Jump to content
CongratulationsDamien

Standards for Evidence

Recommended Posts

The NDCA, as an open, democratically elected and largely bureaucracy-free organization, is likely the most logical candidate to promulgate some norms re: evidence, cross-reading, etc. I don't think that they have any particular enforcement power (outside of the NDCA National Championship), but I think that many/most community members would appreciate their guidance.

 

What's this supposed to accomplish? The NDT says "T is a voting issue"; this does nothing to help teams facing untopical/performance affs at the NDT. The UN makes a lot of declarations.. you see where I'm going with this. What would this NDCA declaration say? 1. If it's "cheating is bad, you shouldn't lie about who wrote your evidence", this is already established that you shouldn't cheat. If it's a true norm, it doesn't need codification. Even though there's no real disadvantage to it, it's just not necessary for the NDCA to say cheating is bad. 2. If you hope that they'll say something more like "using emails / other sources is disallowed" then you are wrong that community members would "appreciate their guidance." Obviously there is much debate over this issue online among debaters, and while the people that agree with whatever NDCA announces would indeed appreciate it, those who do no entirely agree would perceive it as unfair for NDCA to claim to represent all of the community while marginalizing their points of view. 3. It would be better to suggest solutions that would actually be useful to someone having to answer a card from an email or blog comment. Maybe there could be a ten minute reserve of time either team could call up that would allow the judge/debater to find that card online to ascertain what kind of source it's from and whether one could simply submit something with a fake name and fake quals on that website.

 

did skarb modify his judging philosophy on the wiki Monday to include this:

 

Publishing articles specifically tailored for my team to use at the TOC under a pseudonym: This is illegit? Why didn't anyone tell me?

 

 

whats up with this?

It's probably a joke, since anyone can edit a wikipage.

Edited by Synergy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(Don't reply to this post saying we can change consensus among judges for intervening against this – debate judges don't agree on anything and i can't think of anything in debate that has been successfully disallowed, it only works the other way.)

 

I'll attempt to refrain from editorializing and stick to the facts.

 

Community consensus has disallowed or altered a number of practices.

 

1. Cross-reading's substantially more controlled than it once was.

2. Outright evidence fabrication is actually far more rare than it once was, although this is admittedly more a technological phenomenon than a product of community consensus.

3. Double wins and losses were briefly allowed, and quickly disallowed.

4. Racist and sexist speech were far more common, and no one thought twice about cards that described the human species as "mankind."

 

I can probably think of more examples, but I think you catch my point.

 

Norms do, in fact, catch up. Debate is a small community, and its norms are both more uniform and more plastic than your limited experience might lead you to suspect.

Edited by Antonucci23

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

re (5): I don't see a clear temporal line. I suppose "google-a-bility" (has it been hit by crawlers yet?) might be an acceptable standard, but that's awfully variable and hazy. What's the impact to dropping the interview for your new aff the night before the tournament? You'll still get lambasted after the fact if it's a lie.

 

 

This is one reason, of several, that I think email evidence should be disallowed. Not because it might be a lie, or not just because of it. But because it substantially alters the predictable literature base. You can read enough articles about alternative energy to have a great understanding of the topic and to anticipate new affs. But if everybody starts emailing authors, even if qualified, and all of a sudden there are twenty more people creating definitions of alternative energy as including x random technology that there is otherwise no support for, this creates an unbelievable burden for everyone.

 

It is not reasonable to me to expect the neg to be prepared for all affs reflected in the literature AND every aff possibility that some enterprising 2a has emailed every author he or she can find about, or has led authors in the direction of creating new topicality evidence. I don't think it's reasonable at all, regardless of temporality, but posting something the night before is worse, few teams will ever know about it or be able to prepare.

 

There is a norm that new affs aren't disclosed; that the neg should understand the literature enough to anticipate many affs. But it is completely unreasonable to expect the neg to anticipate email questions, given the infinite direction those questions can take. Springing email evidence on someone is unacceptable to me.

 

Another major issue about email evidence is it seems the majority of it, at least the majority that I am aware of, has to do with topicality, as in "please use the following terms in a sentence, do you think this idea I have can be reflected in those terms?" or the like. Whatever an author may be an expert in, it's pretty clear they are not an expert in topicality, or even know what it means. Getting an author to agree that something is / isn't topical is a manipulation of the literature, not something that is independently educational.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What's this supposed to accomplish?

 

Articulate a clear norm about what constitutes cheating.

 

The NDT says "T is a voting issue"; this does nothing to help teams facing untopical/performance affs at the NDT.

 

I believe that the NDT badly over-reached by attempting substantive regulation. I have distinguished between formal ethical constraints that are necessary for transparent playing of the game and substantive regulation above.

 

The UN makes a lot of declarations.. you see where I'm going with this.

 

Toward a parade of similarly mediocre analogies, I would suspect?

 

What would this NDCA declaration say? 1. If it's "cheating is bad, you shouldn't lie about who wrote your evidence", this is already established that you shouldn't cheat. If it's a true norm, it doesn't need codification. Even though there's no real disadvantage to it, it's just not necessary for the NDCA to say cheating is bad.

 

I believe that codification of norms through democratically elected representatives is good. I think that an articulation of real norms helps everyone have equal access to what's allowed and disallowed in these academic competitions.

 

2. If you hope that they'll say something more like "using emails / other sources is disallowed" then you are wrong that community members would "appreciate their guidance." Obviously there is much debate over this issue online among debaters, and while the people that agree with whatever NDCA announces would indeed appreciate it, those who do no entirely agree would perceive it as unfair for NDCA to claim to represent all of the community while marginalizing their points of view.

 

I do not believe that you speak for many educators.

 

I think there is a fair consensus on some of these points. On other ones, a degree of regulation would help to constrain abuse.

 

For example, I believe that I came pretty early to using posted evidence from private correspondence with authors. When I did so, I would have really appreciated some sort of guidelines to guarantee community acceptance of my practice. If a viable set of guidelines existed, I certainly would have adhered to them, and I believe Damien debaters who used email evidence would have done the same.

