You may be engaged in a formal debate before an audience. You may be talking to a coworker with others listening. You frequently may be engaged in an on-going discussion on the Internet.
Whatever the forum, these essentials apply.
#1 - The person who asks questions controls the conversation.
This is the most basic of debate essentials: The person who asks questions controls the debate.
As a debate coach I sometimes ask debaters to engage in a conversation in which they make no statements, but only ask questions.
Eventually they will learn that they can make statements framed as questions. This accomplishes two things: First, it allows you to control the conversation and, second, it communicates a thought.
That's not to say that you should discourage your opponent from asking questions. After all, a question mark at the end of sentence usually signifies silence on the part of your opponent, giving your an open door to express your own question;or series of questions.
Some individuals unwittingly demand you answer a question and continue repeating the same question throughout the debate. When this occurs, do not answer their question. If the person continues repeating the same question, they are not adequately addressing the audience. This is a serious faux pas on their part. Let them make the error.
Note that repeating a question is not a bad move when you augment the question with new information. For example, I often repeatedly ask leftists, "Why do you hate me?" I repeat the question frequently, but usually add other questions.
#2 - You are not required to answer every question.
I illustrated this point when I was a pastor by bringing a Nerf ball to church with me. As I was preaching, I would wander through the congregation and randomly throw the ball at parishioners. In every case, the parishioner would instinctively attempt to catch the ball.
The same applies to questions. We instinctively attempt to answer every question.
I would then ask the congregation to consciously avoid catching the ball. With very little concentration they were able to resist their instincts and let the ball bounce off them.
The same applies to questions. We are not required to answer every question that is thrown at us. We can ignore them, and often should.
Swatting the ball away is another option. That is, answer questions with questions.
#3 - Focus on the objective: Relaying reality.
My calling in life is not to answer every hair-brained question concocted by a liberal. That's akin to draining the ocean one teaspoon at a time.
Keep in mind that liberals think in relative terms, not in terms of reality. There is a huge difference.
Cultural Marxism, for example, is founded upon a philosophy that denies reality. It views the world upside-down and, consequently, sees no contradiction in announcing the sun rises in the west. From a leftist perspective, it actually does rise in the west. It interprets reality relative to its philosophy rather than adopting its philosophy to reality.
That is why liberals frequently ask that we define terms. It is their means of avoiding reality. In their minds, words are relative and are relatively defined.
For example, did you know the word liberal, itself, originally meant one who loves liberty?
A liberal was one who believed in individual freedom and less intrusive government. Leftists, however, adopted the word as a ploy to deceive advocates of liberty and confuse our minds.
True liberals began using the term classical liberalism or libertarian. In some parts of the (formerly) English-speaking world, the term liberal still applies to those who believe in individual liberty. Consequently, the thinking of a liberal in Australia or New Zealand would be closely aligned to the thoughts of an American conservative.
More recently leftists have adopted the word progressive for the same reason. In reality, their thinking is regressive. It's a ploy to confuse our minds.
Note that leftists go beyond abusing words such as justice and equality. They also view history in relative rather than real terms. That is why is is important to focus on reality. Leftists will always distort history to fit their narrative. To do otherwise would be an admission that their philosophy is flawed. Consequently, liberals would have us believe that slave owners were exclusively white and the slaves were exclusively black.
When contending with a leftist, we should make statements framed as questions, such as, "Did you know the first legal slave owner in American history was a black tobacco farmer named Anthony Johnson?"
Note that, recently, the left has attempted to revise this vital aspect of history.
They also don't like to hear that thousands of free black Americans owned slaves, that black-on-black slavery was both brutal and common for thousands of years, or that white people ended legal chattel slavery. Exposing leftists to reality is akin to throwing a demoniac in a tub of holy water: They often react with hostility rather than respond with logic.
Consequently, leftists will avoid reality by appealing to emotions, using ad hominem attacks (such as referring to realists as racists), shouting, or resorting to caustic sarcasm.
That's not to say leftists fail to use hard facts. It's to demonstrate that, when they do, they are used inconclusively or irresponsibly. For example I recently heard a feminist opine that 75 percent of elected official were males who controlled the bodies of women. Such abductive reasoning fails in that it ignores contributory facts. The 75 percent male majority, for example, was elected by an electorate in which female voters constitute a slight majority. It also fails to note that many -- sometimes most -- of the male majority embrace radical feminists views while elected females often oppose militant feminism.
#4 - Address the audience, not the opponent.
It is essential that you speak to your opponent but address your audience.
This applies when addressing a national audience on television or answering a caustic comment on Facebook.
Your opponent is one individual. Your audience may consist of hundreds or thousands.
For example, if you are engaged in an exchange on the Internet, be conscious of the fact that your posts are being read by, perhaps, hundreds of people. Frame your comments with them -- not you opponent -- in mind.
When you write a letter to the editor, you know, of course, the letter may be read by thousands. The same is true when placing a call to talk radio. You are speaking to a person at the radio station, but you should frame your comments with the vast audience at the forefront of your mind. What do you want them to hear?
#5 - Don't try to win the debate.
Note the title of this post is Essentials of successful debate, not How to win a debate.
Keep the objective in mind: To relay reality and affect public opinion. Your objective is not to be declared the winner of the debate.
Winning is relative. Those who disagree with you will always declare you the loser.
Years ago I enrolled in Tae Kwon Do classes. As I observed fellow students sparring, I noticed that none ever admitted to losing a bout. That is, each contender viewed himself as the winner.
The objective, again, is not to humiliate your opponent, but to deprogram cultural Marxism by communicating reality.
#6 - Don't expect people to change their minds in public.
Changing minds is akin to changing clothes. We all do it, but few do it in public.
It is important that you maintain a friendly relationship with your opponent and your listeners, when possible. Eventually the light may come on in their minds and, when it does, you will want to be there for them.
Exchanging snide remarks for insults may be entertaining, but it creates useless friction.
Again, the objective is to deprogram cultural Marxism with reality. This requires patience and a keen sense of courteous interaction in the face of hostilities.
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