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Bad habit of playing Devil's advocate? traits
Old 12-17-2009, 02:10 PM   #1
soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

If someone voices an opinion i have a tendency to formulate all the ways in which that person may be wrong or ways in which i could counter-attack that opinion. I do this regardless of whose opinion I actually agree with. It's sort of like "Socratic Questioning" if you know what that is.

I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves. If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic. This can seem cynical and negative.

I also tend to have very few REAL opinions myself. I tend to destroy opinion into deconstructive absurdity.

I guess in this sense i can also be a bit boring. I find it hard to let go and just enjoy things. I can't watch popular TV programmes without declaring them mind-numbing and boring. I can't back political/environmental causes because i fear i might throw myself into the cause without first making sure i have good reason. In this sense i often view political rallies as being full of people who havent really considered what they're doing and are just acting upon angry impulse. However, i guess i could well be wrong.

Am i bitter? Too logical? Depressed? A scrooge? Do i need to just follow my heart and think less about why i'm following it?
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:15 PM   #2
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Who says its a bad habit?

Using sound logic is the best way to "win", however voicing such opinions to your friends is not always the best way to keep your friends. If you turn such logic inwards you may realize that keeping that devil's advocate to yourself unless asked otherwise is the logical thing to do, regardless if those around you are spewing nonsense.

Just don't forget to use the devil's advocate on your own opinions and actions, and attempt to keep sound logic in the things you do yourself.

If you can't watch tv without thinking its mind numbing AND voicing your opinion about it, and doing so annoys those you wish to keep around you, skip those activities and do something constructive instead, either that or keep your mouth shut.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:52 PM   #3
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

If someone voices an opinion i have a tendency to formulate all the ways in which that person may be wrong or ways in which i could counter-attack that opinion. I do this regardless of whose opinion I actually agree with. It's sort of like "Socratic Questioning" if you know what that is.

I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves. If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic. This can seem cynical and negative.

I also tend to have very few REAL opinions myself. I tend to destroy opinion into deconstructive absurdity.

I guess in this sense i can also be a bit boring. I find it hard to let go and just enjoy things. I can't watch popular TV programmes without declaring them mind-numbing and boring. I can't back political/environmental causes because i fear i might throw myself into the cause without first making sure i have good reason. In this sense i often view political rallies as being full of people who havent really considered what they're doing and are just acting upon angry impulse. However, i guess i could well be wrong.

Am i bitter? Too logical? Depressed? A scrooge? Do i need to just follow my heart and think less about why i'm following it?

This is something that XNTPs do. Being a rational perceiver results in constantly looking at any argument from a number of different sides. Your behavior is pretty normal for your type.

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Old 12-17-2009, 04:55 PM   #4
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No, but I do like to bait Devil's Advocate types who can't help themselves. Set up a little straw man, engage for a bit and then go into a bit of absurdity then run away and see how many hours it is before they can stop thinking of reasons why my original assertion was wrong, while not talking about it with them ever again.

It would be mean if they didn't deserve it.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:02 PM   #5
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I do it all the time to the point where even I am not sure what opinion I have at times.

And also:

  Originally Posted by MartinH
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No, but I do like to bait Devil's Advocate types who can't help themselves. Set up a little straw man, engage for a bit and then go into a bit of absurdity then run away and see how many hours it is before they can stop thinking of reasons why my original assertion was wrong, while not talking about it with them ever again.

It would be mean if they didn't deserve it.

If they are a real player then they will know you are wrong and probably NOT want to talk to you again unless you are going to stop being wrong.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:08 PM   #6
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?


Yes. All the time. Just as you described; I will often adopt an opinion that is not my own simply because I want to challenge the other person and their perspective, for all the reasons you stated. I like making people uncomfortable, especially when they're smug in their (to me and due to my arrogance) obviously flawed reasoning.

The only negative to this behavior is the potential to fight just to fight, which is more often than not just a waste of energy. Sometimes, you gotta let it go for your own sanity, because otherwise you're just banging your head against a wall without rhyme or reason. Learn to let it go sometimes, you'll be better off for it.

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Old 12-17-2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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  Originally Posted by gwilendiel
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If they are a real player then they will know you are wrong and probably NOT want to talk to you again unless you are going to stop being wrong.
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That's why the absurdity is dropped in. They know I don't really hold the opinion, but still want to tell me why it's wrong. It's like little terriers or something. Cute.

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Old 12-17-2009, 05:25 PM   #8
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All INTP's do this. It's normal.

  Originally Posted by MartinH
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No, but I do like to bait Devil's Advocate types who can't help themselves. Set up a little straw man, engage for a bit and then go into a bit of absurdity then run away and see how many hours it is before they can stop thinking of reasons why my original assertion was wrong, while not talking about it with them ever again.

