Theism, Atheism and Being Irrational, Part 2 (Evidence)

What Is Evidence?

court room evidenceI’ve served on a jury just once in my life. The case involved the rape of a child. The direct evidence consisted almost solely in the testimony of the victim. The defense introduced what I would call “defeaters”—reasons to doubt the veracity of the testimony. Being an epistemologist, I paid careful attention to how both attorneys built their cases. When the trial concluded, the judge sent us into a private room to deliberate, and the jury chose me as foreperson. I found the procedure quite simple. There were several charges, written in propositional form. Each juror was to indicate whether they believed or disbelieved (or stood undecided on the truth of) each charge. I read them one at a time, and each juror stated their position. No one doubted, no one disputed. We unanimously  affirmed each charge as true. The swiftness of the process surprised me. The prosecution had presented a powerful case, and the defense was weak. The man was convicted.

lap top pond evidenceThis all sounds quite reasonable. Beliefs, especially about important things, should be carefully formed and supported by evidence. This includes beliefs about God or the absence of gods. But I think a great deal of confusion and clutter arises because we have misconceptions about what evidence is and how it supports beliefs. What kinds of things can support our beliefs? Probably just two things: experiences and other beliefs. For example, what supports my belief that the computer in front of me is black? Well, one thing that supports this belief is my visual experience of the computer. It appears black to me. That is my primary source of evidence. What supports my belief that this computer, if tossed into a lake, will sink? One thing that supports this belief is another belief: the belief that things of a certain density and configuration cannot float in water. Both my beliefs—about the color and buoyancy of the computer—seem perfectly rational given my evidence. My jury experience was similar. My belief that the suspect was guilty was supported by my experience of listening to testimony and other beliefs about the situation, like the reliability of that testimony.

unicorn pig evidenceSo how does all this help us in thinking about the rationality of belief or disbelief in God? One person believes there is a God, and one person believes there are no gods. Both are belief-states. This has nothing to do with certainty or claims to “know.” Some may say that disbelief in gods is a “lack of belief.” But this isn’t quite accurate. If I lack a belief about some matter, it means I’ve never considered it at all. Five seconds before typing this sentence, I lacked a belief about whether pigs are descended from unicorns. I had never considered it. I didn’t affirm it, I didn’t deny it. I wasn’t even “undecided.” I just had no mental state about it whatsoever. Now I do—I deny it. Anyone who has thought about whether gods exist has a belief about the matter, and both belief-states (affirming & denial) are on equal terms, both are claims about reality. And since both views are belief-states, they should both be based on evidence—either experiences or other beliefs.

The Rubber Meets the Road

So, if you are a God-believer, what is your evidence? If you are a god-denier, what is your evidence? You might appeal to some combination of experiences and beliefs that you have. But there are still at least two questions that come up, one for theists and one for atheists. (1) Is there really evidence for God? And (2) what should we believe if there is no evidence for God?

the matrix evidenceThis may shock you, but I’ve never met a theist who has no evidence for their belief. It is almost impossible to form a genuine belief without evidence. For theists, this includes “religious experiences,” testimony, philosophical arguments, etc.  However, not all evidence is created equally. So, if you are a skeptic about God, rather than tell the theist she has no evidence, inquire about the quality of that evidence. Still, even if a theist’s belief is only supported by misleading evidence, this does not make her irrational. Suppose a person unknowingly lives in the Matrix. That is, all her perceptions are being fed to her by a super-duper neuro-computer that can simulate anything. She now believes she is climbing the steps of the Eiffel Tower, but in reality, her body is sleeping in a plastic tube. Is she rational to believe that she is climbing the steps of the Eiffel Tower? Certainly. Her belief is supported only by misleading evidence, but she is being quite rational and epistemically responsible in taking it all at face-value. So, as I argued in the last post, rationality and truth can come apart. Similarly, even if there are no gods, theism can be quite rational (although rather tragic). The break-down in the analogy is that, unlike those trapped in the Matrix, we do have access to counter-evidence and friends who can help us identify bad beliefs.

