[eDebate] Standards for Evidence/Skarb

Rahul Jaswa rahul.jaswa
Mon May 11 17:49:32 CDT 2009

The concern here is obviously that a debate coach wrote an article which
said the aff plan froze and deepened recessionary economic condition, trades
off with DOD weapons programs, and stretches military readiness to the
breaking point, all of which can be solved by an advantage counterplan to
purchase commercial beam power from space, which, just for kicks, results in
the aff plan later.

That being said, seriously? The only references cited are a blog called
next100.com, a dialogue on the next century of energy, and a quote from a
DOE report from 1978 which says "every dollar spent on solar satellites will
not be spent on terrestrial research and commercialization." If that's
considered sufficient for a BA history/poli sci, MS poli comm to extrapolate
that to determine DOD deficit spending would collapse the economy, collapse
U.S. readiness, treadoff with critical weapons programs, etc., then by all
means expect I won't be going for the K next year and will instead be
authoring a host of new disads equipped with my berkeley economics

I could go through the article and detail the logical gaps...but the obvious
counterpoint you could make to that is "well, newspapers articles don't
usually report data and are opinionated with lacking evidence." Not only
does this "article" attempt to present itself as a scholarly contribution
(Skarb's qualifications are noted as "independent policy analyst"...is that
what high school debate coaches are nowadays?), newspaper articles are
background checked for accuracy, credibility, and legitimacy.
Thespacereview.com, according to its submission guidelines, filters out
primarily articles on UFOs and Area 51...

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 3:25 PM, Andy Ellis <andy.edebate at gmail.com> wrote:

