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National High School Debate Community Once Again Rejects Space as Topic Choice

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So what are the potential merits of these topics? There's probably a lot of recent lit about health care considering the election, and poverty... err... Ks will be decent I guess. Trying to stay optimistic.

Opinions?

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That's a good question, though, why is it not left up to those that actually debate? Should it not be our right to pick the resolution, given that debaters are, obviously, the crux of policy debate?

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why have two domestic topics in a row?

 

Both these topics really do suck. HC is kinda cool but It has to be written in a way that gives the AFF flexibility- having 3 aff's would be super boring. And who wants to hear the socialism DA every debate.

 

Immigration or Space would have been tight. K debates on both poverty and hc are gonna be boring. Oh well.

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You seem to be under the delusion that the Cross-x.com community is in ANY way representative of the high school debate community. It is not. The students who travel the national circuit, or who ever attend any TOC-level tournament, for example, are less than 10% of all the high school debaters in the country.

 

What? That does not make sense. Cross-x.com isn't a perfect representative of what current HS debaters think, but it's a pretty reasonable one. Seriously, it's representative at least in SOME even if minor way, so only your comments seem out of touch. Your warrant here is that NC debaters are 10% of the community, well how is that relevant, it just means they are only around ten percent of this site's posters as well.

 

You presume patrons of cross-x.com constitute a representative sample of the high school coaching community who casts votes on the resolution. I can assure you there are many coaches who have never visited this site.

I didn't presume that, I agree with your point and I was pointing out that it's a problem. It's way easier to get younger debaters excited about space than social services for the poor . Even if coaches think it'd be a good general area for students to learn, that's ignoring how strategic constraints means we learn only about a very skewed part of the topic: medflags on africa topic was big because of the US key warrant, 'real' discussions of aids or assistance plans not as much.. It'll be the same with states, because no one really cares if we learn how to solve poverty or , we'll just find a 'debate-stategic' social service with fed key warrants Edited by Synergy

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*sigh* this is extremely dissapointing. I was hoping for Space but i guess ill run one off Cap with Poverty next year...=(

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. Cross-x.com isn't a perfect representative of what current HS debaters think, but it's a pretty reasonable one. Seriously, it's representative at least in SOME even if minor way,

 

And your warrants for that statement would be......??????

 

I've been involved in HS debate for 44 years; I've been to tournaments in at least 25 different states. I know coaches in almost every state of the US. I suspect that I have a little bit deeper and wider view of what debate as an activity is than virtually any HS or even college student.

 

There are vast numbers of teams in the activity who never come near this site; the regular posters on this site disproportionately come from a fairly narrow range of the activity. I've been active on the Cross-x site for over 8 years, and on virtually every topic vote the forum members are dissatisfied with the vote. I submit that is more or less circumstantial evidence that there is indeed a difference between what this forum's members want and what the community at large wants.

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Without an explanation as to why debater's on this forum would specifically lean toward space, you can't win any sort of bias.

 

Unless there is some lurking variable (feel free to name one, if you can come up with one), the debaters on this site are representative of the community as a whole.

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What? That does not make sense. Cross-x.com isn't a perfect representative of what current HS debaters think, but it's a pretty reasonable one. Seriously, it's representative at least in SOME even if minor way, so only your comments seem out of touch. Your warrant here is that NC debaters are 10% of the community, well how is that relevant, it just means they are only around ten percent of this site's posters as well.

 

I didn't presume that, I agree with your point and I was pointing out that it's a problem. It's way easier to get younger debaters excited about space than social services for the poor . Even if coaches think it'd be a good general area for students to learn, that's ignoring how strategic constraints means we learn only about a very skewed part of the topic: medflags on africa topic was big because of the US key warrant, 'real' discussions of aids or assistance plans not as much.. It'll be the same with states, because no one really cares if we learn how to solve poverty or , we'll just find a 'debate-stategic' social service with fed key warrants

 

I love agreeing with you most of the time, but Hartney is right. The circuit is comprised of a very very small percentage of schools. The active membership of this site is very heavily biased towards students who travel, if not circuit at least regionally.

 

If nothing else, think of what Sara Sanchez said... and remember that there are a lot more red states than blue states. In fact, go to previous final ballots by state... you'll see a trend. I believe that the national service rez was selected almost entirely along party lines for that year or most recent election cycle or something....

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I judged a lot of rounds on the space topic before. Why do you guys like space so much?

