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The Contender
Con (against)
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Public Forum Debate holds a greater education benefit for U.S. Students than Policy Debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,574 times Debate No: 28576
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (1)




Public forum debate[1] (PF) is a high school debate format focused on clear argumentation and communication in non-technical terms.

Policy debate[2] (CX) is a high school debate format focused on the resolution of policy issues.

I ask that readers consider the arguments herein under a standard of educational comparative advantage; whoever can show a greater educational advantage will win.

I will argue that there is a greater educational benefit to participation in PF, while my opponent will argue that there is a greater benefit to participation in CX.

This is a short debate, and there are an infinite number of arguments that my opponent and I *could* cover. That being the case only the things which are explicitly stated in the debate will be voting issues. Judges should be mindful of this and vote accordingly; do not make the arguments for us.

First; PF gives students the opportunity to debate more topics than CX does
In the United States, the three biggest debate organizations (NFL[3], TOC[4] and CFL[5]) use the same resolution for CX debate. This single resolution lasts for an entire academic, so a student in policy debate for four years would only get the chance to debate 4 different resolutions tops. PF resolutions on the other hand change once a months, giving students the opportunity to debate 9 different resolutions a year,[6] and 36 different resolutions throughout their entire academic career.
The opportunity to debate so many more resolutions means first of all that students are learning more things than those participating in CX debate. It also keeps them on their toes in actually writing different arguments instead of just running the same pre-written arguments over and over again the entire year.

Second; Skills learned in PF debate are more readily applicable
PF has a very simple debate format.[7] There are no rules as to what needs to be included in a PF case and no rigid guidelines as to how the debaters actually have to argue. Coaches teach their students basic argumentation techniques such as the Toumlin Method[8], how to avoid logical fallacies and let them run with it. As a result PF debaters tend to format their arguments in as clear a format as possible so that anyone listening could understand them. They able to readily apply these skills after they graduate and put their debate education to use.
CX on the other hand is so complicated that most circuits only allow experience debate alumni to judge rounds in the first place. This decline in clarity is the reason PF was created in the first place[1], members of the debate community insisted that CX had become an overly specialized way to spew as much jargon and evidence as possible - the academic benefit of the activity had been lost.

Finally; PF's format allows more competition than CX's does
The clear debate format of PF means that students of just about any skill level can get involved and not have to worry about being 'spread out' by a school who could afford more, and better evidence than they could. PF continues to increase in popularity at the annual NFL national tournament, whereas CX continues to decline[9].
As a public debate format, PF allows anyone to to participate and treat the event as a learning experience. Debaters have greater flexibility in their argument style and aren't penalized for stylistic mistakes CX on the other hand continues to progress towards a state of elitism in who can even participate in the event in the first place

I will offer more arguments along side these next round as space allows.


Thanks for a chance to debate this.

Policy debate is more educational than public forum debate -

Policy debaters garner more information processing skills because of the large amount of evidence/data that is presented in a single round. Because of the longer speech times (total of 52 minutes vs. 24 minutes) and the higher rate of argument delivery, policy debaters receive substantially more information in one round than public forum debaters do. This forces the debaters to filter through tons of literature and evidence to figure out which would strategically benefit them the most. The longer speech times and faster delivery rate also facilitate argument development - there is more time in the round to delve in-depth into the various arguments presented. This is vital to critical thinking - policy debaters must fully dissect arguments in-round, while public forum only scrapes at the surface of complex arguments with the 2 minutes each debater gets in the rebuttals.

All the reasons why public forum is more educational that DoctorDeku presents are only reasons why policy debate is better.

1. DoctorDeku spends substantial time arguing that public forum offers more topics to debaters than policy debate. This is true. However, I will argue having a total of 36 resolutions is detrimental to a debater's education. First, having a topic per year encourages argument innovation, because it incentives in-depth research on the topic to find topic-specific arguments that other teams AREN'T expecting - reading the same arguments over and over again (like DoctorDeku suggests) only happens in public forum as the topic changes so quickly that debaters are forced to read generic arguments. He says that public forum debaters "learn more things" than policy debaters. "Learn" in this case is loosely used - policy debaters develop a firm and deep understanding of the topic, while senior public forum debaters probably can't recall many of the 9 resolutions in their freshmen year, let alone specific arguments.

