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Nelsonwins94

Is speed killing debate?

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I'm pretty sure there are other reasons why the basketball metaphor is a failure.

Maybe it has something to do with basketball being a spectator sport. And there being a professional circuit that pays billions to its players.

Maybe that's why high school and college basketball are doing fine despite cuts in educational spending and debate is starting to circle the drain...

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I can't really think of many major teams dropping out of the national circuit, and if someone did they probably were not very good anyway...

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If speed is very difficult for novices to grasp, and attracting and retaining novices is a big cause of the activity's decline, then can't speed be blamed for killing debate?

 

Speed doesnt turn novices away, we have a fairly new program and pretty much all of our novices can spread and flow. Flow debates on youtube instead of complaining about speed.

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Well of course debaters who are currently debating feel that that speed doesn't alienate debaters...

You're not the one who was alienated...

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And it's not just novices and potential novices; the support of parents and administrators is key to building and maintaining healthy programs. If they perceive policy as an incomprehensible shouting match (rightly or wrongly) then individual programs, and the event as a whole, suffer.

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I suppose I should know better, but an old friend who still hangs out here apparently isn't going to stop harassing me until I do this...

Inclusivity doesn't matter if the activity then has little to no educational value.
The first flaw in this argument is its assumption that debate had no educational value before the current mania for hyper-fast delivery began. That position is, to put it charitably, unsupportable...

 

The second flaw in this argument is that it is petitio principii; that is, it simply asserts as proven the very proposition (speed = better) it is intended to support. You cannot establish the claim that speed is good/valuable/essential/whatever simply by asserting that this is so, and then using this assertion as the starting point for your responses to speed's critics...

The reason speed has developed as a norm is because it is a POSITIVE norm.
Well, that is certainly the claim made on its behalf. Let's see if you can improve on the usual pro-speed boilerplate...
It's positive competitively - allows teams to make more arguments and read more cards.
So? If the debater's arguments are crap, 2 x crap still = crap. Likewise, if a debater's evidence is crap, 2x crap still = crap. Some arguments are better than others, and some evidence is better than other evidence. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to show that a tactic (speed) which allows the introduction of MORE of a thing into a speech necessarily means the introduction of more GOOD stuff. Or is it your claim that quantity is the only metric that matters?
It's positive educationally - the ability to make more arguments = more in-depth discussion and the ability to explore a wider variety of issues.
Answered above. Your analysis requires a demonstration that increased quantity does not come at the expense of quality. And even a casual observer would chuckle at your "in-depth" claim...
Oh, and there's the whole issue of more arguments meaning that there are more interactions between positions to analyze.
And if those additional positions were any good, you'd have at least a shred of a point. But you aren't proving that claim, you're simply asserting it. I don't know what rounds you've been listening to, but far too many hyper-fast debaters are using the technique in order to shoehorn in a bit more crap, in the hopes that the opponent will under-cover or mishandle said crap, to the benefit of the crap-running debater. In other words, the interest in speed is strictly tactical; it has ZERO to do with fostering "in-depth discussion," or "analyzing more interactions," or any of that other stuff...
Speed may not be "essential," but it's certainly beneficial.
"Certainly"? Nothing is more certainly FALSE than this claim. Completely aside from the demonstrable effects it has had on recruitment/retention (of coaches as well as debaters), and the alienation of even former policy debaters a few years removed from the activity (this alienation is a major factor in program death, by the way), even the supposed educational advantages ("Speedy speaking makes you smarter," etc.) don't withstand scrutiny. If the various educational advantages claimed for hyper-fast delivery rates were real, EVERY institution which would benefit from those advantages would train people in the technique. That its use is pretty much confined to academic debate speaks volumes. And here's a point you almost never see made in these discussions: Even if there were tangible cognitive benefits to learning to speak at hyper-fast rates, that in itself does not justify employing the technique in actual debates. You could get the claimed cognitive benefits by practicing speaking/reading that quickly, but debate at more normal rates. Doing this would avoid the adverse consequences speed has on the activity...
Speed doesnt turn novices away, we have a fairly new program and pretty much all of our novices can spread and flow.
Speaking of logical fallacies, this one (hasty generalization) is also a frequent visitor in these conversations. I'm sorry, but your (very) limited experience doesn't outweigh decades of evidence trending in the opposite direction. I would also point out that you have no way of knowing how many debaters your program would have if it were practicing a more moderate delivery style. How many novices, for instance, would say "You guys talk too slow...I'm outta here!" Novices, by their very nature, don't have any basis for believing anything about debate. They absorb the attitudes/opinions of the more experienced members and/or the coach. In short, they are tabula rasa, no more likely to become debaters because of an emphasis on speed than they are likely to shun debate because of a lack of speed...
Flow debates on youtube instead of complaining about speed.
Yes, that's it. The reason all those coaches have given up on the event and programs have died for lack of institutional support is because people haven't watched enough videos of rounds from bid tournaments... :rolleyes:
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And it's not just novices and potential novices; the support of parents and administrators is key to building and maintaining healthy programs. If they perceive policy as an incomprehensible shouting match (rightly or wrongly) then individual programs, and the event as a whole, suffer.