 

It's a good question.

 

Generally, debaters (and youngish coaches) like it for bad reasons.

 

It seems close to big impacts. It also involves a lot of sort of cool-sounding sci-fi stuff - helium three mining, space colonies, asteroid impact prevention, et cetera.

 

That all makes for wicked cool 1ACs. Which, you know, is fine, as far as it goes. Which is eight minutes.

 

Unfortunately, this topic would have been marred by a genuine absence of current scholarly debate on the subject.

 

There are PROPOSALS - affs. Some people will speculate rabidly on a particular tech, or someone else will advance a proposal in order to attract funding. No one bothers refuting though - it gets funded or it doesn't. The bulk of the literature's very aff because it's either from Congressional funding requests or "gee-whiz" sites and journals.

 

With the exception of space militarization (which was actually slightly peripheral) there isn't a ton of debate (which means both aff and neg) on the topic. Honestly, no one really cares that much about your solar sail proposal, sorry. Health care and energy policy have direct and immediate relevance to people's lives. Moon rocks matter to space nerds, but not so much to the rest of us.

 

Health care actually has both aff and neg literature. It has deep, deep policy detail. Plan v. CP debates will be intricate, wonky, intelligent, and genuinely impressive. Competing health care proposal honestly require more intelligence and depth of research than "moon creatures vs. the Japan CP".

 

I know, I know, you were all jazzed for some wack job 1AC about moon bunnies or helium or reject planet Pluto. I'm half a wack job myself; I get it.

 

That's not the test though. Your 1AC doesn't matter. It's an evaluation of the likely competing LAST REBUTTALS - and health care's a clear winner there.

 

PS:

 

I'm old. I DEBATED space and judged health care. Health care's better - trust me.

Edited by Antonucci23
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I've been active on the Cross-x site for over 8 years, and on virtually every topic vote the forum members are dissatisfied with the vote. I submit that is more or less circumstantial evidence that there is indeed a difference between what this forum's members want and what the community at large wants.

 

hahahah

 

You're right about everything, as usual, but it's worth noting that EVERY debate community is dissatisfied with EVERY topic vote. That's true in CEDA too, where the voting process is considerably more representative.

 

Bottom line: people mostly just like to complain because it's a fun thing you can do. It's just not cool to be excited about a topic; it's much hipper to whine about the wording, at a minimum.

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Without an explanation as to why debater's on this forum would specifically lean toward space, you can't win any sort of bias.

 

Unless there is some lurking variable (feel free to name one, if you can come up with one), the debaters on this site are representative of the community as a whole.

 

TRIPLE POST MADNESS.

 

Sorry, I won't do it again for a while.

 

Your conception of the burden of proof here is wack, though.

 

If you are trying to prove that a particular poll or sample's not very good, "insufficient sample size" adequately contests its accuracy. You don't need a supplemental narrative about the tiny self-selecting sample's bias. I'm a genuinely compulsive poll watcher; don't mess with me on this :).

 

No one really knows how cross-x.com biases results. We can speculate* but who really cares? It's a small sample size with some sort of weird filter, so it's a bad poll that we conduct for fun. I'm sorry if debaters got confused and thought it was a REAL VOTE THAT'S CRUCIAL TO DEMOCRACY AND OUR FREEDOMS, but it's not.

 

* speculation: cross-x membership disproportionately skews national circuitish, camp attending, and really really nerdy. each of those skews favors space because it has huge impacts and military debates that are fast and weird and nerdy. Personally, I just prefer wonky to nerdy - wonky is what happens when nerds get jobs.

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Ive always wondered how the aff stands a chance vs a large politics disad when a large portion of the judging community at the national circuit level views things strictly through an offense defense paradigm. Without some K offense, how do aff teams beat counterplans that solve most of the aff with only a non-quantifiable solvency deficet and a large net benefit?

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There are PROPOSALS - affs. Some people will speculate rabidly on a particular tech, or someone else will advance a proposal in order to attract funding. No one bothers refuting though - it gets funded or it doesn't. The bulk of the literature's very aff because it's either from Congressional funding requests or "gee-whiz" sites and journals.

 

With the exception of space militarization (which was actually slightly peripheral) there isn't a ton of debate (which means both aff and neg) on the topic. Honestly, no one really cares that much about your solar sail proposal, sorry. Health care and energy policy have direct and immediate relevance to people's lives. Moon rocks matter to space nerds, but not so much to the rest of us.

