Is it actually possible to persuade people of anything online?

Is there any real point to online debates, or are people just looking for validation of their own points of view and won't listen to others if they read it in text form? It's very rare that I see a resolution to debates online. The most that ever happens is one person stops replying if they have no counter or they have grown tired of the argument.

I think its the anonymous (or at least impersonal) nature of it. Its fairly hard to change someone's mind live, in person or on the phone or skyping or whatever. When you add a lack of real consequences plus the escape button of just bailing on the thread... No, online is just an echo chamber. No discussion of any real importance will happen... with an exception. Within specific professional circles, scheduled online meetings can be pretty meaningful. An example, my job made it possible for me to be a part of the online discussions of the reclassifications in the Enhanced Fujita Scale for measuring tornado strength by examining the damage it causes. That was fairly important for reconciling the classification with some measured data. However, the same changes would probably have been made without any of the online meetings I attended. So... no nothing of any real importance is generally solved in online discussion.

My opinions have been changed, better informed, altered etc from arguments online. I just am rarely an active member of the argument. I have read pages of arguments in topics that I did not post even once in.

I argue often with specific people, people that we all know I am not going to convince to my side, but I need to disprove them to onlookers, so that they can make a hopefully better judgement than if the other side is left unargued.

Basically, online arguments are more like court cases with two lawyers opposing each other. They are not trying to convince the other lawyer, they are trying to convince the Judge and/or Jury.

Yes, I would say it happens all the time. But for controversial topics, the angrier the conversation goes, the less likely someone will change their mind.

It's always those topics that get people to turn up anyways.

If there's an actual debate, yes. If some third party is reading an argument but not contributing, yes. Or if someone is asking about an issue they've no strong opinions about, yes.

Yes and no

It is possible to persuade people, and you'll never convince me otherwise.

dscross:
Is there any real point to online debates, or are people just looking for validation of their own points of view and won't listen to others if they read it in text form? It's very rare that I see a resolution to debates online. The most that ever happens is one person stops replying if they have no counter or they have grown tired of the argument.

When I first read the thread title I was sure my answer would be "yes". But then I read your well-reasoned post and am now convinced the answer is "no".

Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

Citation needed.

People might not admit they're wrong, but they at least generally get exposed to other facts / views etc. Hopefully they come to a position where they acknowledge that at the very least it is possible to rationally hold the opposing view.

But yeah, not always.

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

Is that persuading people, or appealing to people already inclined to buy into your statements? I mean, the people inclined to disagree with him initially seem to have just become slightly more vocal about it, more than anything else.

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

I think Peterson is not persuading people, but giving people who want excuses for their bigotry a 'reason' for why they are right for being bigots.

Catnip1024:

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

Is that persuading people, or appealing to people already inclined to buy into your statements? I mean, the people inclined to disagree with him initially seem to have just become slightly more vocal about it, more than anything else.

Oh hey, I basically said the same thing.

Throw one on the pile of things we sorta agree on!

dscross:
snip

Online, usually the people they are trying to persuade isn't the person they are debating against.

Sure they do. For years I thought it was pointless updating everyone from DVD to Blu-Ray and would always argue that case, until it was pointed out to me that Blu-Ray gets the image quality up past the point the human eye can distinguish, which DVD wasn't quite able to do.

Or something like that. It made sense at the time.

It is 100% possible to change someone's opinion in online debates, as long as it is not framed openly as a debate. Making someone feel like they're championing something against an aggressive opponent is not the way to go, it'll just make you come off as a hostile jerk from the other side. The instant a debate turns hostile, neither side will want to back down and the only result is a dumb internet fight of value only to onlookers.

The method of changing people's minds is calm persuasion, explanation, and an acknowledgement of the weaknesses of both sides of an argument at times. Use casual and familiar slang, be friendly. I have both changed minds and had my own mind changed, but have never done it while behaving in a hostile manner.

Oh, and cite your sources where you can, or whatever you say can easily be dismissed out of hand. Evidence helps.

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

It's not.

It's marketing yourself to people who are already going to agree with what you have to say.

Peterson knows his audience, and knows that preaching to the choir=$$$

I used to be a rather conservative religious man. But I got into online arguments I couldnt win and it lead to me changing my points of view. It changed my point of view, but it was a slow process and I cant really say if one single person ever personally changed my opinions. Except for in factual matters where I was objectively wrong and corrected of course.

So it worked on me.

Smithnikov:

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

It's not.

It's marketing yourself to people who are already going to agree with what you have to say.

