Posted by Pattie on 3/02/2006 08:29:00 AM

Top 10 Things I'm Tired of Discussing:

Number 10 -- “That’s just [[fill in the blank]]”.

The blank includes statements like “your experience” or “junk science” or “your bias” and so forth. These are discussion-enders and not very useful tactics. They are the equivalent of evoking “Hitler” in a political debate. They should only be evoked in the most extreme of circumstances. Unfortunately, they are evoked in almost every single debate I read on the net.

Authority and legitimacy are cases to be made. They do not spring forth from words set in stone. Rather they are based upon how convincing the speaker is when presenting a case. So science, theory, reason, policy, charisma, personal experience, group experience, emotional response and so forth can all be persuasive. Deciding to dismiss something someone says on the basis of it being "just" something (implying that something else is more authoritative) is changing the debate from the topic at hand to the question of legitimacy. If you are going to do that, do it right -- make your own case. That is what makes a discussion fruitful.

Otherwise, you are just being the kid who wants to prove he is boss of the playground by telling the other kids what to do.