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    Balloon debate: who should be in charge of Mars?

    Wednesday 16th August

    7.00 pm to 9.30 pm

    Tea House Theatre

    Vauxhall SE11 5HL


    What is this debate about?

    Each year, the club holds what is known as a balloon debate. This is a competition where five debaters compete with each other to stay on the panel in a series of rounds with the audience voting on who gets to stay at the end of each round. These are designed to be light-hearted in nature and as much a test of the debaters' ability to entertain the audience as their ability to argue.


    The theme of this year's balloon debate is: ''who should be in charge on Mars'? It is the year 2050 and the first human colonists have arrived on Mars with the mission of building a settlement so other human beings can join them in the future. After the captain dies in an accident, there are only five candidates left to replace them:

    • The explorer (expert on the planet's geography and eternal optimist who has dreamed of this day since they were a child)
    • The engineer (disciplined problem solver with a razor sharp mind and a God complex to match)
    • The botanist (a spiritual thinker who values all forms of life but finds it difficult to be around other people)
    • The computer (most advanced form of artificial intelligence in the known universe but lacks the capacity for human emotion)
    • The counsellor (patient listener and persuasive talker who sees other people as emotional beings who need to be managed)

    Who should be in charge?

    Speakers and format

    Most debates you're likely to see feature a panel of big-name speakers giving their own opinions on a topical issue. However, we want debaters who can see past their own biases and present to you the arguments you need to hear, not just the ones they want you to hear. So, we select speakers strictly from the membership of our training programme, where they learn how to construct, analyse, and deliver both sides of every argument, and assign them a position to defend whether they personally agree with it or not.


    The debate opens and closes with an audience vote, so we can see where you stand and how many of you have had your minds changed by the speakers - or other audience members. In between, two teams of speakers present the case in favour of the motion being debated and the case against. After cross-examining the speakers in a series of short Q&A sessions, the audience offer their own thoughts on the motion before handing back to the panel for their closing speeches. After the debate, we run a 10-minute focus group made of five or six audience members, so we can give some in-depth feedback to our speakers.


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