''Winning'' Debates


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
To win a debate one must be ruthless. Nuke their nouns, vilify their verbs and annihilate their adjectives. Don't let them get away with so much as a clause and leave their participles dangling in the wind!:eek:

Of course this might be more appropriate in a Court of Law.
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Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
To win a debate one must be ruthless. Nuke their nouns, vilify their verbs and annihilate their adjectives. Don't them to finish so much as a clause and leave their participles dangling in the wind!:eek:
What about their pronouns?


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
What about their pronouns?
Pronouns are tricky. They can be used against you. Better to use insulting nouns. You can safely use "you" if it's followed by an insulting noun especially with a string of nasty adjectives in between. Be very careful with first person pronouns. They can be invitations for a verbal arrow in the eye!
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Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
San Diego
When it comes to arguments or debates I've sometimes seen a concept of ''winning'' get brought up. I'm wondering what it means to ''win'', from my experience when people debate on an issue they usually agree on some points and disagree on others, eventually finding a common ground. Alternatively, if people have no points on which they agree with they can ''agree to disagree'' and leave each other be. In either case it is mostly beneficial to debate as it can expand one's point of view and both sides can learn something from each other even if they don't agree.

This said: What is a ''victory'' in a debate? If it's finding common ground then which side actually wins? Or do both of them win? If it's changing someone's mind I find that this rarely happens. In many cases people form opinions based on their own interpretations of facts and will mostly stick to them, not allowing their minds to be changed so easily. When people who get the wrong information or a flawed opinion based on said wrong information they often ''lose'' in the eyes of most people. However people who actually admit their mistakes are not too common from my experience and either leave, still believing their misinformation or just resort to fallacies and try to form escape routes to justify their views or reduce their mistakes. And finally, is a ''victory'' in a debate discrediting someone and degrading them? I can understand why this can happen, especially in emotionally charged discussions but is this behaviour beneficial to the advance of ideas that can happen due to debates?

What are your thoughts? What constitutes a ''victory'' in a debate? Is it even possible to win and if yes, is it actually beneficial?
A debate is won by the person who makes the better argument.
What qualifies a better argument is that it is well supported by example, evidence, or analogy, and that is lacks logical error or fallacy.

The person who argues a straw man, loses. The person who makes an ad hominem argument, loses. The person who employs a No True Scottsman counter, loses.
There are any number of logical fallacies and ploys that people unskilled in debate tend to fall back upon. One oft misunderstood example is Ad Hominem. It is NOT calling your opponent a name- it is when you imply that the argument your opponent is making should be disregarded because of something ABOUT your opponent.
For example- saying that a white man arguing a point about Systemic racism is less valid because white people can't possibly understand the experience of prejudice.. That is an ad hominem... you are not countering their argument... you are disqualifying the person from even making an argument.

It is Not an ad hominem to call your opponent an SOB- if you are not intending that characterization to disqualify or undermine their argument.

The person who wins is the one whose argument is well reasoned and well supported, and whom can effectively counter their opponents points, or reveal them to be fallacious.

in formal debate- a set of observers will act as the arbiters of who won. For example- even though you may present an effective argument, if your opponent employs a logical fallacy in counter and you fail to expose it as such, then you might lose points.

It is possible to be entirely right, and still lose a debate- simply because you can not express your side eloquently and with conviction, or fail to counter an opponent.


Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
I think that, quite often historum, some relevant data/evidence is presented and the person with an opposing argument will simply desist from making any further postings. He won't be thinking "I have lost the debate" and maybe he won't be convinced by the evidence, on the other hand he may well be given food for thought.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
"Winning" a debate is when your interlocutor is convinced by your proposition
Mar 2018
What I've learnt from this thread:
Historum doesn't even debate anymore, people just post their opinion without bothering to read any of the thread first
Feb 2019
In a formal competition debate, winning is determined by judges. Things like rhetoric skill, following structures, and so on count for a lot.

In an everyday sense, winning a debate is more along the lines of what Futurist says. A President wins a debate if he can convince the audience that his original views were correct and his opponent's were wrong.
If I understood correctly, a winner is determined by the judges/audience? Unless one candidate manages to break down and debunk his opponents points completely and leave nothing left for them to stand on then the audience, especially if it's made up of thousands or more people, likely won't be monolithic and some might think one candidate had better arguments while some might think that the other candidate had better arguments. So a victory is convincing the majority of the audience that you had better arguments?

A more enlightened definition would be to have adjusted your views/knowledge/opinion between the start and end of the debate such that, looking back, you prefer where you ended up than where you started. Perhaps bonus points if you have changed your interlocutor in the same way. Frankly, debate should be viewed as a way of improving oneself and others, not as a win/lose thing.
I agree entirely.