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Debate Support v. Debate Evidence

As mentioned in the Team Policy and Lincoln Douglas Debate Rules, debaters may make use of a “wide variety of support to defend and clarify arguments.” Evidence is one type of support that must meet very specific requirements. Confusion exists about what is meant by evidence versus support. In order to clarify, let’s take a look at excerpts from the debate rules:

Evidence (a subset of support) is the oral verbatim reading of quoted text as well as an accompanying citation from a particular source that is publicly available.

Evidence must be read verbatim from the first word of the sentence to the ending punctuation without redaction or addition.

Unless support is read verbatim from a written document during one of the speeches, it is not evidence. All else may be considered support but may not be considered evidence. If the debater refers to evidence “back at the table”, which has not been properly read into the round from the podium, it is not actually evidence.

So we can see that there is a difference between support and evidence. Evidence must follow the guidelines laid out in the rules.

Why is this important? Again, we turn to the rules:

Evidence must be made available if requested by the other team or the judge, as the team presenting the evidence has the burden of validating that evidence if challenged.

Support that is only referred to by the debater and is not available or subject to review by the opposing team is not evidence. Lincoln Douglas Debate in particular uses a lot of support. However, when you say something is evidence, one must bear in mind, the evidence must meet very specific requirements.

For further reading, please read the Evidence Standards document. If you have any questions, please be sure to discuss with your coach or contact the Debate Committee.

The Stoa Debate Committee


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