Instigator / Pro
7
1587
rating
182
debates
55.77%
won
Topic
#4360

Robert Greene is a sham.

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
3
0
Better sources
2
0
Better legibility
1
0
Better conduct
1
0

After 1 vote and with 7 points ahead, the winner is...

Sir.Lancelot
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Rated
Number of rounds
5
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
10,500
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Minimal rating
1,600
Contender / Con
0
1702
rating
571
debates
68.04%
won
Description

(Robert Greene presents himself as a guru on strategy and leadership.)

The focus of the debate on whether he is or isn’t. Pro, of course, argues he is not.

Rules:
1. On-balance.
2. One forfeit is the loss of a conduct point. Two are an autoloss.

Round 1
Pro
#1
(To reaffirm the resolution. I, Pro, am arguing that Robert Greene is not a guru on strategy and leadership. Therefore, a sham.)

(Robert Greene presents himself as a guru on strategy and leadership.)
The focus of the debate on whether he is or isn’t. Pro, of course, argues he is not.
This is the description on which I shall base my characterization of him on. 

Robert Greene has critiqued self-help books in the past for being misguided because they focus too much on positivity.
This has led to him creating works like his most famous book, 48 Laws of Power. The book is referred to as "The Psychopath's Bible," and is considered so evil that it's banned in a lot of prisons.

So I'll begin my first three major contentions.

l. His books preach deception and manipulation as a default strategy.

Law 33 Summary: “Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew
Once you discover what a person's weakness is and cater to it, you can use the person to your own advantage as “what people cannot control, you can control for them” (499). You can find out a person's weakness by listening and observing carefully.

Law #14: Pose as a FriendWork as a Spy. Collecting information through spying is essential to wielding power.

According to Law 24 of the 48 Laws of Power, to thrive in whatever court or environment you're playing for power in, learn the rules and know how to manipulate them. Even in modern times, a skilled courtier or functionary who can successfully navigate and thrive in the world of power has great power himself.
Dale Carnegie and Sun Tzu know how to use deception as a weapon, but the 48 Laws of Power naturally assumes that everyone is the enemy, which is counterproductive as it will perpetuate a state of insecurity that a person must maintain a constant level of awareness to not being taken advantage of. 

The better option would be to create sincere friendships with people and stay true to yourself. Authenticity will attract people who are drawn to you for you and not some crafted image they conceptualized of you. It is possible to gain power through following social norms while being an honest person without losing your integrity in the process or taking advantage of other people.

ll. Robert Greene considers himself a realist.
This label often means 'cynic,' but is a way of suppressing a person's negative biases against people in general, as a way to maintain credibility. 

"I'm not who people expect me to be," says Greene, an earnest, thoughtful 53-year-old with a somewhat tense smile. "I'm not Henry Kissinger." In conversation at his London publisher's office, as in his books, he always has an apt quotation to hand. "Charles de Gaulle said, I realised that when people met me they were expecting to meet Charles de Gaulle. I had to learn to be the man inside the quotes. But generally I prefer to be myself. I don't have to pretend to be this mastermind."

Greene doesn't think he's evil, obviously, but nor does he consider himself particularly good. He says he's just a realist. "I believe I described a reality that no other book tried to describe," he says. "I went to an extreme for literary purposes because I felt all the self-help books out there were so gooey and Pollyanna-ish and nauseating. It was making me angry."
Even if The 48 Laws of Power can be read as a bastard's handbook, he wrote it to demystify the dirty tricks of the executives he encountered during a dispiriting period as a Hollywood screenwriter. "I felt like a child exposing what the parents are up to and laughing at it," he says. "Opening the curtain and letting people see the Wizard of Oz."
lll. Lack of evidence.
His methods only work in theory and have never actually been tested or demonstrated to work. While there may have been historical examples used as references, this is anecdotal evidence at best and is therefore unreliable. 

Robert Greene has not applied these methods or demonstrated that they work, so it raises the question, how trustworthy are his claims?

He turns down a lot of consultancy work because he is only drawn to people with interesting life stories, whether Charney (he's on American Apparel's board of directors), 50 Cent (they collaborated on 2009's The 50th Law) or Barack Obama. He is now working with labour organisers in Latin America, and his liberal politics disappoint some of his fans in the business world, who expect him to be a champion of the ruthless go-getter.

"I'm a huge Obama supporter," he says. "Romney is satan to me. The great thing about America is that you can come from the worst circumstances and become something remarkable. It's Jay-Z and 50 Cent and Obama and my Jewish ancestors – that's the America we want to celebrate. Not the vulture capitalist. These morons like Mitt Romney, they produce nothing. Republicans are feeding off fairytales and that's what did them in this year and hopefully will keep doing them in for ever, because they're a lot of scoundrels."

