[eDebate] The CSIS Debaters Who Blog

Tripp Rebrovick trebrovick
Wed Sep 9 19:13:54 CDT 2009

Paul's hit the nail on the head: to say that debaters aren't "qualified" is
a semi-veiled indict of the entire activity. What else did John and Chris,
and really, the rest of us, spend several years learning how to do, if not
learn how to think carefully and construct arguments to be released into the
public domain? We should *glad* that trained debaters are making their
arguments in public.
The issue, it seems to me, is not that John and Chris have done something
wrong, but that the way people interpret evidence has gone awry. It's only a
*problem* that the cards on the CSIS blog are "too good to be true" if
debaters and judges take the *mere existence* of a piece of evidence as
somehow making the claim of the card true.

Rather, if we treat evidence appropriately -- as just one factor among many
to be considered in evaluating an argument -- it doesn't matter how good a
card is, since its mere existence doesn't insulate it from rebuttal.
Authority matters, sure, but it's never a trump.

On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 12:55 PM, Paul Johnson <paulj567 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Just a couple thoughts:
> I don't understand why we think that the debate community is somehow
> hermetically sealed from the outside world of knowledge production. The idea
> of having concerns about "debaters" writing cards can be turned on its head:
> in Soviet Russia, debate produces knowledge! Less colloquially, we might
> consider the possibility that if we really believe in the ol' debate project
> and some of our best and our brightest are writing on the blog at a
> respected think tank, instead of recoiling in fear that they are "writing
> cards" we might instead acknowledge that what they are producing is actually
> the sort of education/research that we (especially the committed framework
> types) have so often exclaimed debate SHOULD produce.
> Basically, the people who are blogging at the CSIS aren't changing the
> contours of the debate topic. Rather, debate is changing the contours of
> what the CSIS is working on. At the very least, they are mutually informing
> areas of knowledge and separating them out isn't an easy task. The eight
> years of debate (or so, give or take, I dont know them personally very well)
> that each has are literally informing what they're doing it, how they're
> doing it, and why they're doing it. So while it may seem like John Warden or
> Chris Jones is at the CSIC "writing cards", there's not really a need to
> think about this practice as somehow "special" and that the debate community
> should be insulated from such intervention. Instead, read what they're doing
> as evidence of the salutary (or deleterious, depending on your perspective)
> effects of participation in highly competitive intercollegiate debate.
> -PJ
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