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Non-Competitive Discussion For Problems In The Debate Community

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Except in basic factual disputes or awful novice debates.

 

Not even then. If I'm the judge and the aff tells me the sky is red, it's the other team's job to dispute that, not mine. I judged a novice round once where someone said that the plan would create 10 billion jobs. Luckily, the debate didn't come down to this, but I would have voted on this if I had to. I obviously made sure to tell both sides after the round why this was incorrect, but I don't have the right to change the facts of the round.

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Not even then. If I'm the judge and the aff tells me the sky is red, it's the other team's job to dispute that, not mine. I judged a novice round once where someone said that the plan would create 10 billion jobs. Luckily, the debate didn't come down to this, but I would have voted on this if I had to. I obviously made sure to tell both sides after the round why this was incorrect, but I don't have the right to change the facts of the round.

 

But if one team says the sky is red, and the other says the sky is blue, the only way to resolve that is to use your own eyes. I'm not contending that judges should intervene if there's a wrong factual claim made, only that the judge should intervene if two teams have a dispute about what the facts actually are. There's no way to prove what a fact is without recourse to observation and the only type of observation the judge has access to is their own. If there are warranted arguments about what facts are true, that's a different case. If there's an uncontested assertion about what the facts actually are, that's also a different case.

 

So, I don't require warrants for claims like:

Gravity Exists

Obama is the President

Green is a Color

Paris is in France

 

Unless there are arguments against those claims (as opposed to the mere absence of evidence on behalf of those claims).

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First, the assumption that there is objectivity through the veil of what occurred a debate. And they aren't always in a position to know what caused that warp/bias (their part, the room acoustics, or the debaters lack of clarity).

 

You chose THIS as your opening position? Did you seriously just tell me that in order to make up for debaters being unclear, it is okay for the judge to read evidence? So why not just mumble a whole speech, claim to have read Tolstoy and drop a coupla reams on the judge's desk saying "here ya go!" It is not the job of the judge to intentionally introduce bias into the round in order to accommodate poor debating done by the teams. Debaters should adjust for the acoustics of the room and it is most certainly their responsibility to speak in a clear manner. This is why it is perfectly acceptable for judges shouting out "clear" "slow" as instructions to reflect their ability to comprehend what is being said as it gives debaters a clear, real-time feedback on how to adjust given the conditions and their ability.

 

Second' date=' its probably helpful to figure out in what types of scenarios the evidence is called for and read.....and then what type of interpretive or judging lense a given judge might use to interpret the evidence.[/quote']

 

Saying that evidence should be read to establish criteria for when it is acceptable to read evidence is nonsense and unless the judge is reading evidence during the round, there is no feedback to the debaters live-time for them to adjust to the judge's lens. The lens was selected before the debate began, and whether the debaters understand the implications of the lens selected will not be brought to light until the end of the round. Hypothetically, in my paradigm, after a ballot is rendered a judge may read evidence and lets say for a moment that a re-reading brings about a different conclusion which would have tilted the decision in the opposite direction - my response is then that the debaters should have done a better job of explaining the warrants of the evidence and relating it to the round. Reading evidence is tacit approval of mediocrity.

 

Third' date=' there are some issues that are literally unresolved by debaters. Judges are sometimes forced or significantly hog tied to make decisions on other criteria (ie actual evidence).[/quote']

 

And this is where I say that when the meaning of evidence is directly challenged, then it is permissible because the teams differ on their interpretation of evidence and that interpretation is the basis of clash.

 

To me this practice is akin to the jury in a case looking over the evidence after a trial.

Note: they don't get to look over all the evidence--even if it was presented in the court room--the lawyers get to object about some of it.

None' date=' the less they need the clarity the documents provide to provide the fairest decision.[/quote']

 

Since you chose to use a completely absurd example, then I will give you one in return which is far more relevant to your logic in position #2 above. In order to determine which types of torture are okay, we should torture prisoners.

 

Judging is subjective--judging without calling for evidence is subjective--judging while calling for evidence is subjective. Its just subjective in a different way.

 

There is a fundamental difference however. The other forms of subjective judging are live-time reflexes to a fluid and highly variable speech environment. Choosing to read evidence after the round is not a reflex - its intentional.

