[eDebate] The Mission Impossible Role of the Topic Committee

Ede Warner ewarner
Mon May 29 07:37:44 CDT 2006

Two things Tim:  1) if the goal is one great topic, then why charge them with creation of 3-6 in 2 ? days? Why not have them produce one great topic and not have a voting process afterwards?   The current process doesn't match up with the charge you are giving to the topic committee.  When the goal was to create "reasonable predictable ground", a committee could easily achieve 3-6 topics in that time frame, but the standard is so much higher to achieve "absolute certainty", the last couple of topics on the ballot never get the same treatment as the first one.  Historically, that has occurred each year of late.
2)  Have we even resolved the question of whether some side bias is good?  Is the goal of the topic committee to produce a topic that creates equal side bias?  I've heard others say that aff's should win 75% of their debates (like defending home field advantage).  Why is aff flexibility reduced to perceived notions of which side is better in coin flips?  Why isn't who actually won those debates just as, if not more important than the side someone picked?  It just doesn't seem that you would want to stop here with evidence accumulation in determining one's goals in topic construction?  Given the time and effort this community places on debating a topic, it would seem that a systematized method of record keeping is needed if these are in fact the types of evidence that people want the topic committee to use to make their judgements.  What was the side bias on sanctions?  How does it compare with other years?  Just seems like before determining productive outcomes, there must be some agreement on what in fact needs to be created?
>>> <Pacedebate at aol.com> 5/29/2006 3:43:55 AM >>>

In a message dated 5/29/2006 12:35:12 A.M. Central Daylight Time, ewarner at louisville.edu writes:
I write this because I fear than many of the justifications for what the committee considers "best" these days is subjective to me and flies in the face of a lot of history.  I won't make arguments that the way we write topics has lead to the downfall of debate, because that is overly, overly simplistic.  But I will say, that as we get further entrenched in a debate belief that attempts to create absolute certainty as the standard for a good topic, I would hope that the community is willing to stay introspective and test that premise against our own historical evidence to the contrary.

Until very recently I was a very firm believer in a strong limit on affirmative flexibility. To me the historical evidence was a very strong bias for the aff as evidenced by coin flips in out rounds. Win the flip and pick aff. The success of that approach was also backed by the winning percentage of the aff. Those trends have both changed. I suspect the side bias is neg and certainly the winners of the flip are often picking negative. However, I don't think that means we should unleash the aff. I think sanctions was the best topic I ever coached on and I think the aff would be ok even in the world of the floating pic with that resolution. Ede is correct that asking the topic committee to recreate that type of resolution is a high standard I think they are up to it.

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