 

3. It would be better to suggest solutions that would actually be useful to someone having to answer a card from an email or blog comment. Maybe there could be a ten minute reserve of time either team could call up that would allow the judge/debater to find that card online to ascertain what kind of source it's from and whether one could simply submit something with a fake name and fake quals on that website.

 

I do not think that adding ten minutes to every round and further delaying tournaments is a particularly viable or humane solution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll attempt to refrain from editorializing and stick to the facts.

 

Community consensus has disallowed or altered a number of practices.

 

1. Cross-reading's substantially more controlled than it once was.

2. Outright evidence fabrication is actually far more rare than it once was, although this is admittedly more a technological phenomenon than a product of community consensus.

3. Double wins and losses were briefly allowed, and quickly disallowed.

4. Racist and sexist speech were far more common, and no one thought twice about cards that described the human species as "mankind."

 

I can probably think of more examples, but I think you catch my point.

 

Norms do, in fact, catch up. Debate is a small community, and its norms are both more uniform and more plastic than your limited experience might lead to suspect.

Yes, I agree that there are very many norms that have evolved in debate. My point was that this doesn't equate to disallowing these things or cause every judge to intervene against them every time. The fact that most judges will intervene against fake cards also proves why NDCA doesn't need to codify any norm. Tournament invites/rules generally don't contain things like don't cheat, don't fake or clip cards, but many judges say they would still vote against a team doing that because that is a norm. Norms have been successful at reducing the frequency of bad things, but that's why the status quo solves in this particular instance (everyone, even Skarb agrees it's illegit to do what he did, that's why he lied about it) so there's no need for a NDCA declaration. As for other things like emails, there isn't a very clear norm, so codifying something that's not a clear norm would be perceived a pushing it and only provoke backlash.

 

For example, I believe that I came pretty early to using posted evidence from private correspondence with authors. When I did so, I would have really appreciated some sort of guidelines to guarantee community acceptance of my practice. If a viable set of guidelines existed, I certainly would have adhered to them, and I believe Damien debaters who used email evidence would have done the same.

I take it you're in favor of emails. What if the NDCA, after their deliberative process, includes emails in the sources that shouldn't be read? Would you adhere to this and never use an email again, or would you post a thread here arguing against the NDCA making this decision? Edited by Synergy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, I agree that there are very many norms that have evolved in debate. My point was that this doesn't equate to disallowing these things or cause every judge to intervene against them every time. The fact that most judges will intervene against fake cards also proves why NDCA doesn't need to codify any norm. Tournament invites/rules generally don't contain things like don't cheat, don't fake or clip cards, but many judges say they would still vote against a team doing that because that is a norm. Norms have been successful at reducing the frequency of bad things, but that's why the status quo solves in this particular instance (everyone, even Skarb agrees it's illegit to do what he did, that's why he lied about it) so there's no need for a NDCA declaration. As for other things like emails, there isn't a very clear norm, so codifying something that's not a norm would be perceived a pushing the norm and only prove backlash.

 

Your initial point, actually, had nothing to do with codification.

 

I think it is incredibly useful to be as clear, precise, and explicit as humanly possible when the academic reputation of schools and individuals may be at stake.

 

An ideological embrace of free-market principles doesn't advance the discussion when human beings are the externalities.

 

I take it you're in favor of emails. What if the NDCA, after their deliberative process, includes emails in the sources that shouldn't be read? Would you adhere to this and never use an email again, or would you post a thread here arguing against the NDCA making this decision?

 

I would suck it up and deal. The impact to clarifying processes that may endanger careers far outweighs the benefits of a few good email convos.

 

I play a lot of games, and I don't take my toys and go home if people won't adhere to my preferred rules variations.

 

I would also argue against the rule through available open and democratic processes, in hopes of producing the rules variations that I felt were more educational.

Edited by Antonucci23
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think most judges err on the side of caution in trying to ensure high quality cites when other teams are called out on the question, at least in my experience. In fact, I'm probably one of the few people in this discussion who has won a debate on the quality of a cite: at Harvard two or three years ago, the other team (two debaters who we were very good friends with and who, I'm totally sure, did not mean to do anything unethical) had emailed an expert to ask him, essentially, "is our plan topical?" and posted his response on an imdb.com message board. We won on a 3-0 (with Antonucci and Heidt judging, which is kind of funny. I think Roy might have been the third judge? Can't remember.), not because anyone conclusively believed that the evidence was faked, but because the possibility that it was made it unreliable enough that it wasn't evaluated, and it was their only substantive answer to topicality. I don't think that's an unusual conclusion to reach.

 

Given that it doesn't take all that much for a judge to throw out a piece of evidence, I think that by far the most significant question is this: how can we detect bad evidence in rounds?

 

I have no easy answer to that question. I'll leave it up to people much smarter than me to figure it out. But it seems way, way more important to figure that question out, since while we can convince judges to reject bad evidence with arguments inside the debate, identifying it when it happens could be much more difficult.

Edited by WoodenTaco
  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think most judges err on the side of caution in trying to ensure high quality cites when other teams are called out on the question, at least in my experience. In fact, I'm probably one of the few people in this discussion who has won a debate on the quality of a cite: at Harvard two or three years ago, the other team (two debaters who we were very good friends with and who, I'm totally sure, did not mean to do anything unethical) had emailed someone to ask them, essentially, "is our plan topical?" and posted his response on an imdb.com message board. We won on a 3-0 (with Antonucci and Heidt judging, which is kind of funny. I think Roy might have been the third judge? Can't remember.), not because anyone conclusively believed that the evidence was faked, but because the possibility that it was made it unreliable enough that it wasn't evaluated, and it was their only substantive answer to topicality. I don't think that's an unusual conclusion to reach.

 

The third judge was Andy Nolan. In the octafinals, you and Josh lost a hotly-contested 2-1 to Westminster in which they went for the Heidegger K against your Science Good affirmative. Avery Dale sat out for you; Scott Phillips and someone I can't remember voted for them. Y'all debated really well at that tournament.

