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Stupidape's guide to eliminate shenanigans.
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8/30/2016 2:55:32 AM
Posted: 6 months ago
Stupidape's guide to eliminate shenanigans.
Often, in a debate it is difficult to determine whether somebody is being deliberately vague to their advantage or it is an honest mistake. Nevertheless, a few pointers can help decrease the chances of annoying and mind numbing debates. These debates usually are over semantics, burden of proof, and round structure.
As a general rule, be as explicit as possible.
I cannot overstate the importance of being explicit in the r1 setup. Take your time, even hours to set up a debate. Even if you win despite your opponent using semantics, these debates can be very frustrating. Its not worth the increase in blood pressure to win these debates.
First and foremost, define all words in the topic, also known as the resolution. For example, in my debate with magicaintreal I messed up and didn't define God.  Which left a wide open hole for my opponent to ultimately win.
When creating the debate, I couldn't find a definition that would allow for my opponent to argue Christianity or the Norse Gods. I failed to define what the word God. I figured it would be unfair for my opponent to have to hit a moving target, and thus didn't dispute the definition magicaintreal provided. I knew I lost before I made my r2 argument and was just bluffing.
Therefore, this shows the importance of being explicit. You may have to make two separate debates. In this instance, I couldn't find a definition that fit both the Christianity definition of God and the Norse Gods. Therefore, I should have made two separate debates.
Debate one, "The Christian God exists" and debate two "The Norse Gods exist." See how much simpler and explicit that is then the vague resolution of God(s) exist. Honestly, I would have been okay with a loss just for pure vagueness on my part.
Burden of proof is be explicit and in round 1. Simply stating one side has the burden of proof is too implicit. You will then lead to "okay you have 100% burden of proof." Which is impossible in most scenarios, the exception being mathematics. We can't even prove with 100% certainty that humans exist.
Just as with definitions, it is unfair for your opponent to have to hit a moving target. Thus if you do define the burden of proof within the first round, it defaults in my opinion to 100% burden of proof upon the instigator, which almost always results in a loss. That being said, simply stating that Pro has burden of proof is vague and implicit. Instead say Pro has 51% burden of proof or beyond a reasonable doubt, 67%.
I can't believe the amount of time and energy I've spent arguing the burden of proof and people trying to shift 100% burden of proof onto me. Here's some examples where we basically spent every round debating the burden of proof. 
Furthermore is the round structure. In this debate we spent a lot of time debating the round structure, which could have been avoided if I simply was more explicit in r1. Do not underestimate the power of your opponent to deliberately or accidentally misunderstand your r1 setup. 
R2-3 Arguments & rebuttals
R4 No new arguments" Stupidape
As you can see this r1 setup is implicit and vague. R2-3 arguments and rebuttals could mean, r2 arguments and r3 rebuttals. It could also mean r2 is arguments and rebuttals and r3 is arguments and rebuttals. Finally, it could mean r2 arguments and/or rebuttals and r3 arguments and/or rebuttals.
This was vague on my part and it lead to confusion in the debate. Not only that but the r4 no new arguments is also ambiguous. That could mean this is an empty round with nobody posting anything, it could mean you can rebuttal and defend your argument. This is not clear.
Another note, sometimes a topic can fit in more than one category. For example, science and religion often hold the same ground. Make sure to say both scientific and faith based arguments are welcome. Otherwise, if you make a religious argument on a topic that is scientific your opponent may claim red herring. Visa versa is true, a scientific argument on a religious topic.
Another discussion that is often brought up is whether or not a fictional character like Harry Potter can cast spells. On one side, Harry Potter cannot because fictional characters don't exist and thus cannot do anything. On the other side, we can judge a fictional character as if they are real.
Be sure to clarify within the r1 opening arguments when talking about fictional characters. An example would be I would say "Jesus loves x" my opponent could have an easy win by stating that Jesus doesn't exist so therefore Jesus loves nobody.
All in all debating is very difficult and most often you will not get the debate you want. People will take angles you never dreamed existed. You may want to debate somebody who is a theist and end up arguing with an atheist. A good example is this latest argument, I wanted to argue with somebody who thought the Earth was immobile while the sun revolved around the Earth. Instead, I got an angle I never wanted to argue against. 
That being said limit the options of your opponent. If you want to argue with a person who thinks that the Earth is the center of the universe state so explicitly. Instead of "the Earth revolves around the sun", make the argument "Pro Heliocentric versus Geocentric Con." Although both points of view are wrong, the Earth and Sun revolve around the Barycenter, you will still get a better debate.
In general, its a bad debate if you argue the entire time about structure, burden of proof, definitions, or in the case of the last debate, if the debate is essentially over at the end of the first round.
Personally, I think debating is too advanced and takes too much patience for most people. There is too many gotchas involving burden of proof, structure, definitions, and undesirable angles. Instead, I recommend the forums and polls for the majority of discussions.
As for patience, it takes a lot of patience and willpower to debate. A red herring can be very tempting to follow and comes in many forms. One of the most effective debating tactics is to call your opponent's legitimate argument a red herring. Then your opponent will spend a great deal of time explaining why their argument in not a red herring. In this case your accusation of a red herring was a red herring within itself.
Honestly, I think red herring are an incredibly potent and useful debate tactic that should be used as much as possible. Voters don't seem to penalize you for red herrings, and it takes little effort to claim an argument is a red herring, and lots of effort to disprove.
An effective opponent embedded their argument in red herrings. I noticed the red herrings and was so busy explaining why they were red herrings, that I forget to respond to the argument and lost. My hats off to the effective tactic my opponent used.
Taking two hours+ to create the r1 for a debate destroys the improvisation for me. Forums is much easier, just post and reply a few times, little worries about BoP, structure, bizarre angles, and definitions.
If you do debate, be as explicit as possible in r1. Otherwise there is a very good chance that your opponent will simply state, alright 100% burden of proof on the instigator, and btw since its unfair for me to have to hit a moving target, that the burden of proof should remain 100% despite the instigators objections. Or some other shenanigans that will result in you ending up arguing the entire time about a subject you have no interest in.
Thanks for the read.