The Art of Debate

Narrated by: Jarrod Atchison
Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (315 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

If you're like many people, you might associate debate with a high school or college club, or perhaps a TV political debate that features two or more candidates talking over each other. But if these are your only associations with debating, you're missing out on an exhilarating intellectual pursuit that can help you in all aspects of your daily life. The ability to debate - to present persuasive arguments, pierce the logic of others, and turn the tables against withering cross-examinations - is one of the truest tests of one's intellectual capacity.

The Art of Debate offers you the ultimate how-to guide for anyone interested in learning this powerful skill. Taught by acclaimed Professor Jarrod Atchison of Wake Forest University, these 24 stimulating lectures will help you develop your command of logic, construct clear and concise arguments, recognize the fallacies in others' reasoning, and sharpen your strategic thinking skills. Through a series of well-structured lectures that proceed logically through each formal element of a debate, Professor Atchison shows you how to build and defend an argument, sharpening your critical thinking skills so that you come away from the course well prepared for any kind of debate.

While Professor Atchison provides you an abundance of insight into the formal elements of debate, the focus of this course is on applied debating - developing skills that you can apply to the real world to help you think through complex issues and arrive at better decisions. Imagine you are a manager faced with a difficult dilemma: should you repair some of your manufacturing equipment, or invest in new equipment? What do you do?

Whether you are trying to make a tough business decision or lead a lively discussion at the dinner table, this course will elevate your strategic thinking, providing insight not only into how to win arguments, but how to present ideas more generally.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Art of Debate

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Rigorous yet practical

What insight do you think you’ll apply from The Art of Debate?

Become a skilled debater is as difficult as becoming an elite athlete. Both require motivation, deliberate practice and good coaching, a great deal of time, and a broad repertoire of techniques. But finding a good howto on debate is difficult because most debate courses are written for academics and philosophers debating metaphysics, or for lawyers and politicians debating in highly structured environments. In contrast, this course is perfect for we rank and file managers and parents seeking to become more effective in everyday business and life. This course equipped me with both a pragmatic big picture framework and a robust set of techniques that have proved as valuable at work as around the dinner table.

31 people found this helpful

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Engaging, Informative & Exhilarating

Professor Atchison teaches debate and argumentation theory very, very well. As he is careful to point out in his lectures, studying argumentation is important to us as individuals, as it helps us make our own thinking logically sound. This course of course helps us learn to take down poor reasoning, in ourselves and in others, gently and firmly. This course is essential in our modern search for truth, especially in the many controversies that surround us socially and politically.

Of particular interest to this, Professor Atchison takes several of our most modern and relevant controversies and debates both sides of them, without bias. You'll want to spend a credit on this course.

Thanks much, Professor Atchison!

16 people found this helpful

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May not be what you think!

This is a course on academic debate and all the formal rules that go with it. It will make you a better debater; however, do not expect real world debaters and judges to be so disciplined, nor so respectful of rules.

33 people found this helpful

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Great Introduction

Great introduction to formal debate. I have no experience with debate other than what I've seen on TV and this book definitely gives a nice overview of how formal debate works and some of the logic and startgeies that are used.

13 people found this helpful

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This is a hard one

The first 3 or 4 hours were focused only on explaining why debate is important in business. The plethora of trite examples from boardroom and other meetings is staggering! And totally unnecessary to devote a *third* of the book to the obvious, to the WHY. I didn't want to know why to debate, I wanted to know HOW to debate.

When it gets into the fray of real debates, I found that jumping at high speed form one topic to the other (climate change, gun control, etc.) will not provide enough time to let the debate techniques sink in. I personally would have focused on one topic at a time and illustrated the debate techniques coherently in that topic. Then again with another topic.

This would have had the added benefits of: 1. not distracting the audience every two or three minutes by changing the topic and introducing a new one, and 2. repetition. The learning effect is maximised when you can repeat what you just learned and you can apply it in another context. Unfortunately, this was a missed opportunity for the author.

What I appreciated were the faceted arguments on each topic: so for each debate you get to know not only what the main points could be, but also how to defuse to other side's ones. Conservatives get to learn how to defuse liberals and viceversa. But to arrive to this point you really need to endure a lot of unnecessary generic talk, and still it will be very difficult without a script to consolidate the debate techniques in a coherent manner.

Finally, the performance was not for me. Good for people who like energetic, high-decibel declamations.

12 people found this helpful

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  • LT
  • 11-17-18

Interesting Book.

Just got done reading and found this book to be leaving me to want to read and study more about debating. While this book was geared more for toward a debating team and scoring points it has some good topics for discussions

4 people found this helpful

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loved it!

I am a trial attorney and have been practicing law for 38 years. I was blown away by how many new concepts I learned in this course and can use in my practice. Not only my practice of law, but in life, in general. Good argumentation is good learning.

3 people found this helpful

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A must for all who wantto really influence others

While much of this course focuses on formal debate it can be applied so much to ordinary life

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  • J
  • 05-17-20

Surprisingly Average

The teacher is a great speaker and has some very solid concepts to consider. However, this all begins to break down when he starts to try & use various political conflicts in his debate platform. Instead of providing lucid arguments backed up with ample facts he starts to simply make derogitory statements regarding opposing views. He doesn’t do this for all his arguments; some of them are quite good (ex. Climate change argument) but he is not consistent throughout which, considering his job, was disappointing.

1 person found this helpful

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Lets Debate

Jarrod Atchison has shown that debate and argumentation is not just something to do on Facebook, but it can also help with decision making in the work place, and when coming up with different ideas. Everything from family decisions and work decisions and even larger policy choices can benefit from "The Art of Debate"

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pod
  • 12-03-17

Interesting, but far too cheesy and american.

The lectures were interesting and could be of some use, but the entire time listening I felt like I couldn't really take this guy seriously. He seems to think that debate is the best thing a person can do.

The music between chapters is hilarious and cheesy.

The examples are very "American" (i.e. guns), but I guess they're examples so it doesn't matter too much.

The presenter uses technical debate language without much definition or introduction of it, so you can often be left wondering "what does that word mean again?" as he rattles off a couple of sentences using it.

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  • Julian Trettenes
  • 10-10-17

Useful but more advanced than expected

I thought it'd be simple but this book is a little bit hard to follow for me.

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  • Simple Buyer
  • 04-04-17

It's likely my preference, but....

I've just finished the first section, and I'm dreading the next. Atchison's speaking style feels like the beat of a snare drum. Punchy, sometimes forced, the energy is both monotonous and makes me flinchy. Every sentence has the same pace, and cadences are identical throughout. There is very little pitch variation. Almost all of the ends of sentences are rushed and clipped, like an old Chinese opera cadence, except every 1.5 seconds or so. I also find the Midwest accent annoying (IH is not a pretty vowel, and it's a sloppy one), but I could easily overlook that with some sort of variance in the rhythm or pitch. I might just have to crack out some Bradbury for commiseration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Luciano Del Bufalo
  • 04-03-17

worth a Credit!!

loved the course despite it not being what I expected it to be.
lecture interesting and useful in a broad range of situations.