PF Debate Competition: Lend Us Your Thoughts!

  • Thread starter Greg Bernhardt
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In summary, the author is advocating for a debate competition on PF, which would consist of members debating a controversial topic. Viewers could then vote for who they thought won the
  • #1
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Looking for feedback on a possible PF Debate Competition event. Members would go head to head debating a controversial topic (science based). Viewers could then vote for who they thought won the debate after a certain amount of time and we would have a thread available for peanut gallery discussion on the debate. We'd likely have 10-20 debates going on. Lend us your thoughts. :smile:
 
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  • #2
Err, i think this will be difficult to organize and i don't quite see the point. For example, if you want to debate QCD, who will participate ? I mean, how can you be sure that the opponents are equal in knowledge (at least to some extent)? This will be the crucial part i think, otherwise this competition may turn out to be very boring

marlon
 
  • #3
Marlon, we are thinking of using common debate topics such as dangers of genetic engineerings and such.
 
  • #4
Greg Bernhardt said:
Marlon, we are thinking of using common debate topics such as dangers of genetic engineerings and such.

Ok then, in that case , i am all for it...I hope you guys are also including politics and religion...Should be real fun...

marlon
 
  • #5
marlon said:
I hope you guys are also including politics and religion
:biggrin: You're funny.
 
  • #6
Evo said:
:biggrin: You're funny.

Yeah, i take on the challenge of defending the views of Jozef Ratzinger against anybody at any given time on any given place :cool: (these words sound cool, i just wanted to put them in a sentence)

Yeah, Jozef Ratzinger that is : Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum : habemus MARLONIUM


il santo marlonino

ps : i alsways dreamt of owning the San Pietro Basilica...
 
  • #7
No, I do not want a debate competition.

Obviously if this is the best argument I can come up with, then I certainly do not have a chance at winning.
 
  • #8
I don't know. If you can find willing participants on the same time zone, it could be interesting. But, personally, I wouldn't want to participate. If you want to have a serious science debate, the way this forum is already set up is the best way to do it, including time to look up information and post references, etc. I'm more of a fan of cooperativity in learning than competition. I might join in the melee in the peanut gallery though. :biggrin:
 
  • #9
What about a trivial pursuit type challenge. Members can create small groups of players (4-5 per group, each an expert in a different field) Questions can be asked and members can select the best answer among them and pm it to a moderator. The first team to get the correct answer wins that round.

We'll need to agree on a time that different teams can play.
 
  • #10
Evo said:
What about a trivial pursuit type challenge. Members can create small groups of players (4-5 per group, each an expert in a different field) Questions can be asked and members can select the best answer among them and pm it to a moderator. The first team to get the correct answer wins that round.

We'll need to agree on a time that different teams can play.
That's a good idea! finally! :-p
 
  • #11
Evo said:
What about a trivial pursuit type challenge. Members can create small groups of players (4-5 per group, each an expert in a different field) Questions can be asked and members can select the best answer among them and pm it to a moderator. The first team to get the correct answer wins that round.

We'll need to agree on a time that different teams can play.

That sounds like more fun! Wait, darn, sounds like the moderators will be referees...I guess that means I can't claim Gokul for my team. You promoted him too soon!

The time zone issue remains a problem, but maybe we can play in "local" leagues according to time zones. We had the time zone problem with the scavenger hunt; most of the activity was going on while Europe was asleep. :-p
 
  • #12
I like Evo's proposal more as well. IMO, it doesn't make much sense to have a debate competition here, because debates already happen on PF all the time, natch. It seems the only substantive difference is that someone would be formally awarded as being the winner, which doesn't seem much good for anything but puffing up egos. (And we already have enough puffed up egos, natch. :biggrin:)

Evo's idea sounds like fun, and seems like it would be popular with our members. I say go for it.
 
  • #13
I love the idea of a debate. I know this forum already basically hosts people debating in just about every thread, but they are not real debates. Real debates are formal and have rules. Real debates stick to a topic. Real debates involve people defending single opposing propositions, with focus, and without regard to what they actually believe. I think it would be a great way for us to present the cases for and against controversial stances related to the social impact of science, without the clutter and nonsense typically associated with internet forums. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter who wins. I would imagine there are very few of us who have ever participated in formal debates and who know how to evaluate the performances anyway.
 
  • #14
I got this suggestion from a member that sounds like fun too.

debate idea

have the two contestants identity cloaked
they are not even to reveal their gender or where they are from

then let the onlookers vote, not knowing who it is, as to who has won the debate

The reason I am suggesting anonymous debaters------masked adversaries-----is because I think it would stimulate people's curiosity. they would wonder who it is, and try to guess from the style of argument, or speech habits.

a woman who was debating could intentionally sound like a man in how she argued (if there is any gender difference in style) and viceversa. One would never be sure if one guessed the debaters' identity right.

another reason. if one were voting about who won a debate it would be good not to be distracted by popularity and loyalty issues. this is a kind of "blindfold test" of which argument is better.
 
