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Gaming & Debate & the River of Life Part Three
WHAT OTHERS SAID THAT I WANT TO COMMENT ON
We all express ourselves from our own perspective (we have no other). Often,
the comments and complaints of our panelists may tell us more about
themselves and their relationship to debate than they might imagine.
Posting of 9-10
Debate has separated us from reality. "By reality, I mean a concept whereby
argumentation is analyzed according to its logical consistency and validity."
Your complaint is a demand for perfection. No pursuit of reasoning can claim
to be perfect. In the debate rounds I see consistency is a big issue
(contradictions) and the whole process seems to be a test of one validity vs.
another. It is not perfect or often is not very good, but it is an
attempt...more so than most human interactions I see.
"Killer cards replace rationality." "A bunch of conclusions by different
authors with different assumptions linked together in order to tell a story
that the authors, taken individually, might not have dreamed of suggesting?"
This also a part of your 9-11 posting. This may be true for you, but for me:
1. We very rarely do this at Vermont. Or at least we try not to.
2. In debates I see bad teams do this and then can't explain their story
during CX when teams who know the arguments and evidence start quizzing them.
3. Good teams rarely do this.
4. Committee of 300 is not an example of this. It is one nut -- Coleman.
5. Evidence wars do not supplant rationality, they supplant it. Rationality
demands the examination of testimony as well as supposed expert opinion.
9-15 posting: "Games of reality"
"In other words, given that the current 'rules' (implicit and unstated though
they may be) forsake evidence above all else...."
I think you mean "value evidence above all else."
1. There is no such rule.
2. If it is a procedure ("implicit and unstated") then you can oppose it or
call for its modification. I can probably be persuaded that Coleman is a
single nut....without cards. Try me.
"...there is a direct incentive for new interpretations." This rewards
strange new positions no one would accept outside of debate seems to be your
Well, new arguments or cases can be good, but their advantage is only short
term. The electronic data base has really cut down on the "one source wonder
cases" and the long term utility of "out there" positions. It doesn't last as
the other team catches on. The best CEDA teams are often finding a pretty
stock case, researching and hell out of it, and then daring the negative to
come at them. It works.
My response to the Committee of 300 Miami disad and the CFR UMKC case was to
do some research on conspiracy theories (that they are a joke) and then
evidence saying that these are weak conspiracy theories. We also found link
cards to a bunch of other conspiracy theories which have not been run yet.
I'll be waiting.
The second paragraph states that debate must not be educational because it
has some elements which are not perfectly educational. I think Rutledge has
done a good job responding here. Once again, the game of debate has several
purposes which may, at times, trade off with one another. Also, each
debater/judge may have different purposes.
The third paragraph explains how the desire to win massively increases
debater motivation to do well and to prepare.
I agree. It is a combination made in heaven: an educational activity in
critical thinking which drives participants through the motivation of
competition. It is a good combination. It reminds me of another of my
favorite things: reggae music. Reggae is an odd combination of politically
oriented lyrics stressing social change linked to a powerful sexual body
music which makes you want to dance. Good combo.
"Debate is a game whose educational value is the result of, and not the cause
Certainly competition fosters education, but I would have to disagree. Most
people do not start debating because they are looking for competition...they
start because they think they can learn something. I am sort of an expert on
this, because I have been actively recruiting non-debaters to join our squad
at Vermont for 12 years now, and I notice that competition scares them off
more than anything else. Once involved, competition also motivates them. We
do not really disagree that much. Desire to learn causes people to try it,
then desire to learn and desire to win motivate them so that education is
Clinton 9-15 (Long gaming piece)
"It is true that the 'gaming' of which I talk may differ from Snider's
interpretation (and on that note I apologize for having left Snider's article
regarding 'gaming' at home)"
Available on debate central: gopher to debate.uvm.edu. But have you read it?
"Pat fails to define morality."
I will gladly define my moral code:
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Do not use people as means without their consent.
3. Do not lie except to avoid violence.
4. Avoid violence.
5. Value doing above having, being above possessing.
6. Avoid rationalizing that what is good for you is also good for everyone
else and the world.
How about that, Pat?
"Gaming is good for society."
It is a preparation for society. However, a great debater who never uses her
skills to make a difference for the better in the world is certainly a tragic
"Debate is a game and life is a game."
No. Life is not a voluntary exercise in control systems. It is not voluntary.
