[eDebate] Skarb - and how is this even a debate??

David Marks dgm2109
Tue May 12 11:52:05 CDT 2009

The problem isn't that coaches write articles. You can read those cards and
debaters should be able to make arguments about bias.

The problem is when coaches purposefully hide the fact that they wrote them.
This problem is made worse when it happens right before TOC and when the
article includes cards just so happen to be a devastating negative strategy
(one that was read by at least one team at TOC with the use of these cards).

Let's be very clear about something: the Marburry character is COMPLETELY
FALSE. Marburry is Skarb. The idea that Skarb just "contributed research" is
laughably misleading, but it does show that the use of the fake name
couldn't have been to protect Skarb's anonymity from non-debate people out
to get him. And what's the practical consequence? The card obviously gets
cited as Marburry, not Skarb! No debater facing this card would find out
that Skarb had anything to do with it until AFTER the debate.

Warming analogy: it'd be like if Skarb was paid $1b by the oil industry and
then got plastic surgery to testify before Congress under the fake name
Marburry. Him saying "I hired Skarb to contribute to some of the research"
and presenting a biography with no other connections to the oil industry is
not even close to "I am Skarb and I was paid $1b to testify before you."

Here's a very simple question: which is really more likely?
A. Skarb had to use a pen name because someone was out to get him.
B. Skarb used a pen name to cloak bias.

Here are some facts that can help you resolve this question:
1. Skarb put his name right after putting the fake name (at the bottom of
the article).

If it were really a pen name to protect his anonymity, why did he break it?
To me, it seems much more likely that he put the name there to REINFORCE the
idea that Skarb and Marburry are two separate people! I have no idea why
putting his name in the article as a contributing researcher makes it more
fair. In my mind, it HELPS the deception by reinforcing the idea that the
author was not biased ---- intentional or not.

2. Zero other publications by this Marburry person.

3. Why was a comment posted --- AFTER toc --- by Skarb saying "embarassing"
and clarifying that he's the author? Did his need for anonymity suddenly
resolve itself? If it did, why would that be "embarrassing"???

4. The article --- which wasn't written for the purpose of debate --- just
so happens to have cards that provide brink, link, and internal link and CP
solvency all specific to several of the top TOC teams' plans? That's not
even getting into the "one week before TOC" isues.

5. The very first comment on the article --- posted right after publication
--- is obviously by a debater. "Disciples of 2A" posted "WTF MARBURRY WRITE
SOME SPS GOOD ARTICLES." Now why would a debater be the first person to read
and comment on this article, AND know that Marburry would understand what
"write some sps good articles" means ---- unless Skarb told debaters about

6. What's the deal with the Norman Ornstein card in the comments? Maybe this
is a joke like Andy's aliens thing. But it's not very funny. Why? Because it
creates a headache when someone who doesn't get the joke actually cuts that
card, thinking they found awesome evidence. These are young high school

7. I don't know if it's true, but on Cross-X.com's forum on this, someone
suggested that: "just for the record, this article has been floating around
the web since at least february, spammed all over the comments sections of
space websites. it seems like it was only recently though that skarb's name
became attached to it."

8. According to a Damien debater, "our coaches were responsible for the name
Justin Skarb being attached to the article in the first place."
-This issue was NOT unforeseen. The Damien staff knew that this could be a
problem. I fail to see how attaching "research contributor" in any way
avoids the bias problem, as I think I've explained above.

If Skarb had posted this in circumstances that were obviously not intended
for debate but instead for personal reasons, then I think there's nothing at
all wrong. But this is so far away from such a scenario it's almost funny
that anyone would try to defend it as such.

This shouldn't be evaluated by the highest standards of ethics challenges in
debates, because here we are not limited by the competitive format and time
and research constraints of those situations. The purpose of this discussion
shouldn't be a witch hunt. It should be a community discussion over what we
think is appropriate or not, and fair warning in the future that this kind
of behavior is not kosher. Even if Skarb didn't intend all this, he really
should've been a lot more careful. My measure of INTENT is not "did he
purposefully cheat," because that's not something that can be fixed in a
forum. My measure of intent is "did he create evidence knowing that debaters
could use it in ways that other debaters would think is very unfair, and
fail to take easy remedialsteps?"

I do have to say that this kind of thing is sad because I won't ever be able
to look at Damien cards in the same light. That's not fair their debaters
and coaches who put a lot into the activity and don't deserve that taint.
Lesson: when you KNOW it could be controversial, DISCLOSE.

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