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let's not give skarb the benefit of any reasonable doubt for a minute: let's throw out all the stuff about non-competition clauses and self-reflexive ironic demonstrations as so much hooey; let's stipulate that his sole purpose for publishing that article was to use cards his debaters would later cut from it in contest rounds at the t.o.c., and further stipulate that he deliberately used a pseudonym to avoid obvious indicts of his qualifications, his potential conflict of interest, and possible reprisals by the debate community...

 

so what? - he wrote an op-ed piece he may not fully have believed so that his squad, or any other watchful debaters, could sum up a negative strategy against the affirmative plan. did he fabricate any evidence in his article? did he say anything that was a lie? did he quote from sources that don't exist or that don't say what he says they say? no. even if we don't believe one wit of what skarb has said in his defense, all he did was write up a 2n.r. overview, sign a fake name to it, and rather than keep it to himself, give all potential rivals the chance to see it on an internet website. (if the intent was strategic, we can at least admit its blatant failure: within weeks, a full refutation of his article was published by two experts in the relevant industry - a refutation, by the way, that anyone up on the literature could have probably offered anyway: i.e., their point-by-point rebuttal also made no claim to authoritative knowledge, and simply took skarb's reasoning to task.)

 

the only thing he lied about was his name, which to those of us who defend the usage of pen names is any writer's right. he didn't even fudge his quals, which were as capable of being criticized as if the article was listed under his own name. if he lied about what he truly believed (maybe he actually supports massive government funding of s.b.s.p.) or what his real intentions were (maybe he was trying to win debates), the point is he still made a factual case for his adopted stance. that means whatever name we attach to these opinions, the author didn't lie in the defending of them.

 

so if we wish to address the failure of our ethical vocabulary on this and related matters, we'll need to start with a sensible distinction: evidence fabrication is not writing up your overviews as letters to the editor and then quoting the same arguments you'd make in-round as cards. only if we are fooled into thinking that calling a bunch of ordinary-looking reasons 'a card' confers some magic otherwise denied them will we deny card-writing power to debaters and their coaches. fabricating evidence, if it is to remain an offense of some seriousness, should be reserved for citing cards that do not exist in the real literature base, making up studies that were never really conducted, adding qualifications where none were obtained, and so forth. in my view, the flawed dichotomy so urgent for the community to put aside is the one between 'analytics' and 'evidence' - there are only claims with varying degrees of warranted assertibility. some claims require specialized knowledge, others don't, but to contribute to a public discussion should never require a degree from a university or any qualification other than the capacity to reason soundly. all things being equal, whether you package the same set of claims as your own or not shouldn't matter if they are indeed the same claims from an identically qualified source - the force of the stronger argument ought to win out either way.

 

a rose by any other name smells as sweet, and a "straw man argument" (youngstrom & maness, 2009) stinks as much whether published under the name j. marbury or j. skarb.

Edited by Lazzarone

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Are you insane? You really don't think the omission of "debate coach" is relevant when discussing author qualifications/bias? You don't think there's a difference between a published article and a letter to the editor? That there isn't a difference between a 2nr overview which is based on arguments made previously in the round with some basis in fact and stemming from outside literature, and a modification to the literature base to change the arguments and introduce new claims that previously did not exist?

 

Writing a letter to the editor as Justin Skarb isn't fabrication. Publishing an article and not including the information that he is a debate coach is. I'd love to see one of these definitions which you think doesn't apply to the fact that he manufactured an identity which seems more legitimate than his own and wrote a paper which he implied was based on independent research and analysis.

 

It's sweet that you think we should ruin debate so that what Skarb did would have no impact on the activity, but until we make these changes, all your arguments are a waste of time because in the current state of debate, it's cheating.

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let's not give skarb the benefit of any reasonable doubt for a minute:

 

We define the word "reasonable" differently.

 

his sole purpose for publishing that article was to use cards his debaters would later cut from it in contest rounds at the t.o.c., and further stipulate that he deliberately used a pseudonym to avoid obvious indicts of his qualifications, his potential conflict of interest, and possible reprisals by the debate community...

 

so what?

 

You answered your own question above.

 

did he say anything that was a lie?

 

Yes. He lied about his name. He also lied about Marburry's qualifications, because Marburry's did not obtain any of those degrees. He did not make his pseudonymity clear. He also maintained the deception in the face of further questioning.

 

the only thing he lied about was his name, which to those of us who defend the usage of pen names is any writer's right.

 

This context differs from most, and your failure to see that distinction is either disingenuous or shortsighted.

 

so if we wish to address the failure of our ethical vocabulary on this and related matters, we'll need to start with a sensible distinction:

 

We completely differ on the meaning of the word "sensible."

 

Your discussion of the role of evidence is welcome - really. Tethering this discussion to a defense of obviously flawed practice seems drastically misguided. You do an injustice to your best arguments.

 

I know I am not "debating" your points. I do not feel the need. Outside of the peculiar confines of competitive debate, some arguments just don't deserve an answer. I have no desire to engage that substance, especially as hippie orthography hurts my eyes.

 

I am writing simply because I feel you're genuinely discrediting your better arguments, and feel you should stop doing that.

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the spork: "You really don't think the omission of 'debate coach' is relevant when discussing author qualifications/bias?"

 

no. no more than it'd be responsive to reply to an in-round opponent by saying, 'you're only trying to win a debate round' (or to dismiss your reply because i don't know your last name). motive is irrelevant when what's at issue is what's being said, not who is saying it or why.

 

before you mention the apparent exceptions to that - e.g., oil and tobacco industry hacks - let me clarify what it means in practice. had skarb claimed to have done original research (i.e., actual scientific study of, say, solar cell efficiency) then we'd have a right to be upset, not only because he'd be claiming to know something he couldn't have, but because he'd be claiming to have done something that requires the utmost neutrality. (it's doubtful the editors of the space review would've accepted such claims absent a legitimate citation from a peer-reviewed journal.) we all can guess which side of the bread the 'scientists' who claim that lifetime tobacco smoking doesn't increase the risk of lung cancer is buttered. that's fraud. that's miles apart from highlighting positive or negative arguments for or against a specific course of action on a website dedicated to 'essays and commentary'. to acknowledge this is merely to acknowledge what the editors already concluded: "there is no evidence of any misconduct beyond the use of the phony name".

 

"You don't think there's a difference between a published article and a letter to the editor?"

 

not in this case, no: "[the essay] is closer to an op-ed piece than a news piece" admits its author. writing a letter to the editor 'modifies the literature base' and 'introduces new claims' (as i believe you've used those terms), but if the stance being defended is essentially 's.b.s.p. too costly now', what relevant difference does it make if this is argued out online or exclusively confined to a debate round? are we to prohibit coaches from verbally commenting upon all things topical as well, for fear they might be quoted (even anonymously) and otherwise might alter the topic conversation? are we going to ask advocates of policy change in a given area to put their activism on hold for a year or resign all affiliation with the debate community for a year (as scott elliott seems to suggest)? ...one external benefit to actually modifying the literature base is the hope that you (perhaps unwittingly) will set it on a trajectory of self-correction - which happened in this case in less than a month. if only every weak negative strategy were so telegraphed!

