Determining the core of an argument. The root cause approach.

Now that I have finally migrated my site and have re-branded the URL it’s time to get back to writing. This weeks theme focuses on tearing down an argument and how to capture any potential truth claim being presented. This is my personal method of tearing down an argument and should not be taken as the only way to do so. There are a variety of ways to dissect an argument which are all equally effective. I found this particular method helpful for me as I find I am very analytical with a focus on root cause analysis. Take this as you will and hopefully it may help you filter axioms to determine their claim to truth.


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As I’ve said, I’m very analytical. I also tend to break down arguments into their root cause. I try to determine where or what fuels the argument in an effort to know if what they are saying comes from a belief, or comes from a truth. The harder thing to know is if the person is using truth or not given that everyone has a bias so truth can sometimes be relative to people “it’s true to me.” However, truth isn’t truth if it isn’t true for everyone. So I try to change my perspective if what I believe is challenged in a way that seems to undermine my view.

The first step in my process is gaining understanding. I typically fail at making assumptions. If and when I make one, I’m usually wrong. This goes doubly so on social media platforms. A lot of our innate communication enhancements are lost in virtual communications. All that you are left with is the words on the screen, some vague assumption of the personality of the person you’re talking to, and the way they put the words together. Sometimes you can view a bio and put two and two together but that typically backfires as an assumption. I recently had that experience by making an assumption based on a post with a GIF and reading the persons bio. As my high school music teacher used to say:

Never assume. It makes an ASS out of U and ME.

This holds true for me because every time I assume I end up feeling like an ass and sometimes making the other person look like an ass because they have to argue my idiotic assumption. Instead of assuming someone’s position based on their argument, ask. If this is a virtual conversation ask to clarify or provide evidence. Either way, you should be able to find out more about the argument prior to diving into it. Every question you ask should focus on clarification at first. If they respond to your questions with more questions, they’re looking for a fight and it’s not worth your time. Mention that you’re trying to get clarification and you might get a better response. It depends on the person.

Next, the initial argument is situational. What I mean by that is every time someone starts a conversation usually from a point of interest. Typically, this will be a subject that’s popular at the time. Take the collusion with Russia from the Trump administration. This would be one of those topics that would be on the minds of people to discuss. What should be noted about this particular topic isn’t if Trump colluded with Russia as one might think. The first thing you should do is consider why this thought is entertaining the person in the first place and is this position really the core of the argument. Keeping with the question proposed here, you should ask probing questions. You could ask about evidence to determine the truth of the claim. But if you want to get to the root of the persons issue you should ask probing questions. Questions such as why would you think the collusion with Russia makes a difference. If one of their politicians they liked were found to be talking with Russia, would you care? Questions like these might get you to the core of the belief the person holds.

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In the case of Trump and Russia; Trump is in a position of power. He’s supposed to be the leader of the USA. To do that, he needs the trust and commitment of the citizens, his wanted followers. When asking the probing questions you’ll probably find the person doesn’t trust Trump. You should also be able to determine if this position is warranted and why. This may change your view on him or perhaps change who your talking to. Either way, You will effectively find the root of their argument and be able to address any and all conversations around the same subject knowing this root.