2. Skills garnered from policy debate are more readily applicable. The speed at which policy debates occur might seem absurd to some at first, but it really incentives debaters to think on their feet and formulate coherent arguments rapidly, increasing critical thinking skills. These skills are applied in the lives not only of students, but of future leaders, businessmen, lawyers, etc, because all of these occupations require on-your-feet thinking and quick, rational decisions. Information processing, outlined above, is readily applied to any student's schoolwork - to find evidence for papers one must filter through mountains of articles in databases such as ProQuest. He says coaches teach their public forum kids the Toulmin Method, but this is irrelevant because it is also taught in policy debate novice year at most schools, and the structure of a claim/data/warrant is emphasized at the highest levels of policy debate, if not at much faster speeds. The fact that only experienced debate alumni judge rounds does not indicate much - it merely means that policy debaters speak at a rate too fast for lay judges to understand. It is absurd to think that policy debaters talk this fast in their daily lives - the vast majority are smart, logical people who can communicate these arguments to an audience at a conversational pace.

3. This is completely wrong - anyone can participate in policy debate. DoctorDeku says policy debaters are worried they will be "spread out" by a school who could "afford" more evidence, but the reality is any debater, given an Internet connection, is given access to the vast expanse of evidence that every other school does. It's the work a stellar debater puts in that sets him/her apart. He says PF continues to increase in popularity, but there's a reason why there is no competitive public forum competition in college. Additionally, a quick look through past PF winners shows there are still dominant schools.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to preface this round with three observations-
1. This debate is the only activity on my opponent's page. This includes personal information and friends.
2. My opponent's account only slightly predates the acceptance of this debate.
3. My opponent has provided no evidence to support his arguments, or even any warrants beyond analytical syllogisms.
My conclusions are as follows-
- My opponent is likely another active member of this site, and is using a proxy account for some reason.
- If two claims offered are conflict you should default Pro because my arguments are warranted.

That said my opponent's constructive took the form of a single paragraph; I will list out attacks against this paragraph which should be reasoned by in no special order
- the NDCA's open evidence project[10] and Cross-X[11] refute Con's research argument. There is tons of free evidence available for CX debaters which encourage laziness.
- That PF is shorted than CX means that debaters must be more selective about what they choose to cover in a round. It also means that debates are more clash oriented and less procedurally oriented and that more rounds take place in the span of a tournament.
- CXers have 8 minutes of prep in round, and an entire year to block out arguments; PFers have 2 minutes of prep in round and only a few weeks to prepare arguments. If anyone thinking on their feet it's the PFers, not CXers.

Onto refutations,
- Con provides no reason why more resolutions are inherently bad, he only asserts that fewer topics encourage innovation. However this ignores the initial argument I make a year providing excuses to simply repeat the same subject matter over and over again.
- Con makes the toxic assumption that PF rounds aren't deep because the topic span is so short; this is not an argument against PF's educational validity but an attack on the format itself.
- Con makes the claim that 'canned' arguments only happen in PF because of how short the topic span is, however the rapidly changing topic necessitates different arguments be made every round. CXers however write out blocks that they use for the entire year.
- Con belittles the educational value of PF by assuming PFers can't remember every resolution they've ever had -- education is not dependent upon memorized facts but on skills and lessons learned.

- Reading prewritten arguments and evidence off of a sheet of paper can hardly be considered 'thinking on your feet'. especially when CXers have 5-10 minutes of prep in a round while PFers only have 2.
- Unless the arguments were written before the debate, they're typically useless in CX as judges don't listen to purely analytical arguments; CX discourages this kind of arguments, PF on the other hand welcomes it.
- CX's stock issue format does not utilize the Toulmin method; it focus on stock issues to determine the viability of a plan of action. It doesn't encourage the same kind of argumentation the Toulmin method does.
- Finally the fact that the debate itself isn't readily understandable by the general public warrants the format's loss of coherency.

- The 'CX exists in college' argument is one of the most common, and most misguided arguments there is. PF does indeed exist at the college level[12]. Furthermore, IPDA[13] is a college debate that holds the same communication and clear argumentation values as PF.
- Next, while it's true that you can be spread out in any event, it's much less likely you'll be spread out in PF since the topics are usually current events that anyone has access to.
- Finally, no school has ever won PF nations more than once[14]. This is not the case with either LD or CX[14].


1. Why does it matter who I am?
2. All of DoctorDeku's "evidence" supports known facts (i.e. how many resolutions each type of debate has). Unless DoctorDeku provides evidence that specifically refutes my logical analytics, default con.