> Putting aside the attribution issues for a second, all of the cards you
> quote sound like typically bombastic things that make up a good cross
> section of evidence....context wise why are they approaching or crossing the
> line...
> On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 4:58 PM, Rahul Jaswa <rahul.jaswa at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Here are my thoughts:
>> First, this is completely unethical.
>> 1) No attempt was made to inform the community that such an article was
>> written. Given that it was produced by a debate coach instructing students
>> during the current season, that seems to be minimally appropriate.
>> 2) The article is obviously written for strategic benefit. It has several
>> DA and CP solvency arguments without appropriate data, and draws on
>> "non-intrinsic" arguments which would be largely inappropriate for any real
>> "peer-reviewed" journal. Citing 2 references and attempting to then publish
>> an article would be laughed at by any journal submission board.
>> Some examples:
>> ?every dollar spent on solar satellites will not be spent on terrestrial
>> research and commercialization?. Unfortunately, it is these very programs
>> that may be critical to preventing a deepening of the current economic
>> crisis."
>> "the problem with DOD investments in SBSP in the short term is that the
>> military will end up having to pay not only for its traditional energy
>> supplies but will have to also carry the extra burden of funding SBSP
>> research and development costs. With readiness, maintenance, and procurement
>> accounts already stretched thin, this is simply a situation the DOD can not
>> afford. In a worst-case scenario, a mandate to pursue SBSP research and
>> development could force the military to drastically scale back, if not
>> cancel entirely, critical weapons programs to pay for an energy system that
>> it will not be able to use for decades."
>> "If there were such a thing as a money tree and the American economy were
>> not in dire straits it would make perfect sense for the government to embark
>> upon an all-out path towards the development of space-based solar power.
>> Unfortunately, money trees only exist in our dreams and, quite simply, the
>> nation currently has better uses for the money that would need to be spent
>> by funding SBSP research and development. Fortunately, however, there is a
>> more moderate path the government can take, agreeing to purchase commercial
>> power beamed from space, which does not require any federal outlays in the
>> near-term but will effectively help speed the development of SBSP. This is
>> one case where we might be able to have our cake and eat it too."
>> 3) Why was a name other than Skarb's ever cited? Marburry is Skarb, as we
>> know, and saying that Skarb helped "research" is even more unethical
>> because it blatantly redirects credit for the article from an actual person
>> to a fictitious person.
>> 4) This was in the comments section, posted under the name "norman
>> ornstein," coincidentally... I wonder how that would sound in a debate
>> round? Plan derails lost--Ornstein yesterday
>> "It seems clear, however, that DOD serving as an anchor tenant for
>> commercial power beamed from space would drain the last drop of Barack
>> Obama's finite reserve of political capital that he is currently using to
>> persuade key senators and moderate Republicans to pass the Law of the Sea
>> Treaty. That treaty is up in the air right now, but if the status quo is
>> maintained it seems very likely to pass, due to Obama's focus on spending
>> political capital there. Space is a controversial issue in these times, as
>> poll after poll attest to, and DOD action would surely be perceived as part
>> of Obama's green energy plan, which would engender backlash from the same,
>> interestingly enough, senators he's co-operating with to pass LOST."
>> 5) Published 2 days before the TOC
>> 6) Did Damien teams debate this case at the TOC? If not, I don't think
>> that "we didn't read these cards is an appropriate defense." The onus is
>> clearly on them.
>> 7) It pollutes the existing research base which is constituted by the
>> writings of researchers who have no vested interest in producing
>> oversimplified debate arguments.
>> 8) When is the next "socio-political" foray into space based energy going
>> to be published? I'm anxious to hear more from the newest topic expert.
>> After all, Arizona State's political science, history, and political
>> communication departments are world renowned for their classes on space
>> based energy. And your master's research, i'm sure, required you to devote
>> your time and thoughts to learning the intricacies of DOD weapons programs,
>> the details of agency fiscal discipline, and the workings of the imaginary
>> "money tree" which guide the future of such a program--most importantly, how
>> they would interact given immediate funding of such a program.
>> 9) The bottom line is that this activity is meant to promote quality
>> education among students. Even if Damien's coaching doesn't believe that
>> debate is more than a game, there are a slew of people, apparently more
>> wise, who recognize the importance of keeping debate clean. EVEN IF there
>> were arguments in defense of this behavior (there are not), this was clearly
>> approaching questionable territory and instead of erring against it, or at
>> least diffusing the problem by proactively taking measures like informing
>> the community that such an article had been written by your program, you
>> decided it was more important to have another strategic tool.
>> Second, addressing other people's rationalizations.
>> 1) "I'd say that it's fairly important to take into consideration the
>> credentials of the author. If you're a coach with a major in engineering or
>> something of the sort, there's no problem with you publishing the article
>> and having debaters card from it."
>> This is nonsensical--just like how qualified global warming researchers
>> used to be paid money by thinktanks to publish articles supporting their
>> side of the debate. Except this is worse because it affects a strategic
>> game.
>> 2) "you should email them directly instead of asking for responses on a
>> public forum known for devolving into keyboard wars."
>> Please, own up. I know you're young and proud and feel the need to defend
>> your program--this obviously deserves "community" attention, and the fact
>> that I, a UC Berkeley debater with essentially no ties to high school
>> debate, heard about it, is clear evidence that this sort of discussion has
>> far-reaching influence.
>> Right or wrong, relegating this to the private sphere is obviously an
>> inappropriate way to deal with a phenomenon which directly affects the way
>> that debates take place on a community-wide basis
>> It was published two days before the TOC. There was no effort to tell the
>> whole community that this article was available. The article obviously cited
>> no research to backup the vast majority of its assertions.
>> 3) "What if the coach is an expert in the field. For instance, what if the
>> coach is, say, the chief scientist at the JPL, and he/she coaches debate in
>> their spare time - would anything that the coach writes be off-limits
>> insofar as debate is concerned? Even if they were the main solvency author
>> in the field?"
>> Well that is certainly not the case here, and this imaginary coach/field
>> expert would certainly not publish articles in an obscure hybrid between
>> community blog and public discussion of "published" articles.
>> More importantly, this article wouldn't be written from an oversimplified
>> argumentative perspective with shallow analysis and exclusively debate
>> arguments. "Peer-reviewed" in academia/policy analysis doesn't just mean
>> that someone else read and approved it, it means that reputable
>> academics/analysts within your subdiscipline read and approved it. Please,
>> submit this to a scientific journal and send us the response, i'd be glad to
>> read it. Or, if you prefer, an economics journal, or the economist, or the
>> New Yorker even.
>> 4) "if they are writing for peer-reviewed or edited journals, etc., then I
>> don't think their writing is off-limits. you can't say that we can't have
>> subject matter experts coaching debate, and if you're lucky enough to get a
>> subject matter expert coaching you, then their writing should be fair game -
>> as long as the writing is from legit sources.."
>> At minimum, there needs to be specific practice to protect the
>> community--people need to be made aware of the existence of such an article
>> from the author/debate coach; in this case it is inappropriate to say that
>> the burden is on the researcher because, among other things, this is
>> ingenuine research and artificially benefits the team making the arguments.
>> Their writing should not be fair game as evidence, their opinions should
>> help direct your research/argumentation so that you can find people who
>> don't have a vested interest in your winning that support your findings.
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