 

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programming. I'm going to post more about some of these issues on http://www.the3nr.com/... this has been (and continues to be) a really useful discussion, I think.

 

~Bill

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

okay, so the changes to skarp's judging philosophy were not me (check my IP address for confirmation), but sorry about that. totally inappopriate and unnecessary. i apoligize on the behalf of gds.

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding emails: if we think that they can be beneficial, but risky, a way to try and hedge against the bad parts is to draft a community agreed upon paragraph that explained the nature of debate and the impact email conversations might have on it. It should also include and explanation that the intent of the conversation is to be used as evidence in a round and that it will not be used unless explicit consent is given.

 

Include this universal disclaimer along with the questions you ask, and post the emails both asking the questions and the response in a public space and I think you avoid some of the risky things associated with emails.

 

This would also be verifiable-a simple email to the author asking if the person actually included the disclaimer in their email could quickly confirm or deny any suspicions.

 

If this were to be accepted the standard would be clear cut and simple: if you include the disclaimer and they acknowledge it, then the email is legit as long as it is posted in a public debate area.

 

 

 

If this system were adopted I think that legitimate email exchanges could occur and we might see more evidence from real experts rather than random sources.

 

2 other suggestions:

 

1. A standard for how long in advance of a tournament the evidence must be posted for it to be eligible, so others could have time to correspond with other experts to produce the possible answers necessary.

 

2. Make it a rule that if you wish to read email evidence, you must also read the entirety of the questions you asked in the previous email during the round, not just have it available if they wish to see it. This would allow for evidence comparisons such as "you are asking leading questions...the author is not advancing this information on their own, just merely agreeing with the question." This would encourage people to ask questions that are less leading and operate more to ask an opinion from a qualified expert when they simply haven't written on an issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, it wouldn't solve 'everything,' but neither does making a bunch of posts online expressing your feelings about how certain source types should be disallowed.
I have expressed no such opinions in this thread. However, some very thoughtful individuals have been discussing their concerns about evidence culled from a variety of internet sources. It is a thought-provoking and useful discussion. I would much rather read such posts than yet another variation on the old "suck it up and deal/debate it out in the round" defense of every ethically tricky aspect of modern debate praxis...
at least my proposed solution would be something realistic you can actually implement by yourself in that same round.
You seem to have missed my point earlier, so I will endeavor to make it again: Your "solution" would not only not solve anything, it would make matters worse. People who read evidence from sketchy sources HOPE that their opponents will go ahead and try to answer the warrants (such as they may be) in that evidence. That is, in fact, the WHOLE POINT of this brouhaha. Why should debaters HAVE to "answer the warrants" for unqualified and/or fabricated evidence? To expect them to do so (and implicit in your position is the view that it is okay for judges to penalize the debaters who DON'T do it by giving weight to the ev) is to INCENTIVIZE the deployment of such evidence...

 

Your riposte is curiously silent on the other two suggestions I bolded in your earlier post, i.e. reading better-qualified ev and allowing internet access to debaters in rounds so they can spend their time playing Sherlock Holmes on a bunch of obscure and/or fabricated evidence. The demands of modern praxis being what they are, the latter suggestion is just silly (and, BTW, are debaters without laptops just supposed to sit there and get scammed?) and the former misses the point that the sketchy evidence is being introduced precisely because it features the sort of extravagant rhetoric that many judges favor over the more nuanced and moderate language more respectable authors use in print. The folks using that sort of ev don't prefer it because there is plenty of better counter-ev out there on the point; they prefer it because there ISN'T. It is far likelier that teams losing rounds to sketchy cards will decide to "fight fire with fire" and start using sketchy cards of their own...

 

I don't know that I would go so far as to endorse the "Lexington was right" position just yet, but at least they were thinking about (and making rational arguments in public about) these issues well ahead of their time...

  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't really considered this argument before. I think it is a good one against using email correspondence as T evidence.

 

That seems categorically different from the sort of ethics violation that spawned this thread, of course, as you'd probably agree.

 

Shouldn't debaters argue this particular issue out in a round? They can make all of these arguments. There's no deception, and I don't think that email evidence creates any unique opportunities for deception. Indeed, were there a distinct procedure for email evidence to ensure its accessibility, I think that those cards would be subject to a much, much higher level of scrutiny than most.

 

This is one reason, of several, that I think email evidence should be disallowed. Not because it might be a lie, or not just because of it. But because it substantially alters the predictable literature base. You can read enough articles about alternative energy to have a great understanding of the topic and to anticipate new affs. But if everybody starts emailing authors, even if qualified, and all of a sudden there are twenty more people creating definitions of alternative energy as including x random technology that there is otherwise no support for, this creates an unbelievable burden for everyone.

 

This primarily seems to be an argument against using email correspondence as a primary T card. I guess I could be a contrarian on that, but I'll spot you the T debate. Debaters should be taught to make precisely that argument in their 2NR. I think the impact is "your evidence is bad for a T debate" not "you cheated."

 

But it is completely unreasonable to expect the neg to anticipate email questions, given the infinite direction those questions can take. Springing email evidence on someone is unacceptable to me.

 

Are you confining this point to topicality evidence?

 

Another major issue about email evidence is it seems the majority of it, at least the majority that I am aware of, has to do with topicality, as in "please use the following terms in a sentence, do you think this idea I have can be reflected in those terms?" or the like.

 

I can't speak to most of it. The correspondence I had with that extra-terrestrials guy was about agent selection (and other advantage internal links). I actually wanted a courts card from him to better dodge politics links, but he wanted Congress and kind of wanted us to eat it on politics.

 

Whatever an author may be an expert in, it's pretty clear they are not an expert in topicality, or even know what it means. Getting an author to agree that something is / isn't topical is a manipulation of the literature, not something that is independently educational.

 

I'd vote for that 2NR, but it doesn't seem to be an ethics issue. I'm not sure that it's a "quality control" issue either.

