Learning How To Argue

I hear and read a lot of discussions about why things related to Dota are good/bad. For example, why is X item good on X hero. I find over 95% of these discussions to be fairly poorly argued, and is something that I feel should not occur. Now this is a long article, and it sort of has to be. People argue/discuss about things every day, and yet are bad at it. It’s like being bad at eating and not even realising it.

If you are making an argument, what you are essentially doing is putting forth your viewpoint on a particular matter, and then explaining why you have this viewpoint. One of the problems in life is that people have a major tendency to form a viewpoint first, and then create rationale afterwards. It is very important to form a viewpoint based on reasons, and not make reasons to explain your already chosen viewpoint. In my experience, your first religious beliefs are created without reasons, but are caused by your upbringing. Later on, people with strong enough beliefs then scramble around for reasons why they believe it. How many 12 year olds have religious views that differ from their parents? In Dota’s terms, I find that some people emulate what they see in pro-games, and then say reasons why it’s good. The reasons aren’t why they’re doing it, the outside factor is.

For the sake of the article, I’m going to form an argumentation line on why Desolator on Lone Druid Is Good/Bad. The topic of the discussion is thus the viability of Desolator on Lone Druid.

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So lets get out of the foundations, and start creating an argument, in order to express your viewpoint

Desolater is actually really good on Lone Druid, and I’m surprised it’s not picked up more. Lone Druid is an amazing pusher and Corruption works on buildings, which causes a lot of damage when combined with Demolish. I get Desolater every game and it works wonders. You just send the bear in and the towers melt.
~ Don

This is a well presented argument, give that some upvotes, I ‘digg’ this post. But the problem is that it has flaws.

The first problem is that of confusion; “Corruption works on buildings”. Corruption is the name of Deso’s passive effect. I personally feel that Corruption is one of the less familiar names in the game. It’s not quite as rare as Tempest – which probably even less people know – but is fairly uncommon. By using an uncommon name, you are putting emphasis on the name, which draws attention away from your argument. Sometimes this is unintentional, and is something you want to avoid if it is. On the other hand, it’s especially handy when using flawed arguments, as it’s an intentional way to divert your reader’s attention (please don’t do this). A trick that used to work against one of my High School Drama teachers was to use an uncommon word in and Analytical Essay. This takes attention away from the argument and onto the word.

Wow that’s an uncommon word. Is he using the word correctly? I wonder if he used Microsoft Word’s synonym feature to make him sound fancier. He has to be, I should have a tete-a-tete with him about it.

The second problem is that personal experience is a shit way to argue, and is probably what a lot of High School debaters get told. “I get Desolater every game and it works wonders.” I made that crap about my Drama teacher up, and to be honest, you can do this with anything. You can just make up a personal experience to make your argument stronger, and its basically irrefutable. You’re not going to find out where I went to school, find my drama teacher, and etc etc to find out if I’m lying or not. I just plopped it in there and you have no way to argue against it, yet it was a nice way to back up my viewpoint (the original idea is still sound, it just has some dodgy argumentation in it). Even if you can validate it, it’s still poor. What works for you doesn’t necessarily make it good. While personal experience isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, it’s important to either avoid it completely, or make it not part of the main argument, but merely padding.

He makes a good point, that Lone Druid is hero who can push, and that Deso helps you push. The problem is that this isn’t the entire story, and you’ll see why in 2 quotes time.

Stolen from JoinDota, but is a nice relevent break in the wall isn’t it?

Lets counter Don’s argument.

Desolator is shit on LD. Admiral Bulldog doesn’t get it, he even said that it was crap on a stream once. No point listening to you, you can’t even spell Desolator correctly, go back to Bronze where everyone thinks the bear is a hero.
~ Kane

First off, there’s probably no way to verify what AB said on stream, especially given no specific time stamp. It makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about though, because AB plays a lot of LD. And yes he did win TI3, and is rather good at the hero. There are other more controversial issues as to why this is flawed argumentation, which I don’t want to go into because it just creates a mess of annoyingness. Essentially AB not opting for Desolator, doesn’t make it a bad pickup, even though he is a successful and experienced LD player.

