Triadic Closure

Dulu waktu kuliah Analitika Media Sosial dan Digital, pernah dijelaskan mengenai triadic closure. Hal ini sangat berguna dalam analisis dan analitika di media sosial. Triadic closure berawal dari seorang sosiologis yang bernama Georg Simmel pada bukunya Soziologie [Sociology: Investigations on the Forms of Sociation] pada tahun 1908. Bisa dikatakan bahwa ini merupakan bagian mendasar dari hubungan sosial antara manusia. Triadic closure sendiri adalah sebuah konsep yang diusung oleh beliau. Konsepnya sesederhana 3 nodes (orang) yang kemungkinan akan memiliki hubungan yang lemah (weak).

Misalnya, A berteman dengan B dan C. Ada kemungkinan B dan C juga berteman, walau hanya memiliki kemungkinan yang kecil. Kemungkinan itu bisa berbagai tingkatan, bisa saja sama-sama satu negara, satu kota, atau satu sekolah. Namun itu tidak begitu kuat, sehingga diberi nama tersebut.

Di dalam aplikasinya, sangat identik dengan pertemanan. Akhir-akhir ini saya mengalami sedikit masalah dengan beberapa teman saya. Semuanya karena ego masing-masing, dan saya gagal untuk mengikuti ego mereka. Satu, karena dia tidak senang berdebat, hingga ia menorehkan kata-kata yang lumayan ngena. Yang satu, karena saya tidak menganggap serius masalahnya, ia juga mulai bermain-main dengan kata-kata. Mungkin benar, istirahatlah kata-kata. Yang perlu dilakukan sekarang hanya sikap.

It was yesterday when we had a bit of arguments toward each other. And it was yesterday I came to know someone new. Literally, that’s the reason of our main topic today.

Newton Law

Saya jadi mengenang masa lalu saya yang dihabiskan untuk belajar fisika. Mendapat nilai fisika 40 membuat saya menjadi yang paling pintar di kelas fisika waktu itu. Don’t you ever think about others. Beberapa kali saya mengikuti lomba atau olimpiade fisika. Hanya sebagai pengisi slot saja, tidak lebih. Hukum Newton yang ke-tiga sangat menarik untuk saya; saat ini. Aksi reaksi.

Tidak jarang saya temukan pernyataan tersebut. Seperti;

Ya lo kayak gitu makanya mereka begitu.

Well, no judge, maam. Setiap orang berhak untuk memilih kepada siapa dia memberikan akses. Tidak semua bisa dijadikan konsumsi publik. Misalnya saya, membuat instagram adalah konsumsi publik. Apa yang saya lakukan diinstagram memang untuk dikonsumsi oleh publik. Penilaian adalah di luar tanggung jawab saya dan kehendak saya. Kalau istilah sekarang adalah panjat sosial.

Stop it. Be who you are. You deserve to be happy for who you are, not for who you want people think you are. Yeah, unless you’re an actor. You’ll have team, for God sake.

Law of Attraction

Dikutip dari situs web lawofattraction.com,

Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. It is believed that regardless of age, nationality or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe

Saya punya teman, tinggal di Kurukshetra. Saya mengenal dia sudah hampir 5 tahun, itu karena sedang fokus ke film Shah Rukh Khan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Let alone flirty moment. Being friend is not about daily chat. Jaman sekarang, kita dapat menilai seseorang dari perilakuknya di media sosial. Ini penting, dan sangat penting. Yang dilakukan olehnya adalah melihat perilaku saya di beberapa media sosial yang ia miliki. As he said, ‘yeh hai hi uski’; seperti ini ternyata dia. Tidak ada pemaksaan untuk menjadi satu karakter.

Law of Attraction memang membuat kita saling kenal. Tetapi yang membuat kita tetap berteman adalah pilihan. Alasan yang mendukung pilihan itu bervariasi. Ada yang karena kepentingan, ada yang karena ketulusan dan masih banyak alasan lainnya.

The Triadic Closure

Seperti judulnya, triadic closure itu pasti merupakan 3 buah nodes. Tidak mungkin lebih. Namun satu nodes bisa memiliki lebih dari satu triadic closure. Kemarin saya berkenalan dengan seorang perempuan, yang ternyata adalah kekasih teman saya ini. Apakah itu sebuah triadic closure? Iya bisa jadi. Bisa juga tidak. Tergantung dari sudut pandang (vertex) mana. Ternyata dia berasal dari Pakistan (automatically Muslim, yes?) tinggal di Peshawar (a good city, historical city). Ini membuat ada node baru yang muncul. Sehingga jadi 4 nodes dengan 2 triadic closure.

First Triadic Closure

Yang pertama adalah Pak sides. Ini terdiri dari saya, seorang perempuan dan seorang laki-laki. Dua nodes tersebut berada di Pakistan meskipun berbeda suku. Hal menariknya adalah, karena kami berempat lahir pada era yang sama, sehingga obrolan pun menjadi sama. Dan tak lupa pula bahwa mereka sama-sama calon dokter (maupun fisiologis).