 

_

 

Antonucci, to hold to a principle and not defend those 'tethered' to it by the very nature of what they're doing would be, for me, disingenuous. That's like holding to the First Amendment's protection of free speech but not defending its application to political speech one disagrees with - KKK members', for instance.

 

"You answered your own question above."

 

No, I did not. His qualifications were accurate, his potential conflict of interest ought not to prohibit public commentary on an on-going controversy, and reprisals by the debate community would be an unethical overreaction in my opinion.

 

"He lied about his name. He also lied about Marburry's qualifications, because Marburry's did not obtain any of those degrees. He did not make his pseudonymity clear. He also maintained the deception in the face of further questioning."

 

The real author did obtain those degrees. Even if we stretch the word 'lie' to encompass the adoption of a pseudonym, this is a lie everyone is entitled to, especially in cases in which one is likely to be dismissed because of who one is instead of what one is saying. Is there a correct way to maintain such a deception? If not, then you're arguing for a ban on all pseudonyms (or at least all cases of it when the author doesn't openly declare at the outset, 'Hey, I'm using a pen name'), and what Skarb did was as wrong when he wrote the article as when he kept up the fake identity. In any case, if you can't see the difference between pseudonymous commentary and evidence fabrication (i.e., cheating), then you're right - we disagree on the meaning of sensible.

Edited by Lazzarone

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the spork: "You really don't think the omission of 'debate coach' is relevant when discussing author qualifications/bias?"

 

no. no more than it'd be responsive to reply to an in-round opponent by saying, 'you're only trying to win a debate round' (or to dismiss your reply because i don't know your last name). motive is irrelevant when what's at issue is what's being said, not who is saying it or why.

 

before you mention the apparent exceptions to that - e.g., oil and tobacco industry hacks - let me clarify what it means in practice. had skarb claimed to have done original research (i.e., actual scientific study of, say, solar cell efficiency) then we'd have a right to be upset, not only because he'd be claiming to know something he couldn't have, but because he'd be claiming to have done something that requires the utmost neutrality. (it's doubtful the editors of the space review would've accepted such claims absent a legitimate citation from a peer-reviewed journal.) we all can guess which side of the bread the 'scientists' who claim that lifetime tobacco smoking doesn't increase the risk of lung cancer is buttered. that's fraud. that's miles apart from highlighting positive or negative arguments for or against a specific course of action on a website dedicated to 'essays and commentary'. to acknowledge this is merely to acknowledge what the editors already concluded: "there is no evidence of any misconduct beyond the use of the phony name".

 

"You don't think there's a difference between a published article and a letter to the editor?"

 

not in this case, no: "[the essay] is closer to an op-ed piece than a news piece" admits its author. writing a letter to the editor 'modifies the literature base' and 'introduces new claims' (as i believe you've used those terms), but if the stance being defended is essentially 's.b.s.p. too costly now', what relevant difference does it make if this is argued out online or exclusively confined to a debate round? are we to prohibit coaches from verbally commenting upon all things topical as well, for fear they might be quoted (even anonymously) and otherwise might alter the topic conversation? are we going to ask advocates of policy change in a given area to put their activism on hold for a year or resign all affiliation with the debate community for a year (as scott elliott seems to suggest)? ...one external benefit to actually modifying the literature base is the hope that you (perhaps unwittingly) will set it on a trajectory of self-correction - which happened in this case in less than a month. if only every weak negative strategy were so telegraphed!

 

_

 

Antonucci, to hold to a principle and not defend those 'tethered' to it by the very nature of what they're doing would be, for me, disingenuous. That's like holding to the First Amendment's protection of free speech but not defending its application to political speech one disagrees with - KKK members', for instance.

 

"You answered your own question above."

 

No, I did not. His qualifications were accurate, his potential conflict of interest ought not to prohibit public commentary on an on-going controversy, and reprisals by the debate community would be an unethical overreaction in my opinion.

 

"He lied about his name. He also lied about Marburry's qualifications, because Marburry's did not obtain any of those degrees. He did not make his pseudonymity clear. He also maintained the deception in the face of further questioning."

 

The real author did obtain those degrees. Even if we stretch the word 'lie' to encompass the adoption of a pseudonym, this is a lie everyone is entitled to, especially in cases in which one is likely to be dismissed because of who one is instead of what one is saying. Is there a correct way to maintain such a deception? If not, then you're arguing for a ban on all pseudonyms (or at least all cases of it when the author doesn't openly declare at the outset, 'Hey, I'm using a pen name'), and what Skarb did was as wrong when he wrote the article as when he kept up the fake identity. In any case, if you can't see the difference between pseudonymous commentary and evidence fabrication (i.e., cheating), then you're right - we disagree on the meaning of sensible.

 

I honestly can't believe anyone in their right mind would assess the situation the way you have.

 

The reason no article exists like that is b/c no one writes like that. It was a debate coach writing evidence for his debaters. I'm pretty sure Skarb wouldn't sit around and write that were it not to gain a competitive adv.

 

"The quals are right. He just had a pseudonym, which is any writers right."

 

I'll make an analogy. A John Smith applying for a medical license who went to Harvard Medical School submits his resume, degree (from Harvard), and practicing history. But he submits it under the name Richard Day and changes the name on every piece of relevant information. All the grades were correct. The degrees and practicing history were correct. So why should the AMA arrest him for lying about his identity? O ya. cuz he committed a felony.

 

And, Nooch just uber pwned you and your n00bdom.

Edited by computerwhizldk
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"I'll make an analogy. A John Smith applying for a medical license who went to Harvard Medical School submits his resume, degree (from Harvard), and practicing history. But he submits it under the name Richard Day and changes the name on every piece of relevant information. All the grades were correct. The degrees and practicing history were correct. So why should the AMA arrest him for lying about his identity? O ya. cuz he committed a felony."

 

They also may want to check John's sanity....why would anyone in their right mind take on the pseudonym of Richard Day???

 

;)

 

Tara Tate

GBS

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questions of my sanity aside, i'm willing to concede that requisite standards for applying for a medical license should be higher than those for writing a piece of policy analysis. adding patch adams to my defense workload might be a bridge too far. =P

 

seriously though, let me restate some elementary considerations that inform my taking the position i have. for me the trouble with current debate standards is they confer the title of 'evidence' upon quotations of educated conjecture. so my guess is the real reason the skarb controversy has been crouched in such bombastic terms is because most in the community don't want to admit this - they'd like to go back to a time when they could, in good conscience, cite 'the new york times' regardless of whether the article in question was cut from the op-ed section or the front page.

 

but all cards aren't equivalent units. to his credit, david marks changed his tune on edebate, making the far stronger argument that what was truly rotten about skarb's literary double was it effectively "insulat[ed] the text from bias arguments". my retort is this was an opinion piece - of course it was biased! the relevant concern here isn't why what is being said is being said, but simply what is being said. we should all have the freedom to be partisan in fora of public discussion, under a non de plume if we so choose. what we should not be permitted to do, what should draw ire and reprisal, is doctoring evidence - e.g., manufacturing a study that requires impartiality to say whatever we wish it to say. we need to be clear on this difference in order to deal in an appropriately strict way with evidence fabrication. we don't need to be accusing debate coaches of cheating in order to dispense with one-sided editorials: we simply need to do a better job of testing their metal.

