A Public Debate of Issues Facing Chinese Medicine Today

The Pine Street Foundation is sponsoring a live public debate, held in San Francisco on June 11, which all are welcome to attend. This event will be a fun, entertaining, and informative way for the public to hear a spirited discussion about issues concerning us all in Chinese medicine. The debate brings together in a public forum many well-known names from the field, debating important questions facing the profession today.

Debate has been one of the most valuable teaching and learning techniques throughout the history of Chinese medicine. The great Asian traditional medical systems – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan and Ayurvedic – all utilized debate as essential teaching tools.

Debate is a classical art, a complex and stimulating learning activity that requires knowledge, skill and creativity. Debate is theater, meant to inform and to challenge. It is a way for the public to gather and share the hearing of a lively discussion of important issues, intensively investigated and openly examined.

What happens on the day of the tournament?
The tournament will take place in three rounds of debate, and involves a total of eight teams. Each debate will involve two teams facing off against each other, presenting arguments (and counter-arguments) in support of, or opposing, a particular issue. The issues being debated are phrased as a statement called a prompt

Can audience members participate?
Yes, audience member participation is encouraged, during the middle portion of each debate (called subsequent speeches). In the tradition of Congressional debating, each round of debate has the following structure:
  • Opening arguments from each side (Affirmative & Negative)
  • Subsequent speeches from anybody in the audience (can be in support of either Affirmative & Negative argument)
  • Closing arguments from each side (Affirmative & Negative)
During the subsequent speech section, members of the audience may raise their hands to present their own arguments, lasting 1-3 minutes, in favor of  the debate team arguing either the Affirmative or Negative position.

What are the prompts being debated?
In Round 1 of the debates, all eight teams participate, forming four groups of two teams each. Audience members may attend any of these four debates. Those groups will debate one of the following four prompts:

  • Resolved: Contemporary Chinese medicine as currently defined by the People’s Republic of China is superior to all other international variations of Chinese medicine.
  • Resolved: Acupuncture as a medical intervention technique should be disallowed because its mechanism of action cannot be scientifically proven.
  • Resolved: The replacement of traditional Chinese medical vocabulary (that describes diseases, pathologies and treatments) by modern scientific medical vocabulary is an important development and should be encouraged as the standard.
  • Resolved: Chinese medicine is a fad in the US, and its viability as an independent medical intervention does not have a dynamic future.

In Round 2, the four winning teams from Round 1 will then form two groups, debating the following prompts (audience members may attend either of these debates):

  • Resolved: The sustainability of important cultural habits (cultural relativism) should allow the continued use of animals as Chinese herbal medicine, including endangered species.
  • Resolved: Chinese medicine herbal attempts to extend the current age limits of the human lifespan (aka: anti-­‐aging “herbal tonics for longevity”) should be welcomed.

In Round 3, the Grand Championship round, the remaining two teams who won Round 2 will debate the following final prompt (the entire audience members may attend this debate):

  • Resolved: Chinese medicine should be embraced as an essential part of the US national health care reform.

What is the sequence of the debate?
Opening speeches (Given by established members of the debate teams)
Affirmative Main Speaker                                    4-6 minutes
Negative Main Speaker                                         4-6 minutes

Subsequent speeches (given by debate team members, or members of the audience)
Affirmative Subsequent Speaker-                    1-3 minutes
Negative Subsequent Speaker-                         1-3 minutes
Repeat subsequent speeches for as long as time allows.

Closing speeches (Given by established members of the debate teams)
Affirmative Main Speaker                                    3 minutes
Negative Main Speaker                                         3 minutes

1. Two opening speakers have six minutes each to present their support for, or opposition to, the stated resolution. These speakers are selected in advance, have researched the topic, and are prepared to present the key arguments that support their position. The first speaker is from the Affirmative team, arguing in favor of the resolution. The second speaker is from the Negative team, arguing against the resolution.

2. Following the opening speakers, other speakers are recognized from the floor by the moderator. These subsequent speeches alternate (pro, then con), and each speaker is allowed three minutes.

3. Any speaker who finishes before three minutes may use the remain- ing time either to accept questions from the floor or to yield to another speaker on the same side of the issue. If there are no questions and the speaker has concluded, any remaining time is forfeited, and a speaker from the opposing side is recognized.

4. All speakers should identify themselves by name at the beginning of the speech.

5. Debate should be concluded ten minutes prior to the scheduled end of the session. At that point the moderator recognizes the original teams and asks them each to make a three-minute closing speech. The opponent speaks first followed by the proponent. Closing speakers may not entertain questions or yield to another speaker.

6. Following the closing speeches, the house (audience) moves to a vote on the resolution and the results are announced by the chair.

Why are opening and closing speeches 4-6 minutes., and the subsequent speeches 1-3 minutes?
These are the minimum and maximum times. After the minimum has been satisfied, the speaker may continue to use the rest of the time, or yield the rest of their time to the moderator, or open up to the audience for questions (again, only for the balance of their time).

Can an opening speaker also give a subsequent speech?
No.

Can any debate team member give a subsequent speech?
Anybody but the opening speaker. Team members who give subsequent speeches are not eligible to give the closing speech.

