The Instigator
Harlan
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
mikelwallace
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

The categorizations of "Good" and "bad" are illusions and nothing more. (and so is morality)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,406 times Debate No: 615
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (28)
Votes (18)

 

Harlan

Pro

Hello,

This is one of my long-standing beliefs that shape the way I think. I did not initiate this debate for a while, as I was –am- afraid that no facts or solid evidence will be pr3esented. To whoever accepts, please don't turn this into a "Yea-Huh!...Nun-unh!" boring and repetitive debate. This topic so closely ties in with many of the other parts of the fundamental chain of thought that controls my thinking, so I will briefly cover some other areas that will come up. Well hear we go…

Let us look at the world objectively…let us look at it transcendentally...looking at the very fundamental existence of all particles, bumping into each other. In this world, things happen. Events occur, particles exist. All is. But then, some one shall make the claim that a certain event, a certain occurrence; a certain movement of particle's mere existence is "bad", I try to think deeper into this, since the people never do…and I can not find a fundamental, short definition of the word "good" or the word "bad". They mean nothing. Let us look outside of the human brain, which operates only to pass on its genes, and is rarely a good example for these transcendentalist philosophical theorizations and speculation. I do not know how better to summarize my argument then: things simply...are. Their existence cannot be good or bad.

The lion neither loves nor hates the gazelle, it just eats the gazelle. Humans are so delusional and ignorantly intelligent that they have these misleading delusions. I say "ignorantly intelligent", as in we have analyzed things based on the natural modes of our minds, labeling anything that our instincts deter us from as "bad", quite naturally. But in reality…pure, rich, un-embraceable, un-perceivable reality, good and bad are non-existent, good and bad do not exist. WE can never fully observe reality; because we must see it from the window of our brain…we are forced to see it through a tint, or a window that has been painted over. Everything perceived; our WHOLE WORLD; is merely a signal received by the brain. With sudden delight, thinking this over, I have remembered the analogy of the cave. My window analogy was nothing in comparison… Have you heard of the allegory of the cave? It was made by Plato.

It depicts a cave, in which there are prisoners, who are chained in such a way that they can not turn their heads. They are facing a wall. Behind them is a fire (artificial light) in front of this fire are puppeteers that are holding puppets that that cast the shadows of the puppets across the wall to which the prisoners are viewing. This wall is their world, they know no other. Only a small amount of natural light enters the cave, and this is the little glimpse of reality. When a prisoner is set free of the cave, it takes him a long time for his eyes to be accustomed to the blinding light. He tries to return to the cave and liberate his old comrades, but they think he is crazy. You all will know it better as "the matrix", a movie that was made purely based on the allegory of the cave.

For more, http://www.people.cornell.edu...

So anyways, in reality, there is no good or bad…things occur from cause and reaction, and they occur whether you're instincts like it or not. It may not be bad, then, because things simply exist and act.

For something to be good or bad, by the deepest definition I can compile, is supposedly, (would have to be) either beneficiary of negative to some or other cause. But (sorry to the religious), nothing has any higher cause; things merely exist and occur without any cause or goal in mind. For only brains have goals, and the laws of nature do not have brains, and simply follow the laws of cause and reaction. So if there is no fundamental cause, there can be no good or bad, only existence. If you think that there is a cause, then please share so I may pick it apart.

You might ask at this point: If I do not believe in morality and good or bad, then why am I alive, eating, sleeping, have any political party, or bother to do anything whatsoever, or post in many of my debates with a m oral arguments. The answer is: because I do not have freewill. I will not go into detain of that, you may read my other debate on freewill for that. Its relevance in this context is that though my "rational" mind knows that there is no good or bad, my mind has a block to letting my way of living or acting embrace this idea, as it strictly goes against the structure of the brain. I realize that, in there being no purpose, there is no purpose in trying to resist my instincts, as it is useless. Also, being a Taoist, I purposeful follow my instincts, but also believe that to transcend this and to truly embrace the idea to the point of not believing at the very core in good or bad, would be truly liberating, to the point of godliness.