Tidak sedikit yang mengatakan kekhawatirannya ketika mereka mengetahui saya dekat dengan seorang pria dari Pakistan. Ada yang bilang orang-orang Pakistan tidak dapat dipegang omongannya. Mereka tidak baik, dan semacamnya. Namun diberi penawar oleh perempuan ini. She’s quirky, she’s smart, enthusiast and so poetic.

Second Triadic Closure

Ini merupakan weak connection. Jika yang pertama tadi adalah yang kuat, karena begitu banyak persamaan di dalam segitiga tersebut. Di sini, segitiganya lemah karena posisi saya yang memiliki kelemahan di salah satu vertex. Vertex saya dengan teman saya lumayan kuat, namun jika menggunakan parameter yang sama dengan yang pertama, maka bisa jadi lemah juga.

Okay that’s it. It’s all about triadic closure. Nothing personal. The key points are Newton Law, whatever you do will back to you, like Karma does. Law of attraction coming to explain why I can get such friend. Lastly, the triadic closure is to show you the example of it in real life.

Parliamentary Debate

Debate has their own format. Each format, or we call parliament, has their own characteristic such as number of people debating and number of team involved. There are 3 commonly-used debating format in indonesia, they are Asian Parliamentaryand British Parliamentary. Other formats that is not frequently used are Australasian Parliamentary, Crossfire and American Parliamentary. Let’s discuss them in this chapter:
 
Asian Parliamentary
In Asian Parliamentary format, there are two teams debating: Affirmative, or Government—supporting the motion, and Negative, or Opposition—opposing the motion. The first speaker comes from the affirmative team, followed by the negative, until the 3rd speaker. These six speeches are called substantial speeches, 7 minutes each. After the last speaker from the negative team spoke, the reply speech to sum up the debate comes from the negative first. So affirmative team starts and ends the debate. The reply speeches are 5 minutes each.

 

British Parliamentary
In British Parliamentary, the teams are divided into the “government” – affirmative and “opposition” – negative bench. The first two teams, also called the opening half start the debate, the closing half have to extend the debate on a different level. So the teams are called Opening Government or 1stAffirmative, Opening Opposition or 1st Negative, Closing Government, or 2nd Affirmative, and Closing Opposition or 2ndNegative. The debate is started by the 1st speaker of the Opening Government, then from Opening Opposition, until the last speaker. So there are 8 substantial speeches, 7 minutes each. There is no reply speech in this format.
Australs Parliamantary
This debate has same composition as Asian, but the difference is we can’t send our POI to the other team. So we put it on our rebuttals, and that’s the debate going. I think this is would make the adjs gone for sleep, since It has no POI.
Signing off~ See ya on the next model.

 

Case Building

Plan before doing: Like making a blueprint while building a house, in any debate we need to plan before delivering our speech. Then, how important is doing case building? Maybe it can be known by how much money that we need to spend for architects and contractor in any house-building projects.

What are the contents of casebuild?
Everything we need, literally. Case building, you will need to know what you are going to talk about, including your signposts, tipping points and reasons.

Case building will map on key things that we would deliver in a debate, thus making it very important. As important as the debate itself. Now we are going to discuss on key things you need in building your case.


How to write things during case building?

After we know what we are going to talk about and all the details, we are going to wrote keynotes on our papers. Usually, people will write all chronological of their speech to make them easier to keynoting their speech. For example:
THW Execute Corruptors
       Justification: Corruptors has taken people’s right
o  People guilty for Human Rights Violations do not deserve Human Rights
o  Corruption equals to life
§  Corruptor corrupts the people’s life quality
§  How? They corrupts logistics and standard of construction quality
§  Example: the corruption of food supplies and amount of cement in construction
§  Result: food shortage, inflations, below standard building quality. Thus, degradation ofcitizens’ quality of life
§  Corruptors degrades the job of government as moral agent
       Detterence
o  Giving fear to all corruptors to die
o  Showing the message on how big the crime corruptor has
o  Example: All countries applying death penalty to corruptors don’t show recent corruption issue: China, Thailand, Belarus, Russia and South Korea
This is an example on what you write in your paper during case building. It would be vary, as you like it. Some people might have to wrote a more detailed notes, while some others might need to write only the general keypoints. It is totally on how you write it. But even you wrote a little amount of handwriting, you still need to contruct, at least in your mind, all features of your speech
Now, here’s some tips and tricks you can use for finding ideas, of course with simple motions to be understood:

Brainstorm

Brainstorm is one of the most important to think and seek out possible ideas. One of the way to do brainstorming is to make a word map.
Look at this example:
Motion: Cats makes better pets than dogs
STEP 1 :    starting from one keyword, in this case CAT, think of as many words as possible and write them around the keyword. Now write as many word as you can that relate too those words, whatever comes in mind. Don’t try to organize your thoughts just yet (it would slow you down)
STEP 2 :    look at the word map. Do some of the words listed suggest reasons why a cat would make better pets than dogs? Or vice versa? Write down all the reasons that you think of.
Here are the reasons we found in our example of word map for why “Cats makes better pets than dogs”:
1.   Cats catch mice
2.   Cats are cheaper than dogs
3.   Cats sleeps a lot
4.   Cats have four legs
5.   Cats are cute, dogs don’t
6.   Cats are clean, dogs are dirty
7.   Cats are quiet, dogs are noisy
STEP 3 :    after you have written down many reasons, it is time to prioritize the reasons, that is, to put the reasons in order from the most important to the least important. Here are example of sorted reasons, each person may have various opinion on which is the most important.
1.   Cats are cute, dogs don’t
2.   Cats are clean, dogs are dirty
3.   Cats are quiet, dogs are noisy
4.   Cats are cheaper than dogs
5.   [minor] Cats catch mice
6.   [doesn’t show cats better]Cats have four legs
7.   [contradiction]Cats sleeps a lot
Connecting Dots
During a debate, sometimes people hard to seek for some relevant ideas. Here’s other tips to make it easier. Connecting Dots is similar like Brainstorming, but a bit different, it would help you to organize your issue vs. goal cases more fluently.
Look at this example:
Motion: That Junk Food is not Healthy

STEP 1: Now we start from the keyword “Junk Food” and “Healthy”. Similar like brainstorming, we are going to look for as many words related to those keywords.
STEP 2: Once you are done, look at your word map. You will find out that several of oppositing keywords are correlated. For example in this case “That Junk food is not Healthy” you will have to find words which are contradicts each other (of course when you are dealing with motions like “This House Believe That Democracy is prerequisite of Sustainable Development” you have to find words which are SUPPORTING between ‘Democracy’ and ‘Sustainable Development’).
STEP 3:  Same as Brainstorming, you’ll next will have to written down the relation between those words, make it as your reason and prioritize them. Trust me, it works.
After know several techniques in constructing your case, there are also tricks to keep remind u to make one perfect argument. Perfect as in, it contains one solid idea.
The Swiss Knife: Debating Template
On making the flow of their speech, people usually have their own style. Now we would discuss about how to map one idea into one solid argument.
Usually debaters uses the term AREL to signifies their way of telling one solid argument. This method is called template. They already know points that are going to be told. So, most debaters will do this pattern called AREL:


Speech Organization

 

Create Your Stories!
Debating is not only about how you tell your arguments and throwing supports. You have to organize it to make others could easily understand your cases. You have to make it a systematic presentation of the cases. Study the construction of this house. What is the resolution? How many points are there?
 
Know-How: Sign-Posting
In debate, reasons are usually given names to make it easy for debaters to refer to, and for judges to remember. These names are called signpost. A signpost should be short and easy to be remembered. For example:
Soccer is a better sport than baseball
1.       The first point is about simplicity. Soccer is much easier than baseball. Baseball rules takes hour to explain, and you need bat, glove and baseball diamonds to play. Soccer rules are easy, and all you need is only ball and field.
2.       Secondly, about excitement. Soccer is more exciting than baseball. In baseball, 90% of the time the players are just standing around waiting. Soccer has action all the time.
3.       Lastly, about cost. Soccer tickets are much cheaper than baseball tickets. In this city, the price of a ticket to watch a baseball games are 3 times more expensive than the tickets of soccer game.
Know-How: Macro and Micro Organization
In delivering arguments, there are 3 main parts:
Introduction, to introduce the background of your opinion, the points, your arguments and support, lastly, conclusion, the closing of your speech.
 
DEBATE APPLICATION: Public Speaking Flow
Debate and Public Speaking are identical. Both of them have the same purpose, to convince the audiences (and adjudicators)!
It is really important to make people float off your flow of speech.
Here are several tips of it:
  •       Tidiness and Structure

 

No, this is not about keeping your boarding house’s room tidy. This is about how being tidy and structured HELPS, like hell, A LOT.
This is a very basic matter, I believe, but everyone keeps on forgetting it for the sake of better logic and argumentation. What I meant by being tidy as a speaker is that you make sure that every argument that you throw out is all ordered, listed, numbered, or whatever your way of making it more understandable for the adjudicators.
A tidiness would lead to an easy-to-follow manner. Now you couldn’t really blame those adjudicators for giving her a very high score, right? Lots of adjudicators are really concerned about this, since they don’t only listen to you but to the other speakers, making their job in assessing logic hard enough without the additional burden of having to clear up the messy order of your speech. Make your speech flow, not jump, from one point to another..