It would be mean if they didn't deserve it.

Why do they deserve it just because they can see a flipside to something? That itself is vindictive.

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Old 12-17-2009, 06:33 PM   #9
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It is normal for an INTP to do this. Examine all the exceptional cases to find if any of them provide an insight which will refute the assumed position. It will annoy an INTJ as they want closure. An INTP will sit there going over endless possibilities of what could happen instead of picking what seems best and going with it. Once the INTJ has decided something, they think that is it. The INTP has a tendency to keep reopening questions that in the INTJ mind have been decided and closed.

Different outlooks, "How can I get this done" compared to "How can I understand this fully".
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:43 PM   #10
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Devils Advocate is a good habit, but it is often taken as negativity by others.

I try to start my 'advocating' with, "OK, now let's look at all the possible problems so we are prepared just in case something doesn't go right. A plan B".
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:55 PM   #11
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves. If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic.

Same here...sometimes...depending on the discussion, but especially in disussions where I sense a lot of groupthink.

There's nothing wrong with testing the logic and trying to keep people honest, even if you agree with them. You're doing them a favor, because you're helping to refine and bulletproof their case, assuming the fundamental case is a good one. Do they think the opposition will be so kind once they hit the streets?

Unfortunately, some groups will mistake that for disloyalty or trolling, perhaps because they've been trolled too many times. But a good group will often know the difference between trolling and intelligent debate.

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Old 12-17-2009, 07:59 PM   #12
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  Originally Posted by Firebrand9
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Why do they deserve it just because they can see a flipside to something? That itself is vindictive.

Yep. It only works if they can't / won't let it go. Which *usually* means they don't for much else either, making them deserving of teasing.

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Old 12-17-2009, 08:06 PM   #13
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves. If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic. This can seem cynical and negative.

I also tend to have very few REAL opinions myself.

  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

Yeah. I've plenty of tentative positions that might as well be called opinions, but I have little if any certainty about them. Their primary value to me lies in being incisive about some partially unknown or (otherwise) poorly understood dataset. So it's more that these positions seem revealing, not what they contain or what they're about. One of my few genuine opinions is that understanding is paramount. Tentatives to that end follow.

The thing about the certainty of others is that it regularly seems to be accompanied by gross imprecision in thinking. People mistake void for support and obstruction for mortar when they examine the structure of an idea at too low a resolution. "Marvel at the substance of this platform!", he cried, gesturing to an acute-angled amalgam of bauble upon toothpick upon glue. My reaction to rickety bombast is to scrawl "O RLY" onto the side of a rocket and aim for the bottom.



btw - when I say "rocket", I really mean something more like 'calculator wristwatch'.

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Old 12-17-2009, 08:45 PM   #14
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

Absolutely do I do this, and I struggled with it in the same way.

It's simply a back-door method towards reading a person or situation in its entirety.

It allows you to read the steps involved in anothers logic. It's not so that you can attack those positions , it's more about getting to know them more intimately; To know exactly how they think; To read the logic behind all the 'facts'...which are typically too skewed to be reliable.

I do feel like Buzz Killington when I'm at my 'worst'. You can either shut it off, or find people who appreciate you for your ways. This one is preferable.

Similar to you, I couldn't care less one decision vs. another-hence 'no opinions'. If it makes you feel better, tell people you ascribe all opinions unto yourself.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:45 PM   #15
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves. If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic. This can seem cynical and negative.

I also tend to have very few REAL opinions myself. I tend to destroy opinion into deconstructive absurdity.

This part, definitely. If I can tell that someone has made a decision or formed an opinion based on faulty/non-thorough logic, I love to get on their case and show them what they did wrong. Especially if their decision may have brought negative consequences due to poor planning & thinking.

Another way I tend to play devil's advocate is if I feel someone is judging someone with bias. For this reason I sometimes take the side of a "bad guy" even if I don't really agree with what the bad guy is doing. Because although people are usually correct to denounce the person, I often find they're doing it simply based on prejudice or groupthink (like someone already mentioned).

  Originally Posted by Thrasymachus
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Just don't forget to use the devil's advocate on your own opinions and actions, and attempt to keep sound logic in the things you do yourself.

Burn!!

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Old 12-17-2009, 08:54 PM   #16
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  Originally Posted by Mader
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Devils Advocate is a good habit, but it is often taken as negativity by others.

I try to start my 'advocating' with, "OK, now let's look at all the possible problems so we are prepared just in case something doesn't go right. A plan B".

I play devil's advocate all the time.

I think it makes a lot of sense to position your statements like Mader said above.
This just ensures that the audience understand these may not be views you hold, but that you are exploring an outcome and all of the possibilities.