 

Of course, some of these points might be made about any contextual T evidence outside of statute or court decisions.

Edited by Antonucci23

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to clarify, I don't think any of what I've written about email evidence is an ethics issue. I do think there are potential ethics issues that could arise, but it's possible the way you are proposing the use of email is a check. And it is true that most of my comments apply only to the use of email evidence as topicality.

 

I'm opposed to the use of email evidence, mostly, because I think it creates certain bad practices in debate even though the process of emailing authors is certainly educational. I am very concerned about the possibility that the use of email evidence will become greater than what it is now.

 

I don't think the current use of message boards / comments is an ethics issue either, except in the case where somebody fabricates one, obviously. But I think it is desirable to exclude their use from debate, even if there was no potential for abusing them: in general I think standards of evidence should be higher, and cutting cards from comments is close to the equivalent of cutting cards from gchat.

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
okay, so the changes to skarp's judging philosophy were not me (check my IP address for confirmation), but sorry about that. totally inappopriate and unnecessary. i apoligize on the behalf of gds.

 

kind of weird to be impersonating someone when the very charges against that person stem from misrepresentation of identity. Will the individual responsible be apologizing?

  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just to clarify, I don't think any of what I've written about email evidence is an ethics issue. I do think there are potential ethics issues that could arise, but it's possible the way you are proposing the use of email is a check. And it is true that most of my comments apply only to the use of email evidence as topicality.

 

I'm opposed to the use of email evidence, mostly, because I think it creates certain bad practices in debate even though the process of emailing authors is certainly educational. I am very concerned about the possibility that the use of email evidence will become greater than what it is now.

 

I don't think the current use of message boards / comments is an ethics issue either, except in the case where somebody fabricates one, obviously. But I think it is desirable to exclude their use from debate, even if there was no potential for abusing them: in general I think standards of evidence should be higher, and cutting cards from comments is close to the equivalent of cutting cards from gchat.

 

I agree with dheidt. A couple of other things he/others may have said but I will say anyways

 

If what you're emailing your authors about does not exist outside of that email, it proves how grossly unpredictable it is. Emailing authors to say "where can I find stuff saying X" is useful and should be encouraged. However, as long as the email is the only place to find it, it should not be the burden of the aff/neg to email every possible author for counter-evidence for every hypothetical aff/negatiev strategy that could be constructed. It trades off with academic research that is predictable and has greater benefits. It also literally does make the research burden infinite.

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just to clarify, I don't think any of what I've written about email evidence is an ethics issue. I do think there are potential ethics issues that could arise, but it's possible the way you are proposing the use of email is a check. And it is true that most of my comments apply only to the use of email evidence as topicality.

 

I'm opposed to the use of email evidence, mostly, because I think it creates certain bad practices in debate even though the process of emailing authors is certainly educational. I am very concerned about the possibility that the use of email evidence will become greater than what it is now.

 

I understand your trepidation. We feel differently about the impact calculus, but I acknowledge some of the disads you've delineated.

 

I don't think the current use of message boards / comments is an ethics issue either, except in the case where somebody fabricates one, obviously. But I think it is desirable to exclude their use from debate, even if there was no potential for abusing them: in general I think standards of evidence should be higher, and cutting cards from comments is close to the equivalent of cutting cards from gchat.

 

I do think that comments and message boards are different from email. One important difference is accessibility. In that doubles debate at Harvard, I couldn't find the card online, because imdb comments aren't google-a-ble.

 

Also, they aren't stable links - the comments had been deleted, because a T debate isn't related to movies.

 

I hesitate to use the word "ethics." However, the opacity and instability of these links certainly puts them in the category of bad practice that may be unintentionally misleading. While email may be bad practice as well (we differ on this) - it isn't misleading if it follows some of the aforementioned guidelines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Competition is great. I think it forces students and coaches to rise to a much higher level of argument and analysis. I believe this activity--policy debate--is the greatest academic extracurricular activity in modern education.

 

But this constant emphasis on winning that overshadows ethics is a problem. I am sick of hearing about stupid, ignorant and insulting evidence fabrications. I am sick of hearing about stuff posted to random blogs being read in rounds, I am sick of being lied to during disclosure. I am sick of debaters lying in rounds (they concede this card, we read that in the 2AC, our author concludes this way, prep stealing, card stealing, etc. etc.). Unfortunately, it happens far more than we are willing to admit.

 

Why are we in this activity? Is it just to win? Is it to see how far we can push the envelope before the community pushes back?

 

Coaches and students need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. The only person who really knows what's in your heart is you. If cheating is OK in your eyes, then that is very, very sad. If doing shady stuff is funny to you, that's sad and I hope you leave this activity quickly. So stop trying to justify this latest evidence fabrication. If you are a coach, you are not an evidentiary source. Period. This article was intended to be used in this year's debates. The author lied about writing it. The author actively misled people who wanted to know his qualifications. So any of you jumping to defend this action need to check yourselves. And we ALL need to check our own culpability in creating a culture where ethical lapses are seen as humorous or acceptable in ANY way.

Edited by JustACoach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with dheidt. A couple of other things he/others may have said but I will say anyways

 

If what you're emailing your authors about does not exist outside of that email, it proves how grossly unpredictable it is. Emailing authors to say "where can I find stuff saying X" is useful and should be encouraged. However, as long as the email is the only place to find it, it should not be the burden of the aff/neg to email every possible author for counter-evidence for every hypothetical aff/negatiev strategy that could be constructed. It trades off with academic research that is predictable and has greater benefits. It also literally does make the research burden infinite.

 

I'm not sure how your experience with email has gone. In general, highly qualified authors simply will not give you a new article. What they will give you, however, is carded clarification of certain factual matters that may be crucial for a debate.

 

For example, it might be unclear if modifications to the SIOP (I know, it's no longer the SIOP) would be public. Everyone in the field knows that they'd probably be classified, but no one finds it necessary to delineate this. If I'm running a nuclear weapons case that modifies the SIOP, I feel that it would make debate smarter to get this factual clarification from several experts in the field, as opposed to debating out a politics link that's rooted in a factual error.

