behind our positions fall into any logical/argumentative traps. Can we agree on a few key testible points that can be researched and will verify whose position is better supported. Am I open to changing my opinion on this issue if shown to be wrong?
"But all the use of life is in specific solutions - which cannot be reached through generalities any more than a picture can be painted by knowing some rules of method. They are reached by insight, tact and specific knowledge." wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Stephen Marshall in Wolves in Sheep's Clothing looking at Jon Steward's appearance on Crossfire had this to say "... people are fed up with the manipulative and divisive tactics of the two parties and the media that serves them. Instead of engaging in rational debate that brings the nation to a consensus on critical issues, party leaders have allowed the political process to degenerate into bitter partisan rivalries."