Disagreement is an inevitable part of life. We mostly do it badly.
Paul Graham's disagreement hierarchy
provides a structure for thinking about doing it better. There are seven levels.
This is the lowest form of disagreement, and probably also the most common.
- Ad Hominem.
An ad hominem attack is not quite as weak as mere name-calling.
- Responding to Tone.
The next level up we start to see responses to the writing, rather than the writer.
In this stage we finally get responses to what was said, rather than how or by whom.
At this level we reach the first form of convincing disagreement: counterargument.
The most convincing form of disagreement is refutation.
- Refuting the Central Point.
The force of a refutation depends on what you refute. The most powerful form of disagreement is to refute someone's central point.
Only from level four upwards (contradiction) do we reach the first form of a convincing disagreement. Take a look at any difference of opinion on Facebook or other online discussion forums - rarely does a disagreement exceed level three. Far too much name calling and ad hominem attacks.