  •        Truism

 

Now I know I might get some funny responses when said, “Be truistic”, but believe it or not this is what best speakers did. Often as the government, setting things up so it really favors you is not exactly a bad idea after all.
For example, when we are talking about banning cell phones, surely, this is not an easy motion for a government, you can start by saying something BIG, GENERAL and BOLD first, which can not be refutable, “how basically cell phones are the source of violations (e.g: cheating students, porns even when-driving-usage)” now this is actually very philosophy, and further more this thing is almost unrefutable. This called basic premises, an unrebuttable premise which would support your arguments, even it is so controversial to the max!
  • Delivery

 

This might sound reallyreally simple but believe me it separates good debaters from great debaters. These people speak with conviction, as if their lives are at stake in fact. Aside from the conviction, they’re also flawless in terms of fluency, so none of that “Umm…” or “Err…” anymore. This actually relates back to the first point, in how they have structured their speech in a way that they know exactly what to say and in what order, automatically preventing stuttering from happening. One example of this is how Ateneo practices debate; they practice a motion by first discussing over it, which means they actually already know what exactly the opposing side is going to bring when they debate. This is where they practice delivery and conviction. Flawlessness makes you look cool, but more importantly it makes adjudicators see that you know what you’re talking about.

 

Debate for Newbie

Case 1 : Opinion

Everyone have opinions! For example, I live in Jakarta and believe that Jakarta is the Best Town in Indonesia. What do you think? Do you agree? Or disagree?

Other simple examples are arguing couples that always think he/she was true, or could be, opinion war in Debate Forum!!

MODELS: Types of Opinions
Opinions are the starting point of discussion or Debate. Just as Roof of a Building can have many types, forms and shapes, Opinions also have different types. Opinions usually fall into three main 
types: Value, Policy and Fact.

Value (X is better than Y)
Opinions of value states one thing is better/worse than another.
Policy (X should do Y)
Opinions of policy states that some form of Authority (Government, Companies, School Management or Person) should do something
Fact (X was/is/will be Y)
Opinions of fact states that something is true, was true or will be true

Case 2 : Arguments

Everyone have opinion. But opinion does not stand by themselves! Opinions are based on reasons which, especially in debate, have to be delivered. Without explaining the reasons for an opinion, communication breaks down and become as childish as fighting children. When explaining, the key point is to provide reasons that other people find it reasonable and convincing.
So, what are strong reasons??!! As the analogy of House, a roof needs walls and pillars, or else, it will fall down. Similarly, an opinion needs reasons, or it will fall. Reasons are like walls and pillars. Some pillars and walls might hold up the roof well, while others might be weak. Similarly, reasons can be strong or weak.
Next topic would be “Were you convinced by those reasons?”. Not all reasons that might pop in your mind could be convincing. Sometimes the stated reasons could be lame. Then, which reasons make you convinced? Which reasons were not at all? In debate, your job is to find convincing reasons to make judges and audiences agree with your opinion, surely, by providing reasonable explanations. It is judge’s job to decide which team’s explanations are most convincing and thus wins the debate. Then, your reason in debate have to be, simply, good!
Then what are good reasons? There are at least 3 indispensable qualities of good reasons to convince people:
            A strong reason have to logically support the opinion (relevant)
            A strong reason have to be specific and state the idea clearly (effective)
            A strong reason have to be convincing to a majority of people (populist)
Supporting a Reason :
We have learned that opinions requires Strong Reasons to be a good opinion. These reasons have to be suppoted to keep stand strong and supporting your opinion.
Once opinion is given and the reasons that holding an opinion are clearly explained, those reasons have to be supported by Evidences. Evidence is a concrete foundation that supports Reasons, the Walls and Pillars. Evidence can be in the forms of Explanation, Example, Statistic or an Expert Opinion.

As we know that debating is clashes of opinions. To clash each other, opinions need something to attack the others opinion’s reasons. But we are not just going to compare each other and using reasons. We also need rebuttals to prove that other team’s reason is false.
In this chapter, we turn our attention to look critically on the construction of other side’s house. In debate, we must examine the construction work very closely and attack any construction errors or fundamental weaknesses.
Types of Rebuttals
There is always two sides of every story. For every opinion, there is an opposite opinion. For every reason to believe in an opinion, there is also a reason not to believe in it. To really understand an opinion on an issue, it is not enough to only see it from only one point of view. True understanding of an issue means to think about the opinion and the reason behind every existing point of view.
Rebuttals, which means to negate or deny something, is used in debate to tell why the opposing team’s point is either not true or not important. More specifically, a point can be refuted by saying that it’s not true, or that is not always true, which means there are several important exceptions. Or we can say, that is not necessarily true, which means there are some doubt about the supporting evidence.

If the point is not important, it may be unimportant because it has nothing to do with the resolution and thus not relevant, or maybe, a very small numerical difference and thus not significant, or finally, it maybe a very simple problem that is easy to solve.

