One big thing about some debates is that each side is forced to “lie”, to back a side that they may not necessarily represent. This turns the debate from a constructive dialog to a fight, a competition. Now I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for the debaters, but I think perhaps that it might be the best way for a third party to really get a handle on the issue.
In the above video, Leah Libresco talks about an idea she had called the “Ideological Turing Test”. Here is my re-hashing of the idea, or at least what I got from it:
– If both sides of a debate were truly aware of the information that both had, then surely they would both be in agreement? Of course, this doesn’t apply with things like football teams, but one assumes that the debate is somehow “winnable”.
– Therefore a good test would be to see if one side could in fact convincingly switch sides.
Now, obviously, this isn’t a completely new idea. In fact, the church used to use it when trying to test if people qualified as saints. There would be a person elected called: The Devil’s advocate, who would be a sort of “lawyer” for the idea that the miracles were false. In fact, speaking of lawyers… :)
But I think what is new about this idea is playing this little game by yourself. Reflecting to see if you really do understand the whole issue can be a struggle, but I think it really frees up the mind and gets us one step closer to what we call “open mindedness”!