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Old 12-02-2019, 03:41 PM
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Just asking questions


I wasn't sure where to post this, but I think IMHO is probably a good starting point.

Is "just asking questions" ever an honest debate tactic?

I ask because I am I involved in a somewhat right-wing forum discussion about Greta Thunberg. The opposite arguement went sexist rather fast, and I countered by trying to point out that the person in question is only 16 - and talking about about her sexuality (specifically her oral sex ability) is completely off limits.

In response I got a load of "it's legal in country X so shut up"- and one guy suggesting she can give him oral sex - which is reprehensible in my opinion. In the country in which I live, such an act would be legal though socially frowned upon.

So I started "just asking questions" to gauge the relative honesty of the debate - pretty low, IMHO - but having been a long time lurker/member of SMDB I did feel the "just asking questions' technique is a dishonest tactic in itself.

"Just asking.questions' is a well known tactic to lead debate away from the point, is there a more honest way to draw the thread of debate back to the actual issue, that does not rely on me using tired tropes?

Last edited by scudsucker; 12-02-2019 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:44 PM
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I don't know the answer to your question, but I am curious what the "somewhat right-wing forum" is. Link?
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:54 PM
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South Africa:

https://mybroadband.co.za/forum/thre...44697/page-321

Somewhat coarse terms on the page I linked, but safe for work.

Last edited by scudsucker; 12-02-2019 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:58 PM
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Thanks.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:04 PM
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Sure it can be. That's what makes it so insidious when it's done in bad faith. A debate should have clearly-defined parameters; asking questions is a way to narrow the scope and keep the discussion focused. It's also useful for sussing out and pointing out inconsistencies in the other side's argument, by creating hypotheticals with one fact of disputed importance being changed, or taking a position to its logical extreme to show its impracticality or outright absurdity.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:08 PM
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I reported my own link because I realised it is against the rules.

And now I have probably inadvertantly nvited HurricaneDitka into that site I deeply regret posting it
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:04 PM
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I think the Socratic method is a valid form of debate. It is actually my debate method of choice. I have been told that it is annoying and therefore frowned upon here, though.

So, you know, instead I do walls of text. It's more effort, but not thinking effort (which is the same), only to actually write more words and pre-emptively fill out assumption trees.

~Max
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:17 PM
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... And now I have probably inadvertantly nvited HurricaneDitka into that site I deeply regret posting it
LOL. Don't worry, I looked it over but I don't think I'll be posting there.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by scudsucker View Post
Is "just asking questions" ever an honest debate tactic?
Asking questions because one doesn't know the answers and they would be of interest, is fine.

Just Asking Questions is a tactic in which (dis)information and opinions designed to further a particular point of view are introduced into a discussion in the form of questions, under the pretense that the questioner is interested in learning about a subject. All JAQing off does is confirm that the person is a devious dickhead.

So no, it's a dishonest and counterproductive debate tactic.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 12-03-2019 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:20 PM
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What Jackmannii said.

As for the Socratic method (where the questions are genuine but the person doesn't give their own opinion until the very end), that's valid as a tactic to move along a debate or discussion between other parties, or as a teaching tactic to get a person to think further along the train of thought they're already following or to consider ramifications they hadn't; it is not a valid tactic as one of the sides in a debate. Note that JAQoffs are notorious for whining and moaning but otherwise not giving their own opinion, beyond some form of "you are all a bunch of poopyheads" when the subjects of their JAQs refuse to play along.

Last edited by Nava; 12-03-2019 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by scudsucker View Post
Is "just asking questions" ever an honest debate tactic?
Yes, lots of ways, if you're doing it in earnest.

For example, if you don't know where you stand on a particular issue, but you know it's subject to lively debate, you might ask questions (you might even initiate a debate) in the hope that open discourse that follows would help you to form a view.

Or if you feel that participants in a discussion are concealing or glossing over some important factor, you might ask questions to bring that out into the open. You might even do this as devil's advocate against your own side of the argument.

There are lots of legitimate ways to Just Ask Questions. The form of 'just asking questions' that people don't like is quite specific and it relates to making wild, damaging and unfounded allegations (usually about a person), but framing them as if they are simple, innocent questions, and specifically doing so in order to avoid any accountability or further questioning.

Last edited by Mangetout; 12-04-2019 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
As for the Socratic method (where the questions are genuine but the person doesn't give their own opinion until the very end), that's valid as a tactic to move along a debate or discussion between other parties, or as a teaching tactic to get a person to think further along the train of thought they're already following or to consider ramifications they hadn't; it is not a valid tactic as one of the sides in a debate.
Why not? What if I actually don't have an opinion until the very end? What if my opinion, at the end, is merely that the argument developed by the questions is faulty?

~Max
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:09 PM
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I’m going to take a different tack. I don’t think asking questions even is a debate tactic, but rather it is a discussion tactic. I do think it is an essential part of discussion to ask for clarification of terms and evidence where those things may not be readily apparent to a good-faith questioner.