 

 

Generally' date=' judges call for evidence in which one of five things occurred:

1. the round hung on the issue or the position hung on the issue (ie to provide clarity to what is a cloudy or murky issue in terms of judging).

2. they want to see the evidence to help in their explanation of the decision (ie to provide clarity)--or rather to help provide insight for their recommendations to debates (not the RFD proper).

3. the 2ar or 2nr flagged it as a big deal.--so their decisions might include said evidence--in order to contextualize what else is happening (ie to have both sides of the story before the post-round begins).

4. to get the cite or perform competitive intelligence

5. other. curiosity. (I honestly don't know what else falls under this reason or justification)[/quote']

 

I have often called for evidence... after my decision was made. Typically its because I know the evidence and want to point out relevant parts of the evidence which were underutilized by the team which could have made a significant difference in the round. Sometimes it is because I was curious about what wasn't underlined/said. Sometimes its because I am curious... but always after my ballot is signed. Dont even get me started on the shady, corrupt practices of gathering 'competitive intelligence'.

 

I would add the speed and volume of debate means that this practice is also legitimate--as long as practiced within the realms of fairness. Expecting judges to be mimieograph machines or court stenographers for 6 debate rounds is perhaps beyond absurd. Speed and volume of evidence guarantees distortion.....and I would argue "unfair" distortion in the process......reading evidence serves to clear this up. Lets say you actually heard 50% of the card and you remember 50% of that. Making decisions in that context....without reading the evidence is impossible.

 

Again. Really? REALLY?! Do you think before speaking? I'm thinking no. If you cannot understand the evidence at the rate it is delivered, you should be instructing the debaters during the round to slow down.

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Dont even get me started on the shady, corrupt practices of gathering 'competitive intelligence'.

 

Get started please? I'm not sure exactly what that phrase entails. I think it's probably something like judges looking at evidence and giving the citations to their debaters. I'm trying to think of reasons why that is bad and the only ones I can think of are that people will cite steal instead of doing their own research and that it will magnify big school advantages. But both of those seem like the effects of all types of information distribution, like the wiki, and not intrinsic to the process of what I perceive competitive intelligence to be.

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I used to be just like everyone else, sharing flows and copying cites until I really sat down to think about what it does to the competitive landscape.

 

In the days of open caselists and disclosure, sharing of flows is largely trivialized from an ethical perspective. The judge is supposed to be an impartial observer adjudicating a round between two competitors, both of whom are competition for their own teams. The fact that the judge has teams in competition is already a source of bias, but in our community it is an unfortunate reality because we could never hire enough independent judges with the qualifications necessary to judge an entire tournament.... let alone a season of tournaments. Most judges and coaches are pretty good at neutralizing the bias as much as possible, which is a good thing. But using his/her position of authority to read evidence for the purpose of giving one's own teams an advantage and pollute the judging process simultaneously? Hideously unethical. Not only would you be disrespecting the integrity of the debate and treating both observed teams unfairly by willingly polluting their debate, but you would be doing so in order to give your own teams an advantage... I understand it is common to do so, but just because everyone does it doesn't make it right or ethical. Just because everyone goes 5pmh over the speed limit doesn't mean you aren't breaking the law.

 

I have moved to a point where if I want a piece of evidence, I ASK the debaters if I can have a copy, or a cite, and I ASK the teams if I can share my flows with my teams. If they decline, no big deal. Life goes on. My teams will have done fine without the evidence before, and they'll just go on just the same without it.

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using his/her position of authority to read evidence for the purpose of giving one's own teams an advantage and pollute the judging process simultaneously? Hideously unethical.

 

Nowhere in your post do you explain how evaluating evidence for the utility it gives your own debaters somehow makes judges more biased or pollutes the debate further.

 

I thought of some arguments on my own: time and focus tradeoff. Also, judges might be more likely to empathize with teams that read the kind of arguments and cards which will have high utility to the judges' own teams.

 

but you would be doing so in order to give your own teams an advantage...

