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Disclosure In Kansas

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One of the last things that many debaters learn--and the best debaters learn it even later than most--is that the discursive practices of a debate round have very little to do with the way people are persuaded in the rest of the world.

 

Debate presumes a judge who aggressively seeks to disregard his or her pre-round assumptions in order to evaluate arguments with an open mind. But in the real world, there are no "tab" judges, and CERTAINLY there are no "tab" judges in environments in which you are explicitly trying to change people's opinions or behavior. In such a situation, "winning" an argument makes no sense, because the minute the person you're trying to persuade thinks you're in an argument against them, you have lost it. Think in terms of your own lives. How many times have you been in a fight in which one party voluntarily concedes that they've lost and that they need to alter their way of thinking accordingly?

 

When I say that the conservative portion of the Kansas debate community reacts defensively to the arrogance of many disclosure proponents, I am not defending that mindset. I am not making assertions of any kind about moral authority. Rather, I am describing a fact that anyone seeking to change the practices of Kansas debate should take into account when crafting their appeal. Doubling down with analogies to commercial whaling and homophobia is as counter-productive a strategy as I can imagine. You don't have to like these people, but whether you like them or not, they are the audience you are trying to persuade. A line-by-line approach is not going to help you; nor will hitting them in the head with a hammer.

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Cracked.com is awesome, btw. Robert Brockway in particular might be the most consistently funny writer on the planet at the moment. If Fowler keeps besmirching it, hands will be thrown.

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Any arguments that are to be made in favor of disclosure, need to be done in terms of how it impacts our local circuit in a competitive sense. Give me a reason to disclose that is going to impact my bottom-line W/L record. In the past, I've argued to have the wiki viewable only to teams that disclose their own... perhaps that would increase the practice.

 

My argument for disclosure is it ups your game. Even if it means short term losses....it makes you better at debate over the longer term.

Thats a W/L argument.

 

A caveat or two: I think its something you can roll out gradually (ie the amount you disclose)--if we're talking novice or someone new to disclosure.

 

And isn't it those same pro-local circuit folks who have 5 cases in novice.....the idea of disclosure....as long as its reciprocal seems to follow that same method--that novices uniquely need to be provided with certain aids which mean they don't have to have 2 tubs of evidence from the get-go.

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This got me thinking back to my own HS days, when pre-round disclosure of affs was still controversial on the national circuit. We hit a team from Caddo Magnet once in the first round and asked them to disclose. They refused. Mind you, we were mediocre, didn't even have a head coach much less assistants, and half of the Caddo team would go on to have an incredibly decorated TOC and NDT career. When Greenhill caught word of this, one of their dudes not only disclosed the aff to us but walked around telling anyone who would listen, announcing it to crowded hallways, etc. It was great.

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One argument that is common here is that disclosure will cause small schools to be outcompeted by big ones who hire card cutters. I don't think this argument makes any sense.

 

It seems to me that big schools can apply their muscle just as easily when researching generic arguments. It also seems like if nondisclosure becomes a common practice then that would benefit big schools because the big schools have extra resources with which they can pursue surprising strategies, whereas smaller schools first need to focus on the essentials. The benefits of surprise seem skewed towards big schools, not away from them. I also think that the oft made argument about how traditional scouting practices solve the benefits of disclosure is similarly skewed towards favoring big schools. It means that the coaches with the most judges and the most friends are the ones most likely to hear who is reading what case, and discriminates against those who don't have many eyes and ears working on their behalf.

 

I'm wondering whether the "big schools will beat us" objection is a euphemistic way of recognizing that if big schools disclose and small schools don't then the small schools will have an advantage. In other words, nondisclosure might be a consciously unfair decision by small schools. I think the small schools can get away with this strategy mainly because there's more pressure on big schools to disclose than on small schools because big schools are more likely to compete out of state and be subject to external pressures.

 

It's possible that, even if it's unfair, this practice serves as a way for small schools to offset other advantages that big schools have, such as the coaching staffs recognize. That and a bit of cognitive dissonance are sufficient to explain why this argument is often brought up, even though there is never any argument made describing how disclosure is key to the big schools ability to utilize assistant coaches. However, I think that even if the intent of nondisclosure by small schools is to offset the other advantages that big schools have, to not make that argument explicit accomplishes nothing and muddles the debate. I think there's a large potential for this strategy to backlash, given that I feel nondisclosure benefits large schools more than it harms them. Lastly, this kind of intentional miscommunication seems unethical, as well.

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Make no mistake about it, we WILL find your information, and we WILL make sure you lose something for not disclosing. Perhaps it will be credibility in the eyes of the judge, perhaps it will be a K link about withholding information, perhaps it will even be a full off-case voting issue, but you WILL be punished for not disclosing to us.

 

Wow, this makes you an ass. Worse, it means you reproduce the same disciplinary structures that you critique(d) as a debater.

 

If they don't want to disclose, they shouldn't have to disclose, and there's no reason to be a dick about it.

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Wow, this makes you an ass. Worse, it means you reproduce the same disciplinary structures that you critique(d) as a debater.

 

If they don't want to disclose, they shouldn't have to disclose, and there's no reason to be a dick about it.

 

Punishing defectors is key to making Prisoner's Dilemmas go away. Voluntary disclosure really can't work, it's inevitably going to run against those who are self interested and so don't disclose. I don't see how what he's doing is dickish; he's acting to create norms that help everyone out.

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