If the presentation of empirical evidence were wholly the realm of argumentative discussion I would argee you you. However, it is al too easy to occlude a factual point. Since we are on the subject, here is a classic example of a tanget designed to occlude the issue at hand:
Person A: I believe there is a God. Prove to me there is no God.
Person B: Prove to me there is a God.
Person A offered an issue of debate and challenged B to provide evidence to support a conclusive statement. Person B responded by first ignoring the burden of proof and second offering a counter issue to tangent the argument.
If person A chooses to tailor her argument to address person B's response, she will have lost the issue at hand which will remain undiscussed; the burden of proof now shifts to person A and the initial issue is left unconcluded.
I agree with the overall principle and would argue that people should only stray from a given point in order to include some form of direct address to it (e.g. roundabout answers). For example, if person B expected person A to say something like, "I can't," and intended to answer the initial assertion with, "well neither can I." Also, my sense of arguments is that the burden of proof is on the assertion. In fact, the more I think about it, I'd say person A is occluding the issue by instructing person B to prove something other than the initial assertion, the opposite...never mind the fact that it's very hard to prove something doesn't exist (impossible by my reckoning, but maybe I'm not familiar with a logical argument that proves otherwise).
I couldn't agree more. We (the US) are obsessed with de-constructionalism. As TMX, E and other gossip outlets can substantiate, the only thing more exciting that seeing someone succeed is seeing someone breakdown. I go so far as to say that I also think we are so envious of each other we would rather destroy those beliefs which we do not share than let them co-exist. "You can believe whatever you want as long as its what we believe too."
I would argue this is ironic w/re: the classic American myths, but that it's something that has been around a long time and in roughly equal proportions in numerous societies. And, hey! What's this "we" stuff about envy?