If I did any number of things to which you considered bad, it would not matter, as there is no purpose in anything. Everything is futile, and hence, nothing is futile, hence everything is futile. It would not matter. It would only make a couple brains distressed, and would have absolutely no affect on the fundamental purpose of everything, because, of course, there is no fundamental purpose to everything.

-Harlan
mikelwallace

Con

Hello Harlan,
I read your opening statement and can say that you did put a lot of effort and thought into your statements, and you seem to be an extremely well spoken individual. Now you have left the terms "good" and "bad" very loosely defined, and it seems to me that you have argued that really there is no better or worse, good or bad, or even opposition of any sort, but that all things just are. There are two major fundamental flaws in this argument that should be easy to see. First is your belief that you do not have any free will. Anybody who has ever made a decision in their life already has enough personal experience and evidence to avoid falling for that. The countless examples of people using self control would show that there is a such thing as free will, and your probable argument that they did not really make that decision themselves, but were somehow coerced against their will to do it based on the way they have been conditioned or something would be further refuted by an example of anyone who has ever...changed. The reason that I go into this is to show that there is in fact a such thing as free will, this will come in to play soon.
The second flaw is that there is one irrevocable law that logic cannot deny, that is simply that there has to be opposition in all things. Now before I go into this, you must realize again that in this particular debate, "good" and "bad" are very loosely defined. Without dark, there could be no light, without heat, there could be no cold. How would you define something without it's opposite? If you have never experienced darkness, how would you know you have always been in light? opposition in all things is a fundamental part of human growth and progression. Now...in order to show how this logic ties into this particular debate I am going to use a more specific example tying opposition and agency together to show that some things are just "bad".
One of the "opposites" in our universe that everyone has without a doubt experienced are the opposites of pleasure and pain. Now please bear with me on this one, if you were to take 10 animals, (dogs, cats, or humans) and show them one room where upon entry they are beaten with a hammer, and another room down the hall, where they are treated kindly and given some sort of treat, there would be a perception of "different". If then you were to let the animals loose, you would probably find that they unanimously will "choose" the option that they would prefer, or in other words, the room that they would avoid would be the room that they perceived to be "bad".
If you were to be walking down the street, and I approached you with a crow bar and pulled it back ready to swing it, you would probably react by either the duck and cover move, running away, or coming at me and taking me down. You likely would not react by offering your head to me on a tee. This is because you likely do not want to be hit in the face with a crow bar, (just for the record, I like you and would never hit you with a crow bar). Taking a crow bar to the face would not feel good. Getting a broken leg is bad, watching a parent die in a horrible accident is undesirable, and therefore bad. A dictator In 1930's Europe murdering 6 million innocent Jewish people is bad. Im sorry, there is no way to argue that some things are not wrong or bad. Some people may have a different perception I guess, which would allow them to somehow look at the most extreme examples of "good" or "bad" and call them the opposite, but they are a huge minority and their perception does not change what is. Anyone who honestly thinks that the holocaust was not bad, please let me know.
Debate Round No. 1
Harlan

Pro

Hello,

I would like to start off by telling you that you're interpretation of my argument is correct: No better, no worse, mere existence.

You obviously do not understand determinism at all, I can see. Everything is cause and effect. This is a fact: there are chemical processes in you're brain that control what you decide; you have instincts; You're brain is a physical object and so works under the same pre-tenses, and therefore cannot be random, and there is a fated r4eason for every event. You play a cheap card by claiming that anyone from "personal experience" can prove your4e argument, while this is vastly misleading. A human brain may not observe itself, and fully understand the workings of it; any psychologist could tell you that.

"Without dark, there could be no light, without heat, there could be no cold"

Opposition? No. Those things are not opposites. This does not prove you're argument. The things above are not opposites: Dark is the lack of light; cold is the lack of heat. Not, the opposite, they are not "opposing forces", at all. But anyways,

"How would you define something without it's opposite?"

You can't define either good or bad with a real definition.

"Opposition in all things is a fundamental part of human growth and progression."