 

My recollections of the space topic are, at the beginning of the year, everybody was running a really cool sci-fi sounding aff (moon bases, trips to mars, space colonies), but by the end virtually everybody was running the same three cases (the effectually topical education case, SETI, or asteroid mapping). The big plans sounded cool, but there were huge solvency problems and copious disad links.

 

Health care actually has both aff and neg literature. It has deep, deep policy detail. Plan v. CP debates will be intricate, wonky, intelligent, and genuinely impressive. Competing health care proposal honestly require more intelligence and depth of research than "moon creatures vs. the Japan CP".

 

...I'm old. I DEBATED space and judged health care. Health care's better - trust me.

 

I was judging a lot on the health care topic too. At least regionally, I remember everybody running the same rationing case (by everyone, I mean this literally-- I remember judging at two or three tournaments where this was the only aff I heard).

 

Were I to vote it would be for poverty, which is fairly close in spirit to the old homeless topic (a wide literature base, multiple viable approaches, and genuine philosophical disagreement about the ends and means of the whole idea). Either poverty or health care is preferable to space, however; topics that sound cool in the abstract seldom are in practice.

 

Matt

Edited by mld

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It's a good question.

 

Generally, debaters (and youngish coaches) like it for bad reasons.

 

It seems close to big impacts. It also involves a lot of sort of cool-sounding sci-fi stuff - helium three mining, space colonies, asteroid impact prevention, et cetera.

 

That all makes for wicked cool 1ACs. Which, you know, is fine, as far as it goes. Which is eight minutes.

 

Unfortunately, this topic would have been marred by a genuine absence of current scholarly debate on the subject.

 

There are PROPOSALS - affs. Some people will speculate rabidly on a particular tech, or someone else will advance a proposal in order to attract funding. No one bothers refuting though - it gets funded or it doesn't. The bulk of the literature's very aff because it's either from Congressional funding requests or "gee-whiz" sites and journals.

 

With the exception of space militarization (which was actually slightly peripheral) there isn't a ton of debate (which means both aff and neg) on the topic. Honestly, no one really cares that much about your solar sail proposal, sorry. Health care and energy policy have direct and immediate relevance to people's lives. Moon rocks matter to space nerds, but not so much to the rest of us.

 

Health care actually has both aff and neg literature. It has deep, deep policy detail. Plan v. CP debates will be intricate, wonky, intelligent, and genuinely impressive. Competing health care proposal honestly require more intelligence and depth of research than "moon creatures vs. the Japan CP".

 

I know, I know, you were all jazzed for some wack job 1AC about moon bunnies or helium or reject planet Pluto. I'm half a wack job myself; I get it.

 

That's not the test though. Your 1AC doesn't matter. It's an evaluation of the likely competing LAST REBUTTALS - and health care's a clear winner there.

 

PS:

 

I'm old. I DEBATED space and judged health care. Health care's better - trust me.

 

 

Beg to differ. I havent seen anyone outside of local-esque debate run anything remotely relevant to the 1ac in about a decade.

 

Debaters dont give a hoot about what the 1ac says as long as it gives them a fabulously imaginary link to a disad which has about less probability of occurring than you spontaneously combusting. No one argues case on the circuit anymore. Dont take this the wrong way, but its rather comical that you think the typical neg strategy of most any circuit debater is in any way shape or form responsive to the aff case. Space or healthcare, functionally no one on the circuit plans on debating the case. So what does it matter?

 

I realize that we have different ideas of what constitutes good debate let alone good arguments... but I should think that 'on face clash' should supercede our differences and I havent seen it in more than a decade. Its dead. No one teaches it and no one practices it on the circuit. Scholarly debate is largely absent in modern debate - its more focused on sneaky attempts and garnering concessions by strategic maneuverings and argumentation strategy than possessing a mastery of a superior argument... or worse still, milking drops from your opponent.

 

One could argue that on space one ill have less than perfect links to neg arguments. Well, to that I say go take a long hard look at almost every politics disad since 1995. Bob Dole has won more Presidential elections than the number of good politics links in existence.

 

Quality of arguments is completely irrelevant in modern debate - we have long since transitioned to quality of argumentation. And in that regard, the quality of evidence and links just doesnt matter. Dont fool yourself into thinking that a more topic specific resolution will produce superior arguments.

 

I am hesitant to agree with your analysis.