 

rather than 'you're a debate coach; you're only writing this to win rounds for your debaters', all that needs defending is, 'the counter-plan doesn't guarantee solvency, and the government should spend more money to stimulate the economy'. and if you feel your debaters have to be quoting someone with three degrees to win on that - that is, that they have to find and read 'a card' which says it - then what's rotten in the state of debate isn't skarb's online commentary, but the irrational preference of so-called 'evidence' above sound analytical refutation.

Edited by Lazzarone

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Some uses of pen names are different than others. Every use of a pen name is a deception. Some are more justified than others. If an author needs anonymity for a debate related publication perhaps the better standard would be that they write under the pen name 'anonymous' rather than inventing and positing a fictitious personality. What concerns me is that Mr. Skarb (1) created an identity that precluded the usual checks within debate for source quals/bias and (2) lied when confronted in emails about his identity. I will defend that every participant in debate has the right to publish work. That does not include the right to deliberately deceive when emailed by others about one's work.

 

Communities have different standards for what is acceptable and not acceptable. While it may be acceptable in some fields to use a pseudonym, other fields may require more transparency. I agree with lazzarone that this event exposes some serious cracks in how evidence is circulated and deployed in debates. Where I suspect we might part company is an evaluation of whether lying/misrepresenting in literature is analogous to the same behavior in the debate community. Opening the debate lab to allow more written compositions from participants is a good thing. Allowing deliberate deception to go unchallenged seems rather troubling.

 

I think thescu had some really interesting suggestions for debate related writing. I am not sure I'd support an embargo on a debate peron's work for a year, but I do support his recommendation that all debate work produced by active members of the debate community should include actual author info (or should use the pen name 'anonymous') so that debaters can readily identify any real or perceived bias.

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sorry for the lateness of my reply - i expected others to chime in, but alas.

 

i think i remember you telling me your name, cryptic, but for now your use of a made-up moniker helps to demonstrate my point: your previous statement expressed a reasonable set of opinions, but what your real name is or where (or whether) you went to college is wholly irrelevant to any (non-fallacious) response to them. the reason is simple: even if you didn't believe a word of what you've written, or even if every word you've written was biased, you still would've given us a logically sound argument for believing what you've written. 'you're biased', although a fine reason (if supported) for distrusting someone who claims to be doing scientific research (though usually checked by the rigors of peer-review), is non-responsive to someone who is merely arguing for a position. that's like criticizing an opinion by calling it one. if skarb wrote the article under his own name, and debaters advanced the argument 'he's a debate coach, therefore he's biased', they'd be making a non-argument; and i remain unpersuaded that debaters need fallacious reasoning (ad hominem) to refute coach-authored work.

 

i'm happy we agree that "every participant in debate has the right to publish work". the trouble is that many in the debate community don't share this belief, and some seem to believe that mere publication is on par with cheating. in such a situation, pen names are legitimate, and perhaps necessary, to do what one should have a right to do anyway without getting sidetracked.

 

as for whether skarb should've published anonymously or pseudonymously, it's really not my place to decide that for him or any other writer. if you publish anonymously, my guess is you might run up against all the same irrational arguments from bias and qualification, whereas pseudonymously, you might be able to avoid such tangents. it must be said, however, that in many cases it'd defeat the whole purpose of a pen name if, when questioned about it, one had to reply, 'this is just a pen name'. the stance of 'it was okay for him to publish under a pseudonym as long as, when he was asked about it, he'd have come clean' seems contradictory to me. if, for example, skarb's intent was to show how lacking in credibility the space review is (much like the infamous sokal hoax), then telling the online publication that he choose a phony name would've abruptly ended the demonstration. so either you're against the practice or you're not, but it seems to me at present, not knowing all the details of his behavior after publication, that, contrary to antonucci's friendly suggestion, skarb is as legit a test-case as any. it remains my position that the cryptic can still be rational. =)

 

a friend of mine is a viola player and a few years ago i was surprised to learn that she often auditions for orchestras behind a screen. when i asked her why, she said that racism and sexism were big problems in the past, and in order to get rid of them, some of the players' unions insisted on blind auditions. a certain philosopher had a similar solution to deal with the bias active in intellectual affairs...

 

Edited by Lazzarone

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...then have the decency to at least read what has been said about this issue. Simply continuing to repeat "Skarb wrote this so his team(s) could get a competitive advantage" does not make it so just because you want it to be true. Just because you are "pretty sure" you think you can read minds does not mean that you actually can.

 

http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1721613&postcount=154

 

...then have the decency to respond the numerous (Mr. Heidt's, Ms. Tate's, and Mr. Batterman's are a few that come to mind) reasoned indicts of your "intent" defense (notice defense not apology) instead of flaming a high school juinor/senior (the school year's over so I'm not sure what to call him). Also the fact that you posted at all clearly indicates you are still monitoring this thread. It seems to me that your silence in the face of (no offense to my bff/partner) more "qualified" (I hesitate to use that adjective after the numerous discussions this thread has spawned) and more extensive debunking of your attempt at a defense is, in a word, deafening.

 

 

Thank God I wasn't applying for a medical license.

 

Does the American Medical Association really have police powers?

 

Likewise, playing coy with your response doesn't mean you get to avoid the substance of the analogy which is that in any professional context the (covert) misrepresentation of one's identity would be unacceptable. The fact that the Space Review's editorial board commented on your misconduct with the following

 

"This article was originally published under the byline of “John Marburry”. This was the name the author used in his original submission in February and subsequent correspondence. The day the article was published the author contacted this publication and asked for a credit for Justin Skarb, as he has provided “research assistance” for the article; an acknowledgment was added to the article that same day. Only later did this publication learn, though comments and email messages, that “John Marburry” was actually a pen name for Justin Skarb, a fact that Mr. Skarb confirmed to us on May 15. As a result the byline of the article has been changed accordingly. We sincerely regret unintentionally misleading readers as to the true identity of the author.While we have decided not to remove the article, as there is no evidence of any misconduct beyond the use of the phony name, we have decided not to publish any articles in the future from Mr. Skarb."

 

probably disproves any defense you had left of using a pen name, and seems to give weight to those who would use analogies to demonstrate the bankrupt nature of your actions (intentional or not) in this regard.

Edited by Dart Throwing Primates
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let's say you give me a math problem. i come back and say, 'here's the answer'. if you take my answer as correct, you'll have to trust my math skills. but now let's say i show you all the steps that got me to the answer i got - you follow them and concur that we have the correct answer. these are two different ways of doing things.

 

when you trust a doctor to perform surgery on you, or when you trust a scientist to conduct an impartial study, you trust that they'll act in a professional way - their credibility is crucial. that's why other doctors and other scientists constantly scrutinize them and their work. a doctor has to be board certified, and the work of scientists is subject to peer-review. this is like the first way of doing things - we trust them to come back to us with correct answers.