Three reasons why policy debate is better - information processing, argument innovation, and argument development. He hasn't directly answered any, especially information processing (both in and out of round). Do not let him make any arguments later to this effect.

- At least all NDCA evidence is free and compiled by individual teams and schools. is a site where public forum debaters can purchase evidence (without having to look for it themselves) - this incentivizes bigger schools out-buying smaller schools and not doing any research.

- No, PF rounds being shorter means the debaters can't delve in-depth into any complex arguments because they have to narrow down the arguments too quickly. Policy debaters, if they were put in public forum, would clash equally as much., but there is more clash in policy rounds because there is more time and great delivery rate. Additionally, Glenbrooks proves policy debaters have more rounds than public forum debaters at a single tournament (7 vs. 6)

- Policy debaters think on their feet way more in-round. The speed of delivery means that in-speech, debaters must formulate arguments off the top of their head. Prep time debate is a wash - PF rebuttals are 2 minutes whereas policy debate rebuttals are 5 - the extra prep time just evens it out. Having a few weeks to prepare arguments just means they don't get in-depth into the topic.


1. Reasons why more resolutions are inherently bad - denies argument innovation and development. One topic per year does not provide excuses to repeat the same subject matter - debaters would always lose if they read the same arguments over and over, since other teams would be ready for these generics. It only incentivizes new arguments to be written to surprise teams.
- If the format of PF detracts from its educational value, an attack on the former is a valid argument. He concedes PF rounds aren't deep because the topic span is too short.
- If the topic changes once every month, teams will be forced to read generics every round. Policy debaters are constantly in the process of writing blocks to new arguments.
- Education is dependent on learning the literature of the topic - if not, there is no reason to change the topic.

2. Policy debate offers on-your-feet thinking and information processing as readily applicable skills.
- He forgets what happens after that evidence is read - analysis and clash of the evidence is the core of a good policy debate. That requires a lot of thinking on your feet, especially at high speeds.
- Oops. PF welcomes purely analytical arguments without any warrants - policy debate is evidence-centered, and analytics made that facilitate clash are welcomed.
- Toulmin method is vital in the analysis of evidence. Plan focus is good and most real-world - instead of complaining about a problem, we actively seek to solve it with a policy.
- We are arguing about the educational value of a format of debate - policy debaters garner skills that can be used anywhere; how they garner it is irrelevant.

- Seven local schools hardly constitutes a competitive debate league, whereas big names like Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, Georgetown, and others all participate in intercollegiate policy debate.
- This debate's a wash - policy debate topics are also about current events that everyone has access to.
- Recall argument above - schools can out-buy other schools.
- No, in the past three years, Harker has won the TOC's twice and Walt Whitman has been runner-up twice. PF is still young, so schools haven't established themselves yet.
Debate Round No. 2


I'll adopt Con's rebuttal format for clarity-
1. It doesn't per se, but I felt it should be noted.
2. Con cannot claim you must to prefer his analytics over my evidence 'just cuz'. That is the epitome of abuse, he has the burden to maintain any claims he makes.

The three arguments my opponent covers for policy's superiority are flawed for the following reasons;
- They're not unique to policy, you gain this benefit from any kind of debate.
- They're unwarranted benefits in the first place, Con shows neither that these benefits exist nor that they're inherent to Policy.

- On the NDCA argument; Debate-Central offers free PF evidence[15], while Planet Debate[16], Big Sky Debate[17] and victory Briefs[18] all sell Policy evidence. These are not unique arguments, and the shorter time frame of PF debate makes those briefs much less abuse than Policy.

- This isn't a refutation, it's 'nuh-uh, uh-huh' exchange. One tournament providing more CX rounds than PF doesn't change that fact that shorter rounds mean more time for further rounds.
Also, Wiley College's TFA[19] tournamhent hosted more PF rounds than CX this year; this was the college that the great debaters was based on[20]

- Again this isn't a refutation, it's a 'nuh-uh, uh-huh' exchange. A PF round is half as long as CX round, but debaters only recieve a fourth of the prep.