NOTES: Keep in mind that these are terms of PROPER rebuttal. But to have a GOOD rebuttal, you will have to make two layers of rebuttals, which is “Why your idea won’t work?” and “Even if it is working, it’s wrong”.
Know-How: How to deliver a refutation
Signpost & Rephrase : Stating your refutations by saying their points
Their first point is about …. and they said that …
Example: Their first point is about care, which cats requires less care compared to dogs.
Negation
This is not true!/this point was untrue!/even if it is true, it is not important!
Example: That is not important!
Why
It can’t be true that … / the point was not necessarily true that …
Example: the whole point is about care which is not relevant with owning a pet
Rationale
There’s no connection between … / the reason that … / to solve it, do X instead of Y!
Example: The reason that we have a pet is to enjoy taking CARE of it!

Deputy’s Duty

A deputy should….

  • Actively participates in helping his/her 1st speaker. 
  • Willingly gives up argument that he/she though of. 
  • Does not give a damn about speaker tab.
  • Has faith in the inexhaustibility of arguments for a given debate. 

Deputies are like SPICE GIRLS

If a previous speaker spent a great deal of time asking for something, GIVE IT TO THEM.
Ex. “They never proved political will.”-previous speaker
THEN, prove political will
Danger: make sure it doesn’t look like you’re covering for the deficiencies of your first speaker. Make it seem as if you are giving the next, natural part of the case.

Deputies General Strategies

Example: TH supports the federalization of Iraq

  • If the opponents give a case that deals with both political and economic implications, respond with a case that deals with both.
  • If their complaint is something like, “they have to show us that local governments have the capability to raise money by themselves in a federalized state,” make sure YOU ANSWER THAT CHALLENGE
  • Come up with relevant arguments
    • Common sickness of 2ndspeakers: just coming up with peripheral arguments (“fringe benefits case”)
  • “But I did not shoot the deputy”
    • Deputies are oftentimes ignored by other debaters.
    • Prove the importance of anything you say. Why are you relevant? Why should the adjudicator remember this point?

Being Intuitive

  • Because response speakers often think “out of the box,” there is a propensity to give arguments that sound logical, but do not translate well to real life nuances.
  • What is logical is not always a valid argument.
  • Work with the REAL world

Example of Un-Intuitive Arguments

  • THBT the first world should support outsourcing
  • “Outsourcing is still beneficial for first world countries because now that third world countries do the ‘dirty jobs,’ laborers from the first world can focus on the burgeoning IT industries.”
  •      This sounds LOGICAL, but it is not realistic. Can a carpenter or assembly-line worker from Montana really learn how to program Linux or network computers? Maybe they can, but it will take 5 years, willingness to learn, access to instructional institutions, and the like. Work with the REAL WORLD.


 Second Speaker Swiss-Knife

  • Swiss knife: Handy arguments that, while they might not always work, at least give you something to say 
  1. 1.The message argument – what a certain policy implies to the int’l community/marginalized sectors
  2. 2.The balance argument – make sure its doesn’t parrot; it should be but heavily comparative between models 
  3. 3.The “new context” argument to break ties – argue post 9/11 scenario, the Lisbon agenda/info revolution, Greater societal tolerance or Post-modernity (for race/gender debates)
  4. 4.Analyzing new actors – Who else is involved? Prove why this other actor is important as well.
  5. 5.Establishing normative values and showing how your policy fulfills this 
  6. 6.On the ground analysis – “THIS is what happens in the real world.” 
  7. 7.Meta-argument: arguing for the argument

The End of Swiss Knife… Cheers. Signing off

Triangle Response

The triangle that unites speakers who are forced to make quick cases while trying to respond to the other side.

That is the point. When you as the LO, then you have to response the Prime Minister, and DPM would response you as well.
The thing is, how is it going?
Basically there are the outline that should be brought by Leader and Deputi. There are : 

  • LO
    • Model diagnosis
    • Counter-proposals
    • Instant-cases
  • Deputies
    • General disposition
    • General strategy
    • The Swiss Knife 

The main point of rebuttal is to PROVE the other side that they are wrong about their frame. And also, this type of phrase is not allowed in debate if you want to win the debate.

l“They do not solve the root cause of the problem, which is…”
l“The model does not consider ____” 

Why not??

  • There is almost never a root cause for a problem.
  • A model can’t be expected to solve anything.
  • Push debating / burden-pushing is SO LOW CLASS

And Also…

Don’t be a hypocrite! Debates are all about comparison. When you launch a rebuttal, make sure it doesn’t apply to you.

Don’t be afraid to concede certain arguments. If you can’t rebut an argument, just weigh its value against those of your arguments.


 Steps in LO : Model Diagnosis

  • Step 1 : Check for feasibility
  • Step 2 : Examine the parties that get affected
  • Step 3 : Based on your assesment of the model’s strenghts and weaknesses, formulate a line of clash.
State the clash explicitly. 
Next article would be Counter-Proposals and Deputy’s duty…
Stay tune…
Signing off. 

