Useful Terms


This vocabulary will help you put names and labels to phenomena and fallacies that you might find while debating. Having the terminology to name something will be helpful to make sense of things while you’re out there in the ring!

Critical thinking– the systemic analysis of reasons to believe of disbelieve a claim.

Claims– A claim is a declarative sentence.

Subjective claims– are true for one person and false for another.

Objective claims– may be true for some people, and not for others. Is there such thing a true objectivity? You can debate about this in our game!

It is important to be able to identify subjective claims. These usually involved personal perspectives, feelings, or opinions about certain issues. For example, the welfare state creates laziness among Americans who benefit from it. This is a hollow, subjective statement with not explanation or examples provided to back it up. 

Conditional claim– Asserts that if the first part is true, then the second part will be true. (antecedent–>consequent)

Slanters– a strategy frequently used in advertising and politics– slanters uses the influence of convincing language within a claim that inclines the hearer or reader toward or against believing something without providing any evidence at all that it is true. AKA- just because you sound convincing doesn’t mean you’ve made a viable argument.

Confirmation Bias– the tendency to believe the first claim we’re introduced to. The tendency to be influenced by word choices and headline themes, and seek out information that confirms those claims while discrediting claims that go against it.

Hyperbole– An extravagant overstatement or grossly exaggerated claim or comparison.

Stereotype– lumping a group of people together under one image or description without any evidence that they share that trait, behavior or belief.

Euphemisms– words or phrases with a positive or neutral connotation that are used to hide or cover something negative.

Dyphemism– (the opposite of euphemism) a word or phrase with a negative connotation that is used to hide or cover something or to cast a negative light on it.

Proof surrogates– stating an introductory phrase that seems to indicate there is proof where proof is not being given. Ex: “experts agree”, “studies show”, “according to experts”. Tip- you can still use these terms, but do not use them unless you can verify the statement as evidence that experts agree on.

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