I think over the past couple of years, I’ve learnt to avoid various types of pedantic/pointless arguments.

But, I didn’t have a system for picking which arguments to have/not to have.

I think I’ve arrived at something that could work, I’ve been putting it into practice over the past few months and it’s been quite fruitful in no of arguments had.

This is not about ‘winning’ arguments/proving a point, this is simply about :

  • deciding whether an argument on such a topic is worth having
  • how to avoid nitpicking once you’ve made the choice to have the argument The ‘system’ essentially is about using 2 Razors in tandem.

To decide whether an argument is worth having, use Alder’s Razor or as he likes to call it:

Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword

Simply put : If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, then it is not worthy of debateThis is fundamentally based on the concept of Falsifiability. To quote one of the leaders of thought in this arena (someone who’s books I’m just beginning to read)

I shall require that [the] logical form [of the theory] shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience. — Karl PopperI think this as a heuristic fundamentally weeds out several arguments that just need not be had/can be changed to make a better argument/can be had within oneself instead.

On how to not nitpick while having an argument once you’ve chosen to have it:

Grice’s Razor

As a principle of parsimony, conversational implications are to be preferred over semantic context for linguistic explanations.Or, don’t take what someone said literally when there could be something else that they meant while saying something. Essentially giving the benefit of doubt with regards to what the speaker was implying while saying something.

I think applying this would lend itself to a debate moving forward even if in the wrong direction, it would stop as a result of nitpicking which is something I intend to avoid.

I think this is a good framework for this purpose. Let me know what you think.

Thank you for reading

Sainath