News - September 27, 2012

'It is a kind of verbal combat sport'

Who: Lara Minnard
What: Third-year student of Animal Sciences
Why: She is setting up a debating society called Wagenings Debat

Why do you want to start a debating society?
'Debating is a very nice activity. You learn to discuss a story from both sides and not to get stuck in tunnel vision. Every student town has a debating society so I asked, why not Wageningen?
Many people signed up yet?
'In Utrecht or Leiden you announce it to a roomful of law students and you get 30 signing up straightaway. It's a bit harder in Wageningen. There are six of us at present, from various different degree programmes and backgrounds. We now meet once a week and from period 2 onwards, the current European champion will come and give us some training. The next step is to participate in competitions.'
Isn't debating just a politically correct form of bullshitting?
'No, on the contrary, it is tremendously exciting. Really it is a kind of verbal combat sport. You don't necessarily defend your own opinion; it's as if you get into someone else's shoes. One debate technique is to use arguments to make each other look as ridiculous as possible. Then you might take a proposition like, 'There should be more female smurfs.'