 

Unless you believe in moral asceticism and think that acting on your own self interest is somehow morally wrong, I don't understand why you think this makes the practice less ethical. Acting on your self interest might be wrong when it trades off with the interests of others, but even then it's not the fact that it suits your own interests that makes your actions wrong, the only morally wrong part is that it hurts others.

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I'm torn by this but I'm starting to think that kritiks are bad for debate. They are probably great for education, but I feel the intimidation hurts policy participation and also bypasses more substantiated resolutional policy issues. The ivory tower nature of radical kritiks makes dialogue between opposing teams impossible and based on the large requisite lit base to understand kritikal positions, it puts the ballcourt in favor of the neg. Going against Kritiks I often find myself fighting just to be able to weigh the case, I feel this is a problem.

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What I am saying is that the way people say personal experience inside the round is not okay is exclusive in and of itself. Now i do not believe in the idea that "policy debate" is solely for policy. Because people get hurt by policies everyday. But if somebody wants to talk about that, all hell breaks loose.

 

"THEY TAKE AWAY FAIRNESS AND EDUCATION ALL ACROSS THE LAND. WE SHOULDN'T BE DEBATING THESE RANDOM NARRATIVES. IT IS TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE. YOU SHOULD VOTE THEM DOWN JUHHDGE. DABAIT JUST ISNT THE PLACE FOR THIS CRAP."

 

Things like the above happen all the time when these kind of debates happen. We exclude people for being open, which just isn't okay. Multiple people are excluded because personal experience and certain "kritikal" forms of debate are looked down upon by a large amount of the community.

 

I mean it isn't uncommon to hear people complain about hitting people that run "out-of-the-ordinary" arguments.

 

"DERP. WE ARE HITTING [insert team who runs "out-of-the-ordinary" arguments]. GET OUT FRAMEWORK. WE GOTTA SHOW THEM THAT THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THESE KINDS OF DISCUSSIONS. DERP"

 

 

Trying to win is not the same as trying to exclude you. You can complain about exclusion if you are voted down or barred from a tournament just because you ran a narrative or k aff. If someone runs T or framework on you it's because they're trying to win, and because a narrative is unpredictable. I mean, do you expect them to have case defense to a narrative?

 

Also...a lot of people are talking about women's participation. I agree that, if there is any sort of system of exclusion or discrimination in society or in debate programs themselves that keeps women out of debate, those problems must be remedied. However, there's no reason to recruit one group more actively than another just because that group is underrepresented. Only if there is some sort of barrier to their participation does action need to be taken. In general, the focus should be on getting more people to do debate, not just more women.

 

P.S. Before anyone says I'm some sort of horrible person who perpetuates patriarchy and so on, I will say that I've read multiple books by feminist authors including the Feminine Mystique and 2 or 3 by Jessica Valenti and fully support equality for women.

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Except in basic factual disputes or awful novice debates.

 

I think novice debates are the one place judges should virtually never call for evidence, considering there's about a 96% chance the novices didn't cut that evidence themselves. I'd hate for a round to come down to the quality of a card a novice was given by an advanced debater or coach.

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P.S. Before anyone says I'm some sort of horrible person who perpetuates patriarchy and so on, I will say that I've read multiple books by feminist authors including the Feminine Mystique and 2 or 3 by Jessica Valenti and fully support equality for women.

 

 

lollolololololololololoololololoololol omfg, loololololololollolol

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Nowhere in your post do you explain how evaluating evidence for the utility it gives your own debaters somehow makes judges more biased or pollutes the debate further.

 

It was self evident. If reading evidence after the round unduly biases the debate because the judge can gain an interpretation of the evidence not argued within the debate, then asking to see evidence read in the round (because you think it might be good for your own teams) before the ballot is cast is uniquely damaging because you are polluting a round between two other teams for the purpose of giving your own team gains. Its something entirely different when the judge reads evidence because the teams debated the interpretation, the judge cast a ballot, and then asked if s/he could have the cite to give to her/his teams. Its not much different than a basketball referee who loves the Lakers to throw a game between Dallas and New Orleans.

 

There is no ethical defense you could offer to justify such behavior that passes the common sense test.