So what about the second question? If you believe there are no gods, and your basis for this is the claim that there is no evidence for gods, is this a rational position? This will depend on your total evidence. It is true that you shouldn’t face-off evidencebelieve something without evidence for it, but it is also true, in the same way, that you shouldn’t disbelieve something without evidence against it (or evidence for disbelief). So, if the atheist lacks evidence for God (perhaps they’ve never had a religious experience or credible testimony), and she possesses evidence for disbelief, then she may be rational in her disbelief. But now you must be prepared to face-off with the theist on even terms. You both make a claim, you both must offer a defense of your position. Alternatively, if you think there’s simply no evidence whatsoever for the question of whether gods exist, then the rational position is to be undecided (sometimes called being ‘agnostic’). This is the “default” position, for those who have considered the question.

Theism, Atheism and Being Irrational, Part 1

condescending irrationalI loathe condescension for two reasons. One, I find it deeply offensive to be treated as a cognitive inferior or be told I’m being irrational. Two, when someone acts condescendingly toward me, it is like a mirror painfully reflecting my own condescending attitude toward others. Ouch. And there are few places where people are more smug than in debates about God and religion. Both sides are quite certain they occupy the rational high-ground, the moral high-ground, or both.

Many atheists think that belief in a god is irrational because there is a lack of evidence. Believers maintain faith by denial, ignorance or wishful thinking. On the other hand, Christians think that atheists “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” to quote a line from St. Paul. “Unbelievers” run from reality to preserve their illusory sense of moral autonomy. Both sides accuse the other of irrationality. It wouldn’t be hard to produce anecdotal evidence for both claims. But we must recognize that the rationality of individual persons and the rationality of a worldview are two separate things.

dinosaur velociraptorSo here’s the first question I’m interested in: is it possible for someone to be rational AND be a Christian/atheist? (For philosophy nerds, I’m talking about epistemic rationality.) One way to think of rationality is as a relationship between a person’s belief and their total evidence. To keep it simple, let’s start by talking about a single belief: (A) the dinosaurs were wiped out by a comet. Suppose a person, Stephen, believes (A) rationally because his total evidence supports it. What evidence does Stephen have? Stephen was taught (A) by his teacher, who offered good evidence in class, and Stephen has no defeaters (beliefs that would lead him to deny (A)). Sounds rational. Now suppose another person, Marie, never studied this topic, but believes (A) because she dreamt it was true. It seems that Marie is not believing rationally. Now imagine a third person, Neil, who thinks (A) is false, even though he sat through the same lessons as Stephen. Neil saw a reputable scientist on TV who argued that (B) the dinosaurs died out because of natural changes in climate. Is Neil rational in believing (B) and denying (A)? Arguably, yes. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that (A) is true, and (B) is false. Interestingly, this has no effect on the rationality of Stephen, Marie and Neil, because rationality is a relation between my belief and my total evidence.

I made up these cases, but they illustrate how beliefs and evidence can relate. Stephen stands in the ideal position. He believes rationally and his belief is true. Marie’s belief is true, but less than rational. Neil believes something false, but he seems rational in doing so.

Takeaway #1: Truth and rationality can come apart.

I can maintain my rationality even when I (unwittingly) believe something false, and I can get lucky in believing the truth even when my cognitive process goes awry.

What is the upshot of this finding? It is this: Christians and atheists should not assume that people on “the other side” are being irrational simply because they believe something false. The best thing to do is look at each case individually, rather than generalizing about how “Christians” and “atheists” think.

evidence irrationalNow, new questions arise. How do we know when someone believes irrationally? When you talk to your friend on the other side, how do you evaluate the quality of their believing? Well, keep in mind that each person’s total evidence is different. This means that what is rational for me to believe may be different from what is rational for you to believe. In Neil’s case, it would probably be epistemically bad for him to switch his belief to (A) because his total evidence better supports (B). But also keep in mind that you may not know what is contained in your friend’s total evidence. They may have evidence you don’t know about. Stephen, unaware that Neil saw this TV program, might consider Neil’s denial of (A) to be irrational. Likewise, Neil might fault Stephen for continuing to hold (A), even though there is better scientific support for (B). Both are wrong.

Takeaway #2: Your rationality is relative to your unique total evidence

Rationality remains an objective, knowable fact about a person’s belief, but I simply must take care not to judge another person’s belief according to my total evidence. And it is so hard to know what someone else’s total evidence includes!

