“Dialogues are a powerful tool”

“Dialogues are a powerful tool,” he said, looking me dead in the eye, challenging me to disagree. “They allow for ideas to be expressed in a colloquial manner that is easier for the reader to accept.”

“I see,” I replied, “like the ancient writings about Socrates, and other Plato writings that were always stories. The cave-myth, for example.”

“Yes,” he continued, set on his goal, slightly irritated that I had felt the need to contribute to his monologue, “stories are relatable because they have characters. The more sympathetic the characters are, the more likely the reader is to accept, or at lest try to understand, the viewpoints expressed. An unlikable character’s argument is easily dismissed, even though we all know that an argument should be judged on its own merit.”

“Even then,” I intervened, “one cannot possibly hear all arguments in the world. And judging someone by their character may help sort through which opinions one wishes to hear.” I used the very general “one” to avoid making it personal.

“You might do that,” he retaliated, ignoring my gallant gesture entirely, “but I consider any argument I am presented with. Granted, I often get lost in some situations, and my time is not spent most optimally, but I think it makes me a better, nay, a wiser person to hear from as many different people as possible.”

“There are other ways to do that, though. I like to seek out people of the opposite opinion and hear their arguments,” I said, feeling that he was twisting my words ever so slightly to make me look of lesser intellect, “but I would like to choose the most well-spoken opponents, and not have to wade through oceans of trolls and straw men to find a decent counter-argument.”

“I see,” he said, “Paul Graham actually wrote a thing (an essay, I suppose he calls it) on how to disagree properly. I liked that one.”

“Me, too,” I said, agreeing.

“Oh, the power of dialogues, huh? All of a sudden we were talking about an entirely different thing—how to argue—and it was all quite grasping. We actually made a point or two: disagree properly, see both sides of an argument, don’t waste your time … oh … and don’t be a dick.”


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