What is Debate?
Debate comes from the verb debate (discuss or dispute about something) and refers to a controversy, discussion or contention. For example: “Let’s end this debate and start acting”, “If you want to start a debate with me, you must find yourself a good argument”, “The moderator ended the debate at its most contentious point”.
The debate is often regarded as a technique or modality of oral communication. Organized discussions feature a moderator and an audience attending conversations. Participants are responsible for setting out their arguments on the subject in question.
Discussions usually take place in an auditorium with an audience present or in a television studio and with a small number of people, which increases exponentially once viewers tune in to the event. Thanks to the development of technology, it is now possible to organize discussions through the Internet, whether through video conferences, chat or forums.
For there to be a debate, two antagonistic positions need to be found. Otherwise, if participants agree on everything, there is no confrontation or controversy.
Today, the most frequent debates involve politicians running as candidates in an election process. These people agree to debate in the media to defend their proposals and refute their adversaries’ arguments: “The official candidate won the last debate, according to a consultancy’s polls,”“Gómez decided not to participate in the debate because he disagreed with the conditions,” “The debate between presidential candidates broke the audience record”.
The possible themes of a debate are very varied and often reflect how backward certain cultures are to others. Such is the case for countries that continue to discuss gay rights: not only are they questioning whether it is right to allow them to marry, like anyone else, but they question whether they deserve to be treated as normal, healthy individuals, opening the door to discrimination and contempt as reasonable choices.
On the other hand, in research areas such as journalistic programs there are often spaces for debate to confront opinions about various news. The political situation of a country at war, rumours of secret experiments by a government or UFO sightings that have been classified: any topic that allows multiple views can be the subject of debate.
The role of the moderator is essential, as it must be responsible for preventing the discussion from becoming violent or for the participants of the debate to deviate from the main topic. In addition, it is your obligation to refrain from favouritism and ensure that everyone receives equivalent time slots to present their views.
Similarly, it is imperative that participants be adequately documented before attending a discussion. Even the topic specialists to be discussed should be aware of the approach of the discussion before it is presented, since it often differs from its personal perspective. Previous knowledge is among the fundamental elements of a successful debate, as they collaborate with the healthy exchange of ideas and enrich the public.
When personal interests are involved, debates distort and lose validity; it is highly advisable to remember that these are not competences but exchanges of opinions and views. At best, the effectiveness of a debate continues after its closure, as new ideas that naturally emerge from the discussion can positively affect their participants, questioning what they considered unquestionable.
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