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What's the best debate format? Show more Show less
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Competitive debating has become one of the most popular extracurricular activities for both high school and university students. Around the world, people engage in many different formats of debating, from the formal, cooperate Model United Nations format to the rapid-fire, argumentative Policy format. Out of so many formats, what exactly is the best?

Policy debating is the best format Show more Show less

In policy debate, two teams of two argue for or against a certain policy change by the United States federal government. This format is mainly used in American debating at both the high school and collegiate levels.
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Policy debate requires extensive use of evidence

Research and evidence should be an important part of debating because it cultivates the critical skills needed to make a convincing argument. Arguments should always be about real-life impacts, and only policy debate's research-heavy format ensures that.

The Argument

Policy debate requires the extensive use of research. For teams to prove anything, they must first spend months researching and preparing to debate the topic as well as synthesizing and gathering their sources into a case.[1] This format of debate best stimulates the type of debating that happens in real life, such as in a courtroom or on a congress floor, where lawyers and politicians will spend months building their cases. Because of this, policy debates tend to be the most comprehensive and factual. Teams are so familiar with the topics and so well-prepared in the area that almost any debate will be at the minimum a thought-out discussion between teams who know what they’re talking about. Additionally, because of the evidence that is required, policy debate also ensures that the most factual debates happen. In other debate formats, when people do not know about a topic, at best, they are forced to assume things, and at worst, they will straight up lie about things. However, in Policy debate where teams get an opportunity to research beforehand, this is no longer a problem. Debaters no longer have to panic and scramble after seeing the motion and can instead properly think through their arguments and prepare well.

Counter arguments

The process of finding evidence in Policy debate is often tedious and boring. The fact that debaters have to discuss the same topic for an entire year means that the debates become boring and repetitive.[2] Other important things in a debate, such as inferring, thinking, and speaking rhetorically, are deprioritized to make way for evidence. Because of how much time debaters spend prepping, many are forced to use the tactic known as “spreading”, in which debaters speak really fast to try and get through all of their evidence. The problem with this is that debaters never end up actually discussing or arguing for their side. They are simply reading someone else’s opinion or data on something. When another team presents an argument, their opposing team’s response will simply be to give more evidence and arguments in return to try and show that they have out prepped their opponents. If participants are not actually thinking about the world and are simply copying and pasting as much evidence as possible, then this gets rid of the point of debate.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://policy.debateus.org/2017/05/the-basic-structure-of-policy-debate/
  2. https://www.speechanddebate.org/topics/
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 10 Nov 2020 at 19:50 UTC

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