From Issuepedia
Revision as of 02:18, 8 December 2010 by Woozle (talk | contribs) (→‎using sources: split into two -- expanded dealing with voluminous sources)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Unlike other reference projects, Issuepedia welcomes personal opinion.

However, opinions without good arguments behind them will probably be shredded or at least questioned. Attempts to undermine other debaters by use of logical fallacies and other rhetorical deceptions will be called out.

I have cross-posted these guidelines to LessWrong wiki in hope of sparking further refinement. --Woozle 15:58, 10 September 2010 (UTC)


things to do

When arguing against another person's statements:

  • DO address the substance of the argument you are disputing.
  • DO be clear about what you're trying to say.
  • DO take a position (rather than just attacking the positions of others).
  • DO offer arguments:
    • for why the other debater's statements are unlikely to be true.
    • to support what you think is correct.
  • DO respond to every point you wish to oppose.
    • Failure to respond to a point does not make it untrue.
    • If a point remains unanswered, it is reasonable to consider it true.
  • DO draw attention to any unanswered points.
    • Others may assume or erroneously believe that unanswered points have actually been defeated.

things to avoid

It generally does not strengthen your position if you:

This is relevant, but I can't get the thumbnail to render properly. Statements higher on this hierarchy generally trump lower ones.

source accuracy

When disputing the accuracy of a source, or of an argument based upon a fact stated in a source:

  • DON'T simply claim that the source is unreliable.
  • DON'T simply claim that the fact is wrong.
  • DO identify better sources.
  • DO offer correct information.

source dependency

When outside material contains extensive information relevant to your argument:

  • Spell out the point it makes – rather than expecting others to read it. (No required reading.)
    • Otherwise you are counting on your opponent to not only understand it but agree with you as to its applicability to the discussion.
    • If you can't defend your own point in your own words, then perhaps you don't understand what you're arguing -- or perhaps you don't understand what you're arguing against, and are hoping that something somewhere in the required reading will suffice as a rebuttal. (Sources are not arguments. Claiming that a source makes your point is not the same as making your point. No throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.)
    • Pasting quotes is acceptable, but summaries are better -- especially if written to be specific about the matter under discussion.
    • If the source's argument is complicated, state the conclusion it draws and summarize the general nature of the arguments used. You need to give others at least enough of a basis upon which to frame further counters (or, hopefully, questions).