 

 

Unless you believe in moral asceticism and think that acting on your own self interest is somehow morally wrong, I don't understand why you think this makes the practice less ethical. Acting on your self interest might be wrong when it trades off with the interests of others, but even then it's not the fact that it suits your own interests that makes your actions wrong, the only morally wrong part is that it hurts others.

Every action hurts someone... but the question is intent. Hurting others to improve your own teams chances is an unacceptable behavior from a judge.

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I'm torn by this but I'm starting to think that kritiks are bad for debate. They are probably great for education, but I feel the intimidation hurts policy participation and also bypasses more substantiated resolutional policy issues. The ivory tower nature of radical kritiks makes dialogue between opposing teams impossible and based on the large requisite lit base to understand kritikal positions, it puts the ballcourt in favor of the neg. Going against Kritiks I often find myself fighting just to be able to weigh the case, I feel this is a problem.

 

I suppose I can understand why certain critical positions can be intimidating for smaller, straight up policy teams, but 1) bigger traditional policy teams with multiple coaches and lots of money and resources are probably more responsible for the lack of participation of smaller schools, and 2) I find myself, someone who knows very little about traditional debate, intimidated whenever I have to hit a 1AC with several internal links to leadership and a bunch of IR that I don't understand, but I find points of contention and ways to talk about what I want to talk about.

 

If the K has any chance of winning the round, it must have a link, and if it has a link, you can respond by defending your shit. For instance, a heg good aff vs a Spanos/Imperialism Bad K should not be an impossible debate.

 

On the question of policy issues not being addressed well enough - I feel the outbreak of critical arguments proves that there is indeed a difference between the topic and the resolution. The topic is an overarching area that is being debated about, the resolution is a specific policy approach. In other words, there is more to be said on the transportation infrastructure topic than a big bank.

 

I don't know a lot of things in debate that aren't ivory tower. The best impacts in policy debate are ones that are deemed as laughable outside of the debate round.

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I can see both sides of the critical divide.

 

If the K has any chance of winning the round, it must have a link, and if it has a link, you can respond by defending your shit. For instance, a heg good aff vs a Spanos/Imperialism Bad K should not be an impossible debate.

 

The aff in a debate has about 4 options:

1. Link turn

2. Impact turn

3. They cheated (generic Ks are cheating or playing the wrong game)

4. The way they ran the K is cheating

 

I think neg teams often build their strategy such that both #4 is the only possible response.

 

I think K teams are all too willing to push the limits of cheating....rather than actually answer arguments.

1) In some respects K debaters may run from those who in the present and future will mis-represent their legacy.

2) and probably run from those that have already done so whether in the 60s, the academy, or what-have-you (lets say the Levis commercial).

 

Also, a link that is based on association.....and historical association.....seems to be blaming us for the sins of our father (or for the leadership of our father). As if we aren't different from our fathers. The 60s protesters stood in opposition to some generations before....they probably also stood with generations and generations of peace keepers. The idea there is only one way to represent a word or that extrapolating the use of a word from a 5,000 word speech is always telling. The communists probably boasted about GNP too, btw.

 

That said....words are dangerous. Ideas are dangerous. The idea that we need to think about how we use them....or how they come across or how they are interpreted sure....seems like an interesting enough thing to say. But does it really rise much above navel gazing. Its is really as interesting and helpful and vital the 20th debate of the season.....as it was the 1st?

 

Not to mention what passes for warrants on K cards is a laughable as what passes for warrants on politics uniqueness arguments--that barely pass the thumb test (there is certainly the opposite side of the isle).

The K authors work under the assumption that nothing bad will ever happen in a world of idealism and utopianism--as if we could wish away humanity......far, far, far easier than they will allow their opponents to wish away the link arguments.

 

Every institution has a dirty past--or a less than perfect one. Period. While that doesn't give it an excuse to do evil in the future....its not particularly a reason to condemn it either.

For instance: the movies used to be racist. You went to the movies...you must be a racist. Its like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon...ideas--even great ideas--similar connect back to great good and some not so good.

 

The Caveats & Reservations & What Note:

 

* Father here being a metaphor for generations past (aka what our fathers did or what the generations before us did and the associations they made). Blaming your or anyone with power (minorities included--particularly new immigrants) for the "legacy of slavery" seems a bit dubious. Because we can never, ever, ever break with the past.

