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I sometimes end in face-to-face conversations/debates with my (adult) brother over a variety of topics that he usually brings up himself. They're often the kind of topics I don't pay much attention to or care about that much (certain political things, religion etc.) but I don't mind talking about them since my brother is obviously interested. There are exceptions though, where I do have an interest and an opinion on the topic, yet the behavior I'm trying to describe is the same.

I've just noticed this weird trend where he brings up a topic for a debate verbally and talks about it for a bit to me, if I respond some way (ask a clarifying question, present a countering opinion etc.), rather than answer me himself he tends to reach for his phone to show some video/stream/whatever about it and asks me to watch it for answers instead. The videos he uses are different based on the subject, it isn't any one person's videos.

While I wouldn't mind him fact checking on more technical subjects, he'd rather the video personality to answer my question even if what I said is opinion-based and doesn't require high level knowledge on the topic at hand and I wish he'd just present his own thoughts about the subject instead.

Example

Me and my brother are talking about a subject my brother initiated. He hasn't mentioned that the topic is from a video he watched previously but since it's a regular occurrence, I already half-expect it is.

Brother: "...and if [Subject X] was like that, it would probably [Opinion Y]."

Me: "I guess... But what if it was [Opinion B] instead?"

Brother: "Hmmmm wait a second..." He then starts rummaging for his phone in search for the video his topic came from. He searches for a while and gives me the phone to watch some of the video. Usually the part he shows is much longer than is needed to answer and sometimes doesn't give a proper answer to my question anyway.

Me: "I mean I guess what he's talking about is true but I don't think it answered my question..."

My brother: He takes the phone and tries to scramble for a possible other video and usually gets frustrated and tells me to watch the entire thing (sometimes hours worth of material.)

I'm then left confused why he brought up this topic at all if he didn't want to discuss it himself. Maybe I shouldn't have posed questions to show interest at all?

Not only I have no interest in watching a 20 minute video about a topic I'm not all that interested in just to hear an answer to a single question, but I find him having to reach for answers about a topic he initiated weird. I also don't want to debate on an opinion not voiced by my brother since it usually turns into him trying to scramble to find if this internet personality has said something on that topic as well, giving me the impression that these aren't truly his (my brother's) opinions at all. I'm here to debate with the bro, not the video persona.

I've tried to ask him to try and sum up the answer to me himself but this seems to frustrate him. I'm not sure if he feels the need to rely on outside sources to explain his points because he hasn't truly familiarized himself with the topic or if he just isn't that fast/good at condensing info to others. Might be that I just need to bite the bullet and let him have his debates via proxy or just let him go at it with no input from me.

TL;DR; I'm not sure if this makes sense, but How to have a casual face-to-face debate on a random topic someone initiated when they never present their own arguments and just want to use streamers'/internet personalities' opinions on the topic instead and do this by just showing the video/audio/text in question, without trying to explain them to me themselves?

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    IMO, there could be several reasons why your brother does that (he might struggle with speech, or he might not know the answer or lack self-esteem or any other reason). I believe we would need to understand the reasons behind your brother's action to answer you properly. Have you already tried talking about this with your brother? Asking him why he shows you those videos instead of responding himself? If you did ask, how did this discussion go?
    – Ael
    Dec 30 '20 at 14:31
  • @Ael I agree that there might be several reasons to it. As I said in my question "I've tried to ask him to try and sum up the answer to me himself but this seems to frustrate him." So yes, I've tried to prompt him to use his own words and ask why he uses the videos, but this usually shuts the conversation down. I'm not sure if he even knows himself or if he does, doesn't know how to explain it to me, making conversations odd on my end.
    – user32075
    Dec 30 '20 at 15:57
  • Did you do the basic step and explain that videos, especially uploaded by just some random one, often without any background or perhaps not researched but to manipulate people into something, are not the best way to take opinion out of and to convice people?
    – puck
    Dec 31 '20 at 15:08
  • @puck Depending on the topic and the video, yes. Sometimes the videos are from reputable sources (such as scientists), sometimes I'm not sure since I'm not familiar with the topic. Sometimes when dealing with hobbies where I'm more familiar with the subject, I can tell if the maker of the video knows what they're doing, and usually they are indeed either professionals or hobbyists with a lot of practice and know-how. TL;DR; I mention the reputability if it's suspect (like when dealing with pure opinions), but the videos my brother tends to use are quite often from professionals of their fields
    – user32075
    Dec 31 '20 at 20:54
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If your goal is actually to debate and discuss these topics, tell your brother:

I don't want to discuss this with [YouTuber Name], I wanted to discuss it with you. What do you think about it?

Also, consider not pushing back so hard on what your brother says. If you rebut a point of his and he scrambles for a video to prove your rebuttal is wrong, then maybe rebutting like that wasn't a good choice for moving the discussion forward.

If your goal is to learn about these topics, that's different.

In both cases, you may be able to keep your brother from going to the phone if you ask questions instead of making statements. And I don't mean "But what if it was [Opinion B] instead?" which is not very different from just "[Opinion B]" really. I mean more like asking more about things he said. "Are you seeing a lot of people acting like that?" "Have you been hearing a lot of that?" "Does it seem like that would hurt more people than it helps?" "Would that be fairer than what's happening now?" "What would happen if absolutely everywhere made that rule?" and so on. Just explore the topic with him without demanding proof of it or opposing it at first. You can say that his point is "interesting" or "I hadn't thought of that before" or even "Huge if true." You can also say things you know without them being rebuttals or arguments. "I heard they did something similar in Europe in the 50s, and it just kind of fizzled out" or "I remember reading about that happening in Asia a few years ago." This is more on the discussing end of things than the debating end, but since he doesn't need facts or wordings from his YouTuber to reply to you, it may keep the conversation between the two of you.

After a while, if you feel like winning an argument, or if it's important to you that your brother not fall down some QAnon hole, you can go to the rebutting and whatnot. By then you'll understand what parts of the argument he genuinely understands and believes, and what parts he's just repeating from the YouTuber.

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  • This "reshaping the questions" seems very interesting, I'm sure to try! I'm not there to win or lose the conversation with him at all, it's more about "I want to show interest/learn more about the topic my brother is interested in so I pose questions to get more information/keep the conversation going". Unless it's (rarely) on a topic of interest (usually hobbies and such) where the conversations get more technical and there are more clear-cut "right" and "wrong" solutions. And even then it's only when I have enough experience/knowledge/sources to support my point. Or so I like to think... :D
    – user32075
    Jan 6 at 12:10
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I once knew a young adult that heavily relied on videos to argue points in a debate, and usually found that terribly irritating. That person still was able to sum up in my case but would end most of the time referring outside video sources that I had not any remote envy to check.

Our discussion usually were shortened by this, but I realized as well that the point being made was sometimes only a pretext to invite people looking at the media. In my understanding, they consider video watching a pleasure they just wanted to share with everyone, unaware or unwilling to admit that to most this isn't.

Based on the reaction of your brother, I would think it could be a similar issue. In that case if you prefer not to watch the video then it would defeat your brother goal and you'd be unable to share much.

Unfortunately I have found in my case little to relate with but if the videos are pertinent to you, you could ask your brother to send you the link for a later time. Afterwards, you can discuss the video together, perhaps provide a critical view, perhaps suggest other sources. I am still looking for a more satisfying answer but if he refuses to discuss on your terms he might only accept you do on his.

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