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The Debaters – Issue 5

For the young student, brimming with new ideas and a thirst for knowledge, a flat party can offer a tantalising opportunity to exchange ideas with others in the sacred marketplace of ideas. To help you get the most out of such an opportunity, I’ve been asked to put together a brief how-to guide so you can best deploy your overbearing demeanour and very loud voice the next time you’re sharing a night out with your unsuspecting, and frankly intellectually inferior, peers.


  1. The Fundamentals: First off, understand that you can very successfully debate without a good argument. A good argument helps, but treating debate as performance can really help you see past the relevant points your opponent might be making and instead hone in on playing to the human desire to be entertained. That being said, the other fundamental skill is to actually do a little research. Watch a few seven minute YouTube videos or listen to some podcasts while you go for a run. Memorise what they say, because they’ve convinced you and you’re the smartest person you know so the content must be good.
  2. Choose a Topic: Knowing you need to do a little research means you need to know what to research. Find a good, hot-button topic. The key is that everyone will have heard about this topic so they will have some sort of take on it. What they haven’t done is research the topic as thoroughly and as completely as you, while every man and his dog may have thought about it, only you truly understand it. 
  3. Find an Angle: Here’s the real key. When finding an angle you don’t actually want to fall on either side of the debate. What you want to do is craft a position that is inflammatory and controversial, but not wildly extreme. You want to set yourself slightly apart from the general camps of thought because you want to separate yourself from the great unthinking masses on either side of the debate. By retaining a generally agreeable position but taking an unconventional stance on it you’re broadcasting to the world that you’ve thought a lot more about this concept than the average man. 
  4. Endurance: Prepare your monologue and ensure it runs for at least 25 minutes at a time. You’re counting on your debating partner to lose interest and give up. You see, you don’t actually have to win to win, as long as you don’t lose you win. 
  5. Say “I used to think that until…”: There’s no other explanation for that tip other than to just use it. Because you’re on a higher plane here.


These few tips are just a primer on how to bring some of the best chat around to your next flat warming or BYO. The important thing is, as facilitators of and participants in the free exchange of ideas, to never admit you’re wrong. Ever. Every hill is worth dying on to be the smartest guy at the party.


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