Peterson knows his audience, and knows that preaching to the choir=$$$

I'll concede that my boy JP isn't a good example of changing people's minds. But I don't think it has to do with how well he markets himself. He's just giving voice to a large portion of people who are frustrated with social vigilantism and militant left-wing thinking. He exploded the way he did because a lot of people agree with him. Brilliant man, I drink to his health.

OT: It depends? When I see people ask these types of questions I have to wonder whether they understand that people are different or not.

Just Ebola:

OT: It depends? When I see people ask these types of questions I have to wonder whether they understand that people are different or not.

And it's when I see people make that kind of statement I wonder whether they understand the point of generalised questions to provoke discussion or not.

dscross:

Just Ebola:

OT: It depends? When I see people ask these types of questions I have to wonder whether they understand that people are different or not.

And it's when I see people make that kind of statement I wonder whether they understand the point of generalised questions to provoke discussion or not.

Well the general consensus of the discussion seems to be what I said: Depends. But you're right, that was nit-picky of me.

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

you kidding? Peterson is just using basic psychology to make money of a already existing crowd of people.

its possible to convince people of things online but it's highly unlikely and most likely not directly. as in you can't convince someone directly but other people reading the discussion might be nudged in your direction and if this happens enough someone might change their views.

dscross:
Is there any real point to online debates, or are people just looking for validation of their own points of view and won't listen to others if they read it in text form? It's very rare that I see a resolution to debates online. The most that ever happens is one person stops replying if they have no counter or they have grown tired of the argument.

Really , no.

Most discussions really only come down to validation of a person's ideas, more than actually holding a debate. Online any person is able to easily create their own narrative. Thus any text has really no meaningful effect as people are able to ignore,edit,change how they translate what was written. In other words it might be better to yell and scream at a wall to move then to expect anything from a online debate/discussion.

Depends on who you are talking too. If you are trying to convince your friend of something, internet works just as well as in-person. If it is some rando you are posting with, on the other hand... you almost certainly won't be able to persuade them to anything, so don't even try. Will only cause you to go insane if you actually try. There are many ways to just completely destroy your mind with the internet, that is easily among the least fun ways to do it.

Vanilla ISIS:
Take Jordan Peterson as an example.
How do you think he got most of his following? Online or live?
How do you think he spreads his ideas? Online or live?
Dude was a nobody 2 years ago but now, thanks to quick viral videos, he became an online sensation with a best selling self help book and $60k per month on Patreon. If that's not persuading people online, I don't know what is.

Dude, if I go to McDonald's, it is because I want an egg mcmuffin; not because McDonald's has "persuaded" me to like breakfast sandwiches, that is just a bizarre way to approach it.

Yup. I've had plenty of examples in the past, but just 5 minutes ago I had a small online debate about business rights and their choice of clientele, and I was pretty strong on my point, until the person I was talking to worded it in a different way. Helped me see his point a lot better, and now I fully understand his point and mostly agree with it, despite being at odds with the idea at first

Yep. It's possible, but not always. Still, it's possible more often than many would suggest. The big mistake most people make is thinking that having impenetrable logic behind your argument is enough.

For some people, having a rock-solid argument is all that's needed, but it requires them to have an open, mature mind and we all know that's not something you'll find often from random strangers online.

Those who have closed minds require more work. They must be eased into a less combative way of thinking. If they see you as their opponent, they won't give ground no matter how solid your argument is. By approaching them with intellectual curiosity, and re-framing an argument as an earnest search for the truth, you can make them less defensive and more willing to listen to you. This means putting on a less stalwart front, showing that you have doubts, or acknowledging strengths in the other person's argument, even if they might weaken your own argument. You want to show them that you won't pounce on them the moment they let their guard down. Once their minds are open and they're willing to join you in seeking the truth, then your arguments can have an effect.

This has led to some very productive discussions for me, even in the Youtube comments section.

Of course, there are those who actually don't want to have a discussion. They're there just to stir things up, and won't engage with you, because they don't want to know the truth, they just want everyone watching them to react a certain way. Trolls, basically. At the very least, they'll leave you alone if you don't come across as being the reactive sort.

Pretty much yes and no

I think it's perfectly possible for people to change their views. Of course some people are going to be obstinate or downright ignorant for various reasons but I would never say debate is pointless. I think a lot of it can depend on the manner information is presented to them. Patronising people or aggression often bring out the worst in both parties.

Vid related: discussion over the phrase 'preaching to the converted/choir.' His channel actually puts out a lot of interesting content on debate and behavioural psychology. Helped me refine my thinking a little more during my teenage years when I was quick to judge groups of people for their way of thinking or their beliefs.
EDIT: Having trouble embedding the video, also good to be back after 6 years of not posting!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H57Z0yE3Qgw

 

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