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Basic Guide to Argumentation and Intellectual Growth

November 30, 2015
101 upvotes

Summary: Firstly, this is a very long read. (More than twice the length of an essay.) The topic attempts to give you an overview of how argumentation works to achieve the goal of better understanding/getting you closer to truth. It is also very meta, because of the way I'm trying to get above the arguments themselves and provide some more generalised tools with wider applicability. I've tried to be as brief as I can, but this simply can't be covered effectively enough in a couple of paragraphs.


Background (or why am I talking about argumentation?)

When I first started posting my own original content to TRP after months lurking, I did a piece on intellectual growth entitled "On Debating and Discussion as a Man." Let me quickly give a little background for context. I felt qualified writing about that early on because I'd spent the better part of a decade as a competitive debater, teaching it in schools and universities while competing up to international level. As with all types of analysis and critical thinking, argumentation is a skill that needs to be learned.

You do not need to be a competitive debater to learn the skills or enjoy the benefits. We typically learn good and bad arguments as we go along through life. However I would say circa 99% of people can't argue for shit even when they've got a good argument. Some don't really care enough, while others have selected their views, and that's it. The latter are a waste of oxygen in my opinion. An open mind is the way to intellectual growth. Being right is all well and good, but the way you actually grow and improve intellectually is through being proven wrong and changing your mind when a stronger argument comes along. Going into all discussions with the possibility that you could be wrong in the back of your mind is a good way to achieve this. (Not to be confused with being a pushover who changes their views with the political winds like Hilary Clinton.) This is fairly well covered in my original post that is almost a year old.

Typically I avoid talking about argumentation because it's not very popular. (It's not popular because it tends to destroy dogmatic emotion-based beliefs. - It hurts when you've stacked so much on your emotions and your mind can't back it up. - Bloopers don't like it for that reason. Idiots don't like it because they can't comprehend it, since you're applying generalised knowledge to a variety of facts and situations. Similar to how we apply Red Pill theory when we're out in the field observing the interactions of men and women.) However I've got a couple of reasons why I'm bringing this up now:

  1. There has been a number of newer members with dogmatic views and lack of nuance. Rather than writing a massive 10,000 word dissertation on the nuances of the Pill from my personal vantage point, I want to give others the tools to dissect and separate nonsense from quality on their own terms. i.e. I won't give you a fish, I'm going to try and teach you the basics of fishing.
  2. Being able to intellectually beat up someone else is legal, and I'm reasonably sure from both my days as a greater beta (and more recent months) that being able to intellectually dominate someone will turn on some girls. (Not all, obviously. But as I always advocate, more tools in the box is better. You'll typically be seen as a better leader if you have better ideas and can prove it.) Usually these women are not feminists and a little more intelligent and in control of their emotions. Attracting a better quality of plate/LTR, who is easier to manage, is never a bad thing.
  3. Part of TRP is to continually strive to improve yourself. It is important to think this way in order to have a successful sexual strategy. You alter your workout based upon changes and new information to continually improve your body... you should alter your thoughts and approach to things to continually improve your mind too.
  4. Intellectual growth can actually become a pleasant thing in its own right. To quote /u/IllimitableMan "Arguments (proper debates, not Machiavellian point scoring) are a great way to learn from others, so if you enjoy listening to logic as well as learning, they’re a wholly pleasurable activity in and of themselves." I think many learning TRP are not merely happy at finally having a way to enjoy sex on their own terms... but actually learning something which makes sense in regards to the interactions between men and women is a thoroughly pleasing experience when you realise you were previously flailing around in the dark.
  5. The entire reason you've been able to swallow TRP is because your mind was open to the prospect that the mainstream thought was possibly wrong. I ask you to keep that open mind and consider the tools I offer you. You reserve the right to reject them if you wish.

So now I'm going to try and provide a really basic overview of argumentation and the difference between making a point and refuting it. Then I'll show why we should bear this in mind when we're reading suggestions and engaging in discussion here on the sub. My hope is that this will provide the tools for you to make better critical analysis of what you see and hear on the sub, which in turn will allow the cream to rise to the top more easily.