 

but when someone writes an op-ed piece, this is like the other way of doing things - we are working through their reasoning step-by-step with them. when all the work is on the table, then credibility means little. a president or a pauper are equally qualified to call a spade a spade or say 2+2=5. this is the difference between trusting a boy to cry wolf when there is a wolf and debating among our fellow townspeople what to do when there is a wolf. if we confuse these two, we start requiring our fellow townspeople to have 20-20 vision before they can comment on what to do in the event of a wolf - which is not only absurd, but anti-democratic.

 

so, point-blank: why does it matter why skarb was writing what he was writing? he claimed no specialized knowledge of any facts denied to any lay researcher. if his reasoning in the article was sound, then that's still an argument that those who defend s.b.s.p. will have to address regardless of whether the author's name was listed as justin skarb, john marburry, or malik zulu shabazz. and if his reasoning wasn't sound, then his name is similarly irrelevant.

 

what you all are trying to claim is a right to ad hom (though i'll concede it sounds a lot better when you accuse skarb of "insulating the text from bias arguments"). nevertheless, you do not need a fallacy to answer an argument. you need a reason.

 

the editors of the space review's statement in no way disproves the legitimacy of using a pen name. they've left the article up because "there is no evidence of any misconduct beyond the use of the phony name", but they have every right to apply whatever standard they wish to apply to articles they're publishing - they could say you need a college degree, or that the first letter of your first name must be G. but that doesn't mean that only people with college degrees or those whose names begin with G have anything compelling to say on the subject of the affirmative plan at issue.

 

likewise, debate as a community has every right to set whatever standard it wants to set on what flies in a debate round. my only contribution to that important discussion is that any such standard which does not take into account the two ways of doing things i pointed out above is very likely to be misguided.

Edited by Lazzarone
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"Dart Throwing Primates" - I actually disagree with your assumption that Skarb's silence means he has no good arguments.

Skarb is entitled to disagree without saying why he disagrees, and he is likely to have many reasons to post selectively that have nothing to do with the weight of his arguments. Critiques of his "intent" defense (mine included) should be evaluated on their intrinsic merit, not whether he dropped them.

 

While his attack on someone's "decency" might be rude, it's understandable that he feels defensive right now. It would be great if he responded publicly to some of the responses to his apology and it's understandable for you to feel frustrated that he hasn't done so. But I'd give him some leeway on that, even though I have already made my feelings on his apology quite clear on this board, NDCA, and edebate.

 

Kevin Sanchez

 

I appreciate that you think my framing of the issue sounds better. But I think you're still missing the basic point.

 

Insulating the text from bias is a problem because debaters should be able to make their bias attacks, even if you don't think it's a good argument.

 

You believe that authorship is irrelevant when it is an op-ed. That's an intelligent argument. But a whole lot of people respectfully disagree with you. There are two solutions to the impasse: (1) you could allow debaters to discuss whether qualifications matter in a round, or (2) you could trick the other side so that you don't have to have the debate in the first instance.

 

When debaters disclose their authorship, they can use your arguments to defend it from bias attacks. This allows both sides to opine on the quality of the card and whether authorship should matter. I'm not persuaded that tricking people is necessary to advance an opinion. If you're so right about this, then these arguments should carry the day in a debate round where they belong. If the requested disclosure is so unrelated to the truth-value of the card, then debaters asserting that claim have an advantage.

 

Your solution, however, robs opponents of this debate. It is anti-democratic because it says "I believe your bias argument is stupid, so I'm going to prevent you from being able to make it at all."

 

Your solution encourages debaters to fabricate entire cards and cite them as "Krugman '9 - Op Ed," and to outright lie in cross-examination by saying "this was really written by Krugman." This would allow the debaters to advance their arguments as cards without having to debate whether or not bias matters. While that protects the debaters advancing those claims, it robs the opponents of their bias argument. YOU don't think that bias argument is worth much, but that's not justification for robbing them of the opportunity to make it when THEY think it is.

 

Your concern is that good arguments will be crushed by these bias arguments because so many people incorrectly believe in them. That is a legitimate fear, though I already explained why I think it's overstated. It's also not justification for robbing people of the opportunity to express their beliefs about the importance of bias, any more than it is legitimate to rob a debate coach of the opportunity of expressing his beliefs. The fact that so many people believe bias attacks are reasonable arguments for a debate round (regardless of whether they win debate rounds) proves how anti-democratic your solution is.

 

Here's my external impact: your standard destroys trust in the community. Imagine you say, "it's very important to me to know your plan." By your standard, it is not unethical when I email you back with a false plan as long as I genuinely believe that the plan's wording is unimportant. There will inevitably be disagreements about whether X argument is persuasive. However, when a lot of people think it's important and even email you expressing concern, it's an arrogant breach of their trust when you lie to them. Your standard judges the value of bias attacks without allowing the opponents to make them, while knowing that those potential opponents actually believe the bias attack is persuasive.

 

Another example: Let's say I run a K aff. I genuinely believe the politics DA is stupid and dumb and a series of logical fallacies. I see your politics file on the floor and put the front page of a Cap K index over it. The neg asks you, "have you seen my politics file?" I am afraid that if they find their file, they'll read the politics disad and won't listen to my important K aff. So, I say, "Nope, haven't seen it." That's an unhealthy breach of trust in the community and shows enormous disrespect for other peoples' opinions.

 

Even though you genuinely believe that bias attacks are stupid, that does not entitle you to rob others of the opportunity to make them. Maybe there's close calls when only one or two people think a particular disclosure is important, but (a) it's still not ok to affirmatively lie to them when they express concern, and (B) bias attacks have a lot more supporters than just one or two people.

 

In the end, I'm 10x more worried about the willingness of the community to trust each other and work together than I am about whether bad arguments sometimes win debates.

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To Kevin Sanchez, this only answers your last post-- I think it could be summed up as "why does it matter why skarb was writing...if his reasoning in the article was sound, then that's still an argument that those who defend s.b.s.p. will have to address regardless of whether the author's name was listed as justin skarb, john marburry, or malik zulu shabazz."

 

First, your claim fundamentally misunderstands the role of evidence in our activity. Another article calling a "spade a spade" is not a big deal when these "spade" claims are already prolific--i.e. middle east proliferation would be destabilizing, multipolarity is inevitable, craig smyser is attractive, etc., but it is ENTIRELY unique when the articles written introduce vastly new ideas for args that requires a basis in literature. This is because our community thinks there is a burden for certain claims to be legitimate through evidentiary substantiation. For example, a PIC with nothing close to a solvency advocate with three net benefits that only rely upon analytical links would be thrown out by saying this PIC is unfair as it's not supported in the literature. Whereas a well thoughtout solvency advocate from a third party robs the aff of these claims.

 

In this case, nothing cited by Skarb, nor any other article I have read in SPS literature has come close to making those claims. Let me state that again, stronger.

Nothing, between my reading of most SPS articles (yes, even those links Skarb posted, a rambling OTA report which discusses the technical feasability of SPS in 1981, which is clearly an awesome source because space technology has remained perfectly petrified for the past 30 years and the archive), and even listening to the hour long interview that "John Marburry" sent me as his source (conveniently Slide 1 .O {font-size:149%;} the day before we left for the TOC), has made that claim.

