TED Talk: For argument’s sake

Daniel H. Cohen makes an interesting case that:

  1. We equate arguing to war; such that there are winners and losers.
  2. The loser is the one who makes a cognitive improvement, so losing gains the most.

So, we should strive to lose. “It takes practice to be a become a good arguer from the perspective of benefitting from losing.”

My personal observation is whether or not I win or lose an argument, explaining my position requires:

  1. Arriving at how someone else understands the world requires developing one’s Theory of Mind.
  2. Tailoring the argument such that the other(s) understand the position.

These explanations help expose both strengths and weaknesses in the position. In order to “win”, I have to shore up the weakness. That is a cognitive gain. Is it more than the loser who changed? Maybe.

If the above video does not work, then try Daniel H. Cohen: For argument’s sake.

I love logic.


There seem to be two ways to recommend something to others…

  1. Because the person making the recommendation likes it.
  2. Because the person making the recommendation knows the one receiving it and thinks that person will like it.

The last time I looked, I am not anyone else. I like things others do not. Others like things I do not. My list of books I hate falls includes the favorites of others. What another likes is only a measure of whether we like similar things. Only if we actually have strong similarities in what we like would the recommendation of what I like have real value.

Reading books people know about results in people either telling me their opinions. They loved it, hated it, felt ambivalent, or may want to read it. That last group want to know whether I like it. When they are my friends, I tend to offer why I think they will or will not like it.

Yesterday on Facebook, a friend asked whether Catch-22 is good. As an Austen fan, I did not think she would adore a book about war, bureaucracy, and most especially sex with prostitutes. Male friends who did not know the one asking about the book said they loved it. They naturally recommended reading it. If she had similar tastes to them, then I would agree.

What I get for discussing things in public.

Also what I get for discussing books people have or want to read. I probably should stick to esoteric non-fiction no one else wants to read.