 

** Also, I realize this may only respond to 25% of Ks...and its taking broad swaths [the historical association part that is]--you would be fine to make that argument.

 

*** Overall, this characterization is fair to some....but perhaps on point for others. Perhaps there is some middle ground that can be squared way or set aside such that those on both sides can have a valuable & helpful discussion. Rather than debates where they talk past each other (aka ships passing in the night)

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Problem: Small schools get eaten by big schools.

Problem: Walking into an out round where the other team has three coaches prepping them out

Problem: Small teams don't have access to an army of evidence producers

Problem: Small schools can't travel nearly as much as big schools

Problem: Small schools don't get to have "off weekends"

_____________________________________________

 

Problem: Inequity in debate.

 

But that's nothing new, despite how hard we try to pretend it doesn't exist.

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Problem: Small schools get eaten by big schools.

Problem: Walking into an out round where the other team has three coaches prepping them out

Problem: Small teams don't have access to an army of evidence producers

Problem: Small schools can't travel nearly as much as big schools

Problem: Small schools don't get to have "off weekends"

_____________________________________________

 

Problem: Inequity in debate.

 

But that's nothing new, despite how hard we try to pretend it doesn't exist.

 

I'm pretty sure I can't deny that these challenges exist.....although this probably assumes one category of schools to be sure.

 

But I'm mostly writing this to explode the assumptions that "we can't afford coaching (from a quality local college debater)"

 

Also, quality coaching can check this (ie you are small, but arguably you can probably still spilt the cost of a coach between you and your fellow debaters.)

Even squads with only 4 teammates attending may be in a position to do so. The larger problem I see is geography gaps where the only quality/circuit coaching you

might be able to get during the week might be on the phone or via skype.

 

If you can afford a laptop or camp....you can afford an assistant coach. Paying $1,500 to $2,500 for camp & not investing in coaching with your

other teammates simply doesn't make intuitive sense.

 

A practice debate might cost you $6.50 per debate (assuming you hire a judge for $25).....versus tournament debates are probably more like $30 per debate + $30 for money spent at camp divided over your season. Sorry these are crude guesstimations. (certainly some tournaments are less...and travel tournaments....particularly TOC level tournaments or out of state tournaments are often more). Hiring coaching runs about what hiring a judge from the tournament runs + $100. An extra $25 per tournament generally isn't going to put you in the poor house.

If you multiply those numbers out....you can get a decent edge for practice debating versus tournament debates. I'm not saying don't go to tournaments. I'm saying you get a difference of $6.50 dollars versus $65 dollars per debate (rounded off for easy math). Thats 1/10th the cost. Its cheaper to get coaching than attend tournaments. Plus you are already investing a TON of money in the activity. Thats why paying $10 for a Thursday file is a drop in the bucket...especially if its split 2 to 4 ways on a debate squad--the same logic applies to practice debates.

 

Other ways to up your game:

• Coaching systems (ie replicable methods for on-boarding new novices in efficient ways)

• Practice debates & rebuttal redoes

• Time for reflection

• Productivity/efficiency

• Consider ways to collaborate with other small squads for coaching (aka split coaching). 2 to 4 local schools could split 1 or 1.5 or even 2 coaches--especially in terms of practice debates. Admittedly this gets harder if these squads have a singificant number of encounters during the year.

 

Some people do have a lack of funds. Some people have funds but spend it on other stuff (video games, etc...). You have choices....your current position in life isn't destiny. Its only a starting point.

 

We have a tendency to describe things in a deterministic way (actually over-deterministic way). They don't have to be this way--you are smart and creative and problem-solvers.

 

People probably said the UDL couldn't be done...that urban students would never be able to compete.....they were proven wrong.

 

Get creative. If you don't have money....you have e-bay at your service you also have "Google"

• how can team sports raise money?

• how can school activities raise money?

• how can high school activities get sponsorships?

You get the idea.

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Just saw Ankur's post.

