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MDI’s Motion Debate Success Record

Since MDI was founded in 2009, MDI has been involved in hosting, or its members invited to, a number of debates, panel discussions and TV debates across the globe. Debates are a good way to critically discuss a subject, and more specifically, a question, in order to present the wider public with arguments and evidence they wouldn’t normally have access to or know of. The most important feature of such debates is primarily to facilitate the public to make an informed decision on their beliefs, politics, political ideology and worldview.

While the purpose of many people who engage in debates is to persuade, MDI holds as its ideal that the purpose of debate is to help discover truth.

MDI members therefore prefer to eschew cheap rhetoric, specious argumentation, or making unsubstantiated claims appealing to popular ignorance. MDI members are encouraged to base all arguments on use of facts, statistics, robust rational argument and clear presentation of evidence as their debate methodology  – which we view to be the best and most ethical way to persuade audiences.

Measuring Success at Debates

One of the problems many people cite is how to review debates and measure success in persuading audiences without being subjective and biased, or making assumptions about the audience’s perception of the debate.

However there are two methods of assessing the success of a person, or side, of an argument in debates – the Oxford-style method.

Many debating societies, or famous debating unions, hold “Oxford-style debates” where a motion or question is put up as the subject of the debate, with each side taking a “Yes”/”Supporting” or “No”/Opposing position. Both sides argue from their position on the motion or question, and the motion either “passes” or is “defeated”, or a question is decided, by asking the audience to vote on the position they were most convinced or persuaded by.

The Oxford-style system has two methods of doing this.

The first method is where the audience is asked to vote on the motion/question after the debate has finished, and the Motion or question is decided by a simple majority of the votes taken (what we call a “single-vote motion debate”).

The second method, which is a little more nuanced, is where the debate motion/question is decided by how many people in the audience changed their minds on the motion/question during the debate. This works by the organisers asking the audience to cast a pre-debate vote and another vote after the debate has finished (a post-debate vote). The Motion is “Passed” or “Defeated” (or the question is decided) based upon which side gained the greatest number of new votes after the debate. The new votes would indicate the number of audience members who had changed their minds or were persuaded by a side during the debate (we call this the “two-vote motion debate”).

While the single vote system may be prone to the audience’s pre-existing prejudices and biases, and therefore may not reflect how well any particular side did in the debate, the two-vote motion debate is a much more objective way of determining how well one side did, because it doesn’t measure majorities, but rather which side persuaded the most people.

MDI’s Performance Record

By the grace of God, in two-vote Motion debates (measuring which side persauded the most people), MDI and its members have maintained a 100% success record throughout its history of championing a position in debates. This means that in such debates where the winner of the debate motion was decided by which side changed the most audience members’ minds, MDI managed to change the most minds consistently for 100% of the time (al-hamdulillah).

Since two-vote Motion debates purely measures which side changed the most minds in the audience from their initial starting opinions (or lack of), we hold this to be a great reflection of MDI’s rigorous approach to research, debate etiquette, attention to detail, and experience in facilitating events for the pursuit of truth.

In all single-vote Motion debates participated in by a member of MDI, where the winner of the debate motion was decided by a simple majority of the audience, MDI has achieved a success rate of 10/14 (or approximately 72%). While the single-vote system of voting doesn’t take into consideration the initial biases of the audience, the law of averages state that an average debate speaker would have at least a 50-50 chance of winning any particular debate (if all other factors being equal). So considering that all the Oxford-style debates MDI has participated in to date, were organised by majority non-Muslim organisations, in irreligious venues, debating a topic in a secular Western context, where the biases may run quite contrary to the Islamic worldview. Therefore a 72% success rate is quite a significant achievement (al-hamdulillah).

Finally, special mention must be made for the “OxBridge debates” MDI has participated in (debates specifically held by the world famous Cambridge Union and Oxford Union). Out of this category, MDI has (al-hamdulillah) helped win 3/4 (75%) of all “Oxbridge debates” it has been invited to.

We’ve put a list of the individual debate results below, showing details of each debate and the result of the voting on the motion.

Before reading the list, please note the following:

  • The data on MDI success rates were based only upon debates where the organisers AND venue were unaffiliated to religion, and organisations [majoritarily or exclusively] comprised of non-Muslim members. Religious organisations or venues are discounted because they bring audiences usually exclusively of one religion or another, and are likely not going to give impartial motion voting results.
  • Vote percentages are based upon the total amount (or ratio) of people voting “for” or “against” a Motion or question. It doesn’t count non-voters, or those abstaining from voting (who would not decide the motion at all).
  • The list includes only debates that feature Oxford-style voting on motions, not all the debates ever attended or hosted by MDI members (which are far more), .
  • MDI hosted debates have until now, not been Oxford-style, so will not feature on the below list.

