Get Ready, Set... Debate!

What?! Isn’t debate arguing? Isn’t that bad? Isn’t that something we want to avoid?

Not always.

In fact, allowing opportunities for civil discourse can expand our viewpoints, offer perspectives we weren’t aware of, and give us a more holistic understanding of a concept. 

In our digitized world, we have become physically separated from each other. This has made it easier for individuals to engage in antagonizing or incendiary behavior, otherwise known as “trolling”, usually without a logical basis…or consequences. As a result, the online landscape, and public discourse, has become unforgiving, hyperbolic, and provocative. 

But did you know that hearing a person’s voice while arguing tough topics makes common ground easier to find? Research by Berkeley professor, Juliana Schroeder and her colleagues, suggests that listening to someone’s voice as they make a controversial argument is humanizing. It makes it easier to engage with what that person has to say. Professor Schroeder and her colleagues claim, “the medium through which people communicate may systematically influence the impressions they form of each other. The tendency to denigrate the minds of the opposition may be tempered by giving them, quite literally, a voice.”

Having in-person, respectful, structured discourse can actually bring humanity closer to each other and form deeper understandings. This is where debate comes in! Debate helps you practice forming logical arguments, and take sides you wouldn’t normally go with to expand your thinking and learn new things. Plus, it’s a structured opportunity to have productive discussions about topics that are otherwise hard to broach without a system in place to do so. Think of it as a space to unpack complex subjects and to exercise your ability to argue various sides of an issue logically and persuasively.

What are your first thoughts and impressions when you hear the word “debate” or “argue”? How has this article changed your opinion about engaging in debate?

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