A debate, in common parlance, means a discussion of a particular subject in which people express different opinions. An organized debate is a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides, generally ending with a vote or other decision. Debate improves one's public speaking and critical thinking abilities and is considered to be the only intellectually honest way of solving a problem (other than revelation).
Organized debate has become an organized sport in high schools and college. Different types of debate take place in these competitions, including Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglass Debate, Parliamentary Debate, and Public Forum Debate.*
Policy Debate is the most common High School debate. It is set up into eight speeches, structured as followed.
1 Affirmative constructive(1ac) - in the 1ac, the affirmative team reads all of there affirmative evidence. There is an eight-minute time limit.
1 Negative constructive(1nc) - in the 1nc, the negative team will read negative evidence. There is an eight-minute time limit.
2 Affirmative constructive(2ac) - in the 2ac, the affirmative will attempt to counter all of the negative evidence. The 2ac is often considered the make or break moment for the affirmative. There is an eight-minute time limit.
2 Negative constructive(2nc) - in the 2nc, the negative will argue half of there negative arguments, as the negative also has the next speech. There is an eight-minute time limit.
1 Negative rebuttal(1nr) - in the 1nr, the negative will argue the other half of there arguments. There is a five-minute time limit.
1 Affirmative rebuttal(1ar) - the 1ar is considered by many to be the hardest speech in policy debate, as the affirmative has five minutes to rebutt the thirteen minute neg block.
2 Negative rebuttal(2nr) - the 2nr is the negatives last speech and they will usually take half of there argument against the affirmative. There is a five-minute time limit.
2 Affirmative rebuttal(2ar) - The affirmative will take all advantages and attempt to win. There is a five-minute time limit.
Due to the revealing nature of debate, dishonest organizations will avoid engaging openly with their opponents in debate. Some sites who criticise Conservapedia, for example, have been known to refuse to engage in open debate out of fear that their stance would be exposed as hollow rhetoric. Conservapedia is a perfect example of democratic debate at work, with the views of all openly welcomed and debated without bias or prejudice. Wikipedia is well known to lack any decent standard of debate, and instead enforces liberal views on its articles.
- Debate has been inextricably intertwined with the concept of the open society, as democratic societies depend upon the free and open exchange of ideas, providing a contrast to the totalitarian regimes where a limited set of ideas are imposed as absolute truths.