MDI’s Results Record on Two-Vote (Vote Change) Motion Debate

Below is a list of all the two-vote debates MDI has participated in, together with each individual result. MDI has won all six of all two-vote motion debates it has participated in:

VENUE: Southampton University (UK), 11th Oct 2018
ORGANISER: Southampton Debating Union
MOTION: Is it Wrong to Not Identify As a Feminist?
MDI Member’s Position: “No”
RESULT: “No” (Final Vote: No 82% /Yes 18%, % audience vote change: +28% No, +11% Yes)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Chatham House (London, UK), 7th Dec 2017
ORGANISER: Royal Institute of International Affairs
MOTION: Should Religion be Separate from State? 
MDI Member’s Position: “No”
RESULT: “No” (Audience changes of position: +9% No, +4% Yes)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University of Bath [UK], 15th Nov 2016
ORGANISER: Bath University Debating Society
MOTION: This House Believes that Religion has become irrelevant in today’s society
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (Audience change of position: overall % gain by “No”, -30% loss to “Yes”)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Manchester University [UK], 12th Feb 2015
ORGANISER: Manchester Debating Union
MOTION: This House REGRETS the republishing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons
MDI Member’s Position: SUPPORTING MOTION “Yes”
RESULT: MOTION PASSED (Audience change of position: +21% gain by “Yes”, -9% loss to “No”)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Master Builders Hotel [Hampshire, UK], 21 Nov 2014
ORGANISER: Lord Strathcarron (Member of the House of Lords)
MOTION: This House Believes That Shari’ah Law is Fairer than English Law
MDI Member’s Position: SUPPORTING MOTION “Yes”
RESULT: MOTION PASSED (Final Vote: No 75% / Yes 25%, % audience vote change: +14% gain by “Yes”, -14% loss to “No”)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Nottingham University [UK], 18th Nov 2014
ORGANISER: Voice Your Rights
MOTION: This House Believes in a Secular Society & that Religion Should be Completely Separate from State
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (Audience changes of position: +11% gave by “No”, -17% loss to “Yes”)
Win for MDI side of panel [Coming Soon]

MDI’s Results Record of One-Vote Motion Debates

Below is a list of all the single-vote debates MDI has participated in, together with each individual result. MDI has won 10 out of 14 of all single-vote motion debates it has participated in:

VENUE: St. George’s Medical School, University of London [Republic of Ireland], 16th Oct 2018
ORGANISER: St George’s Politics and Debating Society
MOTION: Has Religion Been Mainly the Cause of Peace or Violence?
MDI Member’s Position: Religion Mainly the Cause of Peace
RESULT: WIN FOR Religion Mainly the Cause of Peace (75% Religion-Peace, 25% Religion-Violence)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University College Dublin [Republic of Ireland], 27th Sept 2017
ORGANISER: Literary & Historical Society
MOTION: This House Believes God is Evil
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University of Manchester [UK], 18th Feb 2016
ORGANISER: Manchester Debating Union
MOTION: This House Believes Science has an undeserved Monopoly on the Truth
MDI Member’s Position: SUPPORTING MOTION “Yes”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Lose for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University of Warwick [UK], 5th Nov 2015
ORGANISER: Warwick Debating Union
MOTION: This House Would Completely Separate Religion from State
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Lose for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Durham University [UK], 23rd Oct 2015
ORGANISER: Durham Debating Union
MOTION: This House is Proud to be Patriotic
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (54% against, 45% for)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Oxford University [UK], 21st May 2015
ORGANISER: Oxford Union
MOTION: This House would end the state’s preferential treatment of religion
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION PASSED (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Lose for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Cambridge University [UK], 23rd April 2015
ORGANISER: Cambridge Union
MOTION: This House Believes the West is the Blame for Islamic Extremism (Terrorism)
MDI Member’s Position: SUPPORTING MOTION “Yes”
RESULT: MOTION PASSES (54% for, 46% against)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University College London [UK], 8th Dec 2014
Organiser: UCL Debating Union
MOTION: ‘Do SlutWalks Harm Feminism?’
MDI Member’s Position: WIN FOR “No” [member argued that SlutWalks is natural conclusion of Feminist ideology, and so Feminists can’t disown it from Feminism]
RESULT: “No” (58% “No”, 42% “Yes”)
 Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: National University of Ireland [Galway, Republic of Ireland], 9th Oct 2014
ORGANISER: Literary & Debate Society
MOTION: Is Islam a Religion of Peace?
MDI Member’s Position: “Yes”
RESULT: WIN FOR “Yes” (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Nottingham University [UK], 26th Feb 2014
ORGANISER: Nottingham Debate Union
MOTION: Shariah vs Secular Democracy: Which is more tolerant?
MDI Member’s Position: Shariah is more tolerant
RESULT: WIN FOR Shariah is more tolerant (75% Shariah more, 25% Secular Democracy more)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University College Dublin [Republic of Ireland], 18th Feb 2014
ORGANISER: University College Dublin Law Society
MOTION: This House Believes that Islam Treats Women, Right
MDI Member’s Position: SUPPORTING MOTION “Yes”
RESULT: MOTION PASSES (Simple majority of hands [not counted])
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: University of Warwick, [UK] 25th Nov 2013
ORGANISER: Warwick Debating Union
MOTION: This House Believes that Morality requires a God
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (56% against, 44% for)
Lose for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Oxford University [UK], 14th Nov 2013
ORGANISER: Oxford Union
MOTION: This House is Proud to be Patriotic
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (59% against, 41% for [approx])
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

VENUE: Cambridge University [UK], 4th Nov 2010
ORGANISER: Cambridge Union
MOTION: This House Believes Islam is a Threat to the West
MDI Member’s Position: OPPOSING MOTION “No”
RESULT: MOTION DEFEATED (76% against, 24% for)
Win for MDI side of panel [VIDEO]

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