When you make a good argument, it typically consists of three things:

  • Fact(s)
  • Base principle(s)
  • Causal logic (which links to the final conclusion.)

As an aside - The fourth thing which is taught to a competitive debater, but is less useful for you guys is rhetoric. Rhetoric is all about using things like weasel words to downplay the weaknesses of your argument and utilising emotive words to try and engage the emotions of your audience to sympathise so that those without analytical skill will also be convinced by you. (Believe me, it works, I've seen a couple of hundred students go from anti-death to endorsing cold blooded murder on my terms because I told them it was okay. Originally I was proud that day... after looking at where society has gone today, I look back on that day and feel frightened at how easy it is to sway idiots.)

Those three things make good arguments, without at least two of them you have nothing but a statement of opinion. Such a thing is worthless unless it can be backed up. The process of using two or three of these to build an argument is similar to putting down foundations and building a tower. The difference that refuting an argument has is that it's much simpler to refute something. There are two ways to refute something, you can prove it untrustworthy by pointing out a counter-example where their logic doesn't fit or you can demonstrate that their logic comes to a more ambiguous conclusion than they first showed. (I will try to provide brief examples in a moment to try and be as clear as possible.) Or you can destroy it altogether. The latter requires more work because it is effectively building an argument that shows the opposite of what has been put forward.

Discussions rarely have something 100% right, so it is a matter of seeing which is more right, or sometimes which is the lesser evil. Since everything is mostly shades of grey, discussions that start from a black and white perspective will typically end up exploring the nuances. So for example, if someone has created an argument around AWALT, the refutation of this is a counter example of the behaviour of some of the ladies over on RedPillWomen. This refutation leads to an exploration of the nuance around AWALT, which I won't get into detail on here. Suffice to say it's about the base biological urges and feelings which can be controlled by some women, some of the time. Further Reading.

For the statement women are perfectly capable of love as a man hopes and all Red Pill is just bitter... this is a wide sweeping argument that would need to be built on some cherry picked examples of marriages and the behaviour of those couples. You'd not want to just show a counter example or show that it doesn't always end happily ever after. Here is where you'd look at a complete counter argument that destroys it completely... which would pick up huge amounts of reading across TRP. Basically most of the sidebar would be employed to give a full explanation as to why this statement was completely false. (Again, I'm trying to be brief, - and writing out the whole of Red Pill in one post is not brief, but I believe that this demonstrates the point well enough for everyone to understand the application.)

Once an argument is refuted, it no longer stands. Much like yanking a supporting beam from the tower, it doesn't stand anymore. When the person tries to shore it up, that's when you get into discussion of nuance and get to the specific positions of the people involved. That is the basics of what can happen in every single useful argument ever.

I want to enhance something /u/IllimitableMan said - "I am incredibly capable of listening to entire counterarguments, I will even agree with many of an argument’s pointed critique of my views, but ultimately nine times out of ten I will still retain my stance in spite of an enhanced understanding of the opposing viewpoint." - This is where you can get into nuance and enhance your point of view to try and take into account the points of critique and explain them. Or you can weigh up and contrast whether the opinion can still stand, even with the critique or not. This is all intellectual growth and self improvement. More understanding means you can address more things in the world around you. More tools in the box.

People shouting statements at each other, trading insults, attempting shaming tactics, responding to a strawman, or just repeating their original point do not contribute anything useful and you can't grow intellectually from listening to them, so move on. That is the generalised overview that you can apply to absolutely any topic you discuss to get the most out of it and to know when to walk away. (And believe me, you will walk away often in the real world.)


A quick point on engagement

While there is a huge amount more to discuss in general terms about argumentation (to the point at which I can teach people to be capable of arguing about almost anything with minimal knowledge of the topic, and be convincing), there's one thing I see often on TRP: disengagement.