Once more, you are limiting yourself to Humans. Opposition only exists in a world where there are entities with goals. What goal? Once more, there is no fundamental cause to things. The "goals" perceived in human minds are simply the brains urge to do some thing or other. Let us please look at the fundamental existence of all things, and not how the world looks through human minds, and the interactions of Humans.

"One of the "opposites" in our universe that everyone has without a doubt experienced are the opposites of pleasure and pain"

Once more, these are only chemical processes of the brain, this has NOTHING to do with the existence of things, this is only some animal's instincts and sensations when a pain nerve is stimulated.

"Now please bear with me on this one, if you were to take 10 animals, (dogs, cats, or humans) and show them one room where upon entry they are beaten with a hammer, and another room down the hall, where they are treated kindly and given some sort of treat, there would be a perception of "different". If then you were to let the animals loose, you would probably find that they unanimously will "choose" the option that they would prefer, or in other words, the room that they would avoid would be the room that they perceived to be "bad"."

Once more, you limit yourself to animal brains. You are only reinforcing that it is an ILLUSION, by only giving proof that has to do with how an animal brain perceives something, and not of the true nature of the things existence. Sure the animals would have that ILLUSION the room is bad, but the room is really just a room, with certain atoms in certain ways that make certain elements, which form particles, which form larger objects, and it is all just existing.

"This is because you likely do not want to be hit in the face with a crow bar, (just for the record, I like you and would never hit you with a crow bar). Taking a crow bar to the face would not feel good. Getting a broken leg is bad, watching a parent die in a horrible accident is undesirable, and therefore bad."

Why is that bad? You, in this ENTIRE debate have only focused on how things are perceived by a brain, and therefore helping my argument that good and bad are illusions. If you hit me in the head with a crowbar, some particles would act in different ways and exist in new areas, is that "bad"?

I think my oppoonent has proved that good and bad are illusions, as we can see from his examples that animals are of the belief that things are good and bad.

-Harlan
mikelwallace

Con

Harlan,
The problem with your thinking is not something that can be overcome with logic. You have completely discredited the human mind in all perceptions, and therefore your argument is simply too abstract to be debated.
First, you have absolutely no true evidence that there is no purpose for anything, that the particles just "exist" with no reason or goal. Maybe you have chosen to have no purpose or goal, but the overwhelming majority of people in this country and world would probably laugh at that notion. Your belief is simply nothing more than a theory, and your philosophy friends have nothing more than a theory as well. And if you use the argument that nothing that is perceived in our minds can be used as evidence, then you discredit your argument as well, because it was conjured up in your mind, which means it is not real and just your own individual perception, which means it is nothing and can accomplish nothing.
The problem with your thinking is that it is a classic thinking of those who want to go through life with no responsibility, no goal, no drive, no purpose, and most importantly, no accountability for their actions. People like that are dangerous. If a person can rationalize in their mind that there is nothing bad or immoral about rape or murder or molesting a child or genocide, then they are a very dangerous person to human existence in general. But it is awfully convenient for those who just don't have any desire to better themselves in any way.
Another problem with how abstract your thinking is would be the idea that there is no limit to how illogical you can really get. Ever seen the matrix? "there is no spoon"...right? According to your logic, it really doesn't matter that we are even having this debate, because neither of us are right or wrong, as a matter of fact, we are not even opposing eachother because there is no such thing as opposition. Really, whos to say you are even having this debate, it could all be an illusion, in your mind. Im not really here, this website doesn't exist, the computer you are typing on isn't really there. Your argument lacks two very important things, logic and foundation.
Finally, the third problem with your debate is the arrogance..."if you think there is a cause, then please share so I may pick it apart"..."you obviously don't understand determinism at all, I can see". You have no desire to hear another side, just to belittle it. And more importantly, as I see right through you, you don't even really want to advance your ideas, you want to advance yourself. Your goal is not to convince others of your ideas, but convince them of how smart harlan is, and how he is intellectually above his opponent. This is not debating, this is condescending and arrogance. It does not help my friend.
Eventually you will need to realize something...there is a such thing as truth. There is a such thing as "is" and "isn't". People are free to choose what they think right and wrong is, that has to do with their religious beliefs. They can believe the ten commandments constitute morality, or the koran, or any belief system. That governs an individuals morality. However, the abstract ideas that you have presented are illogical, unproven, and quite frankly, ridiculous. The difference between our arguments, is that yours comes from a mind that doesn't believe the mind has any credibility in determining truth, or anything real for that matter. That means that you can't actually believe that your argument can be truth, or even real. Its all an illusion to you. If you think that you are right in any way, you contradict yourself, and all of your credibility actually does disappear.
Just think a little more realistically.
P.S.-Answer me just one question, do you believe there was nothing wrong with the holocaust?
Debate Round No. 2
Harlan

