When I wrote about debate as a poor tool for building knowledge a couple of months ago, I left one issue implicit rather than explicit. I did this because it would have derailed discussion around the main point. Why? Because there are issues of parity in debate as well as almost anywhere else.
I argue very well in text. When I set my sights on demolishing what I consider to be an unfounded position (as opposed to discussing, say, what we do and don’t know about a topic), I frequently get comments from people who say they don’t want to get on my bad side. I hear from friends that they don’t want to get on my bad side.
People who don’t like me call it propaganda. They don’t say I’m bad at it. They don’t engage with my arguments. They just suggest that I don’t “play fair”. You know, they lost the argument, but not because they were wrong.
On top of being able to construct convincing, even devastating arguments, I have speech and theater training. I understand how speech, appearance, and body language are projected and read. I’ve rehearsed all of those until they’re largely under my conscious control. As long as I have a microphone to overcome the fact that my voice doesn’t carry, I do well on a stage.
Despite all that, I never get asked to debate.