1. Inherently bad?
- My opponent doesn't provide me any warrant for these refutations, it's more of the 'nuh-uh, uh-huh' exchange I speak of earlier. This is unacceptable as a means of rebuttal, my opponent has plenty of time to form responsible and well researched responses, but he does not do so.
- In the status quo, CXers do read blocked arguments over and over again, PFers do not. Do not allow him to makes these bogus claims, they're not rebuttals they're attacks.
- I never said PF wasn't deep, I said that Con makes the toxic assumption that it is not.
- If you believe the argument that less prep time means arguments must be generic than this debate would be nothing but canned responses; however they are not canned, they are resolutions specific. These unwarranted claims are unnacceptable.

2. Get you feet wet-
- 'nuh-uh, uh-huh'. I ask my opponent to provide some proof, any proof that this is a unique benefit to CX. Evidence and analysis exists in PF, but simply at a coherent conversational level; analysis and clash exist as well.
- If Can argues that analytics are so bad than why is his entire case comprised of them? Analytics are fine in moderation, the problem comes when people demand evidence to prove claims such as 'murder is bad'.
- Again, there is no warrant to believe this, and Con does not even exercise this benefit here in this round. The Toulmin method is rejected in CX in favor of evidence hashing, which results in the loss of the warrant/impact structure. Data alone does not make an argument.
- The education benefits of PF are immediately applicable; spreading and theory are not.

- If Con is going to tout names like Harvard and Northwestern, than he proves the argument of elitism to be true. Collge PF and IPDA can be practiced by anyone, and is practices by NYU and SFA respectively. Allowing greated competition is only a benefit.
- Con doesn't get to call a debate a wash because his arguments are shown to be wrong.
- Again, Con doesn't get to call arguments he's losing a wash.
- the TOC may be *a* national competition, but they aren't *the* National competition. The TOC isn't even open to everyone, it's an elitist league which only those who can afford to travel nationally can compete in. Furthermore, it rejects the public format of PF in the first place.

Vote Pro!


louiethechewy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


louiethechewy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by InThe3nd 5 years ago
Its kinda like elementary school science vs ap science. sure, you cover more ground, but having a whole year teaching you a whole lot more than elementary school science. It's scratching at the surface at everything.
Posted by DoctorDeku 5 years ago
@Javiously, I would love to have this same debate with you if you think you can defend that statement.
Posted by javiously 5 years ago
All of you are wrong.
Policy is the best type of debate, especially for educational purposes.
As a participant of both types of debate I can objectively say that policy debaters learn more. The question posited here was which type of debate was more beneficial. It was not which type of debate is better because that issue is asinine and devolves into a circle jerk of which one you participated in as being the "better one". There may be one topic throughout the whole year but it covers a lot more than one singular thing there are different sections of a topic. Learning is also not defined by learning a lot, a limited topic allows for a more in depth. Anyone competent will agree that in depth education is better than skimming over several topics because you can never become an expert with such sparse development of knowledge. Experts are the ones consulted on the issues that they know about and only in depth education allows for such.
Posted by XStrikeX 5 years ago
He's not a proxy, Deku.
Just a friend who was passionate about this topic.
Posted by DoctorDeku 5 years ago
Policy is tons of fun, I just don't think there are any really applicable skills gained through it except for the obvious research skills, and that isn't even unique to the activity. I think that the things you learn from PF are much more valuable.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
I'm never gonna forget the day I saw (spectated) my first policy debate. I'd heard the stories, and everyone told me what happens in one. But to actually see it happening was...unreal. It was also hilarious. I was having to pinch myself really hard to keep from busting out laughing.
Posted by The_Master_Riddler 5 years ago
Man, policy sucks because in UIL, they debate the same freakin argument all the time! They don't even change the argument! That'll get boring over a long period of time.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
I think if properly debated, there isn't necessarily much substantive difference in regard to the content of the debate between PF and policy. Granted, PF can introduce values whereas to do so in policy would be a bit obtuse, but PF doesn't have to be a value debate. It can itself be a policy debate, differing only in structure and resolution. So, the point is that while I happen to like PF better than policy, I'm not sure at all that the former is better than the latter. That would take some intense convincing for me. But LD, however, reigns supreme. That much is not up for debate -lol.
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 5 years ago
The only debate I've ever done in real life was policy.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
I never did policy. I debated LD/PF/and Congress when I was in high school. When I say speed reading, btw. I'm talking about anything faster than 300-350 w/m. Debaters in general debate too fast. They read their pre-written cases and sacrifice quality for quantity. This is, of course, only my opinion. But, coincidentally enough, every good coach I have ever talked with happens to share it.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.