How to have good arguments with world debate champion Bo Seo | Re:Thinking with Adam Grant
This podcast episode features a riveting discussion with world debate champion Bo Seo, who shares his journey from avoiding arguments to mastering the art of debate.
The conversation explores the value of good arguments, the role of debate in sharpening our thinking, and how we can improve our ability to disagree constructively.
Making Thinking Visible
Arguments are about making one’s thinking visible and inviting others to partake in that certainty.
This requires vulnerability and an acknowledgment that one’s reasoning might be flawed or incomplete.
Framework for Good Argument
A good argument should answer four W’s: what is the argument, why is it true, when has it happened before, and who cares.
This approach ensures that the argument is not just an expression of what one thinks, but a crafted response to the questions the other side is likely to have.
The Art of Rebuttals
A good rebuttal should connect with the original argument and address its truth and importance.
It requires listening and accurately understanding the other side’s argument before attempting to debunk it.
Emotional Aspects of Arguments
Having one’s arguments dismantled involves a loss of ego, self, and sometimes direction.
Recognizing this loss can help in formulating a more empathetic and effective rebuttal.
The Value of Debate
Debate is valuable in sharpening one’s thinking and improving the ability to disagree constructively.
It provides a fresh perspective on argumentation, emphasizing its potential as a tool for learning, growth, and understanding.
The Cost of Avoiding Arguments
Avoiding arguments and disagreements can lead to a smaller personal and communal life.
It also leads to social costs of polarization, where people only interact with those who agree with them.
Handling Bullies in Arguments
Every disagreement should start with some agreement, setting ground rules for the exchange.
It’s important to diagnose the common moves that bullies make and being able to name exactly what is happening.
The Power of Meta-Conversation
Having a conversation about the conversation can help diffuse heated arguments and help both parties understand each other better.
It also helps to snap people out of the heat of the moment and focus on the issue at hand.
Definition of a Good Argument
A good argument is one in which both sides walk away feeling like they would do it again.
This definition emphasizes the importance of the conversation continuing and both parties feeling heard and understood.
Pitfalls of Arguing
The argumentative theory of reason suggests that the purpose of reasoning is to persuade, not to think.
However, this theory also highlights the pitfalls of arguing, such as confirmation bias and desirability bias, where the primary goal becomes being right or winning, rather than finding the truth.