Please, Just the Facts

Content Index: PC146

By Scott Nesler

An argument does not need to come off as disagreeable. The fact is passions and points of view are different, not necessarily wrong. It's likely individuals of opposition have much in common.  Mandate is not the purpose.   Articulating thought to reach a wider perspective of understanding is a good reason for a well described argument.

The visceral dialog in blogs, letters to the editor, portions of the media, and even many of our elected officials tend to lead to an endless loop of disagreeable disagreement.   A common tactic in this mode of disagreement is the demand to stick to facts.  To be productive in civil discourse, one must understand what a good argument is and how facts relate to it.

An argument is a proposition with an attempt to provide sufficient evidence.  A book full of tangent facts does not prove an argument. Facts don't lie, but liars can use facts. That's a fact. Mark Twain said, "Get your facts straight and then you can distort them as much as you please."

An argument is an intelligent expression of thought.   It requires a premise and a conclusion.   It should describe the benefits, who and what are effected, and the collateral risk of the proposition.  A fact is one of several means to persuade an argument.

In the passion of developing an argument, irrelevant facts can be found.   In many cases the validity of a fact will not disprove an argument.    Through iteration, facts can be added and removed to support a premise.   An argument ends when it is nolonger supported.  A fact is one of many tools to persuade an argument.



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