 

Similarly, it's quite clear that "customary international law" probably couldn't be applied to modify internal military budgeting. This wouldn't have any precedential value (there's no actual link to a CIL net benefit.) However, absent a clarification from a law professor, it might be difficult to debate this out. Judges might need to be schooled on these facts, and it's difficult to find a card on the obvious.

 

The literature often fails to explictly adumbrate obvious points of law and procedure. Interviews can be an invaluable way to fill that gap, so that our arguments aren't ******g stupid.

 

I feel that the benefit of making students *credible* experts in their topic - as opposed to factually confused and weak fake experts - outweighs the impact of a bad new T card, which you could just indict on its merits, as Mr. Heidt persuasively demonstrated. Consulting with other experts is absolutely par for the course in any discipline. In debate, however, there's a particular need to document those consultations because of our idiosyncratic evidence practices.

 

Therefore, emailing genuine experts makes debates smarter. That outweighs some potential abuse from "unpredictability," in my mind.

Edited by Antonucci23

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the email evidence discussion should be moved to a different thread. I think it is a valuable discussion on its’ own and should not be conflated with all of the other things being discussed in this thread. That said: I think evidence obtained from email needs to be available to the team you are debating sufficiently before the round for them to prepare for it. Education and Fairness. Posting the evidence somewhere is not necessarily enough but it’s a start. If there is a chance you may read the evidence, then before the round you should give the other team a copy in case they don’t read crossx.com or whatever. And as a side note there are many times at many tournaments where you can’t get access to the internet. We had problems this year at both the NDCA and the TOC. Additionally I don’t think all email evidence is fine. I think email evidence is fine if: It’s predictable. For example you are asking an expert about something they already wrote, either clarification or an explanation on the subject. Asking experts for where to go for something in my opinion is obviously fine. Asking random “expert” sources for random evidence about something they have not written about for me is problematic at best. It does not seem predictable. Has anyone addressed the possibility that someone wrote to 14 random “experts” and got only one answer that supported the point they wanted to make. What if the other 13 where better experts and had more definitive answers the other way? Will you publish all 14 email strings? What if all 14 where the other way? Will you publish them all anyway. If you decide to drop the argument entirely because of this research will you still publish all 14 emails? If the answer to any of those questions is no; then I feel email used in this way seems to me too have to much potential for abuse. With published sources other than email or with predictable emails there is a built in check. I’m not sure education outweighs the abuse potential because the counter interpretation captures a significant amount of the benefit. If a team regularly posted all of their email research their specific credibility would probably be high enough to make the link non-existent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not sure how your experience with email has gone. In general, highly qualified authors simply will not give you a new article. What they will give you, however, is carded clarification of certain factual matters that may be crucial for a debate.

 

For example, it might be unclear if modifications to the SIOP (I know, it's no longer the SIOP) would be public. Everyone in the field knows that they'd probably be classified, but no one finds it necessary to delineate this. If I'm running a nuclear weapons case that modifies the SIOP, I feel that it would make debate smarter to get this factual clarification from several experts in the field, as opposed to debating out a politics link that's rooted in a factual error.

 

Similarly, it's quite clear that "customary international law" probably couldn't be applied to modify internal military budgeting. This wouldn't have any precedential value (there's no actual link to a CIL net benefit.) However, absent a clarification from a law professor, it might be difficult to debate this out. Judges might need to be schooled on these facts, and it's difficult to find a card on the obvious.

 

The literature often fails to explictly adumbrate obvious points of law and procedure. Interviews can be an invaluable way to fill that gap, so that our arguments aren't ******g stupid.

 

I feel that the benefit of making students *credible* experts in their topic - as opposed to factually confused and weak fake experts - outweighs the impact of a bad new T card, which you could just indict on its merits, as Mr. Heidt persuasively demonstrated. Consulting with other experts is absolutely par for the course in any discipline. In debate, however, there's a particular need to document those consultations because of our idiosyncratic evidence practices.

 

Therefore, emailing genuine experts makes debates smarter. That outweighs some potential abuse from "unpredictability," in my mind.

 

Emailing experts to be like i want to learn about this more in depth. im curious about X makes us not stupid. Using it for evidence is a problem as per all the problems dheidt, others, and i outlined.

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the email evidence discussion should be moved to a different thread. I think it is a valuable discussion on its’ own and should not be conflated with all of the other things being discussed in this thread.

 

Maybe. I think it bears some relation because the Space Review incident has clearly triggered an overdue discussion of how to deal with evidence generally. I personally hope that the discussion stays a little bit elevated, and brings in some issues larger than "SKARB'S A WITCH! THROW HIM IN THE POND AND SEE IF HE FLOATS!"

 

I just don't see a huge distinction between all of these and, you know, actual research.

 

That said: I think evidence obtained from email needs to be available to the team you are debating sufficiently before the round for them to prepare for it.

 

Er, is that true of the politics disad I cut the night before?

 

There are all sorts of research. Replicating newswires is only one of those. It seems "predictable" because that's how we research now. I suspect that's partially a product of intellectual laziness on our collective part - research is that way because that's how we've always done it, even if other academic researchers don't work that way.

 

Education and Fairness. Posting the evidence somewhere is not necessarily enough but it’s a start. If there is a chance you may read the evidence, then before the round you should give the other team a copy in case they don’t read crossx.com or whatever. And as a side note there are many times at many tournaments where you can’t get access to the internet. We had problems this year at both the NDCA and the TOC.

 

Is that true of the EBSCO or Blackwell Synergy database as well? Those are on the Internet and not everyone searches them.

 

If there's a distinct section on cross-x.com for posting cites, then that should be part of a team's research. I fully understand that they don't want to read the forums, but a section entirely devoted to expert discussion should be something they check.

 

Asking random “expert” sources for random evidence about something they have not written about for me is problematic at best. It does not seem predictable.

