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The 9 Principles of Good Debating*

  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.

The 3 Common ''Errors in Thinking'' (Logical Fallacies in Debating)

  1. CAUSE AND EFFECT:
    This ''error in thinking'' is the assumption that because one event occurs before another, that the first event causes the second (e.g. Does the sun rise because the rooster crows?).
  2. FALSE AUTHORITY:
    Another ''error in thinking'' is selecting, quoting and referring to experts who don't have creditable knowledge or credentialed expertise in the subject matter (e.g. a movie Star is not an expert on selecting the best toothpaste brand no matter how white his/her teeth are; unless that movie star is a doctor [dentist]).
  3. PART-TO-WHOLE:
    Another ''error in thinking'' is assuming that proving part of an argument wrong should discredit the entire argument; or that proving part of an argument correct validates the entire argument (e.g. If the side of the mango that you see is rotten, does it mean that the entire mango is rotten? Not necessarily.)

* As compiled by the University of Virginia

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