Takeaway #3: Exercise caution and care when judging another’s rationality

In my next post, I plan to look at particular cases of theistic and atheistic belief and evaluate their rationality. (I will also talk about the nature of evidence.) Feel free to offer feedback on what I’ve written so far. Do you agree with each of my takeaway points? Your feedback helps me know what to clarify and what to address in the next post.

Dealing with Dissonance

psycho dissonanceWho can forget the menacingly repetitive theme from the film “Psycho.” Sonic dissonance creating tension and setting our teeth on edge. Extreme dissonance is useful for horror films and car horns, but it’s not the sort of thing you can listen to for long. Ideas can be dissonant as well. Ideas or thoughts in the mind that contradict or conflict in some way can cause mental and psychological irritation. We want to press ‘mute’ on them, as we do with disturbing music.

fight even matchA frequent cause of this cognitive dissonance is disagreement with others—especially someone we consider to be an intellectual peer. A person is my ‘intellectual peer,’ roughly, when they are just as smart as me and have the same information I have. The other day, I read a story about a well-known atheist blogger who would be considered an intellectual peer by most atheists. The story explained how this blogger had recently converted from atheism to Christian theism.  I’ve encountered stories like hers before, including my own, and when I talk to my atheist friends about these stories, they typically insist that the conversion must be due to some failure of reason. Why insist this? Often, it is a way to “mute” the cognitive dissonance that arises when you are faced with the following two ideas:

  • There are no good reasons to believe in God.
  • Fiona is an intellectual peer who believes in God for good reasons.

Understand, though, that this problem plagues humans indiscriminately. Religious believers as well as atheists are susceptible. We can generalize it to apply to anyone:

(1*)  There are no good reasons to believe X.

(2*)  Tom is an intellectual peer who believes X for good reasons.

“X” can be Christian theism, or atheism, or flat-earth theory. The point being that these two incompatible thoughts grate against each other like nails on a chalkboard in our mind. We need to resolve the tension, so what do we do? We can revise (2*) and simply “downgrade” the other person, saying to ourselves, thinking hard“they just aren’t as smart or well-informed as I am.” This can alleviate the cognitive dissonance. But if we had trusted them as an intellectual peer in the past, it isn’t reasonable to downgrade them simply because they now disagree with you. After all, if you are peers (as you had every reason to believe), then you’re just as likely to get things wrong as they are. To downgrade due to disagreement is intellectual hubris.

Instead, consider withholding on or revising (1*). A more reasonable and stable position to hold would be

(1**) I have no good reasons to believe X.

Consider that there may be good reasons to believe X that you don’t know about. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your own worldview—it simply means you investigate further. You can justifiably maintain your theism or atheism (or agnosticism) and take some time to look into the reasons given for the person’s conversion. But one must be prepared to adjust one’s beliefs depending on the outcome of that investigation.

music composition

Cognitive dissonance is, ultimately, an inescapable part of being human. Instead of trying to instantly quash its unpleasantness, recognize it as a friend that pushes us toward the truth and keeps us from becoming intellectually stagnant. We should learn to appreciate it just as we appreciate musical dissonance (not necessarily the “Psycho” variety) and its capacity to create movement and beauty by elevating tension and releasing it into a (more) harmonious conclusion. When we respond patiently and thoughtfully to dissonance, we improve our ability to resolve it into something constructive and beautiful.

Krista Tippett on Intellectual Humility in Religion and Politics

If you haven’t completely given up on politics yet, and you’re wondering how we can affect the way conversations play out in the public square, then you’ll enjoy this podcast. You may be familiar with Krista Tippett, host of On Being, a open hands humilityradio program and podcast. She discusses “Public Life, Social Humility, and the Religious Other” with Evan Rosa, host of the The Table podcast, produced by the Biola Center for Christian Thought. I find discussions like these immensely helpful to the pursuit of better thinking.

Here’s the link. 

The Epistemology of Racism

charlottesville racismIn the wake of recent events in Charlottesville, it is easy to stand back and point fingers at “those people” and think of the trouble as “out there.” There’s a certain comfort and reassurance that we aren’t like that. But much of the persistent problem of racism lurks in more subtle places. I suspect that for most people of color, they don’t often run into people waving flags and carrying torches. The sting of racism comes from the people they live around everyday—people like you and me. We can’t let Charlottesville, Washington and Ferguson blind us to our own contribution.