 

Well, if they're not good experts or they're writing outside their expertise, I think that it's the job of debaters to point that out and the job of judges to raise the bar for qualifications.

 

Has anyone addressed the possibility that someone wrote to 14 random “experts” and got only one answer that supported the point they wanted to make. What if the other 13 where better experts and had more definitive answers the other way? Will you publish all 14 email strings? What if all 14 where the other way? Will you publish them all anyway. If you decide to drop the argument entirely because of this research will you still publish all 14 emails? If the answer to any of those questions is no; then I feel email used in this way seems to me too have to much potential for abuse.

 

Why? That's how debate research works now.

 

If I cut cards on START extension bad, I will inevitably find some that say START extension would be good. I also might partially cut a disad but abandon it because I decide I'm on the worng side of a uniqueness debate.

 

You don't have a right to those cards. You should research them yourself. Email some experts and get their opinions. If they say "stfu, that Kirshon kid bugs me every 15 minutes" you might know you're onto something. If nothing else, I believe this model would mean that every think tank in DC would know Layne Kirshon's name.

 

With published sources other than email or with predictable emails there is a built in check. I’m not sure education outweighs the abuse potential because the counter interpretation captures a significant amount of the benefit. If a team regularly posted all of their email research their specific credibility would probably be high enough to make the link non-existent.

 

The benefits only accrue if people do it. There isn't much incentive to do it if you have to post all of your research, as opposed to its fruits.

 

I mean, I feel that we are not actually too far apart on this. I think they should have to post the full interview on an agreed-upon site (if we can agree on that past the noise of people yelling that rules make them sad.) It seems our only real point of difference is that you think they should post other interviews, or every cite request?

 

What, exactly, do you think they should post and when? The devil is in the details. I think full-text of every interview which cards, posted on a site such as this one (probably this one) is a prerequisite. I haven't seen a good specific proposal for a temporal limit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Case Against Emails

 

1. Publication

 

a. None - No one seems to be defending being able to read unpublished emails, so I not going to spend the time spelling out the obvious reasons why this is an awful idea. If someone doesn't understand the problems, they can look at the rest of this post and magnify the impact by 10, and it would give them a pretty good idea.

 

b. Location - Emails end up getting posted in the most questionable places. The history of this practice tells us that emails will get published on: wikis, blogs, random cross-x pages that are inaccessible from the forums because Kerpen gave someone the hook-up. These webpages usually can't be found on google or other traditional methods of research. Let's not kid ourselves. There is always a perverse incentive to keep the emails secret until deployed in round for the first time. Isn't this true of every new file or argument? Yes, but with other arguments there is always a chance that I found the same article you did anticipated the argument and wrote a response. Emails posted to websites that can't be found in searches eliminate the ability to predict arguments based on research of the topic's literature base. The potential for abuse is obviously outlandish as well. A professor or graduate assistant could put these emails in a university library under a course reserve and claim it's available for anyone to peruse.

 

c. Timing - History also teaches us that emails are usually posted to these hidden websites minutes before the round begins. This obviously makes it impossible to anticipate and prepare for the argument. It if functionally the equivalent of not posting at all (in the first instance). Don't people get caught off guard by new arguments all the time? Yes, but it is usually because of a deficit in their research. If you developed a position based on an article in an obscure journal that another team didn't read, then kuddos to you and shame on them for not finding it. However, we can't expect teams to anticipate every email you would send and the possible responses you would receive. Would waiting until the 'webcrawlers' have found my website so that it shows up in searches solve this problem? Perhaps, but that brings me to other issues with email evidence.

 

2. Annoyance

 

I've seen how upset librarians can get at camp when dealing with a limited pool of kids in the community asking for research assistance, and they actually get paid for doing it. I can only imagine how quickly an author would grow tired of answering emails from high schoolers about their silly debate topic. It would seem that this method of research would favor the proverbial early bird and would not provide a replenishable resource for the community. This means that if the author is vague or ambiguous in their initial email, future attempts at clarification my find their way to the spam box.

 

3. Verifiability

 

How can we prove that the person emailed is in fact qualified or an expert? The Marburry incident seems to indicate that this misdirection can happen. I've got emails from 'doctors' telling me that taking a pill will lead to significant male enhancement. Can I use that as evidence? The problem becomes more acute when authors stop responding because of the annoyance da. This can cause suspicion and tension to rise in the community. Also, how can we be sure that the author is actually the one responding to the email, and not a clerk or aid, or staff person, or secretary, or personal assistant (insert slumdog millionaire outsourcing joke here).

 

4. Fishing

 

The questions that are asked of these authors are often very leading, and may lead to author to say things that have an impact on the debate community that they don't fully understand. Such as, "specifically, in the context of 'alternative energy incentives', what would be a 'substantial increase'?" The questions are always loaded. Anyone who has done elections research about polling knows the way you ask the question affects the answer you receive. Tricking an author into using resolutional wording isn't good research. It's deception.

 

5. Casualness

 

Emails with experts aren't subject to same standards as published material. There is no peer review process, no fact checking, no editorial board. Authors may have very strong (read biased) opinions on matters that would never make it into one of their published works. It's also unlikely that in typing out a response the author engaged in the amount of academic rigor they would put into a published work. You are likely getting a knee-jerk response, because it's highly doubtful they consulted Webster's for your T question or U.S. Code for you counterplan competition question. There is an issue with appealing to the authority of an author of an email when they may not be writting in that capacity. Authors are also unlikely to take the conversation as seriously as the debater will. One need only search edebate for the Stratfor staff's mocking of Brad Hall to find proof of this.

 

6. Cherry Picking

 

There is no way to force teams to post every email email exchange they have had. Teams are only going to post the conversations that benefit them. You can email 25 authors and put the best response up on your wiki to read in a round. This extra layer of opacity in disclosure always benefits the emailer and not the teams trying to answer it. It's also impossible to verify that you have posted the entirity of the email exchange. Are you going to hand over the password to your email account? What if you've deleted an email? Sure, I could email the author to make sure he actually wrote that exact reply and that the exchange lasted for 4 emails not 6, but see Annoyance DA. Also, if you've already pestered dissenting authors for their opinion, that decreases the likelyhood that I can email them for a response to your new sweet ev.

