Debates! On the Case to Case Podcast

Case to Case: Debates!
Every now and then, the Case to Case podcast features special episodes focused on debating hot-button topics.  If you're interested in joining a formal debate, live, on the Case to Case podcast, please be sure to read the following guidelines extra carefully before sending an email.
Email Chelsea Hoffman (click here)

1. Know the topic
The Case to Case podcast isn't a setting for frivolous or careless argument. Knowing your topic is extremely important before engaging in a formal debate with the host (or other callers). This means that you must do thorough research using verifiable sources that can be presented (cited) live on the air, or via the live chatroom during the show, so listeners (and the host) can check your sources and verify whether or not your argument is based in understanding of the facts.

2. Present your arguments to the listeners, not the host.
Even though this is a formal debate between you and the host, the listeners are the audience that you are trying to convince. Keep in mind that while you are participating in a serious discussion, one-on-one, you are still going to be streaming live to a potential of thousands of listeners -- some of which may call in and comment or add their own arguments.

3. Know and respect the formal rules of debate (which will be listed at the bottom of this page) 
On the debate specials of the Case to Case podcast, the formal rules of debate are applied strictly. This means any violation of the rules ends in an immediate disqualification of the offending party. The party who violates any of the formal rules of debate has forfeited his/her side of the argument, thus losing. There is no mediator during these debates, so the arguing parties are expected to hold themselves with respect and keep themselves in check.

Formal rules of debate:

1. State your name and your argument after introduced by the host. You have up to five minutes to produce the argument (which will be timed with a buzzer). This is your opportunity to create a summary of the argument you are producing, but not a time to get into specifics (that can come up organically as the debate progresses).
2. Keep your retorts to a maximum of three minutes: This allows for listeners to absorb what they are hearing more easily. It also makes it easier for the flow of debate. You and your opponent will have plenty of time to make all the points you want to make during the course of the podcast (which can last up to two hours long), so there is no rush.
3. Avoid making logical fallacies. Logical fallacies -- in regards to legitimate debate -- come in many forms, but mostly we will stick to the following:

  • Argumentum ad antiquitatem (argument to antiquity): An argument appealing to "tradition." Example: "It's always been like that. It's tradition!" or "The best countries in the world support this argument." Whether these statements are rhetorically "true" or not doesn't matter, for these are not arguments designed to fully illustrate a logical reason for XYZ. 
  • Argumentum ad hominem (directed at the person, not the argument): Under no circumstances should you attack the character of your opponent while in a formal debate. There are several different kinds of ad hominem attacks ranging from abusive to veiled. An example of a veiled ad hominem attack is when you question a person's credentials or education in order to insinuate that their argument is invalid. A direct, abusive, ad hominem attack would be directly calling your opponent any kind of slur, or directly insulting them in any other manner. This type of logical fallacy is an absolute debate-ender on the Case to Case podcast. 
  • Argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument to ignorance): Just because one argument hasn't been proven false, does not mean it is true. This logical fallacy can be illustrated by such comments as "The existence of God hasn't been debunked, so he must exist!" This is a logical fallacy, and it must be avoided.
  • Argumentum ad logicam (argument to logic): This is the exact opposite of the argument to ignorance. It's a line of argument that assumes just because a comment made by an opponent is false, then their argument must also be false. Example: "The source you shared has been debunked. Therefore, your entire argument is flawed." While this statement may or may not be fundamentally "true," it is still inappropriate form for legitimate debate, and serves as a logical fallacy -- especially since your opponent may have other arguments that are true and valid.
  • Argument to appeal to pity: This logical fallacy involves the avoidance of producing an argument, by trying to incite an emotional reaction from an opponent or audience. Example: "Think about the victims? Don't they deserve justice!?" or "What about all of the children who are starving in the world? How can you think about them and still argue against my stance?" Again, this is not the production of an argument with evidence or any other substance. Avoid using this logical fallacy. 
  • Argument ad nauseam: Producing the same argument, again and again, is a logical fallacy. This type of argument ignores whether or not something is a fact, by simply repeating it as a substitute for other, valid, arguments. No matter how times you repeat an argument, if it's not true, then it's not true.
  • Argument appealing to public: Just because a group of people believes your argument, does not mean it is true, and it does not mean you have produced any true substance in order to convince someone in a debate of your stance.