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Debate 101

The Basics

Christian Wolf

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Debate 101

Debate 101
What is debate?
A communication activity
Public Speaking
An academic activity
Communicate with Judges
Communicate with other debaters
Listening, not just talking
It involves thinking
and analyzing
and then presenting your thoughts and supporting them
You learn about the topic
You learn about specific, common arguments
Debate is used to figure out truth
by exposing flaws in positions
Debate is used to figure out policies and actions
by exposing weaknesses and unworkable ideas
How does debate work?
2 debaters or teams
Arguing for or against a position
This could be a policy or a value
Debaters take turns speaking
Sometimes they ask questions, too
Each side alternates
A judge (or judges) decide the winner
There are preliminary rounds
(These are usually parents or coaches)
But you won't find out who won until later
Everybody debates these
Debaters alternate sides
Which means everyone debates at least 3 times for and 3 times against a position (called a "resolution")
A team-policy debate round
3 minutes
Negative asks the
Affirmative questions
8 minutes
(1st Affirmative Constructive)
Build a case:
Describe problems
Describe a solution
Sell the solution
(1st Negative Constructive)
8 minutes
Refute the affirmative case
Counter Plans
Affirmative asks the
Negative questions
3 minutes
(1st Negative Rebuttal)
5 minutes
Respond to arguments
instead of bringing up
new ones.
This is where you start
bringing up
"Voting Issues"
Arranging notes this way allows you to "follow" arguments all the way across the page.
It's called "flowing"
In-between speeches, debaters can use this "prep time" to figure out what to say next.
Each debate team gets some time they can use during the round to prepare for their next speeches.
A team can use it before any of their speeches.
But not before Cross-Ex
The times are set so that each person speaks an equal amount of time = 13 minutes, plus 3 minutes on each side of C-X.
After the preliminary rounds, the top debaters will have elimination rounds to determine who advances - usually prelims, semis, finals
Which is pretty cool
Elimination rounds have at least 3 judges
Step 3: Debate!
Step 6: Go home!
Step 4: Rinse and Repeat
Step 1: Debaters show up at a tournament, ready to debate the topic
Step 5: Announce "breaks"
Step 2: A list of all the debaters at the tournament is printed out and posted on a wall or door
This piece of paper also lists room numbers next to names
A Typical Debate Tournament
Those are where the debates will happen.
The two people or teams assigned to the same room will debate each other.
The sheet of paper will also specify which person or team is Affirmative, and which one is Negative...
Remember that everyone debates an equal number of times on each side.
We call these sheets of paper "postings"
Debaters go to their assigned room on time.
Debaters introduce themselves to their opponents,
their judge, and their timer.
Once everyone is ready, the round will begin.
After the round is finished, debaters shake hands and thank their judge and timer.
There will usually be a
little time between each round.
Once the next set of postings go up, debaters report to their assigned rooms for their next round.
This time against a new opponent
This happens 2 more times.
That's what we call the announcements of
which teams are in the elimination rounds
The top few teams and debaters
will debate each other
Lose a round, and you're out
This goes on until only the top
two remain in each category.
Those two debate each other to
determine the tournament champion
Not everyone "breaks"
And those that do, don't break every time.
You win some, you lose some.
There will be a cool awards ceremony first, with awards for top placings in debate as well as other categories.
Everyone gets a copy of the ballots their judges filled out
These ballots will have the decision the judge rendered and
usually some comments from the judge about why they
voted the way they did.
These comments are especially helpful for
learning to be better debaters
The Different Types of Debate
Policy Debate

Value Debate

4 debaters, 2 per team
About 1 and 1/2 hours long
Debaters will debate policy topics
Debaters propose specific plans
2 debaters, 1 per side
About 45 minutes long
Debaters will debate value topics
Debaters propose value systems
Teams can switch who is the 1st and
2nd speaker in-between any round
Usually, debaters are a team for the entire year
In Team Policy, debaters figure out what's wrong with the system and try to fix it.
Sometimes their solutions are realistic.
Often, they have problems
Those problems are what the negative team tries to show the judge(s)
A policy debate case usually has a few parts:
1. Definitions - this is where important terms are clarified. Words like "the," "apple," and important phrases like "a monkey in the exit row" are key.
2. Harms - these are points about why the current system stinks worse than 2 day-old roadkill. And also why the current system (called the Status Quo) is not nearly as delicious.
3. Plan - this is where the solution is outlined. It's the plan, Stan. This section has everything - the party invite list (agency and enforcement), the entertainment agenda (the policy mandates), and the big bucks.
You know...the greenbacks, the dough, the moolah, the paper, the bacon, the benjamins, the monkey (means £500 in British slang - you didn't know that?). In other words, it's the money, honey (boring people call this funding).
4. The Advantages - think of these
as a hippie: it's all good, man.
Usually, a Team Policy case will quote many experts
who are credible on the topic. After all, if Congress
can't run things, how can a couple of teenagers do it?
We call this "evidence"
Some people have way too much evidence...
This is not a policy proposal
It's an argument that something should be valued more
Values should be intrinsically good
LD cases usually have 4 parts:
1. Definitions - do you really need a dictionary to know what this section is? We just covered this...
2. Value - this is where debaters say something good that makes people feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You want them feeling warm and fuzzy enough to go to war over it.
3. Criterion - this is the down-to-earth part of LD cases. It's where you say *how* the value can actually be achieved. It's like a GPS.
4. Contentions - points. Like harms. Or advantages. Or both. But value-focused.
These are basically just like policy topics.
Except not at all.
Instead, these are topics about the *values* that are the reason for policies.
Debaters rarely quote "evidence" in LD - instead, they call it "support,"
and it can be from philosophers, history, or even just logic.
This means less to carry to a tournament.
The Resolutions
LD Debate:
RESOLVED: United States efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East are desirable.
(there are usually 3)
(sometimes octos, quarters, semis, finals)
(stock issues)
6 minutes
The affirmative presents case - which upholds or affirms the resolution.

They present a value, criterion, and contentions.
Arranging notes this way allows you to "follow" arguments all the way across the page.
It's called "flowing"
The times are set so that each person speaks an equal amount of time = 13 minutes, plus 3 minutes on each side of C-X.
7 minutes
The negative presents case - which negative the resolution.

They present a value, criterion, and contentions, too

THEY ALSO - argue affirmative case
CX - 3 Minutes
CX - 3 Minutes
(Affirmative Rebuttal)
4 minutes
(Negative Rebuttal)
6 minutes
(Affirmative Rebuttal)
3 minutes
Full transcript