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Why Not Debate Somebody in Real Time?


by Niki Tudge

Two years ago, I was asked to debate a controversial figure on a podcast, and for several reasons, I turned it down. I was asked repeatedly, bordering on harassment, even though I gave what I believed to be a sufficient answer.

Politely, I answered no. The first part of my answer was that I have limited bandwidth, and I place my efforts where I feel I have the most impact. The other part of my reasoning was based on the following.

Going onto a podcast, Zoom meeting, or Facebook Live with another person to embark on a discussion where opinions differ, the topic is or can become emotionally charged, and there is a lot at stake, in my opinion, is just not a good idea.

I would only recommend that you do this if you have extensive time to prepare for the encounter and possess highly effective communication skills supported by a comprehensive understanding of the facts, logic, and reasoning.

To do this correctly, factually, and logically would require me to embark on so much preparation that I just cannot see how the impact would justify the effort!

My preparation would require:

  1. A thorough review of the scientific literature
  2. A summary of the research and factual positions
  3. A comprehensive factual understanding of the topic so it can be recalled quickly under pressure
  4. The ability to communicate all of this in a coherent and unemotional way

Without this preparation, I would be in “no-man’s-land.” No-man’s-land is where you land when you know the other side is engaged in dishonest arguments, yet you cannot push back adequately as you do not have all the facts at hand or the ability to clearly and unambiguously argue the point.

Understanding others’ viewpoints in life is essential. Humans have inquiring minds. Our brains are social organs, always looking to connect and engage with others. But as individuals, we need to determine on what grounds and under what circumstances we engage.

To fully understand somebody else’s position requires trusting the other person to engage using facts, logic, and reasoning. If any or all of these elements are missing, then one has to wonder, “Why bother going to all the effort to be a fallacy detective?”

For me, there are better ways to advocate, engage, and influence than in a live one-on-one debate with no rules, no moderator, and no fact checker. For you, it’s your choice. It’s important that we each do what we feel comfortable doing.

In closing, rule five of debating states, “He who asserts must prove. In order to establish an assertion, one must support it with enough evidence and logic to convince an intelligent but previously uninformed person that it is more reasonable to believe the assertion than to disbelieve it. The facts must be accurate” (Rules of Debate, n.d.).


Rules of Debate. (n.d.). (Condensed from Competitive Debate: Rules and Techniques, by George McCoy Musgrave. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1957.) Available at:

Recommended Reading

Andrei, P. D. (2020). How Highly Effective People Speak: How High performers Use Psychology to Influence With Ease. Peter Andrei.

Bluedorn, N. & Bluedorn H. (2015). The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning.  Christian Logic.

Reed, J.T. (2020). How to Spot Dishonest Arguments and Keep Your Own Thinking Straight. John T. Reed.

Niki Tudge, MBA, PCBC-A, PCT-A, Six Sigma Black Belt, HCITB TS1, TS2, and TS3

Niki is a certified dog behavior consultant and holds reputable health and fitness certifications.

As the founder and president of The Pet Professional Guild, DogNostics Career Center, and The DogSmith, Niki has substantial leadership experience in the pet industry. Niki has published numerous articles on dog training and behavior, and her pet dog training businesses have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times.

Niki’s professional credentials include AABP-Professional Dog Trainer, AABP-Professional Dog Behavior Consultant, and PCBC-A and PCT-A through the Pet Professional Accreditation Board. Niki also earned diplomas in animal behavior technology and canine behavior science and technology through the Companion Animal Sciences Institute.

Along with Niki’s business degree and MBA from Oxford Brookes University, she is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt; HCITB TS1, TS2, and TS3 certified people trainer, certified team facilitator and business project manager.

To complement her dog behavior skills and experience, Niki is also a certified fitness instructor and walking and running coach, and she carries several certifications in the health and fitness industry. Additionally, Niki offers coaching and programs through her Running With Your Dog business.

Niki’s professional credentials include International Sports Science Association (ISSA) certified fitness trainer, transformation specialist, nutritional coach, and elite trainer. Niki is also a certified ChiWalking and ChiRunning coach. In addition, she has completed the well-known M.A.F. Foundations certificate course developed by Dr. Phil Maffatone and is a supporter of the M.A.F. system.

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