Debates are fun. They engage the mind, exercise critical thinking skills, and through empathy they expose people to new ideas. But too many people try to debate facts. You don’t get to have opinions on facts, and they aren’t dependent on your “point of view”.
Now I am a firm believer in freedom of speech, and you can reserve your right to express yourself (no matter how little value that expression has), and I reserve my right to disregard your opinion and declare you to be functionally retarded. And before you try to defend yourself against this accusation, please recognize that, by arguing yet another obvious fact, you are digging yourself into a deeper hole.
And I must admit that I understand the attraction to arguing against facts. The position one takes is always to make them feel better, with the exception of the unfortunate crazy conspiracy theorists. And there is really only one thing that governs the domain of facts. We call it “science”. So let’s cover a few of them here, with an explanation of why the position against the facts is so attractive.
“There is no evidence that mankind is causing climate change” translates to “It would be very expensive and inconvenient to change the way we approach energy”. Next time I hear this argument come up I am going to invite the deniers to spend a night in their garage with the car running. Necessity is the mother of invention, but in the case of fossil fuels the supply will unfortunately outlive us. The world used to run on whale oil for a substitute to electricity. Once we were done destroying the whale populations we came up with an alternative. We could do it again, but not while we have one side of the debate acting like a fool blistering in the sun while stubbornly insisting he is getting an amazing tan.
“Evolution is a lie. All life on earth was placed here by a divine being.” Translates to “The thought of life being pointless and uncaring terrifies me.” Let me reiterate. I desperately wish these facts were not true. I am also intimidated by the thought that circumstances beyond my control could end the existence of life as we know it. I would love to think that someone with an intelligence far greater than I could ever understand designed me to be exactly the way I am (although, if that were true they would have some explaining to do regarding the location and design of the genitals, amongst other things). But it isn’t so. Evolution was once a theory, but when that theory coincidentally agrees with the discovery of dna technology, and with observations in single cell organisms, it becomes demonstrable fact.
“The earth is only 6,500 years old” translates to “The earth MUST be only 6,500 years old, or else a good portion of my beliefs will be proven to be bullshit”. Imagine someone that dedicated their life to the subject of geology, pursued an expensive and difficult to obtain degree, then earned the respect of their colleagues through a career developing evidence to support their final conclusion. They then share their knowledge, which has already been tested in ways that the general public would never be able to understand, let alone devise, and some asshole stands up to object based on the interpretation of a stone-age book that was forced down their throat by their parents. Not only does their “opinion” not deserve to be taken seriously, but they should be laughed out of the debate.
You might notice that these three examples all have something in common. Faith. The word is often described as a virtue, but I consider it a cancer. It is quite literally described as “the purposeful suspension of critical thinking” and discourages the acceptance of new ideas, which by definition means it has no place in debate.
In the end, opinions are like assholes. If you show yours in public, you risk getting fucked.