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The Scientific Approach to Discussion

When discussing things on social media, I occasionally run into people who really don't appreciate the scientific approach to discussion. This article is for them. And for anyone else who runs in to them on their journey.

So What Is The Scientific Approach to Discussion?

It's quite simple. If you claim something is true, and somebody else questions why you believe it to be true, the onus is on you to prove, or explain why you believe that your statement is true.

Why the Onus Is On The Person Making the Claim?

The prime reason is that if you're wrong, you're won't be sending someone else off on a wild goose chase searching for information that doesn't exist.

On social media, there's also an argument of scale. One person might write something which hundreds, thousands or millions might read. If one person making a claim provides a good reference, millions reading don't have to go searching for it.

If you're right, you will know which arguments were good enough to convince you, and should therefore convince someone else.

But look at that the other way around. Why should you waste your time searching the internet trying to back up every false assertion ever made by anyone else, wading through pages of irrelevance, in the hope of finding information that might not even exist if they happen to be wrong?

How Can You Back Up Your Claims?

The easiest way is simply to provide a link to the information that convinced you in the first place. People can then read, or view that information, and either accept it or, explain why they don't believe that information is valid. Obviously the more easily accessible the information, the better the source.

  • If referencing a web page, then give the link, and if relevant, parts of articles to look for.
  • If referencing a book, give chapters or page numbers. If you're getting really serious, add an ISBN and the publisher.
  • If referencing video, tell them how far in, and for how long if that's relevant.

Make it easy for each other to understand each others arguments. Our conversations should not be competitions about who is right, but attempts to discover what is 'true'.

If your reasons for believing what you do are valid, you'll end up helping them to understand something you obviously want them to understand (or you wouldn't have been discussing it in the first place), and If it turns out that the information you based your views on was in some way faulty, it's probably best you find out sooner rather than later.

We don't always agree on the validity of sources. Some people swear by what they read in The Sun, and some people recognise it for the dumbed down lying hate filled rag it is, but if you provide what you believe is a valid source, it is then up to the other person to question that.

In summation, in a scientific or logical discussion, it is up to the person making the claim, to prove it's validity.