If the administrators want to see debates, show them public forum. That should solve the majority of these instances.

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If the administrators want to see debates, show them public forum. That should solve the majority of these instances.

Yes, because that will help address declining support for CX debate...

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I think the most logical path to slower debate is performance. I personally think debate would be better if it was slower and cared at all about persuasion but I also think the way to get people to slow down is to radicalize the form of debate not to win a rules based discussion about why speed might be bad. Form meets function...if the argument relies on elements of persuasion not just the veracity of its truth claims then perhaps debate will change. If we think debate is just going to slow down and maintain the current flow and organizational structure I just don't see that going down. Until that happens a good fast throw down can be a joy to watch from time to time...

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Yes, because that will help address declining support for CX debate...

I thought that most programs evaluated the debate program as a whole, not the specific types individually. If they evaluate them individually PF probably won't solve.

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Mr. Shuman, it's always a pleasure to see you back in these parts.
Not "back." Just trying to please an old acquaintance...
I assume we agree there is no correlation between speed and good or bad arguments.
I think there is a correlation, just not the one most people would assume...
And yet more people joined this year than in any previous year?
Not sure who your source is for this factoid, but it is almost certainly false...

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I thought that most programs evaluated the debate program as a whole, not the specific types individually. If they evaluate them individually PF probably won't solve.
Administrators like PF. They can relate to PF. Heck, administrators who were policy debaters in the past can relate to PF more than speed debate.

 

I've never heard of a program losing support due to PF. I have heard of programs losing support due to speed debate.

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I don't see any correlation. I've seen plenty of bad arguments from both fast and slow teams. I've also seen good arguments from fast and slow teams.

 

I would argue the following: time is finite. Therefore, time spent on learning how to speak faster is time not being spent on flowing, writing better arguments, doing better research, etc.

 

Generalization... but somewhat useful.

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Administrators like PF. They can relate to PF. Heck, administrators who were policy debaters in the past can relate to PF more than speed debate.

 

I've never heard of a program losing support due to PF. I have heard of programs losing support due to speed debate.

I wasn't saying that PF hurt support for policy.

 

I was saying PF helped support for policy in cases where the debate program was evaluated as a whole.

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I wasn't saying that PF hurt support for policy.

 

I was saying PF helped support for policy in cases where the debate program was evaluated as a whole.

How is that at all relevant to the topic of this thread, whether speed hurts public perception of policy? If speed in CX causes a lower overall opinion of CX, then how does PF play any part in that?

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And it's not just novices and potential novices; the support of parents and administrators is key to building and maintaining healthy programs. If they perceive policy as an incomprehensible shouting match (rightly or wrongly) then individual programs, and the event as a whole, suffer.

You said that the program as a whole would suffer due to speed in policy debate. I said that if you show administrators PF when they want to see debates you should be able to avoid some instances where program funding would suffer. It's definitely relevant.

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You said that the program as a whole would suffer due to speed in policy debate. I said that if you show administrators PF when they want to see debates you should be able to avoid some instances where program funding would suffer. It's definitely relevant.

I did not say that debate programs as a whole would suffer. I've said that policy programs suffer and that policy as an event suffers. But, until you went off on this tangent, I restricted my comments to policy debate alone.

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Ankur,

 

I was speaking empirically. I have heard really bad arguments from both fast and slow debaters. If anything, I have probably heard more bad arguments from slow debaters because they tend to have less coaching than fast debaters.