Secondly, it really doesn’t matter that he called it Desolater instead of Desolator. You can correct it for the sake of information spread, but it’s a terrible way to invalidate an argument. While it’s possible that it was written incorrectly because he’s noob, it is also possible that it was just a general error. It’s like when Clockwork has voice lines when he cogs in an enemy, which also proc when the enemy is invis (which it shouldn’t). It’s just an error, the spelling mistake could imply a lack of familiarity with the game (and thus more noob), but maybe it was just a mistake. There’s no way to verify which one it is, so it generally doesn’t matter. This argument here is still valid, even though Clockwerk was spelt incorrectly.

If we’re on Reddit, or a forum with Likes, chances are that overly hostile responses have a tendency to receive likes/upvotes from people who agree with your viewpoint. Which can sometimes be a sly way to work yourself to the top of the pile.

Sidenote, This article here is more of an education and persuasive personal essay hoping to seek improving the argumentation used in Dota related discussions. Kane’s comment is a very one-dimensional opinion piece, where he adds to the debate without actually providing sound argumentation. He responds with a probably popular vicious counter, which doesn’t actually progress the debate, but makes it stall in a cesspool.

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So basically I’ve put forth and explained a bunch of different flaws that people use to argue, in the hopes that you come around to agree with these or at the very least are able to identify them. But what about the Topic? What about Desolator on Lone Druid? How will Zie argue this?

The problem is that Deso is a Tier 2 item that’s 100% aggressive. Tier 2 doesn’t matter as much on LD than on an Alchemist, since LD has 12 slots, but it’s still a purely aggressive item. Deso only gives damage, and an orb that not only increases his damage, but the damages of other people who attack that target. AC on the other hand is a much more versatile item.

It has attack speed, which helps Entangling Claws proc, which is what you would generally want. It also gives the bear armor, which is often a crucial issue with the bear that has to be addressed. Then the aura makes you push faster, but also helps your team die slower.

Deso only makes you push and kill more. AC helps you push and kill more, but also disable more and die less (and feed less bear gold). I would say that AC is thus the more verstale choice, and probably safer too. Deso on the other hand is a very aggressive one-dimensional pickup. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how the item is.
~ Zie

I don’t actually say not to get Deso, just imply that I think AC is a better pickup. I also am fairly to the point, but a bit long. Length is sometimes required to make a good counter. Often the shorter your argument is, the higher the chances someone is going to misinterpret it.

Now whether you agree with me or not is a different matter. But I’ve put forward a well-reasoned argument that has attempted to evade argumentation flaws. And you can respond how you wish, the point is I gave the topic justice, and put my viewpoint forth fairly.

You can respond with something helpful like

Adding on to this. AC aura also works when the bear doesn’t attack, which is great since the bear has to be close to LD to attack, but not to exist. This means a bear on the other side of the map can actually be pushing out a lane, just by standing there. People often do this with radiance too. So that’s a nice plus.

Or something like

I’m fine with Deso being a 100% aggressive item because I always go so well at the hero. I’m too good at LD for it to worry me.

While a bit cocky, is technically a fine a response. But it primarily is relevant to you as a player, not the hero as a whole.

People have a tendency to down-vote things they disagree with. Which is unfortunate because you end up with information based on popularity, and not necessarily viability. I have 280+ games of Mirana, and have built Medallion on her in about 60 of my last 70 games as her. I find the item suits my Mirana playstyle amazingly well. Medallion Mirana is very uncommon, but it’s an item that is viable, just popularly believed to not be optimal. Sadly if I was a successful pro-player people would respond differently to it. Even though nothing changes about the actual item itself. Just people’s perception on its optimality does.

Deciding if an item is viable or not is iffy, Desolator is viable on LD, I just don’t find it to be optimal, and gave you reasons why.

I wouldn’t be surprised if people accept bad arguments because they agree with the stance and just want it to get to the top of the pile. Or perhaps they don’t even realise that it’s a bad argument because they’re partially blinded by their concurring. I would suggest avoiding bad argumentation (don’t strawman nor misrepresent the topic). Your goal should be to make a good argument. Even if some people disagree with you, you still have done justice in representing your viewpoint. Which should be the aim.

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I could go on for hours and hours about problems in argumentation, and might make future posts on the topic if I feel there is still more to discuss. The way I write is also not textbook, so it’s a tad different, and I also chose to add some tounge-in-cheek to it to reduce drain.

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2 thoughts on “Learning How To Argue

  1. I get drum, also known as jango, on bear all the time, after I saw Admiral Bulldog and Sylar pick it up as a 2nd item after boots. There have been quite a few times when I’ve been saved by the active.

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