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Debating 101: Strategies

Beverlee
Posts: 721
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9/15/2013 4:48:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I thought it would be a good idea for the more experienced debaters to share a few "Best Practices" for effective debating. This would be a HUGE help for new debaters and people looking to learn a few tricks.

Thank you!!
Magic8000
Posts: 975
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9/15/2013 5:38:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
First, learn about logical fallacies
https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com...

Oxford has a great 6 part lecture series on debates and logic.
http://www.mariannetalbot.co.uk...
404 coherent debate topic not found. Please restart the debate with clear resolution.

"So Magic8000 believes Einstein was a proctologist who was persuaded by the Government and Hitler to fabricate the Theory of Relativity"- GWL-CPA
DeFool
Posts: 626
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9/15/2013 6:43:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/15/2013 4:48:15 PM, Beverlee wrote:
I thought it would be a good idea for the more experienced debaters to share a few "Best Practices" for effective debating. This would be a HUGE help for new debaters and people looking to learn a few tricks.

Thank you!!

Fallacies must be memorized; it is impossible to cross reference them against the arguments presented in a formal debate. Try, and everything will seem to be a Strawman.

Here is what I do.

I first copy the argument that I want to challenge or analyze into a Word Document. I then "de-verb" it into very concise statements. I combine these statements into a cohesive argument, and then evaluate the result.

For example, the following portion of an argument has the excess words, and unimportant statements removed for clarity:

"From a standpoint of the law emotional and cultural ideas about what "marriage" is supposed to mean are irrelevant and if so important then we should just rename all "marriage" "civil union" and let religion culture emotion and spirituality have the word "marriage". Many people felt that and still feel that marriage is between a man and a woman. But the issue isn't what marriage is supposed to be the issue from a standpoint of the law is what the law provides for people who are married and whether or not the people involved deserve such benefits."

I take the following statements:

"we should just rename all "marriage" "civil union""
"But the issue isn't what marriage is supposed to be"
"whether or not the people involved deserve [marriage] benefits"

The argument then becomes much easier to understand:

"We should not discuss what marriage is from a legal standpoint, but rather from the pragmatic usefulness of the institution. Should this use be denied to some - and not others, and why?"

I find that I must take this step. It exposes the actual argument presented for me. You are familiar with Aristotelian Logic and how to diagram a sentence. I seldom do this, in favor of simply de-wording a passage.
larztheloser
Posts: 857
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9/15/2013 8:00:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Being an effective debater is about much more than just your strategy.

When I used to coach teams, the first thing I would teach them is how to speak in public. You cannot debate unless you are able to carry yourself confidently behind whatever podium you speak from. You have to get used to using paper instead of cue cards and a bunch of other things as well. While this may seem very specific to RL debating, I would say something similar for DDO too - know the site. Learn how to use formatting, for example, and how to tell what the parameters of the debate are. Learn proper grammar and spelling, or at least use a spelling/grammar check before you submit.

Then you have to learn how to create arguments that make some sense. My favorite technique is stakeholder analysis - think of as many relevant groups of people as you can, and then try to find some way they'll be positively/negatively impacted by the topic. Tends to work better in model debates but it's very easy and fast to practice. There's a strong temptation to always run a "practicalities" argument - avoid it unless the topic is very obviously calling for it. Start memorizing some general principles, such as "freedom of speech" - why they are important (ie how they can be justified) and what kind of topics they might be relevant to. Watching high-caliber debates, particularly in styles that force extensions (such as British Parliamentary), can be really inspiring with regards to coming up with brilliant and unexpected points.

Third, you have to learn how to actually make those arguments in the debate. This is the beginning of tactical debating study. You have to begin understanding which points are your most important points, how much time / many characters to allocate to each point, good introductions and conclusions for points, good structure connecting your points (numbering is very helpful esp. for real-life judges) etc. On DDO this is very easily practicable because you're essentially just writing essays.

You'll also want to start thinking about "rebuttal", or counter-arguments. When you're starting out, I recommend putting your rebuttal first. As you become more advanced, you'll start to learn how to integrate rebuttal into your case. Memorizing the four key elements of a "straight negative" is useful for choosing the best way to deal with good arguments. For example, suppose I made the argument that we should ban DDO because Larztheloser is on it, then I could use the four points of a straight neg like so:
1) There is no problem to solve - who cares if Larz is on DDO? We can still enjoy it!
2) The solution won't solve the problem - Larz will probably just move on to another debate site.
3) Solving the problem not a good idea - Larz is a fantastic member of DDO.
4) Solving the problem creates external harms - Larz will probably hunt you down and kill you if you take away his DDO. (not really)
Avoid the temptation to set up a counter-model unless you can think of an amazing one. These generally fail. Judges will know about BOP so you never have to run a counter-model. What the others have said about logical fallacies is useful too, but I would add that simply saying "That's an ad populum fallacy!" is not sufficient - you need to learn how to apply those fallacies in a debating context.

Remember that some formats will require you to make a substantive case regardless of whether you are the negative or affirmative team.

