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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).[1]

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.

Principles of good debating: International Institute of Debate

Below are 9 principles of good debating according to the International Institute of Debate:

1. Questions or challenges should be professional. Insulting, condescending, or comments involving personal language or attacks are unacceptable.

2. Critical analysis, synthesis, rhetorical skill, and wit are keys to debate success.

3. Focus on the opposing side’s position or argument. Knowing the “other side” is critical for preparing strategies to refute your opponent’s arguments.

4. Limit your arguments to three or less.

5. Use logic to make your arguments. Present these arguments clearly and concisely.

6. Know the common errors in thinking like logical fallacies and use them effectively in your refutation.

7. Present the content accurately. Only use content that is pertinent to your point of view and draw on support from authoritative sources.

8. Be certain of the validity of all external evidence presented for your arguments. Also, challenges to the validity of evidence should be made only on substantive grounds.

9. Your rebuttal (or conclusion) in a debate is your final summary position. Use it as an opportunity to highlight important issues that indicate proof of your points or refute your opponent’s argument.[2]


  1. 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.
  2. THE 9 PRINCIPLES OF GOOD DEBATING by International Institute of Debate