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Inspired by this question where individuals can't imagine something being possible, and somewhat similar to this.

I've recently been in a debate where the debater had the very annoying habit of just point-blank denying the existence of points, quotes - including quotes of their own posts - or facts, whenever the information inconvenienced them, simply declaring that I hadn't provided any factual evidence whilst then introducing an off-topic red herring.

When initially making points, references will be supplied (or the quote a line very recently said, IE previous reply), however due to the medium of social media with character limitations, it's not possible to continually re-reference multiple points via URLs that take up precious limited space.

Classically, debates have it so the burden of proof is on the person proving it, however, if a person does supply the proof, what does one do when one encounters an opponent who continually denies the existence of supplied proof?

Are there any rhetorical or informal approaches for handling this?

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    "Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience." I would suggest reading up on how functional discourse relies on commonly shared norms of truth and values. This kind of discourse is disfunctional, the only possibility is discussing meta-rules governing the discourse itself. Most people arguing that way are not willing and sometimes not able to do so since it involves the ability of questioning one's own beliefs. – Philip Klöcking Dec 12 '18 at 12:37
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    Yes. Walk away. – Cell Dec 12 '18 at 12:52
  • @Cell Whilst walking away is technically a solution, not challenging the falsified claim leaves the impression it is true (due to space constraints previous refs/posts/quotes can be omitted for brevity). It might be worth noting that it's public. – SSight3 Dec 12 '18 at 13:55
  • @PhilipKlöcking Assuming the other person can't be convinced on any sort of meta-rules, is there a way to, at a minimum, informally convince the public, what they are saying is either dishonest or self-denial? For example, I present X, they say presentation X contains no facts, I say Y (which draws the argument to a close), so it doesn't matter if they say ABCZ, the onus is then on them to acknowledge/dispute the facts rather than existence? – SSight3 Dec 12 '18 at 14:01
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    Can it be an acceptable position to include that someone pretending to be an idiot probably is an idiot just because they think they are pretending? Just to cover all the bases. And that it might be some form of acceptable psychology but really just profiles the arguer. – Robus Dec 13 '18 at 4:26
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The questions are:

Classically, debates have it so the burden of proof is on the person proving it, however, if a person does supply the proof, what does one do when one encounters an opponent who continually denies the existence of supplied proof?

Are there any rhetorical or informal approaches for handling this?

One place to look for techniques is in Nicholas Capaldi and Miles Smit's The Art of Deception. They approach critical thinking from the perspective of the deceiver by giving the deceiver advice how to deceive others. The goal is to give the reader insight into the thinking of deceivers and indirectly show them ways to counter or avoid these tactics.

Here are some suggestions that might be useful:

  • Don't get angry. (page 153) An arguer will justifiably try to push the opponent into a corner making the opponent's position look inconsistent or contradictory. That might be called the Socratic method of questioning, but if a deceiver fails at that, the deceiver will try to get the opponent angry. Getting angry may make the opponent say foolish things and encourage the audience to laugh at them. If one is frustrated or feels one is losing the argument, one can become angry even without being taunted by a deceiver. Rhetorical response: don't get angry.
  • Don't let the audience think red herrings are important. (page 172) Red herrings are distractions for those listening to the argument. Don't let the audience get distracted. Ignore the red herring. Go back to the point.
  • Don't practice deception. Keeping your integrity in a debate helps you avoid anger and distractions. Don't practice the deception illustrated in the book to manipulate and deceive the audience. The goal in an argument is to clarify the issues involved. Capaldi and Smit give many examples throughout their book of what one should not do by telling a deceiver what to do. Trust the audience to be rational enough to decide without manipulation or deception.

Capaldi, N., Smit, M. (2007). The art of deception: an introduction to critical thinking. Prometheus Books.

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