-1. Judging from your comments, I am forced to believe that I haven't conveyed the specifics of my "public (online) written serial (on going) debate" very well... The following (starting with #1(in black), below) is a listing of the details as I currently see them. In case you don’t feel like reading all that, think of this debate as
-1.1. a totally written trial, (Link)
--- taking place over time,
--- seeking to uncover the preponderance of evidence regarding two sides of a particular controversy,
--- where the ‘lawyers’ are experts on the issue and strong advocates for their side,
--- and the ‘jury’ is composed of millions(?) of citizens, recently well-educated on the pitfalls of debate, and
--- interested in fully understanding the particular issue so as to best decide which side to support,
--- and can keep the lawyers abreast of what they (of the jury) think of their (the lawyers’) performances.
--- Keep in mind that the lawyers care very much what the jury thinks…

- Hopefully, this will clear things up a little.

1. Since the purpose of “actually effective debate” in this case is to fully (or, as well as possible) inform the public re the controversial issues of the day, these debates will be very public (on line).
2. Since the difficulties with written debate are significantly smaller and fewer
than are those with oral debate, the first effective debates will be written.
3. Websites, or sections thereof, will be set up to provide these debates. The League of Women Voters might be a good place to start.
4. Each side in a particular debate will have one spokesperson – a recognized
leader in the field.
5. These leaders will participate for free as these are causes they are eager to
defend, and the website will attract a large audience -- and if they don't
participate, some lesser champion will end up representing their side.

6. But then, the leaders won't have to go it alone -- they will be encouraged to
enlist all the help they need.
7. A section of the website will be set aside for a thorough discussion of the
intricacies of human argument. This section will present a theoretical overview of
human argument and its specific problems (much as I have already attempted to
begin). It will provide a set of guidelines as to the dos and don’ts of effective
argument -- and what to expect opponents to do, reflexively, in trying to sabotage effective presentation by the other side.
8. Our tendency to insult each other will be a major issue in this section, and all the different things we do in order to insult each other -- and in order to avoid insulting each other -- will be discussed.

9. The leaders selected will approve of the guidelines, and will be urged to stick
to them -- and to politely point out infractions by their opponents.
10. A separate forum will be provided for the audience. They will be urged to
study the guidelines and do their “scoring” accordingly. They will also be urged
to point out infractions as well as unexpected adherence.
11. The actual opponents should learn quickly how they are doing re the guidelines and, hopefully, adjust their methods accordingly. Where they do not properly adjust, they will be suspected of championing a house of cards.
12. Clearly, the opponents cannot be made to follow the guidelines, but that won’t matter – the evaluation of their cases by the audience (the ‘jury’) – will depend in part on how well they conform to the guidelines.

13. And, the evaluation of their cases by the audience is what will most matter to the opponents.

14. And besides, a “noisy” audience should keep them pretty much aware of what they’re doing and also keep them under control.

15. The administration of the website will warn the audience of the experimental nature of the website and ask for patience and help.

16. All along, the administration will be learning more about debate. Their understanding and guidelines will be rudimentary at first, but by paying close attention to the debate as it progresses, they should find much to add.

17. In some cases, the websites will deliberately recruit opponents who are more
interested in understanding and improving debate than they are in winning their
particular arguments.

18. The audience and opponents will be constantly reminded that the ultimate
objective here is not for the opponents to agree with each other, nor for the
members of the audience to agree with each other, nor for an impartial Judge to
make the final decision for everyone. The ultimate objective of this debate is for
the evidence and logic of both sides to be fully presented -- so that members of the audience will be as well informed as possible when making their own individual decisions.

19. One general guideline constantly repeated to the opponents will be to "slow
down and zoom in." The natural tendency for us humans is to speed up and
miss our turns. The opponents will keep zoning out and will need to be
constantly reminded of what they're doing.

20. One way to summarize the guidelines for opponents is to "argue in good
faith.” Opponents would be reminded to keep their efforts honest, objective, fair
and friendly. (Just think what our legislature could do if they were able to keep their debates honest, objective, fair and friendly! We could create a whole new world! Maybe, we could heal the world!)