  • #15
loseyourname said:
I love the idea of a debate. I know this forum already basically hosts people debating in just about every thread, but they are not real debates. Real debates are formal and have rules. Real debates stick to a topic. Real debates involve people defending single opposing propositions, with focus, and without regard to what they actually believe. I think it would be a great way for us to present the cases for and against controversial stances related to the social impact of science, without the clutter and nonsense typically associated with internet forums. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter who wins. I would imagine there are very few of us who have ever participated in formal debates and who know how to evaluate the performances anyway.

This is precisely the reason I don't like formal debates. They are too rigid. Highly controversial scientific issues aren't black and white. While it's a good exercise to learn to argue the opposing view, it isn't constructive to have to stick with that view if you don't agree with it, or when there are compromises to be addressed. It may be good training for a political candidate or someone heading to law school, but is counterproductive for a scientist. In science, when there is controversy or you are writing a review of a subject, the ideal is to be able to balance both sides of the argument. It's also rare to find only two sides to an argument. When something is truly controversial, there are usually many ways people look at the issue.

I really have never seen a debate with any other purpose than to sort out a winner and a loser, which aside from puffed egos, also leads to hard feelings, and can lead to division among the membership. What gets missed is that in a good debate, there is no winner and loser. Instead, everyone learns something.

I don't think an anonymous debate would resolve that. I think we can recognize the writing styles of many of our members, and they would also be conspicuously absent from "the peanut gallery" during the debate. Knowing the competitive tendencies of some of our members, I can only see anonymity leading to speculation over the identity of the debaters.

If you want to get a good discussion going on some controversial issues in a way that won't spiral into a flame war, it might be better to set aside an area on the forum where a topic will be introduced for a limited time, open to the membership, but with a strong moderator presence explained right up front. Any and all posts that are in any way off topic, just statements of opinion without any supporting evidence, or even stick as much as a little toe over the line to even hint at an attack on a poster rather than the argument will be deleted without discussion (but if it doesn't break normal board rules, don't give people warnings for it, just keep the thread clean). I don't know, though, it seems that would be stifling.
 
  • #16
Moonbear said:
I really have never seen a debate with any other purpose than to sort out a winner and a loser, which aside from puffed egos, also leads to hard feelings, and can lead to division among the membership.

Perhaps. In every formal debate I've been in, we were either doing it - as you said - to prepare for a future in public speaking, or just because we enjoyed doing it. No hard feelings. I don't think the idea here is to conclusively close the case on whatever it is we're debating - or make thing black and white, as you say. The purpose is just to do something fun and educational at the same time. You wouldn't believe how helpful it is to be in a debate because of the way you are forced to organize your thoughts and present a coherent and brief case. Debate skills can be translated into many arenas of life - if not in resolving scientific controversy, certainly in getting that next grant. Besides, we aren't all scientists. Some of us might actually be going to law school (okay, I might be the only one, but still). There are other forums that do this and, aside from my lofty appreciation of formal debate, it's just a fun thing to do.
 
  • #17
What about this: New Order vs Joy Division - who was better??
 
  • #18
I don't care that much either way, but if the debates were good, I would enjoy following them. Philosophy Forums has had some debates which you can find here, to get an idea of how it might go. If you decide to go ahead with it, I think keeping it anonymous would be fairer to the debators and keep the focus where it should be.
 
  • #19
jcsd said:
What about this: New Order vs Joy Division - who was better??

That's a tough evaluation to make, there. Ultimately, Joy Division was probably the more significant band, but New Order was more popular and technically prowessed. Both enjoyed a great deal of critical acclaim. This is one case in which I would definitely need to be forced to take one side.
 
  • #20
If we were to have a formal debate, how would you know if I were really wearing a formal?
 
  • #21
Not everyone on this board has Phd's in their fields like some other posters on here. If you want to include everyone possible and be fair, I wouldn't limit it to just a science debate but politics, ethics, religion, etc.
 
  • #22
gravenewworld said:
Not everyone on this board has Phd's in their fields like some other posters on here. If you want to include everyone possible and be fair, I wouldn't limit it to just a science debate but politics, ethics, religion, etc.

This is something that I'm unclear about regarding the purpose of the debate if it were held. The example Greg offered would be a topic that would intermingle science, politics, ethics, etc. So, is the purpose to hold a debate in a single evening, with rapid fire point, counter-point, like a presidential debate, or is it to have a thread open to only two participants for a longer period of time to move at a slower pace where the participants have time to gather supporting evidence between posts? I don't see the rapid-fire style debate working very well in a forum format, or being constructive here. I think much of the benefit that loseyourname refers to are benefits one obtains more from a live debate that involves learning public speaking skills in addition to what you can write in a post.

