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Debate Techniques

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Universal Intellectual Standards

Standards to be applied to rational thinking and arguments:

  • Clarity -- Do you understand the argument?
  • Accuracy -- Is it true? Can it be proven?
  • Precision -- Vague assertions are true until exceptions disprove.
  • Depth -- Is the argument comprehensive?
  • Breadth -- Does the argument cover all possibilities?
  • Logic -- Are there any fallacies?

Recognizing Fallacies and Defusing Them

Sales people often resort to strategies to create a sale that many of us recognize as being a form of manipulation. (See The Ben Franklin Close for one example.) When debating a creationist, you will come up against many different arguments that are in fact, fallacies, that create cognitive distress and distraction. You and the debate's participants are being assaulted with flawed thought. However, unlike a salesman, it is hard to know if a creationist or other religious debater actually realizes that they are using fallacies to debate or if they are blinded by their own belief.

The Fallacies and Creationist Instances

(List from Nizkor Project) See Logical Fallacies for explanations of each.

  1. Ad Hominem
  2. Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
  3. Appeal to Authority
  4. Appeal to Belief
  5. Appeal to Common Practice
  6. Appeal to Consequences of a Belief
  7. Appeal to Emotion
  8. Appeal to Fear
  9. Appeal to Flattery
  10. Appeal to Novelty
  11. Appeal to Pity
  12. Appeal to Popularity
  13. Appeal to Ridicule
  14. Appeal to Spite
  15. Appeal to Tradition
  16. Bandwagon
  17. Begging the Question
  18. Biased Sample
  19. Burden of Proof
  20. Circumstantial Ad Hominem
  21. Composition
  22. Confusing Cause and Effect
  23. Division
  24. False Dilemma
  25. Gambler's Fallacy
  26. Genetic Fallacy
  27. Guilt By Association
  28. Hasty Generalization
  29. Ignoring A Common Cause
  30. Middle Ground
  31. Misleading Vividness
  32. Personal Attack
  33. Poisoning the Well
  34. Post Hoc
  35. Questionable Cause
  36. Red Herring
  37. Relativist Fallacy
  38. Slippery Slope
  39. Special Pleading
  40. Spotlight
  41. Straw Man
  42. Two Wrongs Make A Right

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