21. And perhaps the primary focus ('target'?) of the opponents should be to make
sure that they understand the other side's case before they start arguing their
own. In the beginning, we should see lots of questions. Instead of aiming for
agreement, the opponents should be aiming for ‘nailing down’ every last nuance
of every specific disagreement. If that remains their target, the audience will have its best chance at really understanding the disagreement and the available
evidence, and for making the best decision possible (given the available

22. And finally, the opponents would be urged to keep 'stepping back from the
canvas'; keep summarizing; keep ‘regrouping.’ (More about this later.)

23. Each side would provide an opening statement summarizing its own case.

24. Side A would then present the evidence and logic for its first claim.

25. Side B would then address A’s first claim.

26. If B has any reason to believe that “he” does not fully understand A’s first claim,
he would try to clear that up.

27. In that effort, he might try to paraphrase A’s claim – but, he would try to do that
in “the best possible light” (not the worst possible light, which is usually the

28. Once that first claim is believed to be understood, B would provide his rejoinder
to it.

29. A would then address B’s rejoinder.

30. If B’s rejoinder includes more than one claim, A would address B’s first claim

31. If A has any suspicion that he doesn’t fully understand B’s claim, A would try to
paraphrase B’s claim in the best possible light.

32. Once A has confidence in his own understanding of B’s claim, A would provide
his rejoinder.

33. If A’s rejoinder has multiple claims, B would address the first claim first.

34. Etc.

35. At some point, theoretically, one of the opponents would have no ready
rejoinder, and the debate would return to the next previous claim left

36. So, each argument would have two “trees” (one per advocate) with numerous branches filling out over time (this is the “serial” aspect).

37. Here, in trying to describe this process, a diagram might be worth
a thousand words.

38. This is what a beginning tree would look like. It starts at the bottom.

\ \ /…………./.

A A……………

\ /……………

B……… .







\ /



39. Here, “A” made a claim backed up by two “sub-claims.”

40. “B” responded to the first sub-claim with 4 claims of his own -- for the first of which, A had three responses.

41. Etc.

42. So far, A has the last word on the first three branches.

43. The second and third branches are very short and begin at, or very near, the top.

44. The first branch is 5 segments long; the second branch is 2 segments long; the third branch is just one segment long.

45. Got all that?

46. Sorry about all that. We just need a way to organize and track the argument – as well as a way to talk about the track… Hopefully, this organization will, at least gradually, sink in.

47. Could be that a particular debate would need only one tree, as one opponent would be happy simply rebutting the claims of the other… (Our argument here involves only one tree.)

48. Eventually, all the branches of A’s first claim would be addressed, and A would
then present the evidence and logic for his second claim. Etc.

49. Eventually, all of A’s claims would be fully addressed and B would begin
presenting his claims.

50. After B’s claims have been fully addressed, A would bring any additional claims
he might now have.

51. Once A’s additional claims have been addressed, B would bring any additional
claims he might now have.

52. Etc., until both sides have said all they want to say – which may be never (but, that’s OK)…

53. All along, in a separate section, each side would be providing a “refinement” (abstraction) of the argument so far. With a little luck, the two sides would agree upon one abstraction – but that really isn’t necessary.

54. This (or these) refined argument(s) would make up the first and primary “page” for audience edification on the subject.

55. The “raw” arguments would be referred to only as necessary for clarification and support -- and for rating the sides on how well they follow the guidelines.

56. So, one basic claim here is that the best way to handle an argument as it tries to
branch out exponentially, is to follow only one branch at a time. Complete that
branch, then back up to the next “branching.”

57. When opponents try to negotiate numerous branches at one time – as seductive
as that may be -- their mental set is not sufficiently patient, they keep missing
critical turns (distinctions) and the debate goes nowhere but in circles.

58. This focusing approach will be tedious -- to say the least -- but tedious and slow
is much better than exciting and circular. 2 times 1 is a lot better than 100 times 0 – or, 1000 times 0.

59. And then, teams could be developed -- and each branch could be handled by a
different teammate.

60. Being on the Internet, there would be no end to possible teammates.

61. And, it isn’t that every specific disagreement would have to be addressed. We
could expose a pattern, or a smoking gun, very early on and save ourselves a
whole lot of tsuris. For these larger topics, that would be our expectation -- or at
least, our sincere hope.