The Instigator
Eccedustin
Pro (for)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
CarterKemmet
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

Evolution is a Fact

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,280 times Debate No: 14063
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (77)
Votes (4)

 

Eccedustin

Pro

Note to any potential challengers: Please do NOT accept this debate unless you genuinely believe oppositely and are willing to debate in through detail.

Evolution is a FACT, not a "theory". Scientists have different terminology from that used in everyday speech. In the scientific context theory does not mean a fuzzy hypothesis or a guess, but rather is defined as a framework which is made up of facts and is used to explain observations and make predictions. Evolution is ,for all intents and purposes, a fact simply because it has occurred and continues to occur. Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory in the sense that it is a framework which consists of facts and is used to explain current observations or predict phenomena which may occur.

In order to offer a defense of evolution, I must define it. Many arguments posed against evolution are due to misunderstanding how it is defined by those who study it (Pigliucii). Strictly speaking, biological evolution is the gradual change in the genetics of a population over time. A simpler definition could also be the change of the frequency of alleles in a population from one generation to the next. When discussing biological evolution, scientists do not mean evolution of the universe, earth or individuals, but specifically evolution of populations of living organisms. Evolutionary biology does not attempt to find the origin of life, but rather limits its study to the evolution of populations of living organisms (Mayr). Scientists are discovering new clues frequently about the origins of the first life forms on earth, however regardless of how life on earth actually appeared, this says nothing against the fact that life has been evolving since (Rennie).

The evidence supporting evolution is overwhelming and comes from a wide variety of sciences including genetics, archaeology, anatomy, physiology, etc. Among the molecular evidence showing evolution are examples of redundant pseudo genes which show common descent. Pseudo genes are genes which serve no purpose and are not capable of transcribing into mRNA or being translated into proteins with a function. Redundant pseudo genes are genes which have counterparts which are functional in an organism (Theobald). Due to the fact that these pseudo genes serve no purpose and have no effect on the organism, mutations which occur in them would not be selected out by natural selection. It would make no difference what sort of mutation occurred in them because the genes themselves have no function. Basically this means that if the same exact redundant pseudo genes in the same exact chromosomes with the same exact mutations are found between two separate species or lineages of species then common ancestry is the only possibility (Theobald). There are numerous examples of the same pseudo genes being found between two separate species, one being the psi eta-globin pseudo gene, a beta globin gene which is shared among primates including humans and chimpanzees, suggesting a common ancestry among all primate species (Goodman).

Another example of molecular evidence in support of Evolution are endogenous retroviruses, which are simply genetic remnants of past viral infections. Simply put, endogenous retroviruses are viruses which infect organisms and then insert their genetics into the host's genetics which can thereby be passed onto the offspring of the host as part of their genome (Theobald). It is estimated that ERVs makeup about 5-8 percent of the human genome (Belshaw). If the same ERV sequences are found between two species or lineages then common ancestry would be the only viable explanation. Indeed there are several examples of common ERV sequences existing between humans and chimpanzees, implying a common ancestor of both humans and chimpanzees was infected with an ERV (Lebedev).

As convincing as the genetic and molecular evidence supporting evolution is, more tangible evidence exists in the fossil record. The fossil record shows that life 50 million years ago was vastly different from life today. Countless species existing millions of years ago have gone extinct, and the fossil record shows that essentially no modern species existed at that time. The question then put forth is where all of the species living millions of years ago went, and from where did all of the species alive today come. The fossil record shows that the species of organisms living on earth have changed dramatically over the past few billion years. If evolution is indeed true, then there should be a clear transition between ancient organisms and their modern descendants. This fact is clearly observed in countless lineages and species where fossils of ancient species show transitions to modern species, suggesting that these fossils are ancestors of modern species.

Some critics argue that there are gaps in the fossil record. It is true that there are indeed huge gaps missing in the fossil record, and it is also true that scientists will never have even a small fraction of the total number of now extinct species documented. This reality is due to the fact that fossilization is quite rare.. While it is true that there are a lot of fossils, the number of fossils pales in comparison to the actual number of creatures that once lived. Any attempt to completely document the entire phylogenetic tree will be in vain; however, this does not mean that fairly complete lineages or aspects of the evolutionary tree cannot be known. This also does not mean that evolutionary trees cannot be produced on a small scale or that transitions cannot be shown between species. There are far more than enough fossils to conclude that evolutionary change has been occurring (Rennie).

