Author Topic: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.  (Read 15219 times)

bbolman

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2012, 11:56:38 PM »
Here's a couple of debaters "manufacturing" evidence in an entirely laudable way. I didn't search the archives to see if this had been posted before, but I think it deserves mention as part of this conversation. I think it's worth noting that the distance between being neutral observers of the world of topic knowledge and contributors to it is never quite as far as it seems.

http://zizekstudies.org/index.php/ijzs/article/view/313/409



I appreciate this nod. Full disclosure as well, this paper was submitted for review before the topic was announced.

Paul Elliott Johnson

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2012, 12:13:51 AM »
that is AWESOME. cool to see debaters turning some of their interests into scholarly production.

tcram

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2012, 11:42:50 AM »
Perhaps some would disagree, but no 'disclosure' is necessary in my judgement, EVEN IF it was written during the course of the debate season or with arguments that have been made on the topic in mind.  The point is you achieved publication in an outlet with an independent review board through blind-review.  Regardless of an author's motives, arguments were subjected to a testing and validation process that is overwhelmingly judged to be legitimate by every academic institution in this country.  Chances are that trying to 'manufacture' claims that fit particular holes for competitive debate purposes would not withstand scrutiny precisely because such claims would likely be dismissed as fantastic.

This makes me laugh and think of how people would respond to the classic 'Mitchell et al' space weapons impact with 'he's a debate coach! clearly those fantastic claims should be excluded...' when quite literally nearly every sentence of that section of the paper is either a quote or a foot-note.

jgonzo

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2012, 03:50:55 PM »
Brad - I would consider disclosing this on your CV, otherwise, not a big deal. Some of my research has taken up Ranciere - find me at a tournament if you ever want to chat, etc. Very admirable work - keep it up.

Also, consider graduate work in Communication Studies. ;)

Josh.

THodgman

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2012, 12:46:06 AM »
I'd like to echo Brad's appreciation. It's awesome to see such a positive reaction from the community.

As to any discussion about Ranciere - count me in!

BrianDeLong

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2012, 11:29:16 AM »
Perhaps some would disagree, but no 'disclosure' is necessary in my judgement, EVEN IF it was written during the course of the debate season or with arguments that have been made on the topic in mind.  The point is you achieved publication in an outlet with an independent review board through blind-review.  Regardless of an author's motives, arguments were subjected to a testing and validation process that is overwhelmingly judged to be legitimate by every academic institution in this country.  Chances are that trying to 'manufacture' claims that fit particular holes for competitive debate purposes would not withstand scrutiny precisely because such claims would likely be dismissed as fantastic.

This makes me laugh and think of how people would respond to the classic 'Mitchell et al' space weapons impact with 'he's a debate coach! clearly those fantastic claims should be excluded...' when quite literally nearly every sentence of that section of the paper is either a quote or a foot-note.

I agree whole heartedly. Debaters should proactively utilize their topic research for purposes beyond the competition.

I think this issue of manufacturing evidence/or academically using research to produce arguments, begs the question of  education impacts on framework/T, if they are to hold any weight we should probably be producing members of a community who can do more than win debate rounds. If "debate coaches" and debaters can't produce well researched, well argued academic material then what are we doing here?

In the same vein of one of the purposes of open source debate, to provide a resource to communities beyond our own, I also advocate that debate teams should produce blogs that include topic related academic work. This type of academic outreach is great for graduate applications as well as expands the relevance of our community beyond the individual tournaments and rounds.

UGA's debate website is just one example that I have in mind.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 11:32:39 AM by BrianDeLong »

Ermo

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2012, 06:18:41 PM »
I think this issue of manufacturing evidence/or academically using research to produce arguments, begs the question of  education impacts on framework/T, if they are to hold any weight we should probably be producing members of a community who can do more than win debate rounds. If "debate coaches" and debaters can't produce well researched, well argued academic material then what are we doing here?