Chapter 9 : Manner

What is good manner? Unfortunately, there are very few convenient tests or tactics with manner. But that’s not to say that good manner can’t be taught and so it must be possible to describe it. I’d stress that there is no single definition of good manner. You can be loud or quiet, you can be funny or serious, and in some speeches you might do all those things. If you made up a list of the best debaters in the World, it would include people with range of styles. But that said, I think good manner is the right combination of three things; Persuasiveness, Credibility and Conviction.
Persuasiveness – Persuasiveness is really about making your message appealing to the audience. It incorporates all of the obvious things that people taught you at school, like; make eye contact, project your voice…. etc. But that’s like saying that driving a car is just a combination of turning a wheel and moving your head. It’s too simplistic and it sucks all of the art of out it.
The art is in the psychology of persuasion. For instance it’s vital that you understand the difference between intuitive and counter-intuitive arguments. Running a counter-intuitive argument is not bad per se, but it is harder. If you don’t acknowledge when you’re running a counter-intuitive argument you’ll never make it fly in the debate.
But how to you make a counter-intuitive argument work? Well you have explain it carefully and use strong analysis (discussed earlier) but from a manner point of view its crucial that you choose your language carefully, don’t overcomplicate things any more than is necessary, and most importantly lookat your adjudicators while you’re saying it. You have to learn to read the faces of your judges, and if it doesn’t look like they understand you, then you need to slow down and try again until they get it.
Credibility – Learning to have gravitas is difficult, because it’s linked to personal maturity, which you can’t rush, but in the meantime there are some ways to project the maximum amount of credibility that you’re currently capable of.
Rule number one is: Take it seriously, don’t undermine yourself.
Too often inexperienced speakers do everything possible to emphasis how inexperienced they are. That’s just counterproductive. Don’t ever talk your speech down while you’re giving it. That sounds obvious but its astonishing how many debaters will make an argument, and then they’ll say something like “that didn’t really make sense did it?” I’m not sure if it’s just a result of nerves, or some misguided attempt to be endearing, but either way you should stop it immediately.
Another classic example is deferring to your opposition. So an opponent will make some arguments that sound good about say economics, and the next speaker will say something stupid like “well I don’t know as much about economics as the last speaker, but I’ll have a go at rebutting her argument anyway”. This is a double hit – it weakens your credibility and it increases your opponents’ credibility!
I can’t stress enough how much damage this does to your credibility. It seems like a small thing, but it can be devastating. The reason is because talking yourself down can act as a subtle but powerful confirmation of any negative perception of you that an adjudicator might already be harbouring. This is especially true for ESL speakers and young female speakers. I wish it wasn’t like that, and of course many adjudicators are fair and unbiased in terms of manner, but significant proportion of them under the general principle that the older you are, the more credible you are, and that generally men are more credible than women.
NEVER talk down your speech, yourself or your ideas under any circumstances.
Broadly speaking, the higher up the tab you move (which increases the quality of your adjudicators) the less important those stereotypes are, but while there has been enormous improvement in the adjudication culture over the years, it’s still not perfect.
Rule number two is: Sound like you know what you’re talking about.
So that means one of two things – either actually know what you’re talking about, (by working hard on learning first principles as well as specific knowledge), or sound like you know what you’re talking about (the first is better). You can sound credible by avoiding simple mistakes – like make sure you get the names of things right – including pronunciation, and use then them confidently. If you’re not sure whether the name of the Chinese President is Hu Jin Tao or Wen Jao Bao, take a guess, but whichever you choose, say it confidently!
The only sure way to build up your credibility is to really know what you’re talking about, but that takes time. Meanwhile, focus on being confident, and remember that your adjudicators/opposition will rarely know anything about you – if you look confident, and sound confident, they’ll usually think you are confident!
Conviction – is probably the most under-rated facet of manner. Basically, if you don’t look like you care about the topic and you care about the arguments that you’re making, then why should anyone else care? Remember that adjudicators suffer from all the same things that you as debaters endure at tournaments – they’re tired, they can be bored, they can dislike the topics – if you don’t do everything you can to make the debate engaging and appealing then you can’t expect them to make much effort either.
Your manner should say “I’m here to persuade” not “I’m trying to win a debate”.
There is a fine like between sounding passionate and sounding ridiculous, but:
What’s the difference? The difference is everything. It’s the difference between high-school and university debating; and it’s the difference between being a good debater, and a truly great speaker.
Trying to persuade means engaging in the issues first and foremost, and again, you should be trying to project the image that you care about them and that you genuinely want other people to believe you – not just so that you and get another win for your team, but because its inherently important to you that people believe you on this issue.
Alternatively you can try and win the debate, and that means doing everything you can point out to the adjudicator why your team has scored more points, and everything you can to make your opponents look bad, instead of making them look wrong. Don’t tell adjudicators how to do their job, just focus on doing your job – being persuasive. The rest will take care of itself. 
So that means avoid referring to the fact that you’re having a debate – so don’t say high school-like things, such as “welcome to today’s debate, the topic is” or “As the first speaker it’s my job to explain the model…” just get to the issues as fast as you can. Use your context and set-up to explain the debate – that’s why you should contextualise at the start of first speaker’s speech. In team splits, talk about how your case expands logically; instead of it appearing like you’ve made some arbitrary distinction. Sound professional, sound sophisticated and sound genuinely interested.
Again these are subtle things and individual instances of “debate speak” (talking about the debate, instead of talking about the issues) don’t matter much, but cumulatively they have a big impact. They remind the adjudicator that this is just a contest, and the teams are just trying to score points. You can still win when that happens, but you’ll never really learn to “persuade”, instead you’ll just learn how to be better than other team – and sometimes that’s not saying very much.
People often want ask how to “put teams away”, in other words, how to win by large margins – and the key to scoring big wins against good teams, its manner. If you can master these three facets of manner, then when coupled with a strong case (which all good teams have by virtue of experience) you will able to smash opponents, not just beat them. But it takes patience, practice and perseverance!