While observing the characteristics of fossils shows evidence for evolution, observing the characteristics of modern species also produces evidence for evolution. One of the most striking aspects of evolutionary change are vestigial structures. Vestigial structures are simply structures on organisms which are no longer functional or which serve a reduced function when compared to other species with the same structure. One example is the wings of an ostrich which are flightless.Ostriches may use their wings for acts such as balancing or for courtship however, the original purpose of the wings, which is flight, is not used and thus the wings are vestigial structures. Ancestors of ostriches were likely capable of flight however over time flight became unnecessary and individuals born with non-functioning wings were not at a disadvantage and were capable of reproducing. Over time the wings lost the ability to be used for flight and may have developed some alternative abilities such as use for balance or courtship (Theobald).Other examples of birds with wings which are vestigial are birds of the Cassowary genus or the Flightless Cormorant.

Sources:

Pigliucci, Massimo. "Evolution Alone Explains Life on Earth." At Issue: Creation Versus Evolution. Eric Braun. San Diego: Greenhaven press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. 1June 2008.

Rennie, John. "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." Scientific American 287.1(July 2002): 78. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. 02 Jun. 2008

Theobald, Douglas Ph.D. "Molecular Evidence - Redundant Pseudogenes" Talk.Origins Archive.12 Jan. 2004. Talk Origins. 02 Jun. 2008.

Belshaw, Robert and Vini Pereira. "Long-term reinfection of the human genome by endogenousretroviruses" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101.14 (2004):4894–4899. 03 June 2008

Lebedev, Y. B. and Belonovitch. "Differences in HERV-K LTR insertions in orthologous loci of humansand great apes." Gene 247. 1-2 (Apr 2000):265-77.

Mayr, Ernst. What Evolution Is. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

Batten, D. and Sarfati, J. "'Vestigial' Organs: What do they prove?" 2003. AIG. 02 Jun. 2008<http://www.answersingenesis.org...;.

Goodman, M and BF Koop. "Molecular phylogeny o
CarterKemmet

Con

I will first point out flaws in my opponents case then come back to state my own case.

My opponent has talked about how animals have evolved over millions of years and small differentials have determined that evolution must be true. But when you look at this from a wider scale, you see this "evolution" is based around carbon based life forms, which are currently the only type of life form known to man. These small changes are dwarfed by the concept that if evolution exists, then why has carbon based life forms not "evolved" to a different type of life form, one that is not carbon per say.

My opponent has also agreed that the world was created, which is commonly accepted due to the obvious information around yourself right now. And by agreeing that the world was created, there needs to be a creator. God is an agreed upon creator by use of the bible and religious beliefs. So the Fact that god created everything, and everything consists life, then we can say god created life by the Transitive Property. Now by God creating life, he has made life to be in his image. His image being what ever he wishes it to be.

Also most of biology which is the basis for my opponents argument, is based mainly off theories. The Cell theory, being a prime example of how even commonly agreed upon medical information is not known. So therefore you cannot base a fact off of a theory. An example would be you broke your leg. My Theory of Broken Leg could say that because you have a broken leg, you cannot date. Now lets change that theory to a fact. My Fact of Broken Leg now says that since you have a broken leg, you cannot date, and that is a fact. Were is the evidence to support my new Fact? There are assumptions, guesses where the gaps are in my theory which my opponent brought up in his speech, and opinions which every scientist willingly or unwillingly puts into his work.

Finally the concept of Evolution is based on observations. You can observe that an elephant is furry by just feelings its tail. I can observe that an elephant is moist by feeling his tongue. You can observe that there have been changes in life through evolution. I can observe that there have been changes in life through intelligent design. As our observations differ, there can be no agreed upon fact.

"Evolution is a FACT" Fact is defined as:a statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened. Eccedustin cannot verify this. Scientist cannot verify this. They can observe looking back on a mix of half understood knowledge and small remains of the dead, but all of these are observations. Observations do not equal Fact.

For these reasons, I urge a Con in today's round. Thank You.
Debate Round No. 1
Eccedustin

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.

My opponent asks that, if evolution is true, then why haven't carbon based life forms evolved to become non-carbon based life forms. Well, I must first say that this is irrelevant. Evolution IS true because we observe it, because of all of the mountains of evidence. The fact that we do not see carbon based life turning into something else doesn't mean that evolution itself is not true. How could it? I would ask my opponent to explain this. In order to dismiss evolution, you can not simply postulate what we "would" expect, without giving any reason, and dismissing ALL of the other evidence. All that evidence is still there.

Secondly, Why haven't we evolved into non-carbon based life forms? To be honest. I don't know. Carbon is the base of all of the molecules, proteins, amino acids, DNA...We already formed through carbon and the idea that we could just "move past" carbon doesn't really make sense. It isn't even what we would expect through evolution.

