Some, in fact, many seem quite confused as to what DEBATE is. I am going to draw on my semester taking part in it in school to provide a few principles. I'm sure there are sources on the net for further study on the topic. 1. DEBATE involves critical thought. Critical thought is basically healthy skepticism. Question assumptions, question premises, question claims, question sources. Use logic to make your arguments. Avoid logical fallacies as they are errors in thought and reasoning; they are failures in arguments. a. Burden - YOU make a claim, YOU support that claim. b. Avoid asking for proofs of negatives, they are rarely possible. c. Support, support, support. d. Rhetoric of the facts should be your dominant rhetorical style. e. Avoid hypocrisy, be consistent. 2. Questions and/or challenges need to be straightforward, not involving any insults or attacks. The act of questioning is not to be taken as an attack - it is simple questioning. 3. DEBATE can involve opinions, however, opinions hold much more weight if they are explained by describing a logical (if possible) or rational thought process that led you to form your particular opinion. And, you must recognize what an opinion is and what a fact is. 4. Read the posts carefully - listen carefully. Knowing what the opposition is saying is critical in formulating rebuttals and refutations, if any exist. 5. Be accurate and stay on topic and relevant. Ensure that your support is relevant AND accurate to your claims. 6. Sources can and should be challenged, but only on substance, not because you believe the source is a bunch of poopy-heads, for example. 7. Rebuttals in DEBATE can involve affirmative arguments and refutation of the logic of the person (logical fallacies, unfounded premisses, etc.). Both are valid rebuttals, however the affirmative argument is often the stronger rebuttal. Just a start. Please add to it, if anyone would like to, that would be great. The more folks know about debate, maybe there might be a debate spotting at USMB.