Edited by Ankur

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Health care has it's own problems, I mean there is a decent chance that Obama wins with a supermajority and passes pretty substantial health care reform right after the votes are tallied in January, the saving grace there is that the lit is better and even if Obama passes 100% of his plan it's not like he advocates single payer or something, so there are still inherent affs.

 

Inherent aff's don't necessarily mean uniqueness for disads.

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Inherent aff's don't necessarily mean uniqueness for disads.

 

Agreed, that is definitely a problem.

 

I also don't want my post to be seen as an advocacy that words like "universal" should be in resolutions, I don't think they should, but health care is still better than poverty.

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Sara, I think you underestimate the strength of the health insurance lobby. I'm not sure health care will be number one on his domestic policy agenda to begin with (I'm thinking energy might come first), but even if it's health care, I think there will be many months (more likely years) of hearings and haggling.

 

And I agree with you; even if he passes something, the topic could easily morph to advocacy of universal health care. Or even advocacy of something like McCain's silly plan. If health care is debated in Congress enough to adopt some version of Obama's plan, there will be plenty of literature for teams to go a different direction.

 

And I don't think health care is that small. It depends on the topic wording or course, but I foresee a lot of single disease type cases: universal hypertension screening. Needle exchanges. Require all health plans that cover Viagra to also cover contraceptives (believe it or not, some don't, and there's literature). Improve medical information sharing. I think under the right topic, you could run a lot of public health cases, too: decrease mercury in the water supply or ban fluoride.

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Beg to differ. I havent seen anyone outside of local-esque debate run anything remotely relevant to the 1ac in about a decade.

 

Debaters dont give a hoot about what the 1ac says as long as it gives them a fabulously imaginary link to a disad which has about less probability of occurring than you spontaneously combusting. No one argues case on the circuit anymore. Dont take this the wrong way, but its rather comical that you think the typical neg strategy of most any circuit debater is in any way shape or form responsive to the aff case. Space or healthcare, functionally no one on the circuit plans on debating the case. So what does it matter?

 

I realize that we have different ideas of what constitutes good debate let alone good arguments... but I should think that 'on face clash' should supercede our differences and I havent seen it in more than a decade. Its dead. No one teaches it and no one practices it on the circuit. Scholarly debate is largely absent in modern debate - its more focused on sneaky attempts and garnering concessions by strategic maneuverings and argumentation strategy than possessing a mastery of a superior argument... or worse still, milking drops from your opponent.

 

One could argue that on space one ill have less than perfect links to neg arguments. Well, to that I say go take a long hard look at almost every politics disad since 1995. Bob Dole has won more Presidential elections than the number of good politics links in existence.

 

Quality of arguments is completely irrelevant in modern debate - we have long since transitioned to quality of argumentation. And in that regard, the quality of evidence and links just doesnt matter. Dont fool yourself into thinking that a more topic specific resolution will produce superior arguments.

 

I am hesitant to agree with your analysis.

 

Regardless of the truth of your statements, I don't see their relevance to the discussion at hand.

 

OK, you think debate's problematic or bad. Sure. If you think that, you think that.

 

It doesn't give us much of a metric for measuring the relative worth of the topics.

 

I gather from your post that you like direct clash that engages the case. If that's the case, you should probably favor a narrowly constrained health care topic, as it contains a wealth of competing proposals which would reward debaters who discussed, for example, the relative merits of privatization vs. a single payer system.

 

I think we agree.

 

Perhaps it my training in the paradigm that you dislike, but this all reads like defense to me - solvency arguments against debate, no arguments for space.

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And I agree with you; even if he passes something, the topic could easily morph to advocacy of universal health care. Or even advocacy of something like McCain's silly plan. If health care is debated in Congress enough to adopt some version of Obama's plan, there will be plenty of literature for teams to go a different direction.

 

It's not a morph, the resolution says "universal health care."

 

I definitely hear you re: the health care lobby, but Ben is still right, he will definitely pass something, depending on the chances of a supermajority it could be big, and it's going to create uniqueness problems.

 

That said, I STILL want it over poverty.

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why have two domestic topics in a row?