I want to point out, however, that many people have postulated that computers and modern computer technology might in the future be defined as a form of "life". These are silicon based technologies, so if many years in the future we humans become mostly computers then perhaps we would be considered "silicon based life".

My opponent brings the idea of a creator into the debate. He argues that since the world was "created" then it must naturally have a creator. I would counter that our world was "formed" but not necessarily created. It was formed naturally, from all of the mountains of evidence that is available to us. Does God exist? Probably not, but no one can say for sure. I do not believe that God exists. However, God's existence is irrelevant to this debate. Evolution is a fact regardless of god's existence. Even if we presume God's existence, this would not negate all of the mountains of evidence that evolution is a fact.

I do NOT want to make this debate about the existence of God. My contention is that Evolution is a fact either way.My opponent also misrepresents the definition of the term "theory" as science uses it. I would direct my opponent to RE-READ my entire previous post because that seems not to be the only thing that my opponent has misunderstood. To clarify again: Scientists have different terminology from that used in everyday speech. In the scientific context, theory does not mean a fuzzy hypothesis or a guess, but rather is defined as a framework which is made up of facts and is used to explain observations and make predictions. Evolution is ,for all intents and purposes, a fact simply because it has occurred and continues to occur. Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory in the sense that it is a framework which consists of facts and is used to explain current observations or predict phenomena which may occur. (1) (2)

The "Cell theory" is, quite simply, the idea that cells are the basis of living organisms. The "cell theory" works around this "fact" and is a "framework". It is not a hypothesis that cells are the basis of living organisms. This is a proven, indisputable fact (like evolution) and the term "theory" only refers to the framework from which it is the basis of. (3)Another example, the "theory of gravity". No one claims that gravity does not exist. Obviously. However, the theory of gravity deals with "what" gravity is, "how" it works, and different facts, laws, etc. that make up the functioning of gravity. Only a fool would refer to "gravity" as "only a a theory", yet this is what my opponent is doing with evolution. There is no difference. (4)

My opponent compares the logical premises of:

1.I broke my leg
2. People with broken legs can not date.
3. I can not date.

This is a logical argument, however it does not compare to the argument for evolution. The difference is that premises 2 is unsupported (as my opponent points out) However, with evolution, NONE of my claims are unsupported. All of them are supported by centuries and decades of scientific observation by thousands of scientists world wide. (5)

The concept of evolution is based on observations. My opponent is correct in this assessment. My opponent makes the false comparison to the limitations of the 5 senses, used individually, as an argument that because of these limitations evolution is subject to doubt. This is a bit of a fallacy. First, it is true that if I touch an elephant's tongue and sense it in no other way I might conclude that the elephant is "wet". This, however, is not a wrong conclusion now is it? The elephant is indeed "wet", to an extent. The elephant is furry, to an extent. The elephant is all of these things at the same time.

We perceive evolution, the facts for evolution, the evidence supporting evolution, etc. all through our senses. This is true. However, this does not cast a shadow of doubt on what we DO perceive. We are limited by our 5 senses, there is no arguing there. (Though it would be fair to point out that we have developed many technologies to perceive things beyond our senses, i.e. x rays). All of the things that we perceive of evolution, and prove to be true with our sens, are in fact true. Just as true as the elephant's tongue is wet. There may be more to evolution that we know of now, no one doubts this. However, this doesn't make evolution any less of a fact!

My opponent claims that he observes changes in life through intelligent design. I challenge my opponent to give examples.

I also want to provide even more evidence FOR evolution to expand upon my initial argument.

As convincing as the genetic and molecular evidence supporting evolution is, more tangible evidence exists in the fossil record. The fossil record shows that life 50 million years ago was vastly different from life today. Countless species existing millions of years ago have gone extinct, and the fossil record shows that essentially no modern species existed at that time. The question then put forth is where all of the species living millions of years ago went, and from where did all of the species alive today come. The fossil record shows that the species of organisms living on earth have changed dramatically over the past few billion years. If evolution is indeed true, then there should be a clear transition between ancient organisms and their modern descendants. This fact is clearly observed in countless lineages and species where fossils of ancient species show transitions to modern species, suggesting that these fossils are ancestors of modern species.

����������� While it may seem a stretch to conclude that simply because the bones of an ancient species show similarities to a modern species an evolutionary link necessarily exists, the process of determining whether a fossil is indeed an intermediate between two known species is much more detailed. When a fossil is found that is thought to be an ancestor of a later species, then based on this information predictions can be made about how an intermediate form between these two species may look, and these predictions often turn out to be accurate. One example is the transition between ancient reptiles and modern birds. A fine example is the archaeopteryx, a primitive bird living in the late Jurassic around 150 million years ago. There are dozens of other similar species showing transitional features between ancient reptiles and modern birds including the Confuciusornis, Microraptor, Sinosauropteryx and Caudipteryx .(6)

(1)
http://en.wikipedia.org...

(2)
http://chemistry.about.com...

(3)
http://en.wikipedia.org...

(4)
http://en.wikipedia.org...

(5)
http://evolution.berkeley.edu...

(6)
http://en.wikipedia.org...
CarterKemmet

Con

CarterKemmet forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Eccedustin

Pro

Since my opponent has failed to provide an argument I will use this opportunity to expand upon my argument even further.

I want to begin by expanding upon the issue of vestigial structures. Other examples of vestigial structures include pelvises in pythons or blind cave salamanders or fish with vestigial eyes. There are several vestigial structures in humans as well, including wisdom teeth, which were originally used for chewing various types of plant material by herbivorous ancestors of humans. In many individuals the teeth are not formed correctly or are impacted and must be extracted, otherwise there is risk of significant pain or death in some instances. Another example of a vestigial structure in humans is the vermiform appendix, which is also a remnant of human ancestors who were herbivores. While the appendix may have some use for the immune system, the original purpose for it was to aid in the digestion of certain plant materials which were necessary for herbivores.. Indeed, critics point out that vestigial structures often have purposes and thus this contradicts the idea of evolutionary change. This argument is incorrect simply because, as stated earlier, many vestigial structures do indeed have functions, but this does not negate the fact that they are vestigial structures. New uses can be evolved for structures which no longer serve their original purpose but this does not contradict the fact that they are evidence of evolution.

As obvious as the facts supporting evolution are, it is not without its critics and skeptics, most of who come from religious circles who dispute evolution due to thinly veiled religious motivations. There are as many objections to evolution as there are areas of evidence supporting it; however, the one thing that essentially all of the objections have in common is the fact that they are based on misunderstandings of what evolution actually is, how it works or how science in general works. One of the oppositions to evolution, perhaps one of the most basic objections, is the argument that life today is far too complex to have evolved by random chance and must be the result of an intelligent designer, id est God. This objection may seem very difficult to address however once one understands the mechanisms behind evolution, it can easily be explained within the evolutionary framework. One popular analogy of the perceived highly improbable chances of evolution producing all of the diversity of life today is imagining all of the parts of a Boeing 747 laying in a junkyard. If a tornado comes through the junkyard, what are the odds of a fully functional jet airplane being assembled purely by chance due to the tornado? The answer is obvious, the chances of such a thing occurring are beyond astronomical, however this says nothing against the process of evolution.

The analogy of a tornado in a junkyard makes the mistake of assuming that evolutionary change occurs by chance, has a preset ideal in mind, and occurs in a single instance while none of which are true. Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and science author, came up with an analogy which clarifies the mistakes that arguments such as the argument from complexity make. His analogy, called mount improbable, describes a very high mountain with an extremely steep cliff to the peak. If someone were to observe a mountaineer standing on the peak of the mountain, it would be incredibly hard to believe that the mountaineer got to the top of the mountain with one giant leap. In all likelihood the trip was taken gradually, step by step, up a much less steep side of the mountain opposed to leaping to the top in a single bound. This analogy clarifies the mistake that is made when assuming that modern complex structures of living organisms are too complex to have evolved. Modern structures did not appear randomly by pure chance in a single instance but are rather accumulations of millions of years of evolutionary natural selection built up upon each other.

Another type of argument which is based on the complexity of structures are arguments based on irreducible complexity. Michael J. Behe, a biochemist and critic of evolution, defines irreducible complexity as thus: "A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." The argument is that many structures in living organisms are irreducibly complex because if any aspect of those structures is removed then the structure would cease functioning and thus gradual evolutionary change is impossible because a structure must have all of the parts to function and any previous incarnations of the structure would be totally useless due to lacking certain required parts. This argument is incorrect because it requires that irreducible systems be incapable of occurring through evolution and also that some structures of living organisms are irreducibly complex, neither of which are true. If a system is indeed irreducibly complex then this does indeed mean that evolution by addition of single parts would be impossible; however, this does not disqualify evolution by deletion of parts, addition of multiple parts at once, or a change in function of at least one of the parts.

