Thoughts

Mar
09

What Donald Trump can teach us about burden of proof.

The ideas of Archbishop Richard Whately still resonate today. One in particular, if I were to paraphrase, is that “anyone who asserts, must prove.” This idea underlies a great American legal presumption, that one is innocent until proven guilty. In competitive debate, this principle usually means that that the first team to speak, the affirmative, […]

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Mar
05

Cats Versus Dogs: A Value Debate

It is hard to think of a debate topic that elicits as much friendly competition than the disagreement of whether cats or dogs are better. People have strong opinions, but they also  seem to enjoy the fact that the issue is irreconcilable. That the evidence for or against one side or the other depends on […]

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Feb
12

The Cycle of Hypocrisy

Calling someone a hypocrite is popular, but a weak argument Fallacies, by definition, display poor reasoning, but that doesn’t mean they are ineffective. They are not only effective, but popular. It is hard to think of a more popular argument, or refutation, than to accuse one’s opponent of being a hypocrite. What’s more, the accuser […]

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Jan
26

Funding Specification and Trump’s Wall

A classic debate strategy Every competitive debater goes through a period where they learn about how to craft policy proposals. Specifically, the importance of providing the right amount of specifics to the plans that they propose. It is common to specify the agent, enforcement, time frame and funding. Funding specification is often clumsily abbreviated to […]

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Jan
25

3 Million Illegal Voters and Appeal to Authority

President Trump claimed that 3-5 million people voted illegally. In response, several media outlets have requested evidence to support such a startling claim. The combination of a bold claim coming from a prominent figure, with the difficulty finding any evidence to support the claim, creates a great example of the “appeal to authority.” John Locke […]

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Jan
24

“Alternative facts,” and Obamacare’s impacts

“Alternative facts” are far more common in debate than people realize. The clash over Obamacare, and the number of insured Americans, provides an example. The very first executive order that Donald Trump signed as president called to end any enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that might “impose a fiscal burden on any State […]

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Jan
12

Common Answers to Disadvantages

Answering Disadvantages in a Policy Debate In chess there are different stages of the game. The first several moves are commonly referred to as ‘openings.’ It is popular for people who practice chess to memorize a set of opening moves, and stick to those moves with little regard for the moves of their opponent. Once […]

By Matt Shapiro | Affirmative
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Kinesics: Controlling your body while speaking

  Kinesics is the study of movement in communication. Controlling your body while speaking is a good way to maintain attention of the audience and bolsters persuasive messages.

By Matt Shapiro | Theory
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Refutation and Rejoinder

Refutation and Rejoinder are essential to any argument. Refutation is the skill of attacking the opponents arguments. Rejoinder is revisiting your own after the opponent has attacked yours.

By Matt Shapiro | Theory
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Answering to Topicality

  It’s one thing argue Topicality, its another animal trying to respond to it!

By Matt Shapiro | Affirmative
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