Written by LW user Scott Alexander.
This is part of LessWrong for EA, a LessWrong repost & low-commitment discussion group (inspired by this comment). Each week I will revive a highly upvoted, EA-relevant post from the LessWrong Archives, more or less at random
Excerpt from the post:
The science of winning arguments is called Rhetoric, and it is one of the Dark Arts. Its study is forbidden to rationalists, and its tomes and treatises are kept under lock and key in a particularly dark corner of the Miskatonic University library. More than this it is not lawful to speak.
But I do want to talk about a very closely related skill: not losing arguments.
Rationalists probably find themselves in more arguments than the average person. And if we're doing it right, the truth is hopefully on our side and the argument is ours to lose. And far too often, we do lose arguments, even when we're right. Sometimes it's because of biases or inferential distances or other things that can't be helped. But all too often it's because we're shooting ourselves in the foot.
How does one avoid shooting one's self in the foot? In rationalist language, the technique is called Leaving a Social Line of Retreat. In normal language, it's called being nice. (Full Post on LW)
Please feel free to,
- Discuss in the comments
- Subscribe to the LessWrong for EA tag to be notified of future posts
- Tag other LessWrong reposts with LessWrong for EA.
- Recommend additional posts
Hmm. I am sometimes surprised by how often LW posts take something I've seen in other circumstances (e.g., CBT) and repackages it. This is one of those instances - which, to be fair, Scott Alexander completely acknowledges!
I like the reminder that "showing people you are more than just their opponent" can be a simple way to orient conversations towards a productive discussion. This is really simple advice but useful in polarized/heated contexts. I feel like the post could have been shortened to just the last half, though.