[eDebate] Totally Tangential Reply To Branson (resend)

Whit Whitmore whit_whitmore
Tue Mar 6 15:50:20 CST 2007

It seems completely arbitrary and inconsistent to say on the one hand that 
judges should not consider contextual claims in evidence that is presented 
to them (but not read), while on the other hand saying judges should 
consider things like source and author quality (which also are frequently 
not read in debates).

If author qualifications and souce quality convey some valuable meaning that 
should be extracted by the judges and used to evaluate competing arguments, 
then why doesn't context?

My point is not that we should allow teams to assert the bare bones of 
evidence and give them credit for reading all of it. My point is that 
intervention begets more intervention. You can't distinguish one act from 
the other. If an argument about author qualification isn't in the debate, it 
shouldn't be in your decision calculous. Just like an unread warrant should 
not enter into your decision.  Read the context of the evidence to give 
the teams tips on how the evidence could be more persuasively argued or 
indicted, or point out highly (un)qualified evidence to both teams in the 
post-round discussion. But leave those arguments for the debaters to make 
next time.

When judges in the community start deciding what counts as a valid evidence 
source, I can easily see evidence from the heritage foundation being lumped 
in with the bloggers as lacking credibility. It is an invitation to judges 
to enforce their political bias with the ballot.

Do subjective decisions get handed down all the time? Yes. Is true 
objectivity impossible to achieve? Yes. Does that mean we should abandon our 
attempts to be objective and revel in our subjectivity? No.

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