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How to Argue Well: An Interview with Matt Fradd (Video)

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Matt Fradd

One of the more popular memes floating around the Internet features a young man wearing a t-shirt that reads: "I'm an atheist. Debate me."

We all know the type, which also includes not a few Catholics. The Internet is a breeding ground for fiery debate and argument, as anyone with a Facebook page and a religious or political opinion knows well. Behind the safety of a screen people just love to go back-and-forth on the big question of life. But unfortunately, most of the time these arguments devolve into unproductive screeds, complete with name-calling, poor reasoning, and INSULTS IN ALL-CAPS.

How to Win an ArgumentSo in this digital age, how can we argue better? That's the question Matt Fradd answers in his new DVD talk, "How to Win an Argument Without Losing a Soul". With his characteristic wit and clarity—and an enviable Australian accent—he explains why arguing is good and teaches how to do it well.

Matt covers many of the most popular fallacies and explains how to spot them in others' arguments (and your own!). He shows how to infuse discussions with charity, humility, and patience. And he offers plenty of tips on encouraging fruitful dialogue instead of the empty, rhetorical death-matches many of us are used to.

Matt recently sat down with me to discuss some of the major themes in his DVD, including what makes for a strong argument, the most common fallacies today, and the benefits and drawbacks of arguing online.

 

Watch or download our interview below:

 

Video


Watch the video here (19 minutes)
 

Audio

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Download the interview here (19 minutes)
 

Topics Discussed:

1:08 - What is an argument and why is it valuable?
2:54 - What makes for a strong argument?
5:52 - What inviolable rules ground all fruitful dialogue?
8:08 - What is a fallacy and which are the most common today?
13:36 - What are the benefits and drawbacks of arguing online?
15:59 - How can Catholics and atheists at StrangeNotions.com argue better?
 
 
Matt Fradd
 


 
Follow Matt's blog at MattFradd.com and find him on Twitter at @MattFradd. And be sure to pick up your copy of his new DVD, "How to Win an Argument Without Losing a Soul".

If you liked this discussion, subscribe free to Strange Notions via feed reader or email to ensure sure you don't miss future interviews.
 

Brandon Vogt

Written by

Brandon Vogt is an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and the founder of StrangeNotions.com. He's been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. Brandon converted to Catholicism in 2008, and in 2011 and since released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014). He works as the Content Director for Fr. Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their four children in Central Florida. Follow his blog at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

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  • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Rimmer

    Seems like a good overview of how to have a rational argument.

    Since Matt Fradd mentioned Scientism: http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/08/14/lets-stop-using-the-word-scientism/

    TL;DR: The word “scientism” doesn’t helpfully delineate a coherent position, it unhelpfully flattens important distinctions and creates a false target. We can do better.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Paul, I don't see any problem with using the word "scientism" so long as its defined in context, as Matt does in our interview.

      • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Rimmer

        There seem to be as many definitions for the word as there are people who use it. That would make "scientism" a fairly useless word.

        My problem is not specifically with Matt Fradd's use of "scientism" in the interview. I wish no one used the term at all. I especially wish people wouldn't use "scientism" to describe their own views.

  • Vickie

    Thanks Brandon, I liked this and it was helpful to me. The first day I was ever on this site the discussions made me think of the song "The Windmills of Your Mind". Not because I thought that people were making circular arguments but because the discussions themselves often go "round. Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel". What I got from this article and video was more than merely tips on making a good logical argument but more of an attitude on how to do that in a productive way.

    • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Rimmer

      Now I have to find and listen to that song!

  • Savio M Sacco

    Here is another article from another favourite website. It discusses the same subject and I thought I should share it with you:

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/05/26/classical-rhetoric-101-logical-fallacies/