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Too many debaters rely on web search. As we’ve argued before (here, here, here, and here), books are the most important sources to explore. Lectures and MOOCs are great, too. But you should also be following or regularly visiting some sites to get up-to-date info and analysis that you can use to relate to your audience or challenge existing thinking.

Especially true for parli, economics, extemp, and current events, here are the top 5 sources I’d be following as a debater right now.

1. Gallup

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.51.26 PMGallup is one of the top data companies in the world. Gallup runs survey after survey after survey, but they also analyze market trends and provide expertise and opinion on relevant issues.

By way of example, check out their CEO’s latest op-ed on how the 5.6% unemployment number is a big fat lie (hint: take his three best reasons, remember them, and use them in a parli or NCFCA-LD round next week!). They’ve also got some nicely laid out info boards.

Their Twitter feeds are pretty epic as well.

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2. Fivethirtyeight.com

Founded by Nate Silver, of out-predicting everyone on the 2008 election fame (and “top 100 influential people” list honoree in 2009), fivethirtyeight.com uses freakonomics-style thinking to question, prove, and probe a range of political and economic topics. For example, turn on the “politics” filter on their data lab.

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I recommend following fivethirtyeight.com’s Twitter feed or subscribe to their weekly email newsletter.

3. National Intelligence Council

These folks are tougher to follow, but their resources are amazing. Put up with the bad UI (it’s government, after all) and dig into the content for a treasure trove of info. Click through their oddly-organized blog (or subscribe via RSS), or follow their Twitter for the types of things professional analysts think about when it comes to current events.

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The best documents ever published by NIC, in my opinion, are their predictions of the future (see the 2030 or 2025 global trends reports, as examples).

4. Walter Russell Mead Blog

I’m not a fan of punditry. Sometimes this blog goes there, so use judgment, but on economic and foreign policy issues, WRM’s analysis is well-grounded in history (he has several great books on foreign policy history) and has surprising conclusions you won’t arrive at on your own.

5. The Economist “Graphic Detail” Blog

Charts, graphs, and infographics from the Economist! Yay—get RSS, subscribe via almost anything including email or twitter. They’ve even got videographics.

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You can’t follow or read everything out there, but you shouldn’t just rely on “search when you need it.” Stay fresh on things you don’t know to look for by following a few high-quality sources. The good news is, if you follow even just these sources, you never have to watch CNN or Fox again.

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