 

Why does that make this case different? Because if a team had entered a round with a sweet CP to do the price condition with their evidence being Skarb 2k9, the counterplan would be dismissed as not within the aff's burden of research. The second this claim is seperated from a coach and enters the literature from a third party, the PIC is infinitely more legitimate.

 

The distinction here is that saying "both articles are op-eds, both show their logic, and both come up with the end result 2+2=5, so there is no bias" does not take into account the use and context of those results, and proves this is more than just an appeal to give us an "ad hom" its an appeal to the fundamental underpinnings of debate.

 

This is more than just a "but we can't say pics bad now!" Extrapolating this further, what's to stop this from someone writing veto-cheato cp solvency, consult solvency, states CP solvency? why stop with CPs, I have about 15 new affs rattling around my head that were missing solvency advocates, I could just write them up, and you could debate the claims. Better yet I could ask my dad to write an op-ed, I mean you'll be debating what he says so it doesn't matter that he was coaxed into it and it wouldn't even be me doing the writing, so its super fair.

 

Debaters should not manipulate evidence, and should not do so under the thin veil of a pseudonym.

 

second, even if the claims are the same, deceit should never be allowed, regardless of whether its inconsequential. What this logic opens the floodgates to are arbitrary assertions that are legitimate in the eye of the beholder that could fundamentally (and unfairly) change the course of a round. These need not be as large as what DMarks described (changes in the plan, hiding ev etc.) but something as small as deleting a sentence from the middle of a card to fit it on a page, or skipping over a line and not marking it, WITHOUT acknowledgement that you have done this. Once the only judges of morality are those who have a stake in their own success, boundaries start blurring and activities start becoming more legitimate. This is why I feel that debaters/coaches should not tamper with evidence AT ALL, because of the potential for abuse, regardless of whether actual harm occurred.

 

Rajesh

Oh, after reading DMark's post, this seems to be mostly reiteration.

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I agree with everything David Marks said, and I thank him for saying it.

 

On a slightly different note, if you have a radically different view of how evidence should be evaluated, I'd urge you to figure out the practical application of your proposed epistemic shift by judging some debate rounds.

 

I don't say this to discount anything you've said through ad homs. As a simple pragmatic matter, though, it's a lot easier for me (and others) to take your opinions seriously when I know that you're genuinely wrestling with the conflict between a brand new paradigm and students' justifiable desire for fairness and consistency.

 

Your opinions seem smart, but they also seem pretty theoretical. Some accounts of how they actually play out in real practice would lend them a lot of credence.

 

If you disagree, please refrain from explaining how I am The Man - this is entirely benign tactical advice.

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David -

I think this is all that needs be said. It's extraordinarily sad commentary there's something approaching a "debate" on this issue. While it now looks like I'm going to be using my trial lawyer skills to deconstruct evidence rather that judge debates come next Fall (yeah, not going to NFL), that appears to be inevitable if people are going to write evidence.

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I can't believe there's a "debate" about this issue. One of my concerns is NOT that Damien will use it, but that others will innocently (OK, maybe not) cut the cards to run against Damien's SPS case and get their asses slammed, hard. There appears to be some acknowledgement that Damien was aware this article was "out there" before TOC, and it's incomprehensible to me that the highly skilled and rightfully admired teams members would not have this totally briefed out.

I'd like to write more, but there's a poverty law article I'm working on that I want published before Cal State Long Beach..............

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Your comment is totally right on, I concur.

 

As much as I agree with Dave, did you really just agree with yourself that your response was right on?

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i appreciate all the feedback and will attempt to support my position in as respectful and practical a manner as possible.

_

 

david marks,

 

you wrote: "You believe that authorship is irrelevant when it is an op-ed. That's an intelligent argument. But a whole lot of people respectfully disagree with you. There are two solutions to the impasse: (1) you could allow debaters to discuss whether qualifications matter in a round, or (2) you could trick the other side so that you don't have to have the debate in the first instance."

 

first, this is about bias, not qualifications, since the qualifications of the actual author and the fake author were identical. we entirely agree that doctoring qualifications is cheating, period. there's only one possible exception i can think of to this rule: i might be willing to hear someone out who claims they doctored qualifications as a satire or a hoax. but in this special case, they'd be the one telling me they did the doctoring and the cards so doctored wouldn't be extended in-round to back up what the tags claimed, but to back up the satire. for instance, the sokal hoax, which was technically academic fraud, but exposed lax standards of review (of whatever the 'postmodern' journal was).

 

secondly, here's the rub: 'the trick', as you characterize it, of writing under a phony name exposes that the debate over whether names matter is a non-debate. you're saying we need to know the name so we can determine if the source is biased, but in an opinion piece you don't need to know the name to know this - the article is biased by definition. ah, but i'm fudging two different types of bias, aren't i? the first type is the bias of having an opinion about something and tending to highlight those facts which confirm that opinion; the second type of bias is really better characterized as having an ulterior motive - e.g., the desire to win tournaments.

 

so with this distinction in mind, let me restate your argument: debate-affiliated authors may have ulterior motives, and although it may be convincingly argued that merely pointing out such motives doesn't address the substance of their claims, withholding the names of those authors denies debaters the opportunity to argue this out in an actual round. (please tell me if i've correctly characterized your position, as what follows will rely on that.)

 

my immediate reaction is a naive-sounding question: what's the limit to what debaters are entitled to know about an author? being a little absurd for a second, should i be able to demand to know what an author ate for breakfast the morning they wrote the article, what word processor they composed it on, who their colleagues are, whether they buy clothes manufactured in sweatshops, whether they have a criminal record, who they're dating, etc.?...

 

it goes without saying that these are laughably fallacious arguments, but by marks' lights, 'even though we genuinely believe these arguments are stupid, that does not entitle us to rob others of the opportunity to make them'. so if i neglect to mention which side of the bed khalilzad woke up on the morning of writing his infamous analysis of u.s. hegemony, i thereby rob my opponents of the argument 'khalilzad got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning'. if 'ad hominem' is in bounds, why not 'guilt by association'? - meaning if someone knowingly denied that khalilzad is friends with kissinger (a war criminal), then i'd be within my rights to accuse them of tricking me out of legitimate arguments.

 

obviously this initial reaction is unfair, but it's important to know why. i'm playing with what we traditionally expect from an academic citation - the author's name, their qualifications, the date their work was published, where it was published, and so forth - and i'm adding random things we would never think to expect - the author's diet, their colleagues, and so forth. but my underlying point remains, what's in a name? what difference does it make who is making a claim if the claim is an analysis of facts everyone already has at their disposal?

 

let me now draft a few arguments for the opposite side. obviously, it's not the letters in a name (how it's spelled, for instance) that matters, but a name can be important for several reason. first, we often can't judge an author accurately by reading only one of their texts. authors compose bodies of work. when i know an author's name, i'm able to look up everything they've written, not to mention everything that's been written about what they've written. i can then find out what errors they're likely to make and see if they're continuing to make such errors. most importantly, i can begin to discern a pattern to their reasoning and fashion my counter-arguments accordingly.

