Recently I had a long discussion on the internet after I was contacted by a fellow that disagreed with some of my assertions. Looking back I found it interesting how a discussion evolves or degrades into an argument. How can you tell who is winning or loosing? Some may say if you win an argument on the internet, well, you have accomplished nothing. The question is if you get out correct information and have honest discussion, then was it worth it? I think it is worth it, because communication is the basis for all conflict resolution.
It started out simply enough with the guy asking a simple question that was pretty easy to answer. The problem was he didn't like the answer he got, even though the answer was based on verifiable facts. See whether or not you argue or have a discussion face to face or on the internet, the most important thing is to have your facts in order. As long as your facts fit your conclusion, then you should win the discussion. But you must keep in mind that if your opponent presents you with different information, then you must honestly examine it. If it is correct, then you may need to change your conclusion to fit the new facts. You can never make the facts fit your conclusion, which is something many people like to try. This will quickly cause them to loose the argument. Founding Father John Adams said is best, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
What I'm advocating is honesty in your discussion. Not just with your opponent, but yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself, then how can you be honest with anyone else? Don't rationalize to make the facts fit your conclusion, it will not work. If you're a Republican, then the facts should be on your side. Republicans tend to see the world how it really is and not as it should be or how we want it to be. That makes it easier for us in the end. When you have your discussion always make sure you have your facts in order. When present a point, then make sure you give the source for your opponent to check. If your opponent is unable or unwilling to do the same, then you the first indication they are arguing from a point of weakness and may not be able to back up their assertions. If you can't back up your positions with sources facts, then quit because your conclusion is wrong.
As you put forth a logical argument and your opponent can not overcome your facts a logical thinker will begin to see things anew and come to a consensus with you. If your counterpart is not a strong thinker, then they will typically switch to a personal attack. Responding with emotion is a natural response for anyone cornered whether is in an argument or a dark alley. The personal attack is the sure sign the attacker cannot refute the logical sourced facts, but does not want to admit defeat. On an internet argument, the loosing side will typically call in reinforcements. More people repeating the same incorrect information does not make them right. They rarely offer any new information, but will increase the personal attacks and usually offer some type of statement saying the winner doesn't understand. This begs the question, why would you come to their point of view because they attacked you personally when their failed argument didn't win you over?
That should be the end of it, but sometimes in rare cases people want to escalate it further rather than admit defeat. Interestingly in the recent discussion I had some of the friends of the original decenter post on the internet a note and tied in many top politicians in the state. People that had absolutely nothing to do with our discussion and were never involved. As a Republican I believe in personal responsibility and I choose to enter into the discussion. With that, any political fallout is of my own making, but when it is important I believe in stand up for what is right. Dragging in innocent bystanders does not help you win a discussion you have already last it destroys your last ounce of credibility, not to mention making enemies.
If you feel the need to have a discussion about something you believe in. Then do it with the truth and make sure you can back up your facts. Always be honest and respectful, never make personal attacks. If your presented with verifiable information the contradicts your position, then re-examine your position as it is probably wrong. Never drag in anyone else that doesn't want to be part of your discussion. Be a graceful winner, be a Republican.