You may not opt out of it without opting out of everything. It is also not an
exercise. Gaming can allow us to understand complex phenomenon like "arms
races" as we do a number of gamed simulations. However, treating a "real"
arms race like a gamed simulation would be quite wrong. You would be glad if
you won a debate through judge error even though the negative won a
disadvantage showing that you plan would kill 10,000 people. You would not be
glad if you won your point in a "real" situation and the same thing took
place (your legal work helped a mass murderer walk away free to kill again).
Debates are games and have some consequences, but the ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS do
not have real consequences. In life the accounting systems do have real
consequences. We must learn from both fantasy and reality, but we must not
mistake one for the other as they call for a different response.
Clinton: 9-15 Rutledge and Games
You say in paragraph 2 that because he recognizes education as an important
part of the game, he agrees it is a game.
Well, he has already revealed himself as a closet gamer. Yes, this is true,
but it does seem to hurt your earlier point that making debate be educational
hurts its gamed values.
"Another game that coaches play is with Administrators..."
This is not a game. See above. Everything that has a strategy is not a game.
"I am anxious to hear Tuna..."
Thanks. Your comment sort of forced me to respond. After all, I am the one
who originally saddled us with gaming, so I ought to participate.
"Different players have different purposes.."
Correct. This is an important thing to understand.
"I subscribe to the 'Argument Critic' paradigm due to my desire to see
argumentation skills improve, an educational desire. But in truth I have
always been and will probably always be a closet Gaming Paradigm advocate
(perhaps more of a meta-paradigm)."
Come out of the closet! Gaming is not a meta-paradigm, it is a real paradigm.
The others are semi-paradigms, or as I have explained, a decision rule or a
"simulated role" (critic of argument, policy maker, etc.). Perhaps you are a
game paradigm educator who values education as the most important purpose and
uses critic of argument as your simulated role as the judge. Just a thought.
Excellent exploration of how parts of debate often thought to not be
"strictly educational" actually are. It seems like any competitive timed game
will utilize speed of play as a strategy. From this perspective, the spread
makes sense, and shows gaming's power as a world view for debate. Competitive
+ timed = increased speed of play.
In thinking about how the onrushing future challenges us, I see the problems
as: huge information overload, complex and difficult systems need to be
understood and manipulated, and we need to be able to do it relatively
quickly before the bad stuff looming now dumps on us. If this is what we need
to deal with, debate is a good game for teaching us to: deal with information
overload, to understand and manipulate complex and difficult systems, and to
"I think the gaming paradigm is bigger than that. We can continue to realize
the benefits of both the thrill of competition and the enhancement of
education if we do not try to ignore the importance of either."
Very good point. We need to support the different purposes of the game of
debate in balance. There is a time frame issue here as well. In the short
term, students tend to think that winning is the most important thing about
debate. In the long term, ex-students tend to think that education is the
most important thing about debate. Ask them.
Vickers & Roskoski list of amazements:
Yes, debate has a way of seeing into the future. In my career I have been
ridiculed by other coaches and judges for having my teams argue positions
which were not popular in debate then, but became basic knowledge a few years
later: risks of nuclear proliferation, harms of economic growth, climate
change and CO2, Soviet revolution, etc. I can take the short term heat
because I can see the patterns. Funny, they do not seem to remember it later
when you remind them. I am sure you two have your own list growing.
Debate rewards new ideas, you say.
Well, not as much as we would like (see above). We are still far too closed
minded. Meany's challenge to debate without traditional topic interpretations
and the kind of stunned disbelief he received in response is another example.
Yes, debate training can have real consequences and can make for a better
world. Pat, I think you know how I feel about this, based on my little speech
at the institute. If debate was only about winning and losing, I would be
long gone. To me, debate is about preparing people to save the world. I hope
saving the world is a linear deal.
Debaters will have to make important choices after they leave debate. How
they make those choices is the whole ultimate focus of debate. Hopefully,
they will make the right choices. Or, at least "more right."
You want to be "anti-paradigm"?
Impossible. This would become your paradigm. Don't feel you have to choose
between the paradigms offered to you. THINK FOR YOURSELF and develop your
own. Take your time. You are young and I will be patient to see what you come
up with. I see in your research focus a desperate search for ultimate meaning
and orientation. Take all that you see and know but provide your own
I admire you as a very intellectually alive person. That does not mean I
always agree with you.
"Is gaming that paradigm?"
No. Only for debate. Life is not a game. See above. Gaming is good prep for
Thank you for your attention and interest.
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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