One example of irreducible complexity often given, indeed often given by Michael Behe himself, is that of the bacterial flagella. The bacterial flagella is a tail like organelle used to propel small, often single celled, organisms; an example being the tail of the spermatozoon of many plants and animals. The flagella consists of about 50 parts, which Behe argues could not have possibly evolved due to the fact that alone, none of the parts have any function and if any part is taken away from the flagella then it will lose its function and thus the flagella must have appeared in its complete form. Behe further argues that the chances of all of the parts of the flagella coming together in present to produce a fully functional system randomly are astronomical. This argument is incorrect in the fact that even when dozens of parts are removed from the bacterial flagella, the remaining system still has a function, specifically in the Type 3 Secretory Apparatus, which is basically an apparatus used by bacteria to inject protein toxins into the cells of their hosts. That even if numerous parts of the bacterial flagella are removed it can still function implies that it is indeed not an example of an irreducibly complex system. Other arguments from complexity put forth against evolution are claims that certain organs or systems in living creatures are simply too complex to have evolved or are otherwise irreducibly complex. One example often given is the human eye, which is claimed to be far too complex to have been the result of evolution and is irreducibly complex. Both premises of the argument are false in the fact that as previously described, systems do not form purely by chance in a single go but rather gradually evolve by natural selection which is opposite from chance. The second premise, that being that eyes are irreducibly complex is also false, this is a fact that most who have eye problems that are still capable of sight can testify to. There are also numerous examples of very simple systems at the lower levels of complexity such as basic photosensitive cells to much more powerful eyes such as those on the eagle which also show that eyes can range in complexity as well as functionality.
CarterKemmet

Con

CarterKemmet forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Eccedustin

Pro

Eccedustin forfeited this round.
CarterKemmet

Con

CarterKemmet forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Eccedustin

Pro

Eccedustin forfeited this round.
CarterKemmet

Con

CarterKemmet forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
77 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Atheism 6 years ago
Atheism
From Pro's side, it was pretty good. Not the strongest defense of evolution I've seen, sure, but a good defense of it regardless.
From Con, bleh. Just terrible.
A future recommendation for Pro is to not forfeit after your opponent forfeits. Say something like 'Extend my arguments.' It makes you seem more professional.
Posted by Pat 6 years ago
Pat
You shouldn't have put a "Don't accept this debate unless you truly believe otherwise"

Trust me, you would have gotten better contenders, me for example (though I'm not boasting of my incredible intelligence and knowledge in anyway. Did I mention I was smart?). Just kidding.
Posted by Eccedustin 6 years ago
Eccedustin
I knew my opponent would not put up much of a fight...
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
You miss the point. All the evidence is against it. That is why you must have faith to believe it. If the evidence supported it, you would not need faith. You see? So I say, When you claim there is a God in a debate on evolution, you better have some evidence of a God, otherwise, your argument makes no sense.
Posted by Pat 6 years ago
Pat
Why don't you guys start a debate? It'd certainly be more interesting than one on a comments page. BTW, please don't imply that there is no God if you don't back it up with evidence.

There are theories that suggest evolution isn't the reason we are what we are today. Evolution is the most credible and believable of them. I personally also believe in evolution.

I don't wish to start an argument, so I'll leave it there.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
What I'm saying is that there is zero scientific evidence to back up anything but evolution. There is no debate in the scientific community on evolution. It is strictly an absurd argument to try and give some credibility to scripture. Just people can't open their mind enough to accept simple science, shouldn't allow them to think that they can just make up some supernatural excuse for the origin of man. There is, on the other hand, plenty of evidence in support of evolution. Enough, in fact, so scientists absolutely agree that evolution is the only viable scientific theory. In other words, creationism is simply a self delusion of those that just can't stand the thought that the bible might just be a fictional book like many others before and after its time.
Posted by GodSands 6 years ago
GodSands
"...'AND' am dumb..."
'I' am# Sorry.
Posted by GodSands 6 years ago
GodSands
Oh, if I study evolution, I will believe in evolution? Or in otherwords what you are saying is that because I don't believe in evolution, and am dumb. Quite ignorant there. I don't say your dumb because you don't believe in young earth creationism.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
@ Godsands
The worldview, in the scientific community, is evolution. There are no, ifs, ands, or buts. If you truly doubt evolution, I suggest you study it more. To claim otherwise is simply delusional.
Posted by Puck 6 years ago
Puck
'Just a theory'. lol >.<
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by CoDFreak 5 years ago
CoDFreak
EccedustinCarterKemmetTied
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Reasons for voting decision: You gots dis
Vote Placed by bozotheclown 5 years ago
bozotheclown
EccedustinCarterKemmetTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro has ZERO evidence.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
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Vote Placed by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
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