 

for instance, since you know my name, you can google 'kevin sanchez' and discover an author with a penchant for adopting controversial stances. so a question you'd be entitled to ask is, "is kevin sanchez only taking the stance he is taking this time because he 'likes to be different' or he 'just wants to shock people'?" to me such a cross-examination is fair play, and if i wrote under a pseudonym, i'd be denying readers the chance to query me on these grounds and denying myself the opportunity to address those queries.

 

to generalize a bit, the brute fact of life in a culture such as ours is that we can't evaluate every claim on an individual basis. we are inundated with information and there simply aren't enough hours in a day. we need shortcuts, and credibility is a useful one. perhaps foucault is right to say that a name makes reading too easy, but perhaps it's also right to say that a total absence of names would making reading impossibly difficult. if i had to constantly come up with reasons that the twin towers collapsed due to airplanes not explosives, or that the earth is round not flat, or that global warming is actually happening not an international hoax, etc., i wouldn't have time to come up with reasons for believing or not believing in arguments that actually matter (in the sense that william james referred to hypotheses as 'live'). so we develop filters to dismiss all the nut-jobs, and we need the nut-jobs to write under their own names so we can thin the herd.

 

all of the above i'm prepared to concede. so what's left of my position?

 

(1) there's still a difference in kind between using pseudonyms and fabricating evidence. david marks does a good job of explaining why pseudonyms may be bad practice, and i've helped him out with some arguments above. but power-tagging is also bad practice, and no one would say that overstating a case is on par with cheating. i think i've successfully shown that, contrary to those who appear aghast there's even a debate on this matter, treating skarb's act as cheating devalues the very concept of evidence fabrication. he did not invent a study or a qualification out of whole cloth, but summarized a typical negative strategy against an affirmative plan under a phony name. we don't need to be harsh on the gray areas; we need to clearly delineate the gray areas from the truly despicable.

 

(2) debaters should define down what they mean by evidence and sharply distinguish it from speculation, however qualified. engaging in this exchange has helped to clarify my own beliefs, and i think what i'm now saying is quite simple: not all cards are evidence. the pervasive trick in debate is to confuse the two in order to corner analytical argument with trumped-up quotations. hopefully, rethinking the role evidence plays in contest-rounds will be a positive consequence of this controversy.

 

(3) no one has cited for me a clear outlawing of the use of pen names or any directives on participant-authored work and its use in-round. since this whole deal isn't about evidence fabrication, perhaps clearer guidelines are needed here?

 

dealing now with some sections of marks' post left dangling: your "external impact" doesn't follow from the premises i've laid out - emailing someone a false plan would preclude a robust debate of the real plan. my whole point is it's the substantive claims that should matter most - therefore fabricating those claims is where the genuine crime lies.

 

also consider that 'distrust in the community' may be the cause not the consequence of using pen names. it's likely that it's because a coach expects personal attacks by the debate community in reaction to publishing their opinions that they'd slap a fake name to such commentary where they wouldn't have otherwise. since i've agreed to presuppose an ill-intentioned skarb, we can at least say that he was not worried about arguments from qualification - else he would've had no qualms about faking those as well. it's an understatement to say that few of us would enjoy being accused of cheating for expressing an opinion in public. this speaks again to the possible need for clearer guidelines.

_

 

rajesh jegadeesh,

 

yes, from what i've written i may also be committed to the claim that the standard practice of requiring 'solvency advocates' is similarly misguided. if a debater advocates that a certain policy solves, then that policy has a solvency advocate - unless we think participants are automatically disqualified from being solvency advocates. to require that a policy be advocated 'in the literature' is an odd practice for policy discussions today, if only for the simple reason that any quack can be published online. this is a limit that effectively limits nothing, and so i find its professed necessity unconvincing. even if i accept this limit-which-doesn't-limit, why can't debaters or other participants in debate publish their policy analysis? if you say they can't, then we simply disagree on whether the anti-democratic impact i mentioned previously in the thread is worth weighing. (this isn't to say you can't make the argument 'you don't have a qualified solvency advocate', but merely to say that such an argument is substantive, not procedural.)

 

so when you write, "if a team had entered a round with a sweet CP to do the price condition with their evidence being Skarb 2k9, the counterplan would be dismissed as not within the aff's burden of research", i claim that dismissal is illegitimate. and it's that dismissal which the use of a fake name side-steps. what possible reason could there be to support the claim that the affirmative has to research what john marbury writes but not what justin skarb writes, when they are equally qualified sources saying exactly the same thing? if skarb's counter-plan idea is illegitimate, then so is marbury's, and if you want illegitimacy to hold for both then you need to come up with a reason for why that's so which applies to both. in this sense, pseudonymity is a test of whether a response is intrinsic or fallacious.

 

what you consider "the fundamental underpinnings of debate" are what i refer to as the emperor's nudity. you are arguing for the beauty of garments that don't really exist - hence they're irrational constraints we could live without. what you're attempting to avoid by an ineffective rule is the stuff of debate itself - that is, robust clash over argument quality. we could construct an infinite number of arbitrary rules to throw out skarb's essay - 'the space review is illegit', 'the internet is illegit', 'only academic journals are legit', and so forth - but why waste time doing that when all we really need to construct is a good response?

 

some of us are trying to get debate to the place where it affects the literature itself, where the literature isn't seen as a static entity that debaters merely observe (cross-reference: http://debatescholarship.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/policy-debate-brief-series/). jegadeesh writes, "Debaters should not manipulate evidence" - yet after reading his post, i'm not sure i can distinguish this from the claim that 'debaters should not write evidence'. to again make my position clear, manipulating evidence is a violation of every academic standard worthy of the name. it's a serious ethical matter. but it's also true that in any academic community worthy of its name, you know going in you may have to investigate what your fellow participants advocate...

 

"I have about 15 new affs rattling around my head that were missing solvency advocates, I could just write them up, and you could debate the claims."

 

yes! please do! this would be precisely the kind of original case-construction that would strengthen debate as an academic community. the fact that you self-censored because 'there isn't a card' IS MY ENTIRE POINT! the creativity and growth of the activity is being obstructed because of the myth that some magical fairy sprinkles fairy-dust on the opinions of experts such that they become 'evidence'.

 

_

 

michael antonucci,

 

i will never call you the man.

...nevertheless, i will say that if your 'open source' proposal had been adopted, it would moot this entire controversy.

 

_

 

 

...apologies for the length.

Edited by Lazzarone
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I tried to keep it short, but I failed. Sorry. The "Second" point is more important than the "First" point so skip to that if this is too long.

 

First, your definitions of bias and qualifications are unrealistic.

 

Bias means "influence in an unfair way." Most dictionary definitions agree that opinion alone is not bias. "Bias" focuses on interference with fair adjudication. See my warming analogy here: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2009-May/078737.html. That analogy is one where hypothetical "Marburry" and "Skarb" have the same educational qualifications; but it is still an example of manipulating qualifications to produce a bias.

 

Doctoring qualifications is unfair because it enables a dishonest assessment of the author's credibility for a particular claim. Having "qualifications" to write a card means having characteristics that make one credible on that card's claim. You agree that a debater can't make up characteristics that add credibility.

