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Arguing both sides?

(35 Posts)
Bluebellwould Tue 07-Dec-21 17:30:38

Can you/do you argue from both sides of a discussion? I often state one point of view on here when starting a discussion whilst simultaneously thinking something else. I think this comes from an English teacher who would make us argue on one side and then make us switch sides and argue for that viewpoint. She made absolutely certain that we did it properly, no waffling and no wobbling. I don’t know whether this made us dilettantes or broad minded. Is it easier to have singular strong views that you argue no matter what or does it depend on the topic? Can your mind be changed?

Smileless2012 Tue 07-Dec-21 17:37:16

It depends on the topic as there are some I feel more passionate about than others. I have been known to change my mind when a good argument has been put forward that makes me re think my position, especially when clear evidence is produced.

IMO it isn't really possible to do an argument justice if you don't believe in what you're arguing for or against.

JaneJudge Tue 07-Dec-21 17:41:29

You can only really grow as a person if you listen to other people's point of view, even if you don't agree with it. Hopefully it helps you see the whys and wherefores. I think most people are appalled by extremes though?

Josianne Tue 07-Dec-21 17:43:43

Definitely, it doesn't help to be too rigid or dogmatic.

Josianne Tue 07-Dec-21 17:45:26


Definitely, it doesn't help to be too rigid or dogmatic.

Oh except when it comes to anyone being unkind about dogs! grin

VioletSky Tue 07-Dec-21 17:46:45

I think it depends on the subject. If we were talking pros and cons of something then I could see both sides.

I can understand someone's feelings without understanding their point of view

I do change my mind about things a lot, I grew up in a very erm... Non PC household so massive changes there

Some opinions/situations I just cannot relate too.

Basically I don't know really lol

Galaxy Tue 07-Dec-21 17:47:59

I listened to podcast recently where they did that, took the opposite point of view from what they actually believed, and argued the case. I didnt think it really worked, I could tell they were pretending to 'believe' so to speak.

Josianne Tue 07-Dec-21 17:50:44

So if I initially told you it is cold today Galaxy how could I then make myself believe the opposite?! Brrrr!

JaneJudge Tue 07-Dec-21 17:51:04

can you remember the bots who had an argument and ended up arguing about being unicorns?

FarNorth Tue 07-Dec-21 17:58:40

I can usually see the point of view of others and may change my mind, or think harder about why I hold the view that I do.

Hetty58 Tue 07-Dec-21 17:59:19

I can usually see good points to both sides of an argument, then form a reasoned opinion, on balance, from the facts.

Some people seem to just hold an opinion without even considering other viewpoints - so don't consider and dismiss them.

They then have the cheek to insist that their views are 'equally valid' but can't explain why.

Doodledog Tue 07-Dec-21 18:07:25

I don't think it is easy to feel strongly about your own point of view unless you have understood the alternative perspective.

You don't have to agree with it, but if you don't understand a viewpoint, you can't argue against it.

Doodledog Tue 07-Dec-21 18:09:52

I can usually see good points to both sides of an argument, then form a reasoned opinion, on balance, from the facts.
What do you think your 'opponent' would say that they are doing, though? Everyone thinks that their opinion is reasoned and based on 'the facts'; but there are very few absolute facts - most things are a matter of interpretation.

FarNorth Tue 07-Dec-21 18:20:29

A woman once explained her apparently racist viewpoint to me, based on facts.
I totally understood why she felt that way, based on the facts, but didn't agree with what she thought should be done about it.

FannyCornforth Tue 07-Dec-21 19:00:15


I listened to podcast recently where they did that, took the opposite point of view from what they actually believed, and argued the case. I didnt think it really worked, I could tell they were pretending to 'believe' so to speak.

That’s what debating clubs at public schools are all about.
Mr Johnson and James OBrien both excelled at this.

M0nica Tue 07-Dec-21 19:36:13

Surely, it is whether you are capable of arguing both sides. It is not something that we do in ordinary life, but I did a lot of debating at university - a situation where the only thing that matters ia winning the debate - and I could persuasively argue either side of almost any debate - and did.

What you never do is pretend to believe the side you are arguing on. For the duration of the debate you must rally believe in the cause you are voting for. I mean it is only just an hour. It is what actors do all the time.

