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Cleaning House: Breaking brackets, Micken's test, evidence
Here are some issues I have wanted to say something about but haven't had the
time. This will be inadequate because of its brief nature but I do want to
1. BREAKING BRACKETS
I have opposed breaking brackets because: need to keep integrity of the
bracket, it helps larger schools close out, there is no standard way to do
it, and the focus should be on students not schools. The long discussion
(which now seems to have ceased) seems to have dealt with these. I am
persuaded that the integrity of the bracket is not very meaningful given the
compression of speaker points. I am also persuaded that it does not work
against small schools, and acually benefits teams who get moved (they get an
"easier" opponent). I am impressed by the standard method of doing it (toward
the middle). Finally, if the focus is on students then this contradicts my
small school position, and if student interests are important then breaking
brackets will lead to MORE DEBATES. OK. I will ask for a vote to change this
procedure at regionals.
2. MICKEN'S TEST
Prof. Micken defends the "middle" of my continuum of "gut wrenching spew" to
"spacious rhetoric." I think there is a lot of room in the middle, and a
coaching focus needs to be in the middle so that adptation can take place
both ways. I have tried to do this in my coaching (I wish I succeeded more).
Diversity is of value, and the "middle" needs the extremes to retain it. His
challenge, however, is to me as a judge. What will I do when I am confronted
with a team from each extreme? Given that both teams are well prepared and
highly intelligent, I would love it! I have never given a 30 and might in
such a debate. One side would have a lot of arguments which the other team
might not deal with in great detail and the other side would explain much
better why their few arguments make the other team's mass of arguments less
important and propel me to a decision for spaciousness. What I would do is
this: THE SAME THING I ALWAYS DO. I would listen, evaluate, use measures and
distinctions drawn by the debaters, and work my hardest. This situation does
not really call for me to do anything unusual. Which way would I vote? Can't
say in a vacuum.
3. ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE
Evidence should be available to those who want to find it. It must be
verifiable. Almost all cyberev does that.
Bad evidence exists everywhere. It may be from bogus people, biased people,
be just a blurb, etc. Plain Truth Magazine or Bobo's Newsgroup can both be
bad and the cyber nature is not relevant.
It is essential that sources be clearly identified for debate about evidence
to take place. PEOPLE are the source of ideas, and I want to know who said
it. Cyberev is a problem here because we have not yet fully understood how to
cite people as sources. The Congressional Record does not speak, it records
what people say. Hearings do not speak, they hear what people say. These
problems we are familiar with. Now add the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
(which do not speak but hear and reprint some other broadcast) and the
Federal News Service (which is a transcription service). I heard a debate
where one of the best teams in the nation (Northwestern State University)
read all of these in one round without telling me who spoke (Right: CR,
Hearings, FNS, BBCSummary).
Thus, the standards stay the same or me as non-cyberev:
a. Complete cite allows us to find it if we want;
b. Specification of who says it (identify a human or humans);
c. Indication of why they are qualified to say this. THIS IS THE MOST OFTEN
LEFT OUT STEP AND I BELIEVE IS ESSENTIAL TO EVALUATING EVIDENCE. I have been
saying this for about 15 years and I can't even get my debaters to listen to
me. But, as a power mad coach I am at least able to force them to put quals
on every piece of evidence.
Cyberev is not much different as long as we develop new protocols (internet
path, document #, etc.).
But what about BBS? Did you know about a BBS called "Socialism Online"?
Alfred C. Snider, University of Vermont
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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