Is it good for society to debate "dangerous" ideas?

10 answers

  • We should be careful when giving oxygen to falsehoods, as humans are very capable of believing disinformation *more* after it is debunked.

  • Organisers of public debates should have a sense of responsibility, show no bias in presentation or moderation, and be able to judge fairly. We should not simply assume that they will achieve these goals.

  • The speakers and audience of a public debate are often not representative of society.

  • Freedom of speech is a civil liberty in the Western world. It is important to defend all of our civil liberties.

  • Being able to win a debate is not the same as being right.

  • Long-form conversations or debates are a good way to clearly communicate your viewpoint. When people's opinions are reported second-hand and out of context, it is easy to be unfairly mischaracterised.

  • A real-time public debate is not a good environment for people (speakers or audience) to check facts or assertions, to do extra research and reading, or to change their mind / admit they were wrong. There may be some merit to the exchange of ideas, but it is also largely theatre.

  • People need to be able to exercise critical thinking. An echo chamber is unhealthy and makes people more easily manipulable.

  • Ideas which may be considered "dangerous" by some might be considered necessary by others.

  • While it is our democratic right to hold debates, it is also our democratic right to protest those debates. A healthy society exercises both rights.