[1] A counter-intuitive argument is something that people will initially find difficult to accept – something that seems to conflict with their gut feeling. See the example of an argument on p.11.
[2] See Jeremy Brier’s excellent article in Edition 4 of the MDR

Chapter 8 : General Tactical Mistakes

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Mistake One: The fallacy of ‘mutual exclusivity’

The concept of ‘mutual exclusivity’ (ME) has been thoroughly overused and misunderstood by debaters of all styles. This would be bad enough, but on top of that there seems to be a relatively widespread belief that ME is a powerful rebuttal to an opponents case – when tactically speaking it can be easily and effectively countered.
The problem of ME is this – teams think that if they can show that an opponent’s model is not strictly speaking, mutually exclusive (literally) to their own, then that weakens the validity of their opponent’s case. There is some truth to this, certainly rhetorically but also argumentatively, but its overstated and quite simple to refute.
The first point is that ME is not a fatal flaw in an oppositions case automatically – only under certainly circumstances is it even a weakness.
For example, if the topic was “That this house would legalise recreational drugs” and the Affirmative proposed a model of licensed distribution of drugs like ecstasy (essentially treating recreational drugs in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol- regulated, restricted but commercially available) the Neg might counter-propose a model that is essentially the status quo, but with greater education about the harmful effects of drugs and drug abuse to discourage their use.
Commonly the Aff would respond by say that in essence the Neg’s case is not mutually exclusive to their own, because an identical education campaign would be consistent with the aims of their own model.
While strictly speaking this is true – something can be legalised and there can be a broad education campaign about the harms (eg cigarettes) the lack of formal mutual exclusivity is not a fatal flaw, or even an effective attack – because philosophicallythe two models are predicated on mutually exclusive concepts: the best way to limit harm is to allow supply and encourage responsible use Vs the best way to limit harm is to restrict supply and explain that generally there really is no such thing as responsible use. These concepts are mutually exclusive.
Secondly, and flowing from the philosophical difference, there is a simple practical distinction. The Neg’s model is mutually exclusive in the sense that if the education campaign works as well as it argued that it would, then there would be no need to legalise supply of drugs as a harm minimisation strategy – if education does effectively limit harm from drugs, then the only reason why you would go further than that and legalise it is if you thought people had a right to access it (which is an argument exclusive to the Aff).


Mistake Two: The illusion of ‘sameness’.

