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Preconceptual Clouds block the doors of perception
While not as ancient as "Debating for Boys" (1919), the words of advice
of this elderly sage seems suggestive to the current notions of
examining the various topic areas, crafting topic resolutions, and
evaluations by the debate community.
"General procedure: Read and learn all you can about problem. Look at
problem from a point of zero preconception. Devise variations and
alternative solutions. Check back to see if your solution has workable
advantage over solutions previously arrived at . . .
I must confess that i have been guilty of perceptions in nearly all of
my posts. And I've seldom compared to alternative topic areas nor to
past topic areas and resolutions. I have done little of this since the
very beginning of these topic discussions. Here are several, in no
particular order, of the preconceptions which cloud my examination thus
1) Personalities sometimes are considered prior to arguments quality.
I'm quicker to delete someone who's perspective i don't know at all then
someone who's opinion i already respect. this seems to be a censorial
action based on interpersonal experience rather than anything concerning
the discussion at hand.
2) Advocating prior to assessment. I jumped into the CR ship rather
quickly and then jumped ship to CFR without a detached assessment of the
relevant questions. Preconceptions rather than assessment led me in to
early spewing of my concepts.
3) Employing partisan and adversarial rhetoric in a community
discussion. Perhaps the art of discussion is a lost art. While
sometimes there will be an overlap between discussion and debate, i have
tended to debate the possible topic areas rather than discuss them with
the community members.
4) Not looking for an iota of truth or potential strength in an Other's
5) Ignoring others. I've only given serious thought to three of the
five topic areas. This seems a definite preconception.
6) Fanaticism at times. Especially in my defense of CFR.
7) Ignoring the possibility of new argument forms. The topic area
points us towards a general field of arguments. Background research
within that area will likely reveal forms of argument which do not fit
nicely into traditional debate pigeonholes.
8) Talking out My Ass. I have read all the topic papers thoroughly -
sometimes twice. But i've done know other information gathering from
which to make my comments.
9) Making matters of taste into moral indictments. This rhetoric which
i have slipped into a few times is a demonizing of the Other merely
because they have different preferences for the direction of the
activity. It seems that my preconceptions in this area must be deeply
rooted in some psychological control desires.
10) Very Little Capital-P Perspective. My best debate coach taught the
importance of perspective in assessing almost any situation. In this
one, it seems as if myself jumped into the bullring the day before the
bulls arrived and so we started fighting each other.
Once again, this little confessional is to demonstrate that while the
discussion has been quality at times, other times it is been crap. It
can improve. I have no vote at this point. I'm lucky because it would
be difficult with two topics with almost zero discussion and three
topics with significant discussion and comparative discussion.
just some thoughts from a re-retiring debate type,
"Well," I said, tapping my arm, "duty calls. As one judge said to
another: 'Be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary.' "
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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