Debate Procedures

ebates have been carried on for thousands of years. There are formal rules and juries. But regardless of the technological state of man the format has always remained the same (two guys make their case and then have a "rebuttal"). Now, with the invention television, the format has been forced to conform to the requirements and scheduling of TV advertisers.

The medium is using the format rather than the format using the medium.

The correct thing to do here is to alter the format so as to take advantage of what the medium has to offer. Namely, tape recording. This single device and a few rules changes can completely alter what we mean by the term "debate".

New Format

We must have both parties discuss, converse, argue, for extended periods of time (hours and hours if necessary). All of this must be taped by at least three cameras controlled by an impartial referee. One camera shows both parties together and two cameras show each individual combatant.

Each party is then given copies of the tapes which they are instructed to edit in the light of their own personal opinions showing the opponent to be inept, inadequate, misguided, or even evil. The edited copies are of prescribed length since they will be aired on television. The referee gives a copy of the edited tape to each opponent who then creates a shorter rebuttal tape which is also given to the referee. It is, however, not necessary to give a copy of the rebuttal tape to each opponent.

What is aired on television is then ... the two edited tapes followed by ... the rebuttal tapes. The audience gets to see all the relevant material as judged by the combatants. They also get to see all the dirty tricks used by the combatants as judged by those same combatants.

What could be fairer? Who can complain?

We are making use here of the principal of exhaustion by which I mean everything meaningful concerning the subject at hand is brought to light during the extended argumentation period. All the audience misses is ... the non-essentials.

It is understood that, psychologically, no one can continuously evade another person's probing questions knowing that he is continuously on camera. Sooner or later he slips up and the truth comes gushing out.


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