I have no problems with debaters submitting work for publication through the peer review process, even if that material has the potential to be used in debate rounds.

I think the more refined version of objections to the practice still holds some weight - debaters have more of an idea of what our community treats as a good card, and material published by debaters which is worded in a manner that seems "unusually" applicable to debate purposes may justify a greater degree of skepticism. Consider, on past topics, when debaters have tried to defend claims like "doing our AIDs-control plan in one topical country will be modeled and thus achieve worldwide solvency." Because such a claim is less useful to a health care professional, I might view it as more credible than if made by a person who knows its utility in a debate round. I know of a couple of articles written by FORMER debaters which seem intended to have some unique relevance to debate.  Of course, this ulterior motive may not be to help specific debaters win, but instead to encourage or discourage certain types of arguments - much like certain judges write their philosophies to encourage or discourage certain kinds of arguments. I think sometimes a card with an ulterior motive might not be fully scrutinized even in the peer review process because editors might view the sentence from a different perspective than debaters.

Expressing this concern doesn't signify doubts about whether debaters are able to "produce well researched, well argued academic material" - there is a mountain of evidence that former debaters have done so. Even current debaters may be ahead on the knowledge curve of some sources they cite (for example, a journalist that writes about many issues). For example, I recently moderated a public debate involving a journalist who had a lot of articles on topic under discussion. Although I didn't agree with this journalist, he was obviously well informed and quite smart. But, if you unleashed the typical college debater to research some of the studies underlying his claims, they might be ahead of him after a day of work. That's not a criticism of this journalist - it just shows that debate rewards the ability to discuss methodology questions more than opinion journalism. As a debate source, though, such a journalist has a certain kind of neutrality - he/she isn't particularly invested in whether a specific judge votes aff or neg, and is thus unlikely to write evidence intending to change the outcome. 

There's no easy solution for the concern I am raising, but I do have two suggestions. First, while debaters past and present should feel free to publish, I do think we need to maintain a community willingness to occasionally discount/dismiss a claim which seems a little too "debate relevant" in its wording. Second, and I think the more important thing, is honesty about WHO is actually speaking. The worst instances of these types I've ever heard about are cases where material authored by a debate person, presumably with a debate purpose in mind, found its way into publication under a different name. Although anonymity and pseudonyms are defensible in certain contexts, I'm not comfortable if they are used to conceal the possible "debate bias" of a source (such as a debater wanting to get a card that says "X").

tcram

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2012, 08:46:37 AM »
I agree with much of what Ermo says and I think that ultimately determining where the line is on publishing/fabricating is not as important as evolving a set of use-standards for evidence in debate.  I think that the level of our scrutiny should correlate with the type of publication we are dealing with because, while peer-review may not be a perfect protection against these 'just too good' cards, it certainly does minimize the risks to a larger degree than an online 'journal' whose publication requirements aren't much different from a blog.

I am somewhat leery of a 'discount/disqualify' standard and I wonder if the answers can be found in the tools that argumentation already (or at least should....) provide us, namely testing the strength of the conclusion based upon the grounds and reasoning provided.  The 'too good' cards become more of a problem if we abandon the tools of argument testing in favor of an unquestioned authority standard for evidence, which seems to be the predominant debate practice.  It just seems like if the claim is only for debate purposes, it would rest on very weak reasoning or grounds because it is drawing a conclusion unique to an insular activity, not the general world.  Alternatively, if strong reasons are provided, it may be a reason to believe the claim, even if it does seem too 'debate specific'.  But I agree, I can imagine instances where this method would be insufficient and it would be more productive to begin discuss the relative merits of different sources of authority.

As for the final problem of misrepresentation of source, it seems wise to police those standards because that quickly starts crossing over into ethical questions and could be cheating depending on the context.

Ermo

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2012, 11:28:09 AM »
I largely agree with T Cram. Details to follow.

