Let's Argue for Argument's Sake, Good Naturedly and With Humility

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Posted: Oct 07, 2021 12:01 AM

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When did we decide that arguing was intolerable? Possibly it was when we determined that arguments were not about whether we were right or wrong but whether we were good or bad. We had to be right (we are good), and the others to be wrong (they are bad). What had once been intellectual arguments buttressed on each side by facts and figures morphed into moral determinations. Those who agree with me are good people; those who don’t are bad people.

Here’s an example: Last month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology disinvited Dr. Dorian Abbot, a professor of geophysical science at the University of Chicago, from giving the prestigious Carlson Lecture. His topic was to have been “climate and the potential for life on other planets.” Note that the topic was to have been a scientific one, not a political one.

However, on Sept. 22, an online mob on Twitter targeted Abbot, and eight days later, MIT announced that they would not host

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