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View Full Version : Lying in Debate...How Effective it is to Create "Facts"


SilentScope001
04-24-2007, 05:06 PM
I won't do it. I will not do such a crime. Why? It's against my religion. This doesn't mean it's not ethical, but, well...it would damage your "ethos" if you get caught, of course.

...But, can it work? This is what I am interested in.

I am interested in this...

http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/argue.htm

2. Make things up.

Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that YOU are underpaid, and you're damned if you're going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off. DON'T say: "I think Peruvians are underpaid." Say: "The average Peruvian's salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross poverty level."
NOTE: Always make up exact figures.

If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make THAT up, too. Say: "This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon's study for the Buford Commission published May 9, 1982. Didn't you read it?" Say this in the same tone of voice you would use to say "You left your soiled underwear in my bath house."

The rest of the article is humorous...but this one makes me afraid. After all, how in the world can you trust facts in general? I mean, The Buford Commission...how can you trust how reliable it is, or how good it is? Or how do you know that the person you are arguing will provide good facts? The person could cite his source, but what if he edited the source or created a brand new source out of whole cloth before presenting the source, to fool you into thinking that this person and the false source are correct?

An honor system is necessary for a debate to occur, but if one start lying, he could deceive the other side and prehaps win the debate that way. What I want to know:

1) Can "facts" in general sway people? I doubt it, from my experience, most arguments are about the underlying philopshy, and "facts" are used to prove a philosphy is correct or not...if the fact contradict the philopshy, the philopshy trumpts the facts. Prehaps, however, in a close battle between the wits, maybe one key fact could easily sway the enemy onto your side.

2) If so, can a lie work?

3) Have anyone ever tried a lie? Have they got caught? Did they win the debate?

4) Should people lie and come up with these false statsticis...for the best interest of mankind, of course? People are unable to think clearly that you are telling the truth, after all, and a bit of deception is needed to explain the truth...like a "lie-to-students"...(Again, against my religion.)

Nancy Allen``
04-24-2007, 06:31 PM
It's done all the time. People make things up to support their lies. Something I'm being taught though is to go along with something that is controversial or wrong, such as making up facts, that way you give people enough rope to hang themselves and then when that happens you can tear them apart, easily. How ethical is that?

Jae Onasi
04-24-2007, 06:42 PM
Of course lies can work in deceiving someone, that's why it gets tried so often. And succeeds on an often enough basis for people to try again. It's done in the news, and by big names in the industry.

Someone can lie to me and may well get away with it, but if I find out, my trust in that person is gone. If I catch it in public, I have no problems correcting it in public and holding that person to account.

SilentScope001
04-24-2007, 06:48 PM
Something I'm being taught though is to go along with something that is controversial or wrong, such as making up facts, that way you give people enough rope to hang themselves and then when that happens you can tear them apart, easily. How ethical is that?

About as ethical as lying to a liar. Not a good act, but people won't care. The liar deserves it. :)

All's fair in love and war...

Emperor Devon
04-24-2007, 07:29 PM
Having been to quite a few debate tournaments I can say that it's sometimes necessary to use, but likely not in the manner you're all thinking.

Unfortunately, debate is not always a logical activity and there can be some real morons there who make idiotic arguments that they consider entirely logical. Take, for instance, a tournament where the topic I was debating was domestic violence. During the middle of crass-examination, my opponent asked me "Do you have any proof that domestic violence is actually bad for people?" Naturally, simply saying something such as 'in theory, it's bad for...' wouldn't suffice. No matter how idiotic your opponent's questions may be, debate is supposed to be logical and rely on facts - not guesses or theories.

So I made up some statistic from a reliable source that households with domestic violence tend to have higher suicide, drug use, crime, murder, and depression rates amongst the family members than houses which were not experiencing domestic violence. Is that likely true? Yes. I consider it completely reasonable in the face of a question like my opponent's - if I hadn't sited any figures he likely would've said I had no proof to support my case and that it was invalid.

With some situations, you don't need exact proof. I don't need to know the exact number of people sent to the gulag to know Stalin was a bad man. I don't need to know the exact percentage of schools that experience shootings to say that it's a bad thing.

So, in that case two wrongs kinda make a right.

In other instances, however, it is unacceptable. For instances that are not common knowledge or common sense, facts are necessary to support your claims. A person can't claim "Most people experiencing domestic violence love it! The Flying Spaghetti Monster exists! I have destroyed your entire case! HA!" without some sort of proof. If you take everyone's word as the truth like that, you've pretty much destroyed the entire purpose of debate.