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Two points (none of which are terribly original but that bear repeating):

 

(1) Proponents of speed often claim that slower debate allows for rhetoric and appeals to emotion to overtake logical argumentation. This claim seems to bear out in many instances (though not all), and I think that proponents of slower debate would do quite well to address such a problem upfront and with vigor. I was in a boatload of slower rounds in high school where appeals to emotion, rhetoric, oratorical flare, and so on overtook good argumentation and, unfortunately, some lay judges prefer the former set to the latter.

 

(2) Proponents of speed should recognize that, even if the criticism of slower debate in (1) is true, increasing the speed of debate doesn't necessarily solve the problem. It strikes me as quite plausible that speed hides logical errors, bad evidence, and so on. That is, where rhetorical flashiness can hide logical errors in slower debate, a different sort of rhetorical trick can paper over errors in faster debates. It may be true that better debaters debate fast, but that might just be a cultural artifact, as many point out.

 

In sort, just because fast debate may be bad doesn't make slow debate good and just because slow debate may be bad doesn't make fast debate good. Not exactly a brilliant point, but it often gets lost in the fray.

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I did not say that debate programs as a whole would suffer. I've said that policy programs suffer and that policy as an event suffers. But, until you went off on this tangent, I restricted my comments to policy debate alone.

If PF makes administrators happy, and administrator support is needed to provide funding for the debate team, then PF would seem to solve for problems associated with how administrators feel about debate. Unless policy has a separate budget from the rest of the team, I suppose.

Proponents of speed often claim that slower debate allows for rhetoric and appeals to emotion to overtake logical argumentation. This claim seems to bear out in many instances (though not all), and I think that proponents of slower debate would do quite well to address such a problem upfront and with vigor. I was in a boatload of slower rounds in high school where appeals to emotion, rhetoric, oratorical flare, and so on overtook good argumentation and, unfortunately, some lay judges prefer the former set to the latter.

I have to wonder whether this relationship is causal or if another factor is at work; namely, that weaker or newer debaters may be more likely to both speak slowly and resort to pathos-laden speeches.

 

The only way I could see speed solving this is if it weeds out lay judges and reduces the judging pool to only members of the debate community. And - even if such a thing is desirable - I think there are other ways to encourage a more educated judging pool.

 

My 2 cents:

 

1. Is speed killing debate? I certainly haven't seen sufficient evidence to warrant this conclusion. Since all anyone ever seems to provide are anecdotal data points, I'll contribute one myself: I come from a very small, traditional, and most of all slow circuit. And debate is dying here too. Can I prove that speed isn't an issue in some places? No. But there are certainly other factors at work. I wish I could tell you what they were so that we could try to fix them, but I can't.

 

2. Coming from such a district, I think I have a strong right to complain about speed. Certainly there are few other schools that face such an uphill battle trying to compete on the national circuit. But I'm not prepared to hate on speed simply because I am disadvantaged by it. I've watched some truly fantastic out-rounds that genuinely were better because of speed. The arguments were good, and speed allowed for more of them and far more depth and analysis. And, while too fast for lay people, the speakers were clear enough for me to flow - at least, for the most part.

 

3. However, I've also seen the opposite: rounds where arguments were poor, powertagging was rampant, and the debaters were unable to speed with clarity. Are these problems entirely caused by speed? No, but I would argue that they are exacerbated by it. The concept of spreading an opponent out of the round naturally leads to a focus on quantity rather than quality because the goal is to win on dropped or undercovered arguments, and I'm afraid that this is probably a causal factor behind the speed arms race.

 

4. I think both fast and slow debate can be valuable. Both can also be awful. While I grant that speed allows for the very best debate rounds possible, I question whether the proportion of rounds fitting this description is sufficiently large to justify the potential impacts of speed on debaters who are not running enough good arguments to fill a slow speech much less a fast one.

 

Just some disorganized ramblings...

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Not "back." Just trying to please an old acquaintance...

Puddy: Hey Benes, How are you?

Elaine: I'm doing great.

Puddy: Great. [pauses] See ya.

Jerry: Well, that's it. You two are back together.

Elaine: What?

Jerry: The bump into. The bump into always leads to the backslide.

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