[eDebate] Standards for Evidence/Skarb

Rahul Jaswa rahul.jaswa
Mon May 11 20:06:36 CDT 2009

This last e-mail was pretty funny, though I still don't think it gets to the
real concerns:

1) The difference between Skarb writing it and some other idiot on the
internet writing it is that the other idiot on the internet isn't motivated
by the desire to win. The fact that no one else wrote articles describing
these arguments seems pretty plain evidence that introducing new ideas into
the literature base which weren't motivated by legitimate interest (ie they
were biased by something other than wanting to be right) changes how debate

2) The article was authored by the PSEUDONYM John Marburry or something like
that, and for qualifications was cited as a "BA history/policy MS political
communication and an independent policy analyst." How do you think that gets
cited in a debate?

Marburry This Morning--John, Policy Analyst, BA History/Poly Sci, MS Poli
Comm, The Space Review...etc.

Pretty hard to call that out, man.

3) The difference between skarb authoring it and some random idiot writing
bad ev is that this is obviously an attempt to take a series of analytical
arguments which skarb believes (or thinks is strategic and doesn't believe
it), and then try and elevate it to the level of evidence. The fact that
author quals aren't often evaluated rigorously is a good reason to believe
such a piece of evidence might slip by and advantage a team who is coached
by Skarb--is that fair? No, and that's why ethical standards need to be

4) Justin timberlake wouldn't write that article unless he wanted damien to
beat whoever read that aff, which is my point.

5) So, if Skarb was a better writer, that would make it okay? I don't think
that saying, oh well this is the fault of the community for not analyzing
evidence more effectively, is a rationalization for fabricating evidence.
There's still a question of what should be allowed or not allowed, or people
will spend their time becoming "decent academic" writers.

6) Intent distinguishes writing your own evidence from just observing bad
evidence on the internet.

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 5:51 PM, Andy Ellis <andy.edebate at gmail.com> wrote:

> Just a note, im not really making evaluations of skarb's academic
> capabilities, that was a poor choice of words...my intention was to say his
> MA program required at least more rigorous academics than this article
> displays..
> On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 8:48 PM, Andy Ellis <andy.edebate at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Yeah Bad ev that all to often passes...why does it matter that justin
>> wrote it its either good ev or bad ev
>> On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 6:49 PM, Rahul Jaswa <rahul.jaswa at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> 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.
>> Other cards that win rounds say similarly outlandish things...not sure why
>> its unethical, just bad ev,
>>> 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."
>> A reason that it wouldnt matter if justin skarb or justin timberlake wrote
>> it..its bad..
>>> 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 knowledge.
>> If you replicated skarbs work it would be a frustrating season for
>> you...but it wouldnt make you unethical...
>>> 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.
>> Correct, blogs and half the things that begin with http:// are not
>>> Thespacereview.com, according to its submission guidelines, filters out
>>> primarily articles on UFOs and Area 51...
>> Yeah and V:Dare finds laughable that people call them white
>> suprmeacist.... http://bit.ly/IhSdy isn't this a reason to question all
>> of their submissions(not that an answer is nt available to that
>> question)...i don't get the uproar...i'll agree that my intial reaction did
>> not have a few details right, but still...
>> Two final things...If skustin Jarb wrote the the same thing, everybody
>> would be trading the cite right now...this is evident by the fact that the
>> article that was written was writen, if we as a community had higher
>> standards for warrents the article would have been writen with more
>> warrents, but justin, a very good coach and an excellent debater, and a
>> decent academic, chose to write something judges would want to hear
>> (allegedly) and debaters would not be able to answer...the fact that this is
>> the outcome of that idea says a whole lot more about what passes as good
>> evidence then it does about justin.
>> Two...the real problem here is that most of us know that the high school
>> students we work with and the judges we entrust their education to are not
>> the rigerous content and truth analyzers we like to pass them off as,
>> everything i wrote above SHOULD be true, but everybody is put off by this
>> because we know they aren't and the damage this would cause would force us
>> to expose that most high school and college debaters would not be able to
>> point out the bad scholarship within this article, OR MAYBE THEY WOULD and
>> judges wouldnt buy it...either way, bigger problems than this
>>> 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.
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> eDebate mailing list
>>>>> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
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