A Wake-up Call

My wake-up call came in the fall of 2015, when racial tensions here at the University of Missouri exploded. After a series of racially charged events on campus, black students began to protest and launched the “concerned Missouri protestsstudent 1950” movement. When the administration failed to act, protests reached the homecoming parade and finally the football team. The result: several top officials were forced to resign, including the university president and chancellor.

Initially, I admit, didn’t get it. I was teaching ethics on campus, and I clumsily tried to discuss the first incident in class. White students were puzzled. From their perspective, it seemed as if someone threw a firecracker in the room and a nuclear explosion resulted. They couldn’t understand why the black students were “overreacting.” They didn’t see the problem. Ironically, their (and my) failure to “see” turned out to be the problem. I don’t think I fully heard the alarm clock until my department chair called me in later to talk about a complaint from a black student in my class.

Flawed Reasoning

For most well-meaning people in the ethnic majority, our reasoning often follows this pattern when it comes to racism:

1.  I don’t see a lot of (or any) racism around here.
2. So, there isn’t a lot of (or any) racism around here.

But there is a hidden premise here:

1.  I don’t see a lot of (or any) racism around here.
* If there was a lot of racism around here, I would see it.*
2. So, there isn’t a lot of (or any) racism around here.

This hidden premise is false, and here’s why: ethnic majority people like me haven’t developed a reliable ability to perceive racism on campus. We miss most of the racism taking place around us because of its subtlety. I even struggle to see the slight racism in my own words and actions sometimes. A close minority friend in grad school confronted me several times about small comments I made that offended him. Most racist acts manifest in small ways: looks, snubs, seemingly innocuous remarks. People of color who frequently experience these things can detect it easily. Your experience changes your perceptual abilities. My training as a musician gave me heightened sensitivity to bad intonation at musical performances. I hear things others miss. I think the same is true for people of color in their acute perception of racism. And on top of this, unless you are a minority or a perpetrator of overt racist acts, you probably aren’t even around when most of the acts occur.

orchestra performance tuningLet me take the music analogy further. Suppose I attend an orchestra performance with one of my old music professors, and they say, “Oh no, the oboe soloist is out of tune!” I may think to myself, “It sounds ok to me.” But I would probably defer to their judgment, because of their greater experience and expertise. I think ethnic majority people (like myself), need to do the same when it comes to perceiving racism. People of color have developed an expert aptitude for noticing racism. That doesn’t mean they are infallible in their perception, but it does mean we should take their opinions seriously—even if we don’t see it first-hand. And just as I developed my musical ear through “ear-training” in college, we all have a responsibility to sharpen our senses when it comes to perceiving racism.

Reading the Fine Print


The events in Charlottesville were easy to spot as horrendously bigoted and evil. I’m near sighted, but even I can read the handwriting on the wall when it’s six inches away, writ in giant red letters. It’s the small print of racism for which we need glasses, and some of that print is close—as close as your mirror. Listen to the people of color around you. Open your mind to the possibility that you are not blameless, that you are visually-impaired. Take responsibility for your lack of perception and learn to see it. As Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Let Charlottesville be your wake-up call.

3 Reasons Why You Love Click-bait

mouse trap baitClick bait. The impossibly enticing headline. We love it the way fish love . . . whatever it is they love. (I’m not a fisherman.) Maybe like proverbial mice love the cheese in the trap. But the allure of click bait isn’t that visceral, like some leftover of evolution. It is intellectual, or at least cognitive. We bite on those juicy stories because they give us something our minds crave. I admit it—I feel the pull of those tabloid headlines when I’m standing in the check-out line, or scrolling to the bottom of a news feed. I think there are at least three reasons we love click bait.