Pro

"The problem with your thinking is not something that can be overcome with logic. You have completely discredited the human mind in all perceptions, and therefore your argument is simply too abstract to be debated."

Listen, if you do not like the nature of the debate to which YOU ACCEPTED, then just stop debating. I ponder; I speculate…I am quite aware that many people have distaste for such idle pondering, but I have been using nothing but logic. IS it too abstract? Or must you begin speculation, also. No, I simply state, quite factually, that the Human mind has instincts and structures, which make it see the world in certain ways.

"First, you have absolutely no true evidence that there is no purpose for anything, that the particles just "exist" with no reason or goal."

I quoted the real point, and not the personal attacks, fro the record….and you have no evidence to the contrary…particles do not have brains, and therefore do not have goals…I thought this was something that went without saying. Anyways, I will elaborate if so is your desire. Someone eats a pizza, what is the goal? To discontinue the state of hunger. What is the goal of discontinuing the state of hunger? To remain alive. What is the purpose to staying alive? To continue the human race. What then is the purpose to continuing the human race? Nothing. You see, it is purely logical. In the end, nothing has any goal, because everything is cause and reaction, and things happen because it was fated so, not because it is working towards a goal.

"The problem with your thinking is that it is a classic thinking of those who want to go through life with no responsibility, no goal, no drive, no purpose, and most importantly, no accountability for their actions."

More personal attacks…Little unnecessary, don't you think? I already addressed this, though you may not have caught it…go back to my first argument. What you don't seem to understand, is that though my rational mind knows that good and bad are non-existent, my mind that controls my actions, which must follow the embedded formula that says that continuing the human race is "good", and makes it so that I can not attain this state of liberation. Also, being a Taoist, I do not attempt to defy my instinctual brain…when at al possible…AS I like to say…As much as we may come to understand our psychologies, we are still slaves to them.

"Another problem with how abstract your thinking is would be the idea that there is no limit to how illogical you can really get. Ever seen the matrix? "there is no spoon"...right? According to your logic, it really doesn't matter that we are even having this debate, because neither of us are right or wrong, as a matter of fact, we are not even opposing eachother because there is no such thing as opposition. Really, whos to say you are even having this debate, it could all be an illusion, in your mind. Im not really here, this website doesn't exist, the computer you are typing on isn't really there. Your argument lacks two very important things, logic and foundation."

It doesn't matter whether we have this debate. I am right…you are wrong 8?), THESE SEPARATE ENTITIES THAT ARE Harlan AND Mike do have the illusions of separate goals that create opposition, but these entities are. Though tis' highly, highly improbable, it IS possible that I am not having this debate…could be a dream….I could be hallucinating…It could be the year 2450, and I am actually a Frenchman of the age of 46, who has had his memory wiped, and am now in a virtual reality thing. Our whole worlds are just signals received by the brain. That is a fact, by the way. Actually, it is very logical.

"Finally, the third problem with your debate is the arrogance..."if you think there is a cause, then please share so I may pick it apart"..."you obviously don't understand determinism at all, I can see". You have no desire to hear another side, just to belittle it. And more importantly, as I see right through you, you don't even really want to advance your ideas, you want to advance yourself. Your goal is not to convince others of your ideas, but convince them of how smart harlan is, and how he is intellectually above his opponent. This is not debating, this is condescending and arrogance. It does not help my friend."

You can take the fun out of debating, you know that? I do want to hear the other side, why would I have started the debate. You are very insulting, and I think any viewer can tell that my opponent is only concentrating on personal attacks, this round. I do, in fact, want you to believe my ideas, if every single person who read this was convinced to my argument, I would be elated to know that more people have come to terms with my understanding of things and my philosophies. I could care less what some strangers, who I will never meet, think of me. I only treat you as an equal, and I should hope you do the same for me. I have only been debating, in the same way any one else would debate. You are the one, in fact, who has suddenly, this round, spent the whole time engaging me, in an extremely attacking manner.

"Eventually you will need to realize something...there is a such thing as truth. There is a such thing as "is" and "isn't". People are free to choose what they think right and wrong is, that has to do with their religious beliefs. They can believe the ten commandments constitute morality, or the koran, or any belief system. That governs an individuals morality. However, the abstract ideas that you have presented are illogical, unproven, and quite frankly, ridiculous."

Sure, they can "believe" that, but that does not make it true. They are still under the illusion that there is good and bad. You have now began making the argument that good and bad exist, because it is what peole believe, when something solely exists within someone's mind, than it is, in fact, an illusion:

ILLUSION:

"Psychology. a perception, as of visual stimuli (optical illusion), that represents what is perceived in a way different from the way it is in reality."

-Dictionary.com

You also simply state my argument "is illogical, unproven, and quite frankly, ridiculous", but you leave it at that while never showing WHY it is illogical, while I have presented plenty of logic, You cannot "prove" philosophical theories, only present logic for them, you're argument, too, is un-proven, so that is just a tad hypocritical, don't you agree? Why is my argument ridiculous? Because it is different than what most people believe? In my view, you're argument is illogical also, but I at least have some respect…I can understand you're side and would not say flat out that, in essence, is "ridiculous".

"The difference between our arguments, is that yours comes from a mind that doesn't believe the mind has any credibility in determining truth, or anything real for that matter. That means that you can't actually believe that your argument can be truth, or even real. Its all an illusion to you. If you think that you are right in any way, you contradict yourself, and all of your credibility actually does disappear.
Just think a little more realistically."

Wow!, you just directly insulted the very essence of my mind itself,…lay off, man! We can never be 100% sure of anything, so though my rational mind is not "sure" that what I say is truth, I believe that it is true…That is my opinion that I am entitled to, the same as you are entitled to yours, my friend.

I will answer youre final part in the comments forum, as I appear to have run out pof room.
mikelwallace

Con

Harlan,
I would like to start by saying that I am not attacking you personally, I have not said that YOU were an idiot, or YOU are ridiculous. I am however, attacking the notions that you have set forth, and you should expect tour views to come under scrutiny. I did question your motive though, I will admit. I continue to question this. As you know, an important part of any debate is the consistency of the individual on the given topic. There can be no double standards or flip flopping. This is why Mitt Romney is under scrutiny for his views on abortion. In a previous debate, you stated some things that were contradictory to what you have said here. You were debating against torture, and stated thus:

"Torture is inhumane and horrific"..."torture can not be justified, period."..."my argument can be summed up easily: torture is bad because it hurts a lot"...at one point you even state: "That was my technical argument, now i will give you my MORAL one...part of the reason we have human rights is to protect those who have done 'bad'".

For viewers to read the full debate, it is here:

http://www.debate.org...

I am not sure if this is a change in position since the time you said these things, or a double standard where there is no right and wrong or morality unless it is convenient to defend your view. I certainly think it calls into question your credibility on this topic. You may try to now come back and "spin" those words to mean something other than what they say, but the true context is right there in the above link.

I now close my argument by addressing two more flaws of logic in your arguments. First, below you stated that your views were "true". You then tried to stand by your view that there is no right or wrong, but there is a truth, (and therefore fallacy) meaning a view can be wrong if it is false, or right if it is true. This is again very simple logic that must be intentionally overlooked for one not to see it. Lets not forget that your arguments have been so abstract as to call everything into question, any reality at all whatsoever, you see then the problem with your saying "my views are TRUE"?

