Debating Forms, my 2 cents

I remember participating in a debate where I had to take a position I knew (and everybody else with common sense would know) was wrong.  However setting aside that notion, I started a decent research and armed myself with an abundance of facts and counter-facts. That combined with some slew side stepping of points I couldn’t win and some humor/ridicule I was able to win.  I did feel a little dirty afterwards but also knew that if the opponent had done a little more research and had been a little bit sharper I would have lost. Heres some more debating techniques:

The reason I remembered it was after watching the docu/movie Resolved 2007

In that movie they describe 2 different types of debating

  • The classical almost clinical chessform type with clear affirmatives and negatives.  The goal is to win which is determined by amount and strength of arguments/counter arguments.
  • The ‘identity-purpose-method’ type or I’d like to call it the pursuit of a solution.  The goal is to learn by understanding the problem and try to solve it using back and forth arguments for both.

In my opinion the first one is suitable for when you are bound to a time frame and you know the question is small enough to resolve within that timeframe. The second one is applicable to larger questions which aren’t that obvious to resolve at glance and require deeper investigation. This will require more time and is less suitable for a timed competition. Basically I see the types as different algorithms to solve a certain question/resolution both provide a good output provided they are used on the right question/resolution.

On a side note, I still find the fast debating style in competitions utterly ridiculous. If we acknowledge that it is a sport and the winner is not always right then it wouldn’t hurt to bring some eloquence and charm back to bring in more spectators.


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