Quite often debaters will analyse an entire category of thing, which should rightly be seen as a wider number of discrete entities that have a small number of things in common but nevertheless possessing significant difference.
Some examples include, the media, corporations, developing countries, racial/ethnic/gender/sexuality groups, etc.
In each of these cases there are commonalities between individual members that make generalisations fair and accurate. For example its fair to say “corporations are profit driven”, because any corporation that doesn’t seek (maybe amongst other things) to make a profit, is not really a business – it’s a charity, or community service, but its not a ‘corporation’ in the colloquial sense of a private business. However that said, the pursuit of profit takes many forms – corporation’s aim for different markets (eg. cheap and low quality vs. expensive and high quality) and operate under different conditions (eg. Big business has large profit margins and massive resources vs. small businesses that usual run on small margins and have limited resources).
Any time an opposition talk about a one of these categories as though they are homogenous (“what women want is to be represented politically by women” or “West Papuan’s don’t want development, what they really want is to be free to pursue their traditional culture”) even if you know nothing about the group in question, you can confidently assert from first principles that the situation is more complicated than that (“many women are more concerned with the ideological beliefs of their representatives, rather then their gender because ‘women’ are as a group are far from united in their views”) and then provide the analysis for why these differences within the group are reasonable, important and how they will complicate the fair application of the oppositions model.
Mistake Three: The myth of the “opposition’s onus” (or Push Debating)
This is one of those ‘fine line’ issues in debating/adjudication; when is an opposition team ‘push debating’ and when is it simply pointing out the obvious about the fundamental ‘clash’ in the debate?
Push debating can occur in many forms. Two of those possibilities were covered in the previous section dealing with false dichotomies and straw men – when an opposition are trying to force you to (or convince the adjudicator that you should) argue for something totally irreverent, or to oppose a truism (“our onus is to show that this model can work, their onus is to defend the indefensible”).
As an adjudicator or debater these are simple situations that really only require you to have courage and to clearly explain why such dichotomies are ridiculous and irrelevant to the real debate, then establish what the ‘true’ dichotomy is, and then get back to defending your side of that equation.
But there are other, subtler forms of push debating that inexperienced speakers and judges sometimes miss, and that’s when a team try to ‘push’ an entire case onto their oppositions – either through an unfairly skewed definition of the terms of the debate, or through the establishment of some sort of (unfair) test or criteria through which they assert the debate should be judged.
Remember this simple rule – no one can tell you what your side needs to prove. You never have to accept an ‘onus’ or a set of criteria that is placed on you by an opposition speaker. If your team has a good first speaker, then they will clearly spell out exactly what your side will be attempting to prove or which position you will be advocating for, and that’s what you should be judged on.
As an adjudicator you should rightly be wary of letting competitors tell you how to judge the debate. It’s fine for a team to point out problems with the opposition, or to challenge their definition or their arguments, but in the end the only criteria that matter when awarding the debate, are those set down in the rules. This doesn’t mean that every time a team try to set down “criteria” for a debate, that they are trying to be unfair – but in almost every case these criteria are irrelevant.
But there are subtleties to this, and as you become more experienced you’ll learn to tell the difference between a team which is trying (consciously or not) to unfair push their opposition, and when they are simply trying to establish the parameters of a fair debate.
For example, if the topic was “that Australia should use nuclear energy” the affirmative team have the right to choose exactly how much nuclear energy – and under what conditions – they are willing to defend (that’s an issue of how ‘hard line’ or ‘soft line’ they choose to be) but they can’t ‘define’ the opposition’s case. So they can’t say “we should like to see the government set a target of generating 20% of Australia’s electricity through nuclear power, and the opposition have to defend the status quo – of virtually total fossil fuel use – as a better strategy”. That’s push debating. If the negative team want to defend the status quo then that’s their choice, but if they had a case based on some alternative (like green energy, or reductions in energy use, or a modification to the status quo through a carbon tax… etc, etc) then its their right to set the parameters of their case.
All you have to do as a negative team in that situation is to acknowledge the ‘push’, and then reject it. For example, you could say something like: “The affirmative team are eager to see nuclear power used in Australia and we reject that, but contrary to what they think, our alternative is not a dirty fossil fuel energy industry, the alternative that we will be advocating is….” and then insert your model.
Every time the affirmative try to say that your team is defending the problems with the status quo, you calmly say “no, we want to change the system too, just in a different way, and here is why our alternative is better than nuclear energy” and get back to the debate. Sounds simple, but it can take guts when an opposition team is yelling at you!
But there are times when an affirmative team is right to stake out the grounds of the debate – but this is only the case when the topic forces the negative team by virtue of the wording of the motion, to specifically defend something.
So if the topic was “That the Singapore should abolish the death penalty as a punishment for drug traffickers” then the position of the Negative team is obvious – they have to defend the status quo. They might try and insert some minor modifications (a better appeals process, etc) but in the end if they’re not defending the use of the death penalty for drug traffickers then they have failed to engage properly in the debate.
What you might have seen from the previous two examples is that push debating occurs mostly when the wording of the topic is focused on what the Aff should defend, and doesn’t say much about the nature of the negative teams case (such as “that we should invade Iran” – the position of the Aff is made obvious by the topic, but the Neg have several options open to them – sanctions, economic engagement, etc). Under these conditions some Aff teams will try and push the Neg, to limit their choices. They might be doing it because they think it’s in the spirit of the motion, or they might be doing it because they are trying to push them in order to gain some tactical advantage. In any event the Neg is alwaysfree to reject the push if they want.
But on a final note I think its worth pointing out that its not necessarily ‘weak’ to accept a ‘pushed’ position. If the Neg want to embrace the case pushed onto them by the Aff, or they are willing to accept the test or criteria established by their opponents, then its not inherently bad to do so – so don’t mark them down, or view them as weak for doing it. The issue then is simply was it tactically smart for them to do so – and sometimes the answer is yes, just as sometimes a tactical concession can help move a debate forward, or neutralise an argument (see Tactical Concessions in Chapter Five).