I keep running into a situation in debates and arguments. My opponent makes an argument (or counterargument), and I carefully disprove all of my opponent's points. However, instead of addressing my counterarguments or following up on the points I refuted, my opponent makes new points to support their argument. Sometimes, they will even recycle points I already refuted. Thus, I end up having to play an endless game of whack-a-mole where I'm constantly knocking down my opponent's argument while they're ignoring mine.
What is the proper response to this? The debate is a public discussion for others to read.
As an example, in a public discussion I started about vaccine hesitancy, an individual claiming to take a neutral position on the subject said that vaccines have 10 times the legal mercury content.
- I explained to him on multiple points why this isn't the case and provided a link to an FDA report on the matter proving my counterargument. Having taken a year of chemistry in college, I also explained why the mercury scare in vaccines was misguided in the first place.
- He ignored all of these points entirely and later acted like saying something so factually untrue was no big deal.
- He proceeded to make a new argument that vaccines should not be so universally supported because vaccines cause humanity to become dependent on them to survive, and unvaccinated children who die from illnesses ultimately improve the gene pool. (I'm trying my best to represent his arguments here in the best of light).
- Avoiding the trap of arguing the moral high ground, I proceeded to expose all of the flaws in this argument and prove that taking the "natural selection" approach is not the better alternative to improving global health.
- He ignored each rebuttal and proceeded to make another point to prove his argument. This started a cycle where I knocked down each point only for him to make another while failing to address the flaws exposed in his argument.
- Realizing the debate was going no where, I decided to simply tear down his credentials to make such an argument in the first place, saying he has no scientific expertise or education to on natural selection and immunology make an argument calling for killing children to improve the gene pool. This gradually brought the discussion to a standstill.
While my objective was initially to educate this individual and clear up a common misunderstanding, the debate degenerated to a point where the best I could do was tear down his arguments for others to see. However, I feel I did not respond properly and left the argument feeling like I could have done better.
What could I have done better here? What is the proper approach to responding an opponent that keeps ignoring your counterarguments? What could I have done better to end this argument?