 

However, making up characteristics to add credibility is no different from cloaking characteristics that could otherwise disqualify an author. See the warming example above. Or, it is not fair to call Khalilzhad and ask him to write an article saying a certain plan is key to hegemony as a personal favor and then lie about it when asked by your debate colleagues. This is a real concern --- it happens a lot when debaters have moderately famous relatives.

 

Don't confuse bias for motive. I can accidentally leave test answers on a chalkboard and bias the results. The unfair skew in one set of student answers produces a bias in the test results, even though it was unintentional. In fact, a computer glitch that awards A's to all students with last name "G" creates bias.

 

It does not matter whether Skarb had a nefarious motive; what matters is that he intended to produce a deception, and that deception produced unfair/skewed debate situations and violated the trust of his colleagues.

 

Second, I don't believe your response deals with my "trust" point --- which is really the heart of my argument.

 

I don't mean this disrespectfully, but I frankly don't care much right now about whether coaches should write cards or use pen names as an abstract question. What matters is that a lot of people do care, and colleagues should show respect for each others' opinions instead of deceiving them to avoid clash with their opinion. Several people did express concern in emails to Skarb. You admit yourself that many debaters believe the relevance of the bias argument in the community. It is unreasonable to think that some people wouldn't be upset when I cloak my debate bias in writing an article. And, I don't think it's unreasonable, even if ultimately incorrect, to believe debate authorship matters.

 

Yet despite those concerns - despite the repeatedly requested information on authorship - Skarb chose to maintain a deception by writing to his colleagues and lying about who he was. It was a deception that skewed debaters' research, infected a debate round at TOC, and undermined communal trust in Damien's squad.

 

Maybe, in extreme cases, a competing interest outweighs. But that's not the case here. I explained in an earlier post why Skarb's rationales for his use of the pen-name are not believable. I've also explained in my last post why I don't think, in the abstract, that other cases will arise where the use of a pen-name is necessary to ensure that debate coaches can make opinions and have them fairly adjudicated.

 

I am criticizing your entire approach to this issue. You are deciding the question of appropriateness by asking it in a vacuum, with yourself as the judge and jury.

 

Instead, I'm suggesting that there are times when you don't deceive your colleagues on an issue simply because they think it's important. Maybe they shouldn't think it's important. But that is not a justification for breaching their trust, especially when the use of a pen-name is not necessary for a legitimate and more important interest.

 

So yes, if your colleagues email you expressing concern about whether Khalilzhad was wearing pants in the morning then you should not lie to them. You can maybe say, "I don't see how that is relevant" or "I honestly don't know," but don't actively deceive them. I'm willing to take that hardline position, because (as I said), I care 10x more about trust and respect in the community than about whether bad arguments win debates.

 

But this is not a potentially unreasonable situation about Khalilzhad pants. This is a very clear instance where a lot of people do care about and are reasonable in caring about debate authorship even if they're not right in some abstract theoretical re-envisioning of debate - and they even emailed the author about these concerns! The real issue here is about showing respect for what your colleagues think is important, even if you ultimately disagree with them, by not actively deceiving them.

 

Maybe in a few years we won't care at all about whether debaters secretly authored an op-ed piece. But right now a lot of people do, and it is disrespectful and dishonest to lie to them.

 

It is also arrogant to justify that lie by saying "you're all wrong about whether this matters, but I'm not going to even let you make that argument - instead I'm going to deceive you so you won't realize you can make it." It is arrogant to presume to know the truth of whether bias arguments are ideal despite alternative opinions and also take the paternalistic stance that it's therefore ok to deceive people out of making bias arguments on the basis that "if they're upset, it's really their fault for incorrectly caring about it."

 

In other words, it is arrogant to (1) write an Op-Ed piece highly relevant to a debate topic and then (2) decide it's ok to be actively dishonest to your colleagues because YOU don't think their desires for disclosure are correct in an ideal world.

 

But in the midst of this, let's not forget that the primary reason Skarb publicly asserted for using the pen-name was that he thought his publication would violate his employment contract by stealing a corporate opportunity - he was asking the debate community to forgive his deception because he had to make sure his company wouldn't notice if he was deceiving them too! Yet even he has not made the argument that the pen-name was necessary to protect his article from bias attacks.

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oh i see, you're not saying skarb is biased; you're saying skarb's use of a fake identity produces bias. sorry, that wasn't clear to me until just now. typically we discuss bias as the author's ideological prejudice or inability to be impartial, but you're saying that we the audience (in this case, debaters and judges) can't adjudicate fairly without knowing skarb's name/position (...again, help me out if i've mischaracterized your position).

 

well, first, it seems to me that the latter relies on the former - that is, if knowing skarb's name is key to fairly adjudicate his text, there must be some expectation that he's less than capable of being impartial or that he possibly has an ulterior motive/conflict-of-interest. when one nullifies the latter clause, one nullifies the former - which is to say, if i've shown that his motive and position are irrelevant when addressing the substance of his claims, and that calling an opinion an opinion is non-responsive, then i've also shown that we don't need such arguments to render a fair judgment. given the dependence of these clauses, you don't get to say, 'his motive is irrelevant, we just need to know his name', because the only reason you've given so far for our needing to know his name is so debaters can impugn his motives. my question to you remains the same: why is ad hom necessary for non-biased judgment? i can understand why the debate community would want to discourage the use of pseudonyms in order to enable a holistic assessment of a given author's body of work (the argument i made in the preceding post), but that's a matter of convention; to someone who persisted in such a practice, we wouldn't say, 'you're a cheater', but 'you're failing to live up to our standards'. this is the difference between someone who makes up a card which doesn't really exist and someone who only reads the parts of a card which supports their cause. it's important to take this difference into account. what you're defending, on the other hand, is, strictly speaking, bias: you're saying we have to be able to prejudge an author based purely on their name/position. well, i ask you, how can defending bias ward off bias?

 

i don't get your warming analogy: "it'd be like if Skarb was paid $1b by the oil industry and then got plastic surgery to testify before Congress under the fake name Marburry." i can understand how a pseudonym is analogous to plastic surgery (sorta), but, to my knowledge, skarb wasn't compensated by anyone for publishing in the space review, so how does that part of the analogy work? is the argument that we wouldn't be able to find out whether skarb was paid-off without knowing his real name? well, in truth, we probably wouldn't be able to find that out anyway without some serious investigative journalism. is the argument that future success in contest-rounds is akin to being paid off by the oil industry? if so, then none of us can be trusted, and this is an argument for a total ban on participant-authored work. ...in any case, i'm lost.

 

"it is not fair to call Khalilzhad and ask him to write an article saying a certain plan is key to hegemony as a personal favor and then lie about it when asked by your debate colleagues. This is a real concern --- it happens a lot when debaters have moderately famous relatives."

 

i'm not sure i understand where you're designating the crime: is it wrong to ask khalilzad to include your affirmative plan in something he's writing as a personal favor? if we did so, and then told debate colleagues the truth after they asked, would it then be alright? if not, then whether we lie about it afterward is only rotten icing on an already rotten cake, and we shouldn't use personal relationships to garner professional favors, period. this is akin to the contradictory position of saying 'it's okay that skarb wrote the article under a phony name, but it's not okay that he didn't fess up when debaters asked him about it': either we decide that pen names are violations of the rules, or we accept that in writing under a pen name one has to maintain the deception after the fact.

