There is a rule to make a solid argument that some (arguably most) people do not practice. This is why silly arguments like certain conspiracy theories usually happen or fallacies occurring without people even noticing.
Why is it important to argue correctly?
It is not only important for those who argue but also equally important to the listeners. If a listener understands what a good argument is he or she won’t fall for fallacious or weak arguments. And when many people believe in nonsense it affects everyone!
How to argue correctly?
Note here this is an article about how to argue correctly, not how to argue well or just to look good. If you want to learn how to argue well you can go and learn persuasion skills, rhetoric or sophistry.
As for those who want to argue correctly, which is arguing for the sake of truth, this is for you.
Most people understand that to make an argument you have to argue why you are right (positively offensive/the argument itself) and defend why you are right when criticized (positively defensive/counter-arguments). But most people forgot the third, which is arguing why your opponent is wrong (negatively offensive/negatively defensive) (opponent doesn’t necessarily mean a person, it can also mean the general opposite idea to your own idea like the opponent of capitalism is socialism).
This diagram may be of good help:
Simply positing an argument and defending it does not mean your opponent is wrong.
To maintain an argument sucessfully you not only need to tell why your argument is right while defending it (positive) but also why your opponent is wrong (negative). I still remembered the time when I listened to a flat earther saying that gravity does not exist but what makes things rise or fall is density. He explained so (persuadingly) well why he is right, but he never explained why the general narrative (that gravity exists) is wrong. Worse, many people believe him!
Simply positing an argument without saying why your opponent is wrong is like trying to win both you and your opponents argument.
There are also many who argue negatively without arguing positively. This is of course a fallacious one. Two wrongs don’t make a right (it’s annoying that this fallacy happens so often).
Moving towards more meaningful discussions and debates
Many times a debate is frustrating because you are either not convinced by both sides or convinced by both sides. That happens because only positive arguments happen, without the negative ones (and please, I don’t mean positive as in being happy or anything of that sort).
I really hope we can all have meaningful discussions and debates in the future. Discussions and debates are indeed very important for the intellectual development of any society.