Con
#2
The problem with the 'sham' and how to go about defining it

There's a major issue with this debate's resolution. This is apparent from Pro's haphazard Round 1 where it is clear Pro is attacking all sorts of things.

For instance, is a sham one who knows they are lying and preaches it? Is a sham one who is mistaken and preaches falsehoods while firmly believing in it? 

This distinction is extremely important for Pro to have defined because there is a fatal issue here for Pro's case:

If Robert Greene is proven by Con to be accidentally correct or intentionally incorrect, only one of the two can be defined as sham-categorised, the other allows Con to push against Pro without fighting the other part of Pro's case.

Another issue is what is the work ethic of a sham versus a genuine author of nonfictional works? Robert Greene has researched for countless hours to an extremely high degree of precision into all sorts of leaders, war lords and general strategists such as Myamoto Musashi which was the world's most lethal Samurai.

To say he is a sham seems to be a wishywashy sham-like statement in itself. At the moment I don't know specifically what I'm defending against and Robert Greene taught me never to enter the battle aggressively until I am sure how to defend against my opponent's attack.
Round 2
Pro
#3
The problem isn't with the resolution, but Con's understanding of it. My assumption is Con read the title and got click-happy before reading the description. As when he accepted, he started shouting at me profusely in the comments and thought I was trolling him.:

"WHY WOULD YOU TITLE IT THAT WAY IF YOU WERE SAYING HE ISN'T A SHAM???????
"The focus of the debate on whether he is or isn’t. Pro, of course, argues he is not."
you troll"

But despite the concerns, the debate parameters are very clearly defined here.: 
(Robert Greene presents himself as a guru on strategy and leadership.)
The focus of the debate on whether he is or isn’t. Pro, of course, argues he is not.

Sham- Something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation.

Rebuttals:
There's a major issue with this debate's resolution. This is apparent from Pro's haphazard Round 1 where it is clear Pro is attacking all sorts of things.

For instance, is a sham one who knows they are lying and preaches it? Is a sham one who is mistaken and preaches falsehoods while firmly believing in it? 
Neither application of the word is needed to support my case. Whether he is aware or unaware is irrelevant and is a possible BOP to meet, as I cannot read minds.

What is clear to me is that he is not what he presents himself to be which is the only thing I need to argue. 

If Robert Greene is proven by Con to be accidentally correct or intentionally incorrect, only one of the two can be defined as sham-categorised, the other allows Con to push against Pro without fighting the other part of Pro's case.

Another issue is what is the work ethic of a sham versus a genuine author of nonfictional works? Robert Greene has researched for countless hours to an extremely high degree of precision into all sorts of leaders, war lords and general strategists such as Myamoto Musashi which was the world's most lethal Samurai.

To say he is a sham seems to be a wishywashy sham-like statement in itself. At the moment I don't know specifically what I'm defending against and Robert Greene taught me never to enter the battle aggressively until I am sure how to defend against my opponent's attack.
If this is true, then I must congratulate Con on his skills.

But there are actually two things I am attacking, regarding Robert Greene.

His Credibility & Knowledge
I believe this is sufficient enough to adequately support and defend my side. 
Now it is certainly possible that Robert Greene did a lot of research, but this doesn't mean that the quality of his work isn't pseudo-intellectual. 
We have a fundamental problem with Greene's methods.
  • His strategies are limited and unethical. (He preaches that deception and manipulation are the ONLY ways of being successful.)
  • He has no experience as a diplomat. (He is no Nicolo Machiavelli, and he is no Dale Carnegie.)
Now there is another category I want to touch on, regarding Robert Greene.

His Originality or Lack of It.
Robert Greene wrote a book called The 33 Strategies of War

But this book isn't anything new, it is just a carbon copy of an ancient work written by a Chinese general called Thirty-Six Stratagems.

Robert Greene's book
Wang Jingze's work
Both productions teach the same thing practically, just not in the same chronological order. 

Robert Greene teaches nothing new.
Everything Greene teaches is already public knowledge and it doesn't require you to purchase his work in order to read what is already available online. 

  • "One of the most perverse facts of human nature is that those who believe the world to be a terrible place very often take it upon themselves to make it worse. Those who judge the good deeds of others to be a cover for self-interest invariably see unalloyed egoism on their own part as the only rational response. Robert Greene has done very well out of it, setting himself up as a modern-day Machiavelli. He is the highly successful author of cynical tracts on how to get ahead and how to get laid. His latest work looks like a guide to winning in combat, but the subject matter is really the same as that of his earlier books, for he sees every aspect of life in terms of a war of all against all."
Con
#4
Forfeited
Round 3
Pro
#5
Extend.
Con
#6
Forfeited
Round 4
Pro
#7
Thanks for the concession. 

Extend.
Con
#8
Forfeited
Round 5
Pro
#9
Extend.
Con
#10
Forfeited