Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Point, Off Guard

Here's one thing I don't get about last night's debate reactions: the whole "winning on points" part. This probably has to do with my complete lack of knowledge in formal debating but I find that argument kinda flimsy in a lot of ways. It's a bit of a mug's game since, to my eyes, it relies on how logical your arguments are and how coherently that logic is passed. To say someone has won a debate on points is like saying a F1 driver beat another, not because they came in first, but because the car had the fastest speed (which is also why I have problems with American muscle cars that are fantastic in a straight line but meet epic fail when trying to corner). A debate is won on more than just how logical your argument is. There's also the persuasiveness of your argument and logic, just like horsepower, alone do not make an argument persuasive.
To push the F1 analogy a little further, the driver who wins the last race isn't necessarily the driver who wins the championship. It's about how well a driver and car have done over the course of a number of races. It's about the long game. Winning the final debate doesn't change that unless you were just a little behind or already winning. Barring chucking it at 180mph into the wall, you'd have to have a series of amazing losses to fall behind. Once you're ahead just keeping the same pace should make taking the cup look easy. You won't have to win every race, although you will have to place well in most races. Other than that, winning on points doesn't matter if you're too far behind.