[eDebate] [CEDA-L] 50 points Repko, Larson and others

Josh jbhdb8
Fri Nov 2 15:16:10 CDT 2007

Confused about the "Hoe Magic Fiat Wand"

When I was in HS I learned the following partially from Ross
Smith...Presumption is against change and making QUALITY ARGUMENTS is the
key to overcoming this inertia....

Ross made an argument for a 50 point scale that only used 20 points...I
said "that is really a justification for a 20 point scale"

Ross's response seems to suggest that his ability to persuade people with
the quality argument against compression has ebbed so he will try to force
the action through a change at his tournament (coupled with a 30 point
cushion to be a pillow for the head of judges who dont feel comfortable
giving someone 4 speaker points on a 20 point scale).....Ok, if it works,
awesome.  Thats why I also said I would sign on and judge using the scale as

Of course if the argument for not compressing points isnt persuasive enough
to make the point to the majority of judges in the first place with whatever
damn scale we choose/use - those of us who agree to conform are "punishing
the debaters that prefer us as judges" (which is an argument the same Ross
Smith made to me around three or four years ago).  If that is the
case....all that will happen is the "I'm Ok Your Ok" crowd will continue to
give everyone 45-50 and the "compression bad" crowd gives more nuanced 30-50
assigned points...what was accomplished.  Like everything else, its the
persuasiveness of the argument that changes things not the accompanying


On 11/2/07, Ross Smith <smithr at wfu.edu> wrote:
> Larson addresses the idea of career or season-long datasets to compute
> z-scores, proving that a Wizard of Oz solution with reduced, not
> improved, validity:
> "Additionally, the whole premise of variance is that the observed is
> held constant and we are measuring and correcting variability among the
> observers. Rather than improving reliability by increasing the sample
> size, we decrease reliability by radically decreasing the comparability
> of the samples of debates seen by each of the observers."
> Furthermore, it's not as if this idea was really publicly vetted, or
> perceived as imminent. I am as "in the loop" as just about anyone on tab
> procedures and did not know GSU and Southern Cal were really about to
> embark on a variance experiment and that the Wake 50 point scale would
> be getting in the way. There is no such thing as alternate actor fiat.
> Wake should act on the basis of what we perceive others are likely to
> do, not on the basis of what we wish they would do.
> Otherwise, I could just wave my magic Hoe fiat wand and argue the 50
> point scale should be rejected because judges "should" just use the 20
> point scale better. I can and did consider persuading them to do so, but
> have witnessed the inefficacy of that approach over the years. Adoption
> of a different scale is a persuasive technique in and of itself, which
> brings me to the final little point of this particular post . . .
> My description of how one might conceive the 50 point scale was meant to
> be the start of a discussion, not the end of it. For instance, Will said
> he would likely give "zero or next-to-zero 49's or 50's. More likely the
> former. It's fairly easy to 'imagine a better performance'." My word
> choice was, perhaps, unfortunate. To me, there are a decent, if small,
> number of "hard to imagine better" performances. But that's because I
> mean something more like "hard to imagine a real live mortal college
> student doing *better*" or "*unlikely* to be more than a handful of
> performances that good."
> But that's just my personal view that has a lot to do with my own
> opinion that "perfect" is a stupid category. For instance, I have seen
> some speeches (all in elims) that I would assign a 31 or 32 to on a 30
> point scale because they really were that much better than the 29 point
> speeches. No speech is "perfect" but some might be enough better than
> the speeches that are a half point below the top of the scale as to
> warrant giving maximum points.
> Again, that's just me. I kind of proferred my grades analogy way of
> describing my idea of how to use the 50 point scale to my
> subjective/impressionistic list that I plunked at the bottom of that
> original post.
> I hope people offer amendments and other ways of interpreting the scale
> that make sense. I will then try to reformulate the "suggested use"
> guidelines to reflect what people think makes sense.
> I especially appreciate Will's engagement and emphasis on the idea that
> it is worse than unhelpful to just reject the attempt at a shared
> standard. I also appreciate people's nervousness with change and the
> overwhelmingly conservative nature of our community (culture is
> conservative, by definition). I would not "shake things up" just for the
> hell of it. Were the SQ not so broken, we would not just "experiment" on
> you.
> --
> Ross K. Smith
> Director of Debate
> Wake Forest University
> 336-251-2076 (c)
> 336-758-5268 (o)
> http://groups.wfu.edu/debate/
> http://www.DebateScoop.org
> _______________________________________________
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> CEDA-L at www.ndtceda.com
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