|The Real Howard Beale|
The Socratic Method of reasoning is widely considered to be the blueprint Scientific Method was
You don't need another person to debate against to make this method work, you can test it against yourself. For instance... when I hear a particularly illogical sounding argument, my first instinct is to test it against what I feel/know to be true. Then I do something very few people these days do, I embrace the illogical argument and attempt to make a case for it.
"Putting yourself in their shoes" is not entirely possible, but you can at least make an attempt to frame your own logic around their argument. If your first step is to embrace their point of view, and you cannot adequately make a case for it, then you can use that information to make the opposite claim (your original gut instinct) and reinforce it.
For instance, the gun control debate. For me this is a very simple and basic circumstance of trying to legislate submission. Whenever I would try and frame my argument from the standpoint of "PRO GUN CONTROL" I would run into massively inconsistent data. I first tried to champion the reasoning of "way more gun control means way less gun violence"... which I found to be demonstrably unprovable.
built upon. In a nutshell, it is a way of debating and asking questions to distill information down to a low level, in the hopes of fully understanding a subject to the best of your ability to understand it.
"Guns are not required to protect yourself" is another line of reasoning I tried to see through, and it turns out to have a bit of truth to it. The #1 way to make your home instantly safer from intruders is... a dog. The presence of even a small dog completely undermines the shit out of home invasions. Turns out, criminals don't like it when they are trying to commit crime and a dog is yapping on the other side of the door, alerting everyone in earshot.
Then of course I came to the conclusion that a dog would not protect me from an apache helicopter, an abrams MBT, or highly trained marines implementing martial law, and while a single gun isn't adequate protection either against these threats, 100,000,000 guns is. My hope would be by the time they got to me, they would be so battle weary over having to slug it out door to door, street by street that I could take a few down on my way out, making it easier for the next poor bastard that is up next on the list. In the end, Freedom isn't free, and a firearm is just a machine. It has no mystical power or will of it's own to act. People are the problem, not guns.
So for me, I really do strive to see the other viewpoint. It not only helps you to understand where their thoughts may be for you to engage someone properly, but it gives your mind flexibility when a question or thought presented comes out of seemingly nowhere.
In any case, the worst thing to do is to instantly start discrediting their argument simply because it conflicts with yours. Ask questions, get answers, use those answers to form new questions, etc. It all sounds pretty basic but it is amazing how much of this is lost on people these days.
If you find yourself really at a loss to defend an alternate viewpoint in any way, then it's probably time to either do a lot more research, or a lot more soul-searching. Personally, I routinely fall into the intellectual trap of saying "Oh that's just fucking non-sense" because I have not really thought about what the other person is trying to communicate.
That being said, it definitely takes two to tango, and you cannot always have meaningful discussion with people who are completely unwilling to hear you out, not dodge questions, not derail the train, or who are so close-minded they cant even explain why they feel or think the way they do.