 

7. Linchpins

 

Let's face it. People don't email their authors to get a 5th uniqueness card for their 2NC block. It is ALWAYS to obtain a critical argument that would make the position otherwise unviable. Maybe it's T question. Maybe counterplan competition. Maybe a disad link. Regardless, it always expands the research burden by making a new case/strategy viable or eliminating the viability of pre-existing case/strategy. Argument innovation can be a good thing, but only when it's predictable and grounded in literature.

 

8. Students should email authors for assistance in guiding their research and deploying their arguments

 

Counter Interpretation solves all your offense. There isn't a reason why emails need to be read in round. Authors can point kids in the direction of literature they haven't read or places to look for the evidence. All of the educational benefits of this practice can still be obtained.

 

***The out of context exception. If you feel a team is reading a card out of context or misinterpreting the author's intent, then in this limited instance I think it would be ok to introduce an email exchange. However, you should probably make every effort to let the offending team know that you think they are in error and disclose the exchange to them in an effort to prevent the infraction in the first place.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Emailing experts to be like i want to learn about this more in depth. im curious about X makes us not stupid. Using it for evidence is a problem as per all the problems dheidt, others, and i outlined.

 

Mr. Heidt's points were largely confined to the use of emails as primary T evidence. I agree with him on that particular.

 

My example extends beyond "please, expert, make me smarter."

 

Let's say that I have a nuclear weapons case, and its implementation would be classified. That seems clear to me, but there's no card, because it's more or less assumed in the literature. Let's also say that my case would be an absurd subject for NATO consultation.

 

I could ask field experts where I would find cards to prove painfully obvious facts. From experience, however, they often shrug and say "I dunno, everyone just knows that." Teams therefore lose on embarrassingly dumb arguments all the time because no field expert will publish articles on "that politics link is factually incorrect and earns you zero points."

 

I think it's worthwhile to control factual idiocy, and I think that expert opinions go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. They have to be verifiable, though, both because debate judges like cards and because you need to see the text of what Yeats or Circionne (sp?) really said.

 

Lindsay Harrison started a blog to address precisely this problem. It was a bit controversial because she was coaching at the time. I think it was actually a fabulous idea, however, and if a real law prof could give us some guidance away from debatarded args, everyone wins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kind of weird to be impersonating someone when the very charges against that person stem from misrepresentation of identity. Will the individual responsible be apologizing?

 

I don't know who did it, so I can't speak for them. I, however, am sorry it happened? If I find out, I will attempt to make them apoligize, though perhaps unsucessfully due to my complete lack of physical force/methods of intimidation.

 

On another note, I agree that evidence from emails is bad, not because it's unethical, but because I just don't think it's good evidence. All the arguments as to why Space Review is illegit (it's not peer-reviewed, there is poor editing, etc, etc) apply to emails/comments and at least discredit the quality of the evidence, in my opinion. Even if the person authoring said email/comment is extremely qualified, extremely qualified people often make mistakes, and the check on this is peer review and editing that is a part of the publishing process. That's absent from emails or comments on threads.

If there were some way to encourage people to email experts in order to be more informed about the evidence they DO write, that might be good, but I don't think an email constitutes evidence as such absent confirmation/editing/etc.

A caveat to that, though, is that Nooch is totally right about clarifications. It's really, really, REALLY frustrating to be right about something in a debate round but have no cards because it's just blindingly obvious. I think emails for the purpose of clarification of dumb things-i.e. no, congress CANNOT just decide to ignore a supreme court ruling. that is, in fact, ABSURDLY illegal, and would probably destroy the entire system of checks and balances. I've lost rounds on "It's cool that you know about Marbury v. Madison but no one has a card on that," which is dumb, because it undermines the educational value of reading a (questionably topical) courts aff about federalism, since everyone refuses to acknowledge the blatent existence of judicial review (no big deal, not key to federalism or anything.....) so yes. email clarifications are important in the context of real-world policymaking.

Edited by GDS much?
  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outside of debate, I don't think that sheer numerical proliferation of arguments adds to your persuasive appeal.

 

The Case Against Emails

 

1. Publication

 

a. None - No one seems to be defending being able to read unpublished emails, so I not going to spend the time spelling out the obvious reasons why this is an awful idea. If someone doesn't understand the problems, they can look at the rest of this post and magnify the impact by 10, and it would give them a pretty good idea.

 

Grant.

 

b. Location - Emails end up getting posted in the most questionable places. The history of this practice tells us that emails will get published on: wikis, blogs, random cross-x pages that are inaccessible from the forums because Kerpen gave someone the hook-up. These webpages usually can't be found on google or other traditional methods of research. Let's not kid ourselves. There is always a perverse incentive to keep the emails secret until deployed in round for the first time. Isn't this true of every new file or argument? Yes, but with other arguments there is always a chance that I found the same article you did anticipated the argument and wrote a response. Emails posted to websites that can't be found in searches eliminate the ability to predict arguments based on research of the topic's literature base. The potential for abuse is obviously outlandish as well. A professor or graduate assistant could put these emails in a university library under a course reserve and claim it's available for anyone to peruse.

 

1. Stated guidelines solve.

2. Do your own email research with the real experts. There's actually a smallish core of real-deal researchers in these fields.

3. Er, blogs and cross-x.com are google-a-ble. Don't you ever hit cross-x pages when you do home run searches?

 

c. Timing - History also teaches us that emails are usually posted to these hidden websites minutes before the round begins. This obviously makes it impossible to anticipate and prepare for the argument. It if functionally the equivalent of not posting at all (in the first instance). Don't people get caught off guard by new arguments all the time? Yes, but it is usually because of a deficit in their research. If you developed a position based on an article in an obscure journal that another team didn't read, then kuddos to you and shame on them for not finding it. However, we can't expect teams to anticipate every email you would send and the possible responses you would receive. Would waiting until the 'webcrawlers' have found my website so that it shows up in searches solve this problem? Perhaps, but that brings me to other issues with email evidence.