Unfortunately, many debaters do it. It requires no effort or time to do, unlike actually researching something. I avoid doing it in situations other than the one listed above, but I'd be deluding myself to think that everyone would want to be that honest.

A solution could be to require debaters to bring sources and show the, whenever they recite statistics/evidence. It would be lot of hassle, but it would be worth it IMO. Making up facts is no different than cheating.

Nancy Allen``
04-24-2007, 07:32 PM
And in debates, really it's '**** the rules, win at all costs' anyway so ethics be damned.

SilentScope001
04-24-2007, 07:38 PM
With some situations, you don't need exact proof. I don't need to know the exact number of people sent to the gulag to know Stalin was a bad man. I don't need to know the exact percentage of schools that experience shootings to say that it's a bad thing.

Well, I think maybe it might be a bit...well...necessary.

I mean, if you say 10% of all schools experience shootings and use that as an argument for gun control...it is a bit more persuasive than if you say...1% of all schools experience shootings or 0.001% of all schools experience shootings, even though the lesser precentage amounts might be closer to the truth.

Well, thanks for your comments, ED. I really like it.

EDIT: A question...who won that debate?

And in debates, really it's '**** the rules, win at all costs' anyway so ethics be damned.

Well, in the debates that matter, there is only one rule that I know exist: Convince your enemy. If you fail to do such a thing, you lose.

Emperor Devon
04-24-2007, 08:08 PM
I mean, if you say 10% of all schools experience shootings and use that as an argument for gun control...

Here you're getting into specific situations, in which case I think evidence is necessary. For something like "How do you know people don't like being abused?" or "Was Pol Pot a bad man?" I really don't think I'll have to cite any sources for to have a sensible argument.

EDIT: A question...who won that debate?

Me. As per usual. :D

Convince your enemy. If you fail to do such a thing, you lose.

If your enemy agrees you're correct and concedes, great, but it's usually not necessary. In the court room is what's the jury thinks that matter. At the tournament it's what your judge thinks that decides the debate. As both of the debaters are obviously biased towards each other, it makes the most sense to convince a third party.

And in debates, really it's '**** the rules, win at all costs' anyway so ethics be damned.

Wrong, it's look like you're following the rules while winning at all costs. :p

Darth InSidious
04-25-2007, 02:33 PM
@First post: What else are most statistics churned out in these debate threads? Even the sites they come from (when linked to) frequently don't mention the source, the exact question used, the sample size, the demographic of people who answered, etc etc.

Statistics are the easiest things to lie into existence. You just need to refine the parameters and then fudge this. Example: 85% of all cats prefer whisky to Pol Roger. This factoid is utterly meaningless, obviously. First, we don't know where I got this factoid from. Second, I didn't tell you ANYTHING about the sample size or how this hypothesis was tested.

Now, if I put this in a flashy looking website, and call it 'The Society For The Protection Of Cats From Pol Roger', it suddenly sounds oh so plausible, particularly if I add to it some other hysteria-inducing stuff. Example: Once every four minutes, somewhere in the United States, a cat is sick after drinking Pol Roger. The average life expectancy of a cat after drinking Pol Roger is just 4 months. etc etc ad nauseam.

It's all the politics of fear, with a bit of hubris thrown in for good measure. A good example (and piss-take) of this is the Save The Spiral Foundation (http://www.spiralviral.com) - all bluster, but no actual information. It plays on the fear of 'it' being 'too late' for the spiral, but doesn't actually explain at all. Essentially the same argumentative methods used by every politician since year dot (and most effectively in more recent times by Adolf Hitler) :)

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of internet debates are made up of people bluffing it with pseudo-true or utterly made up junk, and rests upon the fact that most people won't lick the links, or won't actually bother to think about the fact that the statistics are given without any extra info about where the statistics came from.

But that's just an example. You could apply it to a medical thesis, or anything. I once heard of a medievalist making up a primary source on their final paper. What was impressive about it was that the examiners didn't catch them out :D

Do I lie in debates? Hell no. If it spilled over into my work I'd be run out of my field faster than you can say "45 Minutes". I wouldn't want to malform my conscience, it's condescending to your opponen, and if you're caught, it gives your opponent a very good way of discrediting anything you say. Also, if you can't win by legitimate methods, then either point out the stonewalling of your opponent, or give up. Morality is worth far more than some petty and insignificant argument :)

Totenkopf
04-28-2007, 06:07 PM
Like any tactic, it's effective till others catch on in the end. Doing it with abandon is disreputable and, like crying wolf too often, guaruntees you'll eventually be dismissed as such.