  1. They tell us what we want to hear. Some people call this “confirmation bias.” We reach for and swallow these stories unchewed because they confirm our precious beliefs. Of course, the stories may (luckily) be true and actually lend support to our worldview, but to wolf them down like so many children of Chronos slowly corrupts our crucial ability to think critically. Still, the allure of stories that play our favorite ideological tunes is powerful.
  2. tabloid headlineWe’re suckers for sensational headlines and images. It’s why tabloids sell. We just have to know whether Angelina Jolie really had a bat-baby or whether that dolphin grew human arms! The possibility of the macabre and fantastical is magnetic. “Abraham Lincoln was a woman??!!”
  3. We forget that media outlets are businesses. If we kept this fact in mind, we would find those headlines far less appealing. Imagine the 19th century American villager titillated by the flashy, handsome snake-oil salesman who rolls into town. He looks impressive, and his claims are magical. But now imagine that same villager who later discovers that he was sold a bottle of sugar-water with no medicinal effects whatsoever. When that salesman rolls back through his town, his new skepticism shields him from the mesmerizing show. The bait no longer allures.

Consider two recent stories that generated plenty of clicks. One story explained how scientists have discovered genetic links between modern Lebanese and ancient Canaanites. The Canaanites were famous for being the bible archaeologyunfortunate victims of ancient Israel’s attempts at genocide in Palestine—well-documented failures. But despite this readily available information, the typical headline read “Scientists Disprove the Bible.

Another story exaggerated with equal flare. This one detailed how archaeologists found evidence for the burning of Jerusalem 2600 years ago. But “found some evidence for X” isn’t nearly as sexy as “proved X!” One headline read “Biblical Event Proven TRUE” and another actually announced this as proof of God’s existence!

So why do we love to click on these stories? Run each one through the three reasons above. Some people desperately WANT them to be true. Or the claims are so outrageous that we have to see if they’re real, like a carnival freak show. And most of us think of news outlets, scientists and religious folks as automatically worthy of trust, forgetting that the headline is probably the product of a business plan, rather than top-notch journalism.

How do we develop a healthy attitude of mild skepticism that will slow down our mouse button just enough to let a little evaluation squeeze into our media consumption process? For me, it came through trial and error. I bought enough snake oil and ate enough crow over the years that I became wary—wary enough to get some training and education to slow down my thinking a bit. Our brains are somewhat wired to do this:

belief process

But I know that I have to consciously discipline my mind to do this:

belief process 2We have to work at slowing down our cognition enough to squeeze in this extra step. I confess that at least once, I shared an article on Facebook without even reading beyond the headline! (I’ve also shared a few “fake” things as a joke to see who would jump straight to acceptance.)

judgeI should mention that you won’t get it right every time. You’ll get fooled occasionally, even if you’re careful. This happened to me just a couple weeks ago when I shared an article that looked totally unbiased, only to have a friend point out that the source, which was extremely biased, had “disguised” itself in the post. The goal should be to do our “due diligence” in thinking things over, passing judgment in the same circumspect manner you would want a judge to decide your own case. Have you seen a “click bait” headline recently? Share it in the comments.

Cromwell’s Rule

CromwellI beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

~Oliver Cromwell, in a letter to the Synod of Scotland

I remember the day I first learned to ask a crucial question during a conversational argument. Locked in a fervent discussion about religion, my interlocutor and I had logged hours of circling around the same issues. I despaired of making any headway. Then it dawned on me—the question! It was this: “Do you think it is possible that you’re wrong?” He answered “no,” and I politely ended the conversation.

Of course, I’ve put the same question to myself: “Is it possible that I’m wrong on this issue?” And I have to say, “yes.” Doesn’t this seem reasonable? After all, the evidence of my fallibility grows daily. I think this assumption, that one could be wrong, is crucial to any productive argument. The only exception being an argument about the fact of my own current existence—if I’m wrong about that one, then all (my) bets are off. Literally.

Cromwell’s Rule

Dennis Lindley (1923-2013), a British statistician, coined the term “Cromwell’s Rule” regarding this crucial assumption. Lindley was concerned about formally calculating probabilities rather than persuasive argument, but his “rule” helps make a good point. You should never assume (unless something is true by definition, like “2+2=4” or “all unmarried men are bachelors”) that something is impossible (or necessarily true), because it renders you practically immune to new evidence to the contrary. Rather, you should leave a little epistemic space for even extremely unlikely scenarios

Doctor WhoHere’s an illustration. In an episode of the popular sci-fi TV show Doctor Who (“Midnight”), a group of tourists travel via ground shuttle to visit the famed emerald waterfalls of the planet Midnight. When the shuttle stalls and knocking sounds are heard on the hull, a scientist on board (Hobbes) tries to reassure them that no living thing could be knocking on the hull because no living thing could survive the lethal “galvanic radiation” that bathes the planet’s surface. As the evidence mounts that the shuttle is under attack by an intelligent being, the scientist simply cannot bring himself to even admit this possibility, despite its being obvious to everyone else aboard. Hobbes remains trapped in his fundamental assumption about life on Midnight, unable to assimilate even the evidence of his own eyes and ears.