I think the way to ask a question in good faith, though, requires (or at least should prefer) a certain level of massaging of the question to ensure it is appropriately narrow, and that if there are any "obvious" answers that the questioner is aware of—and knows they won't be satisfied by—they should say as much up front, rather than keeping that in reserve and only whipping that out when they receive one of the "obvious" answers and going into a pre-planned tirade about how that obvious answer isn’t good enough and proves nothing.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 12-04-2019 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
[I]f there are any "obvious" answers that the questioner is aware ofóand knows they won't be satisfied byóthey should say as much up front, rather than keeping that in reserve and only whipping that out when they receive one of the "obvious" answers and going into a pre-planned tirade about how that obvious answer isnít good enough and proves nothing.
I try not to put "pre-planned tirades" in every question where I ask for clarification on some ambiguous comment. Something that may seem obvious to you isn't obvious to me, and I don't want you to get mad at me for making an assumption about you or your argument.

Also, the way I think is in terms of questions. There's no fixing that. I had to consciously go back and rewrite this post because I realized asking questions in a thread where people say you shouldn't just ask questions might be inappropriate. (unfortunately, I did not do so in the previous post)

The original draft of this post, straight from my thoughts when reading the thread, was:
Something that may seem obvious to you isn't necessarily obvious to me. Would you like to see all the clutter of a pre-planned tirade, based on my false assumption about your argument?
~Max
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I try not to put "pre-planned tirades" in every question where I ask for clarification on some ambiguous comment. Something that may seem obvious to you isn't obvious to me, and I don't want you to get mad at me for making an assumption about you or your argument.
The pre-planned tirades donít go into the good-faith question, rather they are held back in the bad faith question, and only unleashed when the respondent answers the question with one of the "obvious" answers that in turn triggers the tirade and leads to a further derailment.

What I would expect from a good-faith questioner is not a preemptive tirade, but rather a simple (brief) acknowledgement that they are aware of A, B, and C, but they do not find them persuasive.

If you know A, B, and C are the go-to explanations, and you know you won't be convinced by them, then if you're really interested in exploring the topic, save everyone the trouble of devoting time and energy into making a case for A, then B, then C.

Alternatively, when you say you donít find A, B, or C persuasive, donít be shocked if you get a question about why you donít in return. At which point you have been invited to launch into your side adventure against A, B, and C.
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Old Yesterday, 10:45 PM
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Some specific examples might help.

Bad-faith JAQing off (from an anti-abortion perspective):
Would you be OK with murdering babies?

Good-faith debating with questions (same perspective):
Do you support abortion rights only up to a certain point in the pregnancy, or all throughout? If the former, how do you justify where to draw the line? If the latter, what makes a child in the womb the day before birth have different rights than a newborn?

The first one is not an honest question. Obviously nobody is OK with murdering babies. The second one is designed to clarify the opponent's position (not all pro-choicers think alike) and to ask them to defend it. As a pro-choicer myself, I could engage with someone asking the second set of questions, and the resulting discussion might be of the high caliber that helped change my mind on this subject years ago.
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Old Today, 03:39 AM
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Asking questions that you already "know" the answer to is an excellent way to focus a debate.

If the debater's answer is opposite to yours then you have identified a fundamental point of disagreement. You may be able to curtail the debate right then and there ó the gulf between the two persons' values or perceptions is too great for useful dialog.

OTOH, if the answer is the same as yours, then you've found common ground and can zero in on exactly why, although starting with similar facts and values, you're drawing different conclusions.

But this is totally different from what I've heard called 'Just Asking Questions.' For example, "Did Obama ever produce his long-form birth certificate" is just nonsense intended to derail, annoy, troll, or "sea-lion."
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Old Today, 09:11 AM
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I reported my own link because I realised it is against the rules.

And now I have probably inadvertantly nvited HurricaneDitka into that site I deeply regret posting it
The MyBroadband forums are great for technical stuff.

Otherwise, it's full of the most backwards scum in the country, and I would never hang out there regularly. Half the posters sound like they're posting from a coffeshop in Orania. And the moderation is non-existent. Makes even this place seem positively welcoming.
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Old Today, 12:05 PM
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Some specific examples might help.

Bad-faith JAQing off (from an anti-abortion perspective):
Would you be OK with murdering babies?
Way too obvious.

More likely examples of JAQing off in a discussion of abortion would include repeated questions about debunked health risks, wondering about alleged profiteering by Planned Parenthood and other "issues", phrased in a smarmy cloud of pseudo-concern.

Bonus points for seizing on one snarky comment out of many civil posts by abortion rights advocates, in order to express fear that the pro-abortion rights side is losing the battle for public opinion due to nastiness.*

*i.e. "tone trolling".
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Old Today, 06:05 PM
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Fair. But I wouldn't assume that every single person who asks about health risks of abortion is doing so in bad faith. The antis have done a very effective job of propagating misinformation, resulting in some people actually believing their lies. Which goes back to what I said at first--questions CAN be legitimate, which is exactly what makes JAQing so insidious. The difference is so subtle that sometimes it's hard to tell ignorance from malice.
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