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Debate Secret: When to “Rebut” and When to “Refute”

I remember my days on various debate teams. A particularly memorable debate was when I used the First Amendment to argue that “Married… with Children.” should stay on the air (it did for another seven seasons, but I had nothing to do with that).

A basic debate runs thusly: One side presents its argument, after which the other side has a small amount of time to disprove or discredit the points of the argument or the entire argument. Then the second side presents its argument, after which the first side gets its chance to discredit or disprove. There might be other times in which someone might ask questions, each side makes a concluding argument, or a slew of variations. But at its most basic, a debate is similar to the arguments presented on a California ballot proposition.

The discredit or disproving time is called the rebuttal. But to truly win a debate, you don’t want to rebut. You want to refute.

To rebut is to argue to the contrary. To refute is to prove to the contrary. In a debate, truth is the absolute defense.

Now get out there and win one debate for the Gipper!

Until next time! Use the right words!


December 12, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Im in a debate team and I don’t want to disappoint my team, what is the best skill to disorganise the opposition and leave them on a question mark?


    Comment by Shango Ramabulana | February 4, 2012 | Reply

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