Fourth, start thinking about strategy. This is where you anticipate your opponent's line of attack and adjust your arguments accordingly. Strategies work best in team debates - one of my top ideas is to work out which of your opponents would be weakest, where they would be likely to speak, and adjust my own team's speaking order to break them at that point. Or in multiple topics, I would always anticipate first how my opponent would rank the topics, and then use that with my own rankings to force the most desirable topic for my side of those remaining. With ordering arguments, being able to shoot down an argument before your opponent is even able to make it can catch newer debaters unaware and make them look bad. Sometimes you can do gambits, or risky moves with a huge payoff if your opponent falls for it. For example, a few times I've just thrown my substantive case just so I could focus on stopping my opponent meeting BOP.

There are many strategies in debating which could fill an entire book. Many are specific to various formats. The real aim is to make your own strategies, your own tactics, and develop your own unique style. That's what's going to really win you the trophies.

Good luck!
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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9/15/2013 10:43:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/15/2013 4:48:15 PM, Beverlee wrote:
I thought it would be a good idea for the more experienced debaters to share a few "Best Practices" for effective debating. This would be a HUGE help for new debaters and people looking to learn a few tricks.

Thank you!!

There are a couple ways of looking at this.

First is how Larz and deFool point out, that there is a method to the madness, and thus there's a way to perfect that method.

Another way is to realize that debating is about persuasion, and that to "win" a debate would mean to "persuade" your audience. In DDO's case, the voting "audience" for any debate tends to be quite small, so if you can "persuade" a friend or two to vote for your debate, you'll more than likely win.

Many of the debaters with 20-30 wins and few if any losses adhere to this kind of a "strategy". It cheapens the experience, IMHO, and is why I generally hold "NO SCORING" debates to get rid of this petty politicking, even though it is "valid" since debating is about "persuasion".

All that being said, I respect larz and defool's abilities at debating. =)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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9/15/2013 11:27:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think the most important thing for a new debater on DDO is to carefully craft a resolution when you initiate a debate and to learn to analyze the resolution before accepting one.

Write a resolution as a statement that you affirm. The person writing the resolution has the responsibility to make sure it is clear. If the resolution has words with multiple meanings, you may need to give definitions to make it clear. If definitions are not given, then the dictionary definition that best fits the context is the one that applies. "Context" means the surrounding discussion. A major problem for new debaters is failure to provide context, so there is no way to figure out exactly what the resolution means. The easiest way to provide context is to provide a link to an article that talks about the subject. That might be a Wikipedia article or a news story. The point of providing the reference is not to provide facts to support the arguments, but simply to define what the debate is about.

Make sure that the resolution has a meaning that you can defend if challenged. If someone uses a different interpretation than you intended, you need to be able to say why the misinterpretation is wrong. When you accept a challenge, make sure you can defend your interpretation of the resolution. Some words have dozens of meanings, and challengers sometimes take rarely used definitions or definitions that don't fit the context. It's better to ask in Comments if it's not clear.

Don't use undefined abbreviations or debate jargon. Assume the reader is an intelligent person unfamiliar with topic. It's not good enough to be understood by your opponent; we know he's interested in the subject because he took the debate. Write for a reader who is not an expert.
Muted
Posts: 377
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9/17/2013 12:30:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I would like to second what the previous two posters have written. If you can follow their advice, the number of debates you're going to win is going to be far greater.
Exterminate!!!!!!-Dalek.

The ability to speak does not make you a competent debater.

One does not simply do the rain dance.
Ragnar
Posts: 1,658
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12/23/2014 8:56:11 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Challenge sources. Most are simply neutral, but plenty contain information against the person who posted it.
Unofficial DDO Guide: http://goo.gl...
(It's probably the best help resource here, other than talking to people...)

Voting Standards: https://goo.gl...

And please disable Smart-Quotes: https://goo.gl...
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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1/11/2015 2:33:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Recruit Noobs to vote on your debate, the mere request will bias them in your favor. Also threaten to quit if you lose, harass voters in the comment section so people are afraid to vote against you in the future. Also if you're debating a Christian recruit a bunch of atheist voters or visa versa. The same can be done with any ideology. Also be sure to only debate people whose reputation isn't as big is yours.

I got a ton more useful strategies, I'll probably write a guide or something.
Clovis
Posts: 191
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1/11/2015 2:43:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
My best tips for written debate...

- Be professional. Having well structured, well organized and well written debates can go along way to boost the legitimacy of your arguments. If you just throw up a wall of text and shun a clear structure it can hurt your debate.

- Do research. Most debates require a lot of research and a good close debate is often won off of a good source or key argument that usually comes after some research. If you go into a debate without doing your research your putting yourself at a huge huge disadvantage.

- Point out your opponent's mistakes and weaknesses. Make sure to explicitly point out where your opponent messed up so the voter can see specifically the weakness in your opponent's argument. That way they are seeing what you're seeing so your arguments and position make more sense.

- Don't be afraid... Don't be afraid to lose, to take difficult debates, to make outlandish arguments or use out of the box ideas. The only way to get better is to challenge yourself and try and expand your debate profile.
Words are wind.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.