This brings me to my final statement. You stated:
"It is possible that I am not having this debate...could be a dream...I could be hallucinating...it could be the year 2450 and I am actually a frenchman of the age of 46 who has had his memory wiped and am now in a virtual reality thing, our whole worlds are just signals received by the brain" You then say "Actually it is very logical" I should be able to close with that, again, pinning the word "logical" to a statement doesn't automatically make it logical. You are not a frenchman in 2045, you are Harlan and it is 2007, to think otherwise is grossly illogical. I am not saying you think this, I know you probably don't, but the fact that you believe it is logical to accept that as a possibility shows an enormous flaw in your logic here. This is not a personal attack, it is scrutiny of arguments that are illogical.

There is truth and there is fallacy. There is right and there is wrong. There is opposition in all things. And we as human beings do have a purpose, we have free will, and are driven to do what we do. We have children for a reason, we feel love for a reason. There is evil in this world. What happened on 9/11 was purely evil and immoral, THAT is a fact. THAT is logic.
Debate Round No. 3
28 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
His arguments may have been "butter"...but my arguments were strawberry jam...so...HA!
Posted by griffinisright 9 years ago
griffinisright
I voted, mikelwallace I think the quality of you argument was butter. Even with less quantity
Posted by wingnut2280 9 years ago
wingnut2280
I don't see any way in which I can vote CON. Any vote for CON is just a rejection of the nature of the topic, not an evaluation of the debate. I REALLY wish this would have taken place in the way it was intended, rather than becoming a poor framework debate.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
"You are not a frenchman in 2045, you are Harlan and it is 2007, to think otherwise is grossly illogical. I am not saying you think this, I know you probably don't, but the fact that you believe it is logical to accept that as a possibility shows an enormous flaw in your logic here. This is not a personal attack, it is scrutiny of arguments that are illogical."

You don't believe it is even POSSIBLE, because of course, to the limited information I -you- have, it is indeed POSSIBLE, though highly improbable.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
"In a previous debate, you stated some things that were contradictory to what you have said here"

Mike, I clearly explained that IN MY FIRST ARGUMENT, go back and read it.

You never backed up WHY anything is bad or good, only WHAT you thought was bad or good, emotion.
Posted by longjonsilver 9 years ago
longjonsilver
Harlan clearly won this. Without a doubt.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
Continued from debate:

"P.S.-Answer me just one question, do you believe there was nothing wrong with the holocaust?"

Though I am very aware that this is an emotional trap, I will respond nonetheless.

It really all comes down to: "in what sense do you mean my ‘beliefs'". My mind is strongly opposed to the holocaust; it goes against all of my instincts to keep the human race going. I hate the idea of holocaust, and would do anything in my power to go back and change it, I wish it never happened, I hate it…But I do not have free-will, so this does not reflect my rational knowledge, which, as a Taoist, I choose to not go out of my way to follow, or even trust.

You do not seem to understand the difference between "right" as in morally acceptable, and "right", as in "truthful", and…unfortunately…the English language has not created a distinction between the two. When I say something is right in the moral sneeze, I am following my instincts, when I say something is right in the truthful sense, I am referring to my rational knowledge. Therefore, my credibility has not been lost, as you assert.

-Harlan
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
I beleive that what I say is true. There is a difference between "right" as in good and "right" as in truthfull.
Posted by mikelwallace 9 years ago
mikelwallace
but if theres no such thing as right and wrong, how can there be a true and untrue? what you believe is true? that deosnt fit into your above arguments.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
Waldo, you arte not telling me anything new...in the first debate I participated in on this site, in the FIRST PARAGRAPH I stated thus:

"It is good to believe in something, it truly is; but do not be a slave to that belief. Beliefs change. "

You are not telling mea nything new, my friend. 2-3 years ago, I would have told you COMPLETELY different things, my beliefs do change, but my current mode of thinking makes more logic and sense than anything I have ever believed, what I believe is true.
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Vote Placed by els21 9 years ago
els21
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Vote Placed by griffinisright 9 years ago
griffinisright
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Vote Placed by cleon5 9 years ago
cleon5
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Vote Placed by duke-one 9 years ago
duke-one
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Vote Placed by Renzzy 9 years ago
Renzzy
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