Debate or debating is a formal method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion. Though logical consistency, factual accuracy and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are important elements of the art of persuasion, in debating, one side often prevails over the other side by presenting a superior "context" and/or framework of the issue, which is far more subtle and strategic.
In a formal debating contest, there are rules for people to discuss and decide on differences, within a framework defining how they will interact. Informal debate is a common occurrence, the quality and depth of a debate improves with knowledge and skill of its participants as debaters. Deliberative bodies such as parliaments, legislative assemblies, and meetings of all sorts engage in debates. The outcome of a debate may be decided by audience vote, by judges, or by some combination of the two. Although this implies that facts are based on consensus, which is not factual. Formal debates between candidates for elected office, such as the leaders debates and the U.S. presidential election debates, are common in democracies.
The major goal of the study of debate as a method or art is to develop one's ability to play from either position with equal ease. To inexperienced debaters, some propositions appear easier to defend or to destroy; to experienced debaters, any proposition can be defended or destroyed after the same amount of preparation time, usually quite short. Lawyers argue forcefully on behalf of their client, even if the facts appear against them. However one large misconception about debate is that it is all about strong beliefs; it is not.
Wikipedia [accessed 10 May 2010] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debating