STATE OF DEBATE
Our half-time segment, State of Debate, is designed to show you how to build strong arguments and how to spot weak ones. Find debate tips, explanations of common logical fallacies and examples from our show, below!
How to Build a Strong Argument
A strong argument is made up of many different elements. Here are three important things to include in your next debate:
Facts - Well-cited facts and figures are an essential part of every strong argument.
Expert Opinions - Including expert witnesses gives your argument credibility.
Emotional Hook - Appeals to your audience’s empathy makes your argument more persuasive.
How to Spot a Logical Fallacy
Logical fallacies are common mistakes people make when debating. At first glance, they might seem persuasive, but they actually make arguments weaker and easier to pull apart. There are many different types of logical fallacies. We explore the following five on our show:
Ad hominem – Making a personal attack on your opponent, rather than addressing the topic of debate directly. This doesn’t work because the attack isn’t actually about the topic at hand. Plus it’s not nice.
Straw man fallacy – Misrepresenting or exaggerating your opponent's argument, making it easier to attack. This makes it easy for your opponent to point out that your argument is just an exaggeration, not based in reality.
Bandwagon effect – Assuming an argument must be true just because it’s popular. Popular opinion can be based on bad information leaving these arguments open to attack.
Slippery slope – Assuming a relatively insignificant action or event will lead to a very significant outcome. This doesn’t work because it exaggerates possible outcomes.
Hasty Generalization – Making bold, generalized claims about a group or phenomenon based on insufficient evidence. A skilled debater can poke holes in these arguments by pointing out that they aren’t based in fact.
Red herring – Changing the subject mid-debate to a topic that’s easier to attack. This is a sign that a person doesn’t have any good points to make, so they want to argue about something else instead.
Smash Boom Best Bingo
Strong debating techniques and logical fallacies work their way into our podcast -- and real-world debates as well! Can you identify them? We’ve designed a BINGO card for you to use while you listen to Smash Boom Best episodes, so you can test your knowledge. Play alone, or organize a listening party!
Here’s a preview: