This post is mostly just a lament that occurred to me as I was reading James Joyner’s post on Winning the Healthcare Debate. If what I see on the news and what I’ve experienced in the blogosphere are any indication, persuasion is a lost art. Contradiction is equated with refutation. Even learned academics are unwilling or unable to support their cases with evidence and reason and prefer to argue the negative even when they’re the advocates (a fallacy known as burden of proof), failing to support their own case and simply arguing against their interlocutors.
Clearing the field, eliminating debate by dominating the floor, often in an offensive manner, is the order of the day.
An ad hominem argument isn’t merely an insult; it’s any argument in which the opponent is confronted rather than the opponent’s argument.
It may be remarkable to some but I keep an open mind. I’m ready to listen to the arguments of those who disagree with me, particularly when they’re presented in a non-agonistic fashion. At least I try to. I am not a post-modern. I’ll listen to any reasonable argument. I believe that out of the mouths of babes may come wisdom. Or it may not.
I can be persuaded but I can’t be browbeaten.