Monday, July 7, 2014

Subject: Discussions versus Arguments

In the prior two threads it was made perfectly clear that Mr. Rowley does not agree with the definitions of "Discussion" versus "Argument."  Below are definitions from a source HERE:
A discussion is an orderly confrontation based on a mutual willingness to learn from one another. It involves the presentation of evidence by each party and then a good-faith attempt of the participants in the discussion to come to agreement.

Discussion presupposes some degree of rational disagreement between us or at least a lack of consensus. If I agreed with you already, we would have nothing to discuss. In a discussion, I do not primarily want to disagree: I want to know the truth. If I do not think that what you say is true, then I disagree, stating my reasons as clearly as possible and without animosity. The same is true for you: you present me with your reasons. By sharing our ideas freely, we hope to arrive at a deeper truth. In a discussion, disagreement is for the sake of agreement.

An argument (emotional, not rational) is a disorderly confrontation based on an unwillingness to learn from one another. Desire for victory takes precedence over love of truth, with the result that agreement becomes impossible.

Although they may have rational grounds for disagreement in the first place, all arguments include an element of bad faith — we are not, with all honesty, pursuing the truth together. Rather, in an argument I simply want my position to be the right one and you to agree with me. I am, indeed, looking for agreement, but on my terms, not in terms of objective truth. Instead of my following reason and leaving passion aside, passion is primary, and reason (if it has a role) works in the service of passion. Quite often, in order to end an argument, we agree to disagree.
And, below is another definition from a source HERE:
When you argue over something, it does not naturally follow that you will arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. When you discuss a particular topic, you will arrive at a conclusion. This is the major difference between discussing and arguing.
Mr. Rowley appears to believe that these definitions should be reversed, since he argues that I'm the one doing the arguing.  From my point of view, I'm trying to discuss subjects of mutual interest to see where disagreements might be resolved.  But, Mr. Rowley seems to have NO interest whatsoever in resolving anything.  He only wants to state his beliefs/opinions.  And, if I don't agree, then I'm starting an argument with him.

I can provide probably a hundred instances where he just changes the subject or disappears if I try to discuss something.  But, for the sake of discussion, I'll provide just one.  Long ago on another blog, Mr. Rowley wrote this when arguing that he doesn't believe a child wrote the anthrax letters:
Said another (high falutin’) way: the pragmatics of the social situation make using a child a high-risk stratagem. And an unnecessary one: short term one can fake certain elements of one’s printing/handwriting.
And I responded:
We have a different point of view about how to look at evidence. From my point of view, the FACTS say that a child wrote the letters. From your point of view, that’s not the way an intelligent adult would PLAN things.

I’m talking about what the facts say in an actual crime.
You’re talking about the planning of a theoretical crime.

When the facts say that a child wrote the letters, the questions become: How did Ivins manage to keep the kid quiet? Why did Ivins do things that way?

You don’t say: I don’t believe it because that’s not the way I would do things, nor is it the way I would expect anyone else to do things. That is ignoring what the facts say and going with your beliefs, instead.
Analyzing this exchange, it's easy to see that Mr. Rowley was arguing "apples," while I was trying to discuss "oranges."

He was arguing that the anthrax killer would do things the way he believes they were done.  

In hopes of discussing things, I pointed out that we were not talking about the same things.  He was talking about what would happen in some theoretical crime - or what he believes happened in the anthrax case, and I was talking about what the evidence says in the actual anthrax case.

But, Mr. Rowley generally refuses to discuss the evidence.  He argues that there is no evidence that says Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.  On rare occasions when I've managed to get him to discuss specific items of evidence, he will only argue that his interpretation of the law is correct and mine is wrong, regardless of how much evidence I show him that he is wrong.  His argument is that if the case isn't exactly the same as the Amerithrax case, then the law is different and one case cannot be used to discuss another.

There's no way to discuss something with a person if that person is not willing to accept the possibility that he is wrong.  As the definitions show, a discussion requires that the participants be willing to learn from one another.

I'm totally willing to discuss the evidence that a child wrote the anthrax documents.  For over a decade I've been looking for any compelling and overriding evidence that says a child did NOT write the anthrax documents. But, Anthrax Truthers will only argue that they do not believe it, therefore it cannot be true.  That leaves no room for discussion.

I'm totally willing to discuss the evidence that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.  But Anthrax Truthers simply argue that there is no such evidence.  That leaves no room for discussion.

I'm totally willing to discuss the evidence that some unnamed criminal mastermind was behind the anthrax murders and many other crimes.  But Mr. Rowley generally refuses to provide such evidence, and where he has provided it (click HERE), he refuses to stay on topic.  That ends any attempt at discussion.