January 13, 2012
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Note: This is the seventh and final installment in the series on debating tactics and pseudoskepticism. For other posts in this series, see the index entry.
Even if one has learned to separate personal identity and position, there may be some lingering discomfort with being shown wrong. It can feel somewhat embarrassing and you may feel like you are losing credibility and reputation among your peers. This delusion of prestige is very dangerous and may make us dig our heels in into an untenable position.
This is called irrational escalation (also known as sunken cost fallacy). It occurs when one tries to justify spending additional time, money and effort into something by noting that the amount of time, money or effort already spent. A popular example is playing poker with a big pot that one has made a substantial contribution to and realizing that the hand one has is not as good as one thought. If your hand is bad enough, it may be beneficial to lay it down despite having put a lot of money into the pot, if playing the hand to the end will cost you more.
Similarly, this may make us ramp up the rhetoric and intimidation to subdue our current debating adversary. However, we should keep in mind the following question:
Would I rather “win” a discussion, or know what is right? Read more of this post