I am somewhat leery of a 'discount/disqualify' standard and I wonder if the answers can be found in the tools that argumentation already (or at least should....) provide us, namely testing the strength of the conclusion based upon the grounds and reasoning provided.

Hence the word "occasionally" instead of a "standard."

The 'too good' cards become more of a problem if we abandon the tools of argument testing in favor of an unquestioned authority standard for evidence, which seems to be the predominant debate practice.  

Abandonment is the SQ. Well, that's too strong, but there is implicit deference to authority, but more explicitly deference to word choices. It is contestable and not absolute, but there IS a certain deference. Perhaps there should be, but the "debate neutrality" of an author helps justify the deference.

I say perhaps there "should be," as this deference is less to the TRUTH value of claims from authority, and more a deference to the WORK represented by researchers who have found cards with debate useful wordings and then constructed their arguments to benefit from this work. That deference is less appropriate if the cards were written with the specific construction in mind.

It just seems like if the claim is only for debate purposes, it would rest on very weak reasoning or grounds because it is drawing a conclusion unique to an insular activity, not the general world.  Alternatively, if strong reasons are provided, it may be a reason to believe the claim, even if it does seem too 'debate specific'.  

If well reasoned, I agree the reasons should be considered.

But I agree, I can imagine instances where this method would be insufficient and it would be more productive to begin discuss the relative merits of different sources of authority.

It's always productive, but speech time is always scarce. Prep time too.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 11:35:33 AM by Ermo »

tcram

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2012, 03:18:07 PM »

It's always productive, but speech time is always scarce. Prep time too.

Indeed it is, and its really easy for us to say 'oh well all we have to do is xyz instead of abc'.  The question is where we want to start teaching debaters to make these investments and pay those dividends back as judges (walking the walk as Malgor has said)

koslow

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Re: Calling bullshit on debaters manufacturing evidence.
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2012, 04:03:00 AM »
I've been reading "Navigating Opportunities: Policy Debate in the 21st Century", which is a collection of the work from the NDCD at Wake Forest a few years ago. One of the essays seems pertinent, and I was hoping y'all could comment on a question that's raised but not fully explored (since most of you have a lot more experience with and knowledge of this issue, and ideally someone from the working group that produced the work can comment). The Research and Scholarship Working Group (Gordon Mitchell, Peter Bsumek, Christian Lundberg, Michael Mangus, Ben Voth, Marie-Odile Hobeika, and Michael Jensen) describe what they call (I believe this is borrowing a phrase from Jensen) "authority 2.0." Given the proliferation of information in blogs, instantly-updated news sources, etc., "authority 2.0" tries to offer a metric to distinguish between such sources on the basis of google page-views, subscribers, and things like that.

Obviously there's a huge difference between, e.g., Daniel Drezner's blog (http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/) and someone's wordpress blog, despite Drezner going off on tangents there about Zombies or a good dis for different political candidates. A good reason for that is because Drezner has a PhD in political science, teaches at Tufts University, and maintains his blog through Foreign Policy - a widely respected journal. Such measures seem to be "authority 1.0". However, I think there are also good authority 2.0 reasons to prefer Drezner's blog posts. Because of his wide readership, for example. Perhaps a better example is the blog Feministing (http://feministing.com/). They have a lot of very qualified (in the sense of authority 1.0) authors, but also authors who would be disregarded under authority 1.0. But even those purportedly unqualified authors on Feministing - in my opinion - should be granted a level of authority under authority 2.0 standards.

The Research and Scholarship Working Group describes how we can encourage debaters and coaches to produce scholarship, and they offer a lot of ideas which I agree with 99%. But how this all applies to debate rounds isn't an issue they concern themselves with. My question is how that can be used in debate, or whether it even applies. I think "Our author has 200,000 pageviews, your author only has 5,000 pageviews" is an asinine argument, but these authority 2.0 standards make an important distinction, and I don't think all blog posts are equal.