[eDebate] TOPIC ANARCHY....

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Thu Jun 21 14:11:45 CDT 2007

One other observation (non-statistical):  I'm not firmly in either camp, but I go into a round with what I believe to be a fairly strong presumption that I will vote negative if the affirmative is blatantly non-topical (e.g., Darfur on this year's resolution).  I often (usually) end up voting affirmative because the negative doesn't make any good arguments about why I should vote for them (the 13 second generic T block in the 1NC notwithstanding).  The problem is that the arguments that Jim and Matt and Josh and others are making here are not made in the rounds I see.

Now each side could use this as fodder for their edebate claims.  Jim could claim that it's ridiculous to expect his students to debate whether debating Darfur on a Middle East topic is bad.  He might claim it's so self-evidently bad that his students don't spend any of their precious research time on it.  He might say this explains why they (not Whitman debaters specifically; I don't recall the last time I judged a Whitman team) debate badly (as I see it) on this question.  

Andy and Jackie might claim that there are a lot of judges like me (though, hopefully most are more competent).  If the other side would just take this seriously, they would see that non-topical affirmatives don't really have an advantage.  

I would suggest that the "truth" may be somewhere in the middle.  Most traditional debaters do not spend much time thinking about how they will debate against non-traditional teams (and they're being somewhat rational, if 80%+ of their rounds will be against traditional teams).  Meanwhile, the non-traditional teams know that they will be challenged in many/most of their rounds on whether their approach should be "allowed".  So, they spend a lot more time thinking about these questions and debate them better.  It's not Jim vs. Jackie (though I'd pay to see that); rather, it's Jim's students who (rationally) don't spend much time on these questions vs. Jackie's students who (rationally) spend more time on these questions.  

Well, I said this wasn't going to be statistical, but it does seem to touch on formal theory (rational choice theory) instead.  Not sure if that's any better for clarity.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: matt stannard<mailto:stannardmatt at hotmail.com> 
  To: Andy Ellis<mailto:andy.edebate at gmail.com> ; Jim Hanson<mailto:hansonjb at whitman.edu> 
  Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:57 PM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] TOPIC ANARCHY....

    The topic does not go away because towson oklahoma or any other school says it should, it still serves as the starting point. CEDA does not suggest the role that topic should play in the round just that going in it should be the shared assumption, 
    What does this mean, exactly?

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