Nancy Allen``
04-30-2007, 01:05 AM
Speaking of tactics used I've seen one where someone will post comments that are baiting and intended to bring out flames while still being within the rules. The poster toes the line very carefully in provoking a reaction without getting into trouble. Your thoughts?

Dagobahn Eagle
04-30-2007, 01:29 AM
I imagine this move would be devastating to the person using it. Citing 'pages 28-31 of issue 93 of TIME Magazine' may make for a convincing argument, until your opponent or someone else with an actual interest actually looks up the pages in the magazine and go on to tell everyone about how you're trying to con them. One poster I observed debating on a message board with recently cited a Biblical passage, for then to be told frankly that 'there is no Leviticus something-19' (can't remember the exact chapter and verse:p).

So in summary, while I'm sure it may be an effective tactic to employ, I reckon that if it backfires, it does so on a grand scale.

SilentScope001
04-30-2007, 03:34 AM
Speaking of tactics used I've seen one where someone will post comments that are baiting and intended to bring out flames while still being within the rules. The poster toes the line very carefully in provoking a reaction without getting into trouble. Your thoughts?

Hm, if this turns into a discussion on somewhat illegit tactics that are effective...you could check out the Flame Warriors (http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/) website for some profiling of personalities and tactics that are used in Internet arguments/flame wars.

I'd classify it as a form of trolling, but it would only serve to go and turn someone into a rampaging idiot, thereby ruining that person's ethos. Passive-aggressivness. But, other than that, will it persuade anyone? Will it persuade the jury? /shrugs.

EDIT: Actually, this might be a bit more helpful for you:

Picador does not engage other Warriors in direct combat. Instead, he uses well placed barbs to goad his adversary into charging while skillfully avoiding the appearance of being the provocateur. He thus guides his enraged target towards certain injury or defeat at the hands of a stronger Warrior. Once the fight has been set in motion Picador will retire to a discrete distance, always ready prod his lance into sensitive areas should the action begin to flag. HINT: Alert Warriors can readily spot Picador because, though he seldom takes a stand on controversial issues, he always seems to be near the fray.
URL Here (http://redwing.hutman.net/%7Emreed/warriorshtm/picador.htm)

Nancy Allen``
04-30-2007, 09:38 PM
Oh oh which one would I be? Um, don't answer that.

Yeah, the posts would be so close to trolling and flamebaiting that there isn't even a line between the two, yet because they are careful not to break any rules nothing is said. I'm not sure if I would dignify it as a proper tactic as it is a rather dirty thing to do, but hey, in debate **** that, anything goes. It is similar to the idea I had, for example say someone thought up the idea that rather than bring the troops home from Iraq they all sacrifice themselves the evil of invading in the first place. I agree with it and lash out the idea in the worst way I can, thereby demonising what I in fact consider a terrible idea.

Darth InSidious
05-01-2007, 07:33 AM
I imagine this move would be devastating to the person using it. Citing 'pages 28-31 of issue 93 of TIME Magazine' may make for a convincing argument, until your opponent or someone else with an actual interest actually looks up the pages in the magazine and go on to tell everyone about how you're trying to con them. One poster I observed debating on a message board with recently cited a Biblical passage, for then to be told frankly that 'there is no Leviticus something-19' (can't remember the exact chapter and verse:p).
To be fair, that could just be a difference of translations. Some list some bits as extra verses, others rely on or reject certain manuscripts etc etc etc...

Jae Onasi
05-01-2007, 09:24 AM
Speaking of tactics used I've seen one where someone will post comments that are baiting and intended to bring out flames while still being within the rules. The poster toes the line very carefully in provoking a reaction without getting into trouble. Your thoughts?

That may be acceptable in some places. It's not acceptable in Kavar's Corner. This isn't a formal debate forum, it's a friendly discussion forum. The moderating staff takes this issue very seriously and will address any flame-baiting, trolling, or flaming as per SWK rules. If you're mature enough to have developed opinions about the issues in Kavar's Corner, you're mature enough to speak respectfully with your fellow members.