When in a talk show some controversial subject is discussed, it is customary to invite representatives of the diverse points of view that exist on the subject. Up to here, nothing strange.

There are those in favour of solar energy and those that think that nuclear energy is safe and cheap; those who think that homosexual couples must have such rights as the heterosexual couples; those who prefer capitalism and those who define themselves as anticapitalist, etc. But is it always strictly necessary the concurrence of two opposite sides to debate a problem?

Is it correct to organize a debate about whether or not the Holocaust did happen? Is it correct to bring members of a racist group and face them to those who believe in the equality of races? Is there any gain in debating with those who don’t respect their interlocutors?

For the mass media, gratuitous confrontation is used to win at the game of audience ratings. It doesn’t matter that some groups or individuals defend their ideas by means of personal attacks, exclusion, and the use of the principle of authority (when not plain faith). The media wants to show controversy at any cost, because controversy sells.

One person speaking in front of the camera, saying that a subject is extremely complicated and that is difficult to emit a definitive judgment does not sell.

What sells are the violent defence of your ideas, the insult, the personal attacks, the disqualification. I believe that a certain idea of truth is really necessary in order to be authentic moral beings. We all have a moral line that we never would cross, although its nature and the place where it is varies for each one of us. But we do not have to forget that, although many differences may exist between people, we must have something in which we can agree, a basis for dialogue.

We must be able to change our ideas to the light of new ideas.

No matter how much I like to discuss, I would never enter the game of certain people. The argument culture doesn't look for approaching positions, but to dig an insuperable pit, and that makes agreement and mutual understanding impossible.

I named this node after Deborah Tannen's book The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue, which I recommand.