Sandy Heads

Religious skeptics, believers and political pundits often fall prey to this same mistake. We could call it intellectual pride, hubris, or plain old stubbornness. Utterly convinced of our position, we blockade ourselves against new evidence like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the stand. Even if it turns out that our belief is true in this instance, the habit of ignoring Cromwell’s Rule makes us vulnerable to error in the future. Good thinking and arguing, for those who are genuine truth-seekers, must include some openness to our own fallibility.


How to Lose an Argument

I only hate losing when it comes to things I’m good at. I’m happy to concede a basketball game or a tennis match. But I hate losing arguments. Since childhood, I’ve relished a good adrenaline-surging verbal exchange. It’s fight argumentprobably one part genetic, one part environment. You know how most families have a variety of personality types who complement and balance one another? My parents , me and my sister were all hyper-assertive, stubborn fighters. You adapt to survive. You learn to like it.

My wife, on the other hand, hates conflict. So that has been challenging. And just as she thought I might be mellowing out a bit, I went and got a PhD in arguing. I probably laughed more than most people when I read humorist Dave Barry’s essay, “How to Win Arguments.” He writes,

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me. You too can win arguments.

Barry tenders such advice as, “make things up,” “use meaningless, but weighty-sounding words,” and “use snappy and irrelevant comebacks.” And though Barry’s piece is satire, he gets the point across in a witty, indirect way: don’t be an ass. I wish I could say that I’ve reigned in my argument demon sufficiently and in time to avoid passing it along to my children. Now I’m just hoping one of them becomes a cutthroat attorney and cashes in on their pugilistic legacy.

argumentBut I suppose I have made a little progress, halting though it’s been. So here’s a bit of what I’ve learned. First, stop trying so hard to win. Good arguments don’t have to be winning arguments. As soon as you turn it into a battle or a competition, someone has to lose, and there is no one harder to persuade than the person reeling from your verbal violence. And isn’t persuasion what we’re after?

A little terminological clarification might help illuminate things here. The word ‘argument’ carries multiple meanings. One is relational. It is a (hopefully civil) discussion between two or more people who disagree about some point. Despite what you see on TV, or on the hidden cameras you’ve installed in my home, arguments don’t require yelling, insults and emotional outbursts. The other sense of ‘argument’ is a collection of ideas, put together in a logical way to support a conclusion. So, in this sense, we don’t have an argument with someone, we give an argument to someone. And since logic and truth reign supreme in a good argument, emotions, egos, and agendas must be set aside as much as possible. (Now, if you are a particularly adept ass, you can throw this in people’s faces. There’s nothing a highly-aggravated person loves to hear more than, “calm down!”) Here are some tips that promote good arguments, in both senses:

  • Believe you may be wrong – the foundation of all helpful dialogues; don’t even bother without it
  • Take the other person seriously – respect, seek to understand
  • Be a truth-seeker – are you honestly after truth, or just out to make your point?
  • Do your homework – don’t just expect people to take your word for it; have some evidence or research to back it up
  • Assertions vs. arguments – just saying “Joe is a moron” is not an argument
  • Know when to walk away – if you or they get too angry or disrespectful

SocratesIf I could offer just one word, it would be humility. Humility of character and intellect. Socrates himself claimed that what set him apart from other people was that he alone realized how little he knew. Perhaps this is what motivated his method of asking questions (often called the “Socratic method”) in a dialogue rather than launching into a lecture or a monologue. Because of his humility and his logical, conversational approach, Socrates persuaded people. Well, except for the Athenian officials who executed him.

crispy foodSo instead of trying to win, think about persuasion as your goal. Just as “revenge is a dish best served cold,” persuasion is a dish best served warm and crispy with tasty seasonings and a colorful garnish. It may be cliché to talk about “win-win scenarios,” but when you and your conversation partner move closer to the truth through argument, everyone wins.