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Unread Jun 13th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #1
Saitenyo's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: California
Posts: 8,634
Debate Guidelines - Please Read!

Welcome to The Debate Club!

This area of the forum is intended for debate and discussion about serious topics such as politics, religion, rights, worldviews, etc. Additionally, topics started elsewhere on the board that eventually become serious debates may be moved to this section.

Debates about subjects our members are passionate about can get quite heated at times so make sure you feel comfortable expressing your opinions and backing them up before joining in.

Obviously all general board rules apply to this forum, but there are a few special guidelines to remember when posting in this forum:
  1. Debate and arguing are not the same thing. Remember to focus on the facts and opinions involved. Do not make your position a personal attack against another member.

  2. Opinions do not equal facts. If you want your argument to be respected and considered, be prepared to back it up with citations to reputable sources (articles, journals, books, etc).

  3. Try to avoid generalizations. Something that has happened to or is consistent for you, or your group of friends may not necessarily be an accurate reflection of what happens to everyone.

  4. Be respectful of the opinions of others. If you disagree with something someone else says, you are certainly welcome to say so, and explain why, but don't flame or insult just because you disagree.

  5. Do not assume one member of a particular group speaks for all. Example: if a Christian debate opponent says, "I don't believe in evolution," don't assume all Christians share the same opinion.

  6. Majority does not equal truth. Just because a lot of people believe something or share the same opinion, does not make them right. Saying, "Most people believe aliens are green" does not necessarily mean they actually are green. Majorities can be just as wrong about something as minorities.

  7. Consider opposing statements carefully. You may think your side is right, but chances are, so does everyone you're debating with. Listen to what others have to say and allow yourself to swallow your pride if you start to feel like they may have made a good point. There's nothing wrong with being wrong. If you decide you're mistaken about something, it's better to admit it than try to defend a position you have lost confidence in.

  8. Try to use good logic and critical reasoning skills. Avoid logical fallacies and fallacious slippery slope arguments. The more time and effort you put into making sure your logic is sound, the better.

  9. Don't "debate and run." If you're going to enter a debate, be prepared to continue to back up your points. Posting something and then refusing to respond to or outright ignoring any questions later addressed to you is very poor form in debates. If others listen and respond to your posts, you should grant them the same respect.

  10. Disagreements and flames are not the same thing. If someone simply disagrees with your opinion, don't complain that they're flaming you. A flame is a personal attack or insult, not a simple contrary opinion.

If any members cannot follow the above guidelines and show repeatedly poor behavior or immaturity despite being warned, they may be restricted from posting in this subforum.

Useful debate terms
You may encounter some of the following terms in these guidelines or actual debates. Here's a handy reference guide to what they mean in the debate context:
  • Argument - You may occasionally see someone refer to a reply in a debate as an "argument." This doesn't necessarily mean disagreement or attack. "Argument" in a debate sense can refer to the reasoning behind a position in a debate. If I am debating whether or not cats or dogs make better pets, the statement "Dogs make better pets because they are easier to train" would be my argument. While we discourage the angry kind of arguing, forming debate arguments to support your position is important.

  • Ad-hominem - A personal attack on your opponent. Example: Fred says, "I think cats make better pets because they're more independent." If Bob replies with, "I think you're wrong because you're an idiot," that is an ad-hominem. Ad-hominems are poor debate tactics and will not be tolerated in this subforum.

  • Slippery slope - An argument stating that one cause will lead to a much larger effect. Arguments of this kind can occasionally be valid, such as, "If you allow video games at school, soon many kids will be bringing video games to school." However, they can often be unrealistic exaggerations: "If you allow video games at school suddenly all of the kids will stop going to class and start spending all their time playing video games." Make sure that when suggesting a small cause will lead to a larger effect, you're not exaggerating.

  • Logical fallacy/fallacious argument - A logical fallacy is an argument with a flaw in logic. An example of a logical fallacy is: "Most little girls enjoy playing with dolls. Beth is a little girl. Therefore Beth enjoys playing with dolls." Conversely, another example could be: "All my female friends like playing with dolls, therefore all females like playing with dolls." These specific examples involve leaps in logic. Logical fallacies can take many forms and be hard to spot, or easy to accidentally use. You can find more examples of logical fallacies here:

  • Straw man - A straw man argument is a specific type of logical fallacy where one side paraphrases the oppositions argument in such a way that is unfaithful to the original argument and makes it easier to dispute. For example: Fred says, "I'm okay with hunting in some circumstances." Bob replies with a straw man, "So, basically you like torturing and murdering innocent animals?" Do not twist the words of your opponent to make them look bad or make their argument easier to refute.

If you have any questions or concerns while posting in this forum, feel free to contact Saitenyo (this subforum's mod) or another staff member. If there is a specific post or thread which you feel is conflicting with these guidelines or board rules in general, please feel free to make use of the "report post" button.

Last edited by Saitenyo : Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:09 PM.
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