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Squirreling is the act of defining the Scope of the debate differently than it is intended to be defined, so as to throw the opponent off guard. It is generally frowned upon, and some debaters use it as a Strategy such as imabench to troll others in his debates. It is usually seen as grounds for Silent Disqualification, and is almost universally agreed as grounds for Open Disqualification.

Intentional and Unintentional Squirreling

Many people squirrel unintentionally. This is usually caused by poorly constructed resolutions, such as "This House supports equality". The opposing side can argue against absolute equality while the proposing side can promote relative equality, meaning both parties do not engage with one another except to state they are not fulfilling their burden of proof. This ambiguity in a term's meaning is an example of how buzzwords have distorted the meaning of these words, or how certain words like equality or freedom is too vague to be part of a resolution.

People also squirrel unintentionally when there is general ambiguity in words, though this is usually done intentionally. For example the infamous debate "Poop has DNA " is an example of intentional squirreling where CON reinterpreted the meaning of the phrase "DNA". This is an example of even extremely minor ambiguity being used to find a new interpretation of a debate to take it in a way that the opposition is not prepared for.

This has led to many debaters defining terms incessantly to remove all chance of squirreling. However, this creates the inverse problem of a too narrow resolution, which limits debate and discourse. Moreover, terms such as "equality" and "freedom" can be defined to have specific meanings which exclude its greater meanings (such as defining freedom to do "as you want without restriction" excludes positive liberty).

Finally, squirreling can be done intentionally to abuse a debate which has too narrow a meaning. For example, new debaters occasionally form debates along the lines of "This house believes that 2+2=4". This is a tautology. However, one can squirrel and claim these are heiroglyphs with no meaning, or that the numerical index goes "1,2,A,B,5,4,$,:),1,2,1,1,4,etc." and squirrel the debate to be winnable. This generally is seen as justified due to the impossibility of the resolution in the first place and thus takes a humourous view on the issue - however this simply is a postmodern interpretation.


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