 

It was self evident. If reading evidence after the round unduly biases the debate because the judge can gain an interpretation of the evidence not argued within the debate, then asking to see evidence read in the round (because you think it might be good for your own teams) before the ballot is cast is uniquely damaging because you are polluting a round between two other teams for the purpose of giving your own team gains. Its something entirely different when the judge reads evidence because the teams debated the interpretation, the judge cast a ballot, and then asked if s/he could have the cite to give to her/his teams. Its not much different than a basketball referee who loves the Lakers to throw a game between Dallas and New Orleans.

 

I think that I must have thought that we were talking about just the latter type of instance, about judges voting and then asking teams for evidence, not about judges asking teams for evidence for their own gain and then voting.

 

Every action hurts someone... but the question is intent. Hurting others to improve your own teams chances is an unacceptable behavior from a judge.

 

I'd prefer if you just shortened your statement to "hurting others is unacceptable behavior from a judge". It doesn't bother me that judges help their own teams, it bothers me that they hurt others, regardless of their reasons for doing it. Not intending to judge the debate fairly is bad no matter what because fair debates are good. Self interest is really not the issue though.

 

Also,

 

I think novice debates are the one place judges should virtually never call for evidence, considering there's about a 96% chance the novices didn't cut that evidence themselves. I'd hate for a round to come down to the quality of a card a novice was given by an advanced debater or coach.

 

Good point, but I was imagining a really awful novice debate where no one makes a coherent point the entire time. I think it'd be reasonable to just judge their researched evidence, even if they might not have researched it, if the alternative is judging nothing at all.

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No, ITT is the shit that everyone thinks about and talks about all the time. It's not a lack of discussion about racism or classism or sexism or bad judging that's allowing the problems to continue, it's the fact that 1. there's very little actual action being done to fix these problems and 2. these problems are difficult to solve. Get out of teh ivory tower plz.

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The single biggest problem with contemporary policy debate is spreading.

If teams had to make their arguments at a slower speed, fewer ridiculous arguments would slip by. A big reason nonsense gets by in debate is because we literally cannot hear what the opponent is saying to determine whether or not its nonsense. This goes for both kritikal and policy arguments. Spreading mystifies confusing arguments and gives them an excuse for being run that we just never question; instead of saying "I couldnt understand what he said because what he said was nonsense", we say "I couldnt undertand what he said because he was talking so fast". That knife cuts both ways too; sometimes an argument whose content is very reasonable (but said quickly) gets called unreasonable (because the debater didnt understand, because of the speed). How else do we explain the continued prevalence of "timecube", "flat earth", "death good", "rape good" and other similar arguments in an otherwise academic community?

Additionally - because of the high speed, we rely on simplistic heuristics to help manage the arguments. this is a "reps k"; this is a "race team"; hell, even "this is a kritik". We throw around words like "structural violence"; "genocide"; "discourse"; "hegemony; "resistance"; "oppression" with little regard to their meaning. For example; "structural violence" could refer to anything from "violence that has been institutionalized" (like institutional racism) to "violence that is the result of an overall structuring social principle" (marxists would say this is class) to "violence that shows up in every day life but is non-physical" (the mis-tag people give to the Cuomo cards). Cuomo would RADICALLY disagree with the marxist meaning of "structural violence", but because of the need for heuristics they get lumped in together. The genesis of that need for heuristics is information overload, caused by spreading.

The problem with these heuristics is they simplify arguments which are not simple, but differ in meaningful ways: these heuristics encourage anti-educational, simplistic responses. Even "this is a cap K" is simplistic; and the 2AC to a cap K should vary WILDLY depending on the type of cap K. We end up recycling the same arguments year after year on both sides of the debate-aisle and don't really learn the nuances and depth that the literature provides.

Independently, spreading fosters a negative approach to debate; Shanahan's comparison of debate flows to civil war re-enactments is telling. Knowledge is best produced when it is co-produced. You learn more talking to someone than you do talking at someone. It's bad education quality, even if there's more "education quantity".

Double independently, spreading sanitizes the subjects we talk about. There's something to be said for fully appreciating the topic at hand, or stopping to smell the verbal roses. If we're talking about the mass slaughter and rape of men, women, and children, the gravity of that discussion bears pause and consideration; it bears exploration in detail. "solves genocide johnson 12" does not evoke that kind of humane connection. Disconnects us from the things we talk about, which itself is probably ethically problematic, but also means we get bad education; we only have a snippet snapshot of the subjects we're discussing. We miss out on details that don't look relevant on face because we're just certain we know what's relevant.