Traditionally, foreign policy topics are every 3rd year:

  • 1995-96: China*
  • 1996-97: Juvenile Crime
  • 1997-98: Renewable energy
  • 1998-99: Russia*
  • 1999-00: Education
  • 2000-01: Privacy
  • 2001-02: WMD*
  • 2002-03: Mental health
  • 2003-04: Oceans (which was quasi-international)
  • 2004-05: Peacekeeping*
  • 2005-06: Civil liberties
  • 2006-07: National service
  • 2007-08: Africa*
  • 2008-09: Alternative energy

So we are in line for a domestic topic next year. Space would count as domestic, even though it has obvious international elements. That is why it is a "sexy" topic, along with the reasons Antonucci mentioned. The fancy of every second year debater who went to camp last summer or people who are excited about rounds about aliens and lasers and big, unrealistic impacts is EXACTLY why the community as a whole rejected the space topic.

 

I feel like some topics (the federal elections topic choice, for example) are written to undercut the move towards large and silly impacts and disads, but don't help move back to the case debate world that Ankur loves. For example, mental health and poverty topics called for a lot of moral and K debates, which aren't traditional policy anymore than space would be. So we'll see what comes out next year.

 

Someone asked if debaters shouldn't get to pick the topic: I'm not sure the results would have been a lot different assuming we asked ALL debaters and not just the ones at TOCs or on this forum. But no, debaters should not pick the topics: we should be relying on the wisdom of coaches, who are supposed to be educators, and have more depth of experience to know what will or will not be a good topic.

 

Hopefully, they are right.

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wow...true disappointment. I was looking forward to doing work on space :-( but oh well. On another note, I cannot imagine how the space topic would really play out, and I can fully understand the choices made for next year's resolution. Also, polls from cross-x are really irrelevant, i simply want to echo antonucci on this...

 

On another note, to respond to some of the things ankur has said... I certainly don't think "quality of arguments" is lacking in modern debate, as ankur has stated, and I really think that statement does a disservice to debaters who do take the time to get specific. Maybe if you are watching bad debates then rounds are won on tricky inflations of little concessions or dropped arguments, but I really don't think that comparison is a legitimate one for the debate community as a whole. Also, no responsive case strats? are you kidding? have you seen damien impact turn the 1AC for 8 minutes, and not just damien, many teams have been winning on adv. counterplan and case turns this year... i really don't know where you are getting this from, and while it may be true in certain circumstances, it is definitely not descriptive of the entire debate community. Finally, I would agree that debate has focused on quality of "argumentation" as opposed to the quality of the arguments themselves, yet, people often gain lot of headway in debates just by pointing out the non-existence of internals to politics disads etc. People win on bad arguments, but case specific strategies and case specific research certainly exists, and if your links suck, your probably not going win debates (at least against better teams).

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It's not a morph, the resolution says "universal health care."

 

I definitely hear you re: the health care lobby, but Ben is still right, he will definitely pass something, depending on the chances of a supermajority it could be big, and it's going to create uniqueness problems.

 

That said, I STILL want it over poverty.

 

My mistake. I thought actual topic wording came later in the year.

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The space topic would have allowed for a thorough examination of America's space policy - which goes far beyond "..aliens and big lasers..." (as one coach stated)

It's a shame that people rejected a topic that allowed for discussion of the next generation of launch vehicles, the future implications for use of military space, the possible benefits (and detriments) to operationally responsive space, the emergence of a civilian launch sector and that effect on the space program, etc...

 

At SPACE 2008 - the nation's largest space policy conference, we talked about things like the role of space in global climate change, the role of military space in the nation's security infrastructure, the intersection of the commercial/civil/military space sectors, etc. Next year, in '09, we'll be talking about how space has the promise to transform the american workforce, the role of space in the evironmental protection movement, how space tech will decrease fossile fuel dependence, etc...a lot of issues..a lot of good debate. (contrary to one person's statement - there are actually scholars who do care, and do debate space issues - there also military and corporate experts that do the same...)

 

The rejection of space shows that science is really becoming a backwater in America. As enrollment in STEM subjects at the collegiate level declines, as fewer research slots go filled because of a lack of qualified candidates, and as fewer kids in the K-12, 7-12 level, actually chose to tackle advanced subjects in math and science, we will see America's technical edge decline - we will already be lagging behind China and India within 20 years if we continue on this path we are on. Space represented a chance to maybe attract some public interest and possibly to help reverse the decline. And, that, coupled to industry cooperation would have made this a very dynamic topic.

 

But no..it's far too easy to wail about poor people and single payer health care, than it is to consider more complex, tech issue. Ah well...

Edited by hylanddd

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