[eDebate] Reflections about debate and policymaking

Joe Patrice joepatrice
Fri Jun 1 14:44:29 CDT 2007


Charles recommended that everyone read Josh's post.  I recommend everyone
read Josh's post AND Charles's post.  Both focus in on something that many
of us regard as the proverbial "elephant in the room" of contemporary
debate.  I agree with pretty much everything Josh and Charles have said.  In
fact, if anyone has read my judging philosophy (which no one does), I've
been pleading for someone to call out bad evidence for years.  I just had a
couple of quick thoughts.

1) I completely agree that a thorough and disciplined re-visiting of what
constitutes a "good PIC" would improve the real-world applicability of
debating.  In addition to the problems that Josh identified with many PICs
run by the community, I would add that strategic debate practice presently
smiles upon coupling these PICs with nonsensical DAs with terrible evidence,
thereby gutting the risk of voting Neg and winning on the flimsy risk of the
DA.  So it comes back to the overarching point of both posts -- as long as
judges reward this calculus it will be very difficult to have the nuanced
PIC arguments that exist in the literature because chosing to debate the
real-world Net Benefit posed by the PIC advocate is almost always less
advantageous to the Neg than coupling the PIC with something from the
Sacramento Bee about nuclear war.
2) One small disagreement I have is that while I am sympathetic to the
concern that debate should be oriented more toward confronting the actual
working, "nuts and bolts" repercussions of policy choices (he uses Iraq as
the example -- I cite to the Robot Chicken sketch where Vader tells the
Emperor to rebuild the Death Star and the Emperor screams "yeah? And who's
going to give me a loan, jackhole! You?" but both examples highlight the
issue), I don't think that technical topic wordings are /necessarily/ the
way to accomplish this.  I think we do not start (or end...but we're closer)
the year as experts in a field and therefore it's dangerous to try and
strictly construct the topic to reflect the contours of the real-world
policy debate when we haven't been able to even remotely corner the market
on the actual policy discussion out there (and we try really hard, but it's
just an impossible task).  I think that more simplistic and malleable topics
allow for the learned experience of finding out that x/y/z policymaker
actually conceives of the problem in a different way than we originally
expected.  Again this comes back to the overarching point of being vigilant
about not valuing shallow arguments, more so than anything involving the
topic process.

Joe
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