 

but imagine instead that a debater with a moderately famous relative (khalilzhad's son or daughter, say) enrolled at school under a different last name so that they could cite their father without having to hear 'you can't read cards from your dad; that's biased - how do i know you didn't tell him to write that?'. now i ask you, is that the kind of unacceptable deception you're talking about? are debaters entitled to know khalilzhad's your dad just so they can make that crappy argument in-round? would you also "take the hardline position" that the "real issue here is about showing respect for what your colleagues think is important, even if you ultimately disagree with them, by not actively deceiving them"? would you similarly characterize such an act as 'disrespectful' and 'arrogant'? is it a "paternalistic stance" to not come clean about your pater familias? =) (it was getting a little too heavy so i had to lighten things up with a pun.)

 

where i discern a possible fundamental disagreement between us is this sentence: "making up characteristics to add credibility is no different from cloaking characteristics that could otherwise disqualify an author." so, telling you that i worked for the president's commission on being a badass and have published over 3,000 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals is no different from not telling you that i have a criminal record or that i'm dating a foreigner or that my dad works in the obama administration or that my name is really hagbard celine? your claim sounds reasonable in the abstract, but in fact i do see a difference in kind between lying and not telling the whole truth. inventing qualifications is one thing; cloaking items that may hurt your case is another. the former is a matter of cut-and-dry rule-violation; the latter is (as yet still) a matter of poor academic standards. the main gist of all my recent posts on this thread is merely to say that we need to make this distinction. skarb did not cheat.

 

"You are deciding the question of appropriateness by asking it in a vacuum, with yourself as the judge and jury."

 

this sounds lovely rhetorically, however whenever i make a decision about something, i'm the judge and jury. you write that pen names may be appropriate "in extreme cases" when "a competing interest outweighs" but "that's not the case here". skarb says he thought publishing the article would endanger his job. now it's you who appoint yourself judge and jury to deem his rationale "not believable". if you wish to promote trust in the activity, why not simply take him at his word? or even if you do not trust him, why not allow that what name an author chooses to write under is their business, not yours? because you "don't think, in the abstract, that other cases will arise where the use of a pen-name is necessary"? now who is asking questions in vacuums?

 

it's because i support building a more collegial, respectful community that i believe in working to legitimize debate authorship. my hope is when debaters are expected to act like scholars, the standards problem will take care of itself.

_

 

p.s., reading another of marks' commentaries on the skarb controversy (co-authored with kathryn clark at http://debatecoaches.org/2009/05/18/ethics-and-evidence/) leads me to rebut two excerpts therein:

 

"Clearly, now that we all know about it, no one will win a debate on a Marburry card."

-- why not? did s.b.s.p. suddenly become less costly?

 

"Many people are afraid of burning bridges. Bringing ethical issues to light does not mean you have to accuse people of intent. Do it anonymously if necessary."

-- so anonymity (i.e., non-disclosure of your name) is suggested as a way of avoiding complications... how novel!

Edited by Lazzarone

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I feel like I've said what I needed to, but it's not quite getting through - probably my fault. But I don't know how to make it much clearer, so perhaps others can. I'll try to restate just two arguments, and leave the others to stand:

 

1. The problem with the warming analogy isn't getting paid, it's deceiving Congress when they ask about qualifications. Congress desired to know whether you had certain qualifications because otherwise you are disqualified. Maybe he did not need to disclose that he is "Skarb," but that hypothetical character should not lie by affirmatively persuading Congress that he doesn't have connections to the oil industry. The problem with Khalilzhad isn't asking him to write an article, it's taking additional steps to lie to debaters about whether you asked him to do it.

 

2. The trust point is this: you should placate communal desires by, at the very least, not lying to them on something many of them think is important and have specifically expressed concern about to you. It's one thing not to disclose a pen-name; it's another to actively maintain an illusion in emails to debaters. The point about judge and jury is that you should give broad deference to the large number of people who think it's important even if you think in the abstract that they're being silly. There is no need to give such broad deference to pants or criminal record requests because there is no communal expectation of that.

 

The exception: sometimes you might have a legitimate competing interest that outweighs. Not disclosing your sexuality or your criminal record probably counts. The test is whether he takes a reasonable position, even if ultimately incorrect. Just as he should give leeway to the communal concerns, we should give leeway to him.

 

But this isn't even close to such a case. Skarb didn't even think he needed a pen-name to enable his arguments to be read in debate. He did think it was necessary to allow him to get away with potentially violating his employment contract. But, trying to make sure your employer doesn't know if you're stealing from them it not a legitimate excuse for actively deceiving debaters as well, and I don't think it's reasonable to believe it is.

 

He should have known that his actions could result in ethics challenges in debates and other uncomfortable situations (since Damien banned its own students from reading the cards). Instead, he intentionally maintained a deception and either knew or should have known this this deception would produce biased evidence situations in debates.

 

In saying I don't think his excuses are "believable," I'm trying to give him a significant amount of leeway. I can even grant that he genuinely believed that posting an article on space solar power might violate his contract with 7/11. But it is still not a reasonable excuse or valid competing interest to say "I had to maintain the illusion of debate so that my employer wouldn't know that I might be stealing their corporate opportunities." That pushes the bounds of acceptability too far, even though I'm willing to stretch them a lot as is.

 

It doesn't take much leeway to say "it's reasonable for debaters to want to know if an author is actually a debater," but it takes far too much leeway to say "it's reasonable to actively deceive debaters in order to get away with potentially stealing from my employer."

 

Frankly, I also and separately think it's too much leeway to say "it's reasonable to actively deceive debaters in order to get away from having to answer bias arguments," but that doesn't even matter. That wasn't Skarb's reason for the pen-name; he emphatically stated that he had no expectation that debaters would want to use his article. It doesn't make sense to say he had a competing interest in the pen-name that he wasn't even interested in. It cannot excuse his choices.

 

(To avoid confusion: intent does matter, in that the act that produces bias must be intentional. But, the bias itself does not have to be intentional. I can knowingly leave test scores out and be conscious of the risk of biasing the test results, but not know exactly who will benefit from it.)

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As long as we are discussing the question of author qualifications, what about diploma mills? Teams read evidence written by Thomas Bearden, who obtained a PhD in "life experiences and knowledge" from a fake British university. Wouldn't this give him the same qualifications as any layman with enough cash to purchase the diploma online?

 

I ran into this blog recently: http://eddiellort.blogspot.com

 

The author obtained his PhD in Anthropology from "Parkwood University." A quick wikipedia search indicates that Parkwood is part of a notorious diploma mill scheme from the mid 90s. "Eddie L. Lort" is most likely a pseudonym as well (L. Lort is 'Troll' spelled backward). Would it be 'unethical' for me to cut evidence from this blog as an answer to the popular Gulakov K? If a PhD from "Parkwood University" is technically the same as having no PhD at all, does the fact that the author operates under a pseudonym matter at all?

Edited by PacRankings

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