 

1. Crawlers - it's a real word:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_crawler

 

2. If a phenomenon's largely based on the opinion of an expert who routinely deals with facts in the field, it should be predictable. No credible expert is going to wildly hypothesize because you told them to do so.

 

2. Annoyance

 

I've seen how upset librarians can get at camp when dealing with a limited pool of kids in the community asking for research assistance, and they actually get paid for doing it. I can only imagine how quickly an author would grow tired of answering emails from high schoolers about their silly debate topic. It would seem that this method of research would favor the proverbial early bird and would not provide a replenishable resource for the community. This means that if the author is vague or ambiguous in their initial email, future attempts at clarification my find their way to the spam box.

 

Maybe I'm just a sweet hustler, but every academic I've emailed for guidance or cards has been pretty happy. I mean, it's a noble cause, and our topics are often obscure enough that they're delighted to get some recognition.

 

If the early bird gets to worm, get there early and build relationships. That's part of any discipline.

 

3. Verifiability

 

How can we prove that the person emailed is in fact qualified or an expert? The Marburry incident seems to indicate that this misdirection can happen. I've got emails from 'doctors' telling me that taking a pill will lead to significant male enhancement. Can I use that as evidence? The problem becomes more acute when authors stop responding because of the annoyance da. This can cause suspicion and tension to rise in the community. Also, how can we be sure that the author is actually the one responding to the email, and not a clerk or aid, or staff person, or secretary, or personal assistant (insert slumdog millionaire outsourcing joke here).

 

1. They would have a published CV if they're at all credible?

2. Academics don't outsource interviews? What are you talking about? Are you saying a congressperson will delegate a published their interview to an intern?

3. You can read your male enhancement cards, I guess. It doesn't really get you anything. You'll say that's just an example. I'll say it's telling; actual issues that involve policy expertise don't attract as many hustlers.

 

4. Fishing

 

The questions that are asked of these authors are often very leading, and may lead to author to say things that have an impact on the debate community that they don't fully understand. Such as, "specifically, in the context of 'alternative energy incentives', what would be a 'substantial increase'?" The questions are always loaded. Anyone who has done elections research about polling knows the way you ask the question affects the answer you receive. Tricking an author into using resolutional wording isn't good research. It's deception.

 

1. Sure, not good for T cards, above.

2. That's a clear misuse of the word "deception" in a loaded context. If I publish the interview, you can make that argument. No one tricked you.

3. All evidence has a context which influences its production. Editorial guidelines govern the production of truth, as do the financial interests which support think-tanks and lobbying organizations.

 

5. Casualness

 

Emails with experts aren't subject to same standards as published material. There is no peer review process, no fact checking, no editorial board. Authors may have very strong (read biased) opinions on matters that would never make it into one of their published works. It's also unlikely that in typing out a response the author engaged in the amount of academic rigor they would put into a published work. You are likely getting a knee-jerk response, because it's highly doubtful they consulted Webster's for your T question or U.S. Code for you counterplan competition question. There is an issue with appealing to the authority of an author of an email when they may not be writting in that capacity. Authors are also unlikely to take the conversation as seriously as the debater will. One need only search edebate for the Stratfor staff's mocking of Brad Hall to find proof of this.

 

1. Non-unique: all blogs.

2. Make that argument in a round.

 

6. Cherry Picking

 

There is no way to force teams to post every email email exchange they have had. Teams are only going to post the conversations that benefit them. You can email 25 authors and put the best response up on your wiki to read in a round. This extra layer of opacity in disclosure always benefits the emailer and not the teams trying to answer it. It's also impossible to verify that you have posted the entirity of the email exchange. Are you going to hand over the password to your email account? What if you've deleted an email? Sure, I could email the author to make sure he actually wrote that exact reply and that the exchange lasted for 4 emails not 6, but see Annoyance DA. Also, if you've already pestered dissenting authors for their opinion, that decreases the likelyhood that I can email them for a response to your new sweet ev.

 

Yup, people can cheat, and people can cheat now. Dedicated cheaters can always screw up the game. That's also an argument against "the internet," of course.

 

I'd be happy to hand over the password to a distinct gmail account - sure.

 

Cutting cards involves cherry picking too. Them's the breaks.

 

7. Linchpins

 

Let's face it. People don't email their authors to get a 5th uniqueness card for their 2NC block. It is ALWAYS to obtain a critical argument that would make the position otherwise unviable. Maybe it's T question. Maybe counterplan competition. Maybe a disad link. Regardless, it always expands the research burden by making a new case/strategy viable or eliminating the viability of pre-existing case/strategy. Argument innovation can be a good thing, but only when it's predictable and grounded in literature.

 

Would you defend advocating factually incorrect arguments because uninformed debate judges cut cards on them?

 

Would you, for example, defend maintaining the viability of a gross misinterpretation of congressional or judicial procedure because, you know, there's a Thursday File so it must be legit?

 

I think that our research should be governed by real facts from real experts in the field. I feel that we often tend to gloss over those basic facts, however, because no one gets tenure by publishing the grotesquely obvious errors in your link.

 

 

8. Students should email authors for assistance in guiding their research and deploying their arguments

 

Counter Interpretation solves all your offense. There isn't a reason why emails need to be read in round. Authors can point kids in the direction of literature they haven't read or places to look for the evidence. All of the educational benefits of this practice can still be obtained.

 

I've been pretty clear on the place where this breaks down, badly. Debate arguments often aren't answered because they are wiggidy wack, and uninformed judges need to get schooled on the way the world actually works.

 

Absent some efforts at card production, talking to field experts is a bit of a waste. They don't understand debate idiosyncrasies, and they won't respond well to "direct me to the most idiotically hyperbolic claims imaginable. Do you have any colleagues who smoke PCP?" Unless there's a real payoff, people don't do this sort of research. You cut a lot of cards. Do you do this sort of research?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...