If you feel strongly about something and wish to win someone over to your way of thinking, you need first thoroughly know their mindset and fully understand all the arguments in favour of their side, because only then can you use their arguments to convince them you are right, or that there is some merit in the opposite view point.

This is why people of any political party, who spend their time abusing their opponents, while at the same time trying to win them over to vote their cause are so misguided, apart from the fact that people who you abuse usually end up with an implacable dislike of you, but if you are to get them think differently you need first to understand why they vote as they do, and then use that to win them over. There is no better way of doing that than letting them see you understand their views and where they are coming from.

Think about that famous interrogation technique known as good guy/bad guy. After a doseof nastiness, the good guy will come in, sympathise with the suspect, understand their point of view and then quietly turn it round so that the suspect tells things because he thinks the good guy is on his side.

MissAdventure Tue 07-Dec-21 19:45:58

It's rare for me to change my mind.
It gets on my wick when people whole heartedly believe something one week, then do an about turn the next.
Actually learning things which change your point of view is a different matter though, as I have found out...

Mollygo Wed 08-Dec-21 11:39:35

You can listen to another point of view and learn about what the other person is saying but if the person arguing their point firmly believes that they are right and that you are wrong and they are not prepared to learn anything from you then there is no point in calling it a debate.
Stating something is a fact on GN is rarely a debate.
We can ask for evidence, which sometimes shows a fact to be true and sometimes shows the ‘fact’ is simply one person’s interpretation of it.

Namsnanny Wed 08-Dec-21 12:39:20

Can your mind be changed?
Scientific studies have shown we make our decisions based in emotional pathways laid down in childhood, or even before birth. Based on what thought makes us comfortable.
We are unaware we reinforce this process daily.
Debating is a construct. A game if you like that isnt played out in real life. As is good cop/bad cop scenario.

To expose the way we reach our decisions, use an emotive subject such as sex work/pornography for example. Which plays directly on a hard wired 'need' for a man to be engaged in sex.
A debate could put all the facts to a user of pornography and or sex workers. Of how it is changing his personality, his perception of women. Explain how these women are treated badly and its just a job to them, and many other straightforward reasons not to engage.
But it will have little impact on the behaviour.
I use sex for illustration purpose only.
In reality people make their decisions based on lots of previous emotional perceptions, the most influential is fear.

grandtanteJE65 Wed 08-Dec-21 12:52:22

Yes, I too remember those debating club exercises where you had to argue both for and against something.

I don't think it works well in real life though.

I hope I am always willing to hear the opposite point of view when discussing anything, but there are obviously topics where I would find it quite impossible to endorse the opposite point of view.

I cannot for example even as an academic exercise endores capital punishment, fascism, racism, slavery, child abuse, rape, spousal abuse, or cruelty to animals.

I don't suppose any of you would either.

M0nica Wed 08-Dec-21 13:55:50

But grandetante, those are hardly the topics that anyone can support, but I am sure, if pushed and in proper debate I could extoll both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. I mean you can put your trust in Jeremy Corbyn never to make a wrong decision - because he never makes decisions and you can believe every word Boris says, because he never tells the truth.

Rileysnana Wed 08-Dec-21 14:14:20

I'm open to change and was brought up being able to see both sides. You need to be able to listen to another person's point of view and accept that they are entitled to it because life experience is different for everyone. Nowadays this seems to be disappearing. Debate and discussion used to be encouraged. At school we used to have to write arguments for both sides. Cancel culture seems to be eroding this.

JackyB Wed 08-Dec-21 15:15:56

I have never been able to form opinions. Bothe sides convince me when they are speaking. I hate having to decide in elections.

LtEve Wed 08-Dec-21 15:54:34

Like a previous poster I grew up in a very non pc household and I have changed many of my views as I matured. I do, however, understand where my parents were coming from and why they thought the way they did.
I have changed my views on certain things after my children explained their reasoning behind their views. They told me things that I didn’t know and it changed the way I thought.
I wouldn’t say I argue from both sides though I just try and put myself in other peoples shoes in most discussions

CBBL Wed 08-Dec-21 16:25:04

Yes, though I will admit to being out of practice at this!

In common with one or two other posters, I had a teacher who would encourage us to argue the opposite point of view. This is really hard if you already have a firm opinion on the subject matter!