• Rose Smith

For the Sake of Argument

The pursuit of truth is difficult. When social issues arise, one is bombarded with information from both sides, both giving their arguments that they feel are completely solid. At times, arguments can be emphatic and completely sound on the surface, but they may have more shoddy foundations than one thinks. In the world today, when pure ignorance is not an option, one must also be equipped to be able to think on their own about the social, political, and technological issues plaguing the world today. To be able to do that, one must also be able see both sides of an argument well enough to be able to draw their own conclusions. A good way to start would be checking out other perspectives on issues that you are confident about. The youtube channel “Counter Arguments” is a great way to find logical and civil arguments that give another perspective of thinking.

Take, for example, the idea of enforced vaccinations for children going into public school, despite religious or philosophical misgivings about inoculation. Those who argue for enforced vaccinations take into account that vaccinations do not only prevent children from getting sick, but they also prevent disease for children who cannot be inoculated for whatever reason, such as having an autoimmune disorder, causing something known as “herd immunity”. Vaccinations have been known to prevent diseases and even eradicate some diseases into near extinction. While one on the pro side might immediately draw forth the straw man of bringing up the debunked data on the link between autism and vaccinating at a young age, the opposing side has a bit more of a complicated defense than solely debunked data. Some argue that while they might agree that vaccines are effective for preventing the spread of disease, they are reticent to allow governments to enforce vaccinations on people who have conscientious objections to them. To them, this is a problem of freedom rather than an argument of vaccine effectiveness. Brought down to its simplest terms, one could argue that the debate is about freedom versus public safety. Where is the line drawn in which one is not legally permitted to choose between actions regarding their own body or their children’s bodies? The proprietary side would say that the sacrifice of freedom for enforcing vaccines are a small price to pay for a mass benefit for public health and safety; however, those on the opposing side may say that sacrifice of freedom is too much to allow. It is better to compare both arguments with the same amount of weight and come up with one’s own conclusions, rather than take another’s opinions for granted.

A good place to start thinking critically about issues is to find opposing sources and assess both sides. The youtube channel “Counter Arguments” is a great place to start. “Counter Arguments”, the youtube channel takes existing arguments (often citing a person or interview he is looking to argue with), breaks the argument down in a logical manner, and argues against the given position using logic and reasoning. One of the best parts of the channel is that it is relatively politically agnostic. There are videos that call the left and the right to question in a measured but dryly humorous manner. Even if you are not necessarily leaning either way on the political spectrum (and don’t feel like getting into heavy political or social debate), there are more light-hearted subjects such as the Academy Awards or Hollywood movie remakes.

I have found “Counter Arguments”’s arguments engaging enough to watch no matter what positions he argues for. However, I recommend browsing the videos on his channel to find an argument that challenges your own beliefs. If you still disagree, think about why you do disagree with his argument. Maybe even try to think about how you would make a logical retort to his stance. No matter what, you will be able to learn an alternative perspective. However, to get you started, I will be posting a more lighthearted example below. It will give you a feel for his style of analysis and argument. As difficult as the search for truth may be, it is better to open your mind up to other ideas than close yourself off. Perhaps that way both sides can find ways to better understand and come to beneficial conclusions for both arguing parties.