Disengagement is the term used to describe when someone entering an argument will try to refute a point or counter it by switching the specific topic of the argument. This is bad because no specific conclusion can be reached since the territory of the discussion keeps changing. It is similar to the way women tend to move the goalposts in a fashion that infuriates most men, even the bloopers. However it is not always as obvious as you'd think.

A now-classic example of the non-obvious version, on TRP, is the responses to the censorship by mods of material in order to keep the signal to noise ratio high. Since this is subjective, you naturally end up with some people who disagree with the decisions they make. The standard reaction from them is "but my free speech" or "you say you have open minds about things and you clearly don't." On the surface these seem like logical or intelligent responses since TRP does indeed like us being able to speak freely without things like political correctness getting in the way, and we do indeed have open minds because we want to have the best knowledge and discussion on sexual strategy. However, they are disengagements (and some naturally sense this and dismiss it without being able to explain it.)

To engage with the point on censorship you must either:

  • challenge and disprove that the censorship the mods engage in, does not achieve the goal
  • demonstrate that the censorship is actually counter-productive to this goal
  • or logically demonstrate a method that would be more effective and why it would be more effective when compared and contrasted with the current method at achieving the end goal

(You can probably appreciate that this is all very targeted at achieving something from the discussion. This is why good understanding of argumentation is a great benefit - it allows you to get so much more out of disagreements and discussions.)

While my general view on this is that it's not our role to decide on how moderation works, I'll address this from principle instead to show the disengagement. The mods have shown time and again why the censorship fits with the pragmatic principles of TRP, so what has actually happened when the disengagement has occurred, is the guys disagreeing have strawmanned the base principle of TRP to be classical liberal individualism above and beyond everything else. It is not. (To put it another way, they are effectively stating that maintaining the liberal principle is more important than achieving the goal set. Forgetting that the principle of pragmatism places the achievement of the goal as the top priority.)

While the liberal principle of free speech is used to some degree on the sub, it has been adopted for pragmatic reasons (free exchange of ideas to achieve better understanding) so the principle is trumped by pragmatism here and that is/has been/probably always will be, the stance of the sub. (For the actual specifics straight from the horse's mouth, go here. I'm merely using it as an example you guys are likely to be familiar with, in order to demonstrate a point.) That's not to say moral and political principles can't be discussed, it's to say they won't be ruling the sub and hopefully this provides a reasonably accurate explanation of the underlying reasoning for these nuances - and subsequently why the disengagement causes confusion among some people.

That last sentence is an aside, but the three points can be generalised to anything:

  • the logic does not actually reach the conclusion
  • the logic/method actually achieves some other conclusion
  • compare the benefits of this with an alternative and contrast to prove the alternative is better

Keeping those in mind will ensure you always engage directly with the issue being discussed. In addition, I would tell you to never be afraid to concede points. If you are interested in learning and growing your mind, then you need to understand the PoV of the person you're talking to and they need to understand you. So it is very useful if you make it easy by pointing out the things you agree on, so that you can get down to the specific nuance where the disagreement is happening. You'll learn a bit about what you think and value in doing this. (Hurrah! Both personal and intellectual growth all in one!)


This post was a very meta overview and I've tried to include specific examples to demonstrate the application. As a result, I am well aware that it can be tough to get your head around and that may be down to me not being clear enough. In my attempt at brevity, I'm sure this has happened somewhere. So I'll be watching this topic to answer questions and provide clarification where I can. If you're interested in me writing more on this, then let me know and I'll see if I can put together something on base principles and assumption analysis. (Again, generalised, widely applicable to any topic.)

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Post Information
Title Basic Guide to Argumentation and Intellectual Growth
Author NightwingTRP
Upvotes 101
Comments 20
Date November 30, 2015 6:27 PM UTC (6 years ago)
Subreddit /r/TheRedPill
Archive Link https://theredarchive.com/r/TheRedPill/basic-guide-to-argumentation-and-intellectual.38549
https://theredarchive.com/post/38549
Original Link https://old.reddit.com/r/TheRedPill/comments/3uvtcu/basic_guide_to_argumentation_and_intellectual/
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