[eDebate] Totally Tangential Reply To Branson

Brad Hall hallbc2
Tue Mar 6 20:30:10 CST 2007

I think the best solution is that debaters (for the few who bother to 
read this) should be more emphatic about comparing evidence and making 
logical arguments. Judges are extremely reluctant to impose their own 
standards on debates (and rightly so), but debaters have free reign to 
attack the quality of their opponents evidence. I would particularly 
encourage debaters to spend cross-examination time on this type of 
argument, as most CX time is wasted anyway and it is the only forum for 
a direct embarrassment of the other team. From a judging perspective, 
only a few possible options appear:
a) intervene (the community consensus seems to agree this is an 
undesirable option)
b) evaluate logical analytical arguments from a presumption that a 
claim, even if it is based in evidence, must make logical sense. This 
should overcome the "well, Kansas read the Chalko card and all Dartmouth 
said was that Chalko has no warrant or backing for his claim so I voted 
for Kansas because they had a card."
c) reward debaters who do this type of debating with higher speaker 
points. Debaters love speaker awards.
d) begin to enforce this quality control on your own teams. I am not 
accusing NU or Michigan of having bad cards, but for everyone out there 
reading these posts and agreeing with the general decline of quality 
evidence and arguments in debate, take a look at the files your own 
teams turn out and ask yourself if you are part of the problem. I try my 
best to do this, although I don't speak Korean so I can't read any of 
Seungwon or Doowon's files.

One final note for anyone disagreeing with the general trend of this 
conversation: the competitive aspects of debate must be balanced against 
the educational benefits of debate. Competitively, it makes perfect 
sense to require that debaters have evidence to answer all of their 
opponents arguments. And it is certainly true that research skills are 
an important aspect of the educational benefits of debate. But it is 
equally true that debate should be educating students on the ability to 
apply logical reasoning to an argument you are unfamiliar with (see 
Aristotle on invention for more here).


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