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Old 12-17-2009, 09:02 PM   #17
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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If people seem to be very sure of something then i feel a drive to test their logic. This can seem cynical and negative.

If people seem to be very sure of something it's a sure bet that they haven't thought it through. It's a red flag and I'm a bull. I don't always challenge them, but I'm much more likely to than if someone expresses some uncertainty in their position or at least acknowledges that there are might be other valid positions.

  Originally Posted by soundclash
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I also tend to have very few REAL opinions myself. I tend to destroy opinion into deconstructive absurdity.

I have opinions, I'm just unlikely to share them. People don't often know that I'm playing devil's advocate, they assume I'm questioning them because I'm on the opposite side of an issue. Even when I have a specific opinion on something, I can still see other points of view and it took me a while to realize that other people don't. That realization helped me understand why some people have such a black and white view of things. They are blind to all the shades of grey that I can see.

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Old 12-17-2009, 10:27 PM   #18
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Is it ok, though, that sometimes i don't play devil's advocate because i care about logic.... but just because it is far more interesting and mentally stimulating?

It's too easy to argue for popular opinion.

If someone voices their opinion and it's predictable, does it matter that i might just take an opposing stance just to see how far i can convince them?
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:02 AM   #19
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

I do this regardless of whose opinion I actually agree with.

I'm more concerned with people using sound logic than the actual opinions themselves.

Yes, yes and yes.

If a person is not using sound logic, whether I agree with them or not, I have a tendency to argue. It's part of my annoyance with people that don't think about what they are saying before they decide to hitch their wagon to it.

I have destroyed arguments of people that supported the same thing I did merely because I thought they supported it for the wrong reasons. In cases were I have a strong opinion on a matter, I may argue with them because I don't want the side I'm supporting to have that person as one of its spokesmen. I think of them as weak spots in the defense, their piss poor arguments confuse the issue. I have also completely accepted people's opinions on things that I would never do because their opinion was reasoned and appropriate for themselves. So it is more about the logic than agreeing with them.

With a friend of mine that I can have open conversations with, we will often switch sides as we probe an idea to the effect that the best solution comes out, but we may have argued both for and against it until it was deemed worthy.

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Old 12-18-2009, 01:08 AM   #20
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I do this all the time. Its not really a bad habit it's just that. It tends to annoy the piss out of everyone around you. My dad tends to lean on depressive analysis of a situation so he finds my counterpointing very annoying. And my best friend will no longer discuss his relationships with me because I point out where he's being unreasonable.

I think being able to see all sides is a great gift. The annoying part is so few people can do it and very few can appreciae it.
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Old 12-18-2009, 01:10 AM   #21
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There are times when I absolutely love playing devil's advocate, just to see what kind of reaction I can get, or to even test my own reasoning versus theirs...unless that person cannot see what I am doing, and then they get offended. In that case usually I judge them to be not so bright, and am more careful with how I talk around them. This isn't always the case, but some people are just boring, dumb, or have no desire to challenge their own beliefs.
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Old 12-18-2009, 01:20 AM   #22
Ian Morrison
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Oh god yes. It drives people nuts. In political discussions some people think I'm left wing and other think I'm right wing.

It's not quite a devil's advocate thing, though. It's more that my own opinions tend to be overwhelming moderate, and my discussions are with people whose views are more polarized. So I tend to overcompensate with them and argue from a bit further than my actual position is, and in the end I hope to be meeting them somewhere in the middle where my actual opinions lie! So really, I'm just trying to even things out.
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:13 AM   #23
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  Originally Posted by soundclash
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Does anyone else do this?

...... I find it hard to let go and just enjoy things.

This resonates totally with me... but there's more ... after having had this kind of discussion with someone who gets a bit uncomfortable with me arguing/discussing with them, I then go home and replay the conversation over and over in my mind ... beating myself up for not letting things go and just agreeing with them. I then begin to regret some of the things that I said because I realise I have annoyed someone because of something i don't really care about anyway. I feel like i need to appologise the next time i see them.

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Old 12-18-2009, 09:07 PM   #24
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I always seem to find myself arguing against others. I find it fascinating to hear reactions and rebuttals. Although I know I infuriate people when I do this, I do give credit where it's due if and when they can impress me with the reasoning behind their opinion (which... doesn't happen all that often, to be quite honest). I find it annoying when people form "opinions" without proper education behind them.
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:55 AM   #25
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Well, good habit or not, the thing is we do it. Because of some reasons people tend to ask me 'what do you think?' or 'what should I do?' and I'd reply either yes/no nor good/bad, and rather I give long, thoughtful reply about possibilities, leaving them with the choice in the end.
Because of that I always get good score in papers, but sometimes my friend get tired of me.
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