How do the subsequent speeches proceed?
The moderator will ask first for any subsequent speeches in support of the Affirmative team. After that speaker is recognized and has given their Affirmative speech, moderator will ask for any subsequent speeches in support of the Negative team.

What happens if the audience runs out of subsequent speeches?
A member of the audience may raise their hand, and make a motion to have a caucus. The moderator will call for a vote, and if there is a simple majority (more than half the audience), approve the motion. This is a time when the audience members in favor of the Affirmative gather for a quick huddle in one part of the hall, and audience members in favor of the Negative gather in another part of the hall to discuss strategy. During that caucus, the debate team captains may assign new subsequent speakers, chosen from the audience members who come forward to join the caucus. At that point, only subsequent speakers who have not spoken before may ask permission of the moderator to speak. However, if there are still no new subsequent speakers after a caucus, then someone who has already given a subsequent speech may raise their hand to give another.

What happens if a subsequent speaker runs out of time before completing their argument, and the moderator bangs the gavel signaling conclusion of the speech?
A member of the audience may make a motion to extend the speakers time for up to 1 min.

What happens if any speaker is obviously off-topic, or starts arguing for the other teams position?
The moderator may bang the gavel and ask the speaker to stay on topic, or conclude their speech.

What do the main speakers who presented the opening argument do during the subsequent speeches?
Remain seated at the front of the hall.

What determines the amount of time available for subsequent speeches?
The total debate time is 55 minutes. Subtract from that 12-15 min. for the opening speeches and 6-10 min. for the closing speeches, leaving 25 or more minutes for subsequent speeches.

What do the main speakers who presented the opening argument do during the closing speeches?

Yield their chairs to the closing speaker.

Who is in charge of the debate hall?
The moderator.

Is it permissible to interrupt a speaker with a question or challenge?
No.

How are subsequent speakers recognized for permission to approach the front of the hall to give their speech?
Any member of the audience may raise their hand, and then be recognized as a subsequent speaker.

What happens if an audience member, in a moment of passion, jumps up to give an impromptu speech?
The moderator will bang the gavel, and ask that person to remain seated, be quiet, and raise their hand for a turn.

What happens if the infraction is repeated?
The moderator will ask that person to leave the debate hall.

Are questions allowed to be asked of the closing speakers?
No.

How does a debate end?
After the second closing speaker has finished, the moderator will ask the audience for a show of hands in favor of the Affirmative then ask for a show of hands in favor of the Negative. Then the moderator will bang the gavel, declare whether the prompt will pass, and state that the debate is closed.

Important and fun facts about the debates:

  • Four CEU credits from the California Acupuncture Board (at no cost to attending providers) are approved for audience members who are licensed acupuncturists in the State of California.
  • There is no cost for attending the debates.
  • Judging of the debates (determining the winners) happens by audience voting (a resounding cry of aye’s or nay’s) in Round 1 and Round 2. Come to support your friends and colleagues and cheer them on to win the debates!
  • The eight teams of debating acupuncturists have been working very hard over the past three months to make their debate presentations as creative, theatrical and persuasive as possible.
  • The Master of Ceremonies (and the judge of the Grand Championship Round) will Gabriel McCulloch, an experienced debater who has competed successfully in numerous debates across the country.
    • Each team consists of at least two licensed acupuncturists, assisted by acupuncturist or student research assistants who participated in the research and development of the debate topics.

Who’s debating?

Team 1:

Johanna Altgelt LAc (Captain), assisted by Jacques Achsen LAc, Michael McCulloch LAc MPH PhD, Anthony Vrondissis and Kathrina Peterson.

Team 2:

Jennifer Ashby DAOM (Captain), assisted by Carine Camara LAc, Daniel Paige MS LAc, Danielle Teitelman LAc, Erika Lessey-Chen MS L.Ac. Dipl. Ac. CMT, Jennie Chrissman MS LAc and Marny Culpepper LAc.

Team 3:

Joseph Acquah LAc (Captain), assisted by Beverly Burns LAc and Thuraya Anastas Cable LAc

Team 4:

Jen Clemons LAc ND (Captain), assisted by Michael Broffman LAc, Kenji Hirabayashi LAc, Lumiele Kim-Hammer LAc DAOM, and Naomi Skoglund.

Team 5:

Frank Griffo MS LAc (Captain), assisted by David Caruso-Radin LAc, Christine Dao, and Kathleen Lustman-Hirsch LAc.

Team 6:

Jennifer Jackson LAc (Captain), assisted by John Kokko LAc, Alon Marcus LAc, Benjamin Zappin LAc, Sally Chang LAc DNBAO, Stephen Woodley LAc and Z’ev Rosenberg LAc.

Team 7:

Efrem Korngold OMD LAc (Captain), assisted by Anahita Forati LAc, Jumbe Allen LAc, Bina Jangda LAc, and Tracy Zollinger, LAc.

Team 8:

Jeffrey Szilagyi LAc (Captain), assisted by Rachel H. Leach PhD LAc, Sharone Franzen LAc and Rebecca Wendler LAc.

Where & when will the debates be held?

On Saturday, June 11, 9 am, at

Lick-Wilmerding High School
755 Ocean Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112

Please arrive 30 minutes early to allow adequate time for parking, and getting to your seat.