I read an interesting debate between a few vegans and one non-vegan via FaceBook (so not a real debate). Reading the back-and-forth, I was reminded of 2 things:
1. You can not argue with a zealot. Watching these two sides trying to one-up each other was like watching a two-headed llama decide which way to run from a lion. Neither side could agree on any point. Both cited questionable statistics and both sides found a study, book, movie, or article that negated a popular media claim (not a peer-reviewed literature claim) from the other side.
The thing is, when someone has decided to hold their opinion no matter what, then there is no longer a debate to be had. If I am unwilling to budge on my viewpoint regardless of any evidence, logic, reasoning, or fact you present, then there is nothing to argue. You are only wasting your time and energy.
2. When you are wrong, the only question you are really defending is, “How can I get away with it?”. When there is unequivocal proof or insurmountable logic weighing against you, the debate has stopped and only bickering and subterfuge has begun. For example, if I know it is morally and ethically wrong to steal from Mahatma Gandhi, but I still insist on finding ways to justify it, then we are not debating anything. I am just trying to find a rationalization to steal. I might say, “But stealing is okay if no one realizes the item is missing!” That is not debating whether it is okay to steal. Instead, I am answering the question How can I get away with it? How can I convince myself it is okay to keep doing what I want to do? I may even find a report or study that shows some people have to steal to survive. I might point out statistics about Robin Hood. I will follow any desperate path to keep getting away with it. Maybe I will even go so far as to refuse to acknowledge that somewhere, deep inside, I am aware I am wrong but it is less painful to justify my ill intent than it is to change my habits or traditions.
The lesson here is simple: two wrongs do not make a right.
If you find yourself taking a viewpoint no matter what, just end the argument. Admit you are willing to be 100% wrong to keep your viewpoint and acknowledge it no longer matters what anyone else says or thinks about it. You will save everyone time and might make the world a little better by freeing others to consider more important issues instead of helping you get away with it.