On the other hand, if you can find two PhD level members who are willing to participate over a longer period of time in a single thread, it could serve as a good illustration of a higher level of discussion than occurs on a regular basis. It would be more of the format of letters to editors of journals on a controversial subject, where, unlike letters to editors of magazines, you don't just write your opinion, but support it with references and discuss the weaknesses in a certain interpretation of a report. But these aren't things you fire off in 10 minutes, or even an hour.

If you do decide to go ahead with it anyway, I'd suggest that it be done less as a "winner takes all" debate, and more as a exercise for demonstration of how to debate. In other words, I'd want to ecourage the debaters to have some behind-the-scenes dialog going on via PM to help each other with points and counter-points. For example, if one debater is assigned a particular position on the topic and comes across some good information that supports the opposing side, rather than keep that to themself, share it with the opposition via PM to use in their own argument. This allows both sides to demonstrate the best arguments possible to the audience, without risking the animosity of competition. I think this might also ease the concerns of the debaters of having to stick to one side of the argument if they begin to gather more and more evidence that contradicts that view and don't really believe in their side.
 
  • #23
Since this is the first time I've seen this thread, I would like to say that I support the idea of formal debates that intermingle science, politics and ethics. I like the format linked to by honestrosewater.

It doesn't have to be that huge, it could just be a series of regular threads in General Discussion with extra guidelines to make sure that the discussion is productive, such as length, language and other requirements. One suggestion would be to give place for more than just two participants though.
 
  • #24
I would like to see the debates happen, it sounds like they would be fun to watch.

Also, I would like to point out the option of debate teams. We could set up teams of people of different skill levels to work together in a debate (though this will be hard with the time zones). This will help those less experienced in good debate style to learn from those that are more experienced in formal arguments.
 
  • #25
I like the anonymous debate idea. Also, I'm more for a "longer" debate then a "rapid-fire"-styled one. Regarding time zones, well, I guess one could come up with an optimal time, when different parts of the planet could interact together. :-p

And btw, if it would be a "longer" debate, then the time zone issue wouldn't be relevant, would it?
 
  • #26
Why is this thread suddenly alive again ? Anyways, i am all for a (PUBLIC)debate contest too. Besides, i already know the winner, so...


marlon
 
  • #27
(I posted after the spam post and your reply, which where both removed before I submitted my post)
 
  • #28
marlon said:
Why is this thread suddenly alive again ? Anyways, i am all for a (PUBLIC)debate contest too. Besides, i already know the winner, so...


marlon

Wow. I didn't even realize this thread is so old. Perhaps I wouldn't write anything at all if I had. :biggrin:
 
  • #29
I think a debate is probably the best contest idea on PF I've heard of. We definitely have a lot of smart people on here everyday, and I would love reading, voting, and (why not?) participating in one. Who knows, it could become internet-renowned!

There are definitely points of contention in science, which might we pick?
 
  • #30
So when are the debates beginning?
 
  • #31
I'd say only do one debate at a time. Easier to monitor and participate. To actively participate in a constructive manner one must put time aside to write a decent post. If you wanted to participate in more then one debate, you're screwed timewise.
 
  • #32
Maybe if we run a few debates at a time, but let them run for weeks, so that people have time to look up information, and sort out their arguments before posting them, as opposed to having to know everything (or where to find it) off the top of their head.
 
  • #33
This thread is two years old and was brought back to life by a spammer, now banned. So there really isn't any point to continuing it.
 

Related to PF Debate Competition: Lend Us Your Thoughts!

1. What is PF Debate?

PF Debate, or Public Forum Debate, is a type of debate competition where two teams of two people debate a current event or policy topic. The goal is to persuade the judges and audience that their side has the better argument.

2. How is PF Debate different from other types of debate?

PF Debate is unique in that it focuses on current events and policy topics, rather than philosophical or theoretical concepts. It also allows for the use of evidence and research, similar to a mock trial, but still emphasizes persuasive speaking and critical thinking.

3. How are topics chosen for PF Debate?

The topics for PF Debate are chosen by the National Speech and Debate Association, which holds the largest high school debate competition in the world. They take suggestions from coaches, students, and other experts to determine the most relevant and important topics to debate.

4. Who can participate in PF Debate?

PF Debate is open to high school students of all ages and backgrounds. Some schools have debate teams, while others allow students to participate as individuals. There are also national and international competitions for college students and adults.

5. What skills can be gained from participating in PF Debate?

Participating in PF Debate can help develop critical thinking, public speaking, and research skills. It also teaches students how to construct persuasive arguments and effectively communicate their ideas. These skills are valuable in many areas, including academics, careers, and everyday life.

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