Monday, March 9, 2009

Underdog’s Advantage

I've noticed a little trend in arguments, that the person with a less-popular opinion will tend to have an advantage in an straight argument against someone with a position that the majority of society holds. This is because the person with the unpopular opinion has likely spent more time thinking about their position and how to defend it. Where-as someone with an opinion that's shared by most of society will not see as much of a need to defend it, and so wont spend much time thinking about it. It has nothing to do with the less popular opinion being more correct or better thought out; they just have more of a motivation to do research and come up with support for what they believe.
A good example is the belief that the Holocaust didn't happen. Most of you reading this now probably believe that the the Holocaust did happen, and probably feel fairly passionate about that belief as well. Yet, you've probably not spent much time thinking (or researching) how to argue this opinion against someone on the other side of the issue. Someone who believes it didn't happen, on the other hand, probably realizes they're in a small minority with that opinion, and so anticipates that they'll have to defend their belief a lot, and has put more thought into how they'll defend it. Because they've put more thought into it, they'd probably be able to argue fairly well against you on the subject. This is the underdog's advantage.
The advantage starts to go away if more people begin subscribing to the minority belief, and it starts getting more recognition. At that point, enough chatter begins in the media and in social situations that people actually begin thinking about their beliefs on the subject and coming up with reasons to support it, or at least memorizing slogans. This is when the issue becomes controversial.
An issue becomes controversial when enough people support the minority side of it. An issue isn't controversial (basically), if you can bring it up with someone you don't really know and expect that their beliefs on it will side with your own. It is controversial, if you can't really make that assumption. For instance, "Women should have the right to vote," is not a very controversial statement. "Same-sex couples should have the right to get married" is.

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