Triple independently, spreading precludes individuals who don't have time "learning" to spread. We all know resource inequality makes debate worse; spreading exacerbates that. I work to support myself and my family; when I'm not doing that, I'm interning at UF's law school for experience; when I'm not doing that, I'm studying for my classes; when I'm not doing that, I'm collapsed exhausted next to my girlfriend from all the other work. I do not have forty-to-fifty minutes a night to pause what I'm doing, spread a number of drills, and then go back to what I was doing before; nor do I have the mental resources either. Work is EXHAUSTING, and 40 mins practicing spreading after you've spent 15 hours on your feet is different than 40 mins after you've been relaxing in your dorm eating food someone else bought you. Additionally, spreading disproportionately affects those who live in a small house or high density living because the proximity to others make spreading difficult if not impossible - your roommates/family don't want to listen to you pretend to be a blender for 40 minutes. That means you have to take your exhausted ass and find somewhere ELSE to practice. After a day of work, that's just not reasonable.

Spreading is also a form masculinity in the way that faster teams can just "outspread" other teams; the strategy behind outspreading is not to respond with good content per se, but to respond with so much content that the opponent cannot respond to all of it. Spreading creates an information arms-race where debate becomes about whose ... words per minute... is bigger. This aggressive type of debate both produces aggressive and cocky debaters and is pedagogically unsound (contrasted against a more discussion-oriented approach which recognizes the positionality of the speaker).

tl;dr fuck spreading.

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I don't think it's possible for debate to avoid polemics, nor do I think it's necessarily ideal to do so. I also don't think that spreading is any more intrinsically masculine than any other form of competition (also, should we really characterize competition as masculine?). Nor do I have issues with discussing tragedies quickly, I don't think that spreading precludes respect for the dead or poor or whoever. But I agree with the rest of your post. I've come to like spreading a lot less since I've taken a step back from debate and thought about it a little more. In the abstract, it would work great, but in the real world lots of judges don't understand it and just pretend they do while reconstructing the debate afterwards using cards. I also agree with your argument that spreading encourages simplistic understandings of arguments, that's a point I haven't seen made before.

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Women's participation is the biggest and easiest to improve issue, .....

 

 

Here's the thing about girls joining a group of people that is mostly male-- the guys will not let it go. I'm not saying there aren't great, professional, respectful guys out there. I know there are. But it isn't everyone. I am a female debater and I have a lot of inappropriate jokes told involving me by the guys on our team, and sometimes I am ready to scream at them all. Just because I hang out with a lot of guys (b/c of debate) does not make me a whore... but that's what they say anyway. THe best way to encourage women's participation is to encourage respect for us.

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Sure, everyone says it, but the fact that to be successful you have to have money. The national circuit tourneys are often inaccessible for many, and it limits out talent. There should be state competitions with the winners qualifying for a national tourney similar to the TOC in terms of quality. (not nfls) 

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More specific ideas please?

 

It depends on the situation, but at my school, there is absolutely no enforcement. My coach just doesn't care.

Other than that, I suppose the guys themselves could grow up... admittedly unlikely, but would be helpful.

 

On another issue you mentioned, in order to encourage women to join, let alone stay, there needs to be more positive publicity (for lack of a better word) about debate.

 

This in mind, I do live in Missouri-- not exactly noted for high policy participation in general, and women even less. I have debated a total of 2 girls this year, and in my district there are only 10 teams.

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One thing i am sick of hearing about debate is "this particular thing sucks b/c i don't have the time to do it"  Other complaints, like how money schools dominate, or how Ks hurt debate, i might not agree with, but are legitimate arguments.  But everything takes time to be good at.  You have to practice incessantly to be good at  piano/football/programming and even have to spend more time to to that English paper right.  Why should we effectively reward the people who work less hard at debate.  I agree that its bullshit when a team has three prep coaches that researched,cut, and compiled their two day old PTX file, when you worked off your ass to make one half as good, but that's a problem of money, not time.  

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