The Instigator
claypigeon
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
wingnut2280
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Policy Debate as practiced is inherently flawed (pro argues that policy debate is inherently flaw

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/6/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,864 times Debate No: 2435
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

claypigeon

Pro

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen.

After starting a policy debate team my last year in High School and having migrated to Parliamentary at college for a year I would like to argue that Policy Debate is inherently flawed.

1. Cards

We are empirically shown that policy debates are based on "cards" or typed opinions of others. If arguing that A=B one simply pulls put a piece of paper that claims that A=B. One then summarizes this author's view and voila, A now equals B.

This strategy is detrimental to a debater's knowledge. Complex ideas people devote their lives to like Bio Power or the Free Market or Utilitarianism are broken down and glossed over so quickly that neither side knows of the substance behind the argument at hand. This is terrible as unless a judge is well versed in Nicomachean ethics and Marxian economics then there is no entity capable of truly judging the debate. The two teams are also deprived of competing on a merit based field. Whomever has the most cards and best indexing wins.

2. Format

Unlike in other formats, policy debate operates under the assumption that unless an argument is addressed then it is conceded and the effects occur. This is not true in all formats. Conceivably, whomever gets more arguments out there than an opponent can respond to should win. We see this in the simple fact that policy debater's speak extremely quickly. They can get more arguments out than in other formats. However, it is hard and even impossible to understand some without a background in speech therapy. Yet again judges and the other team are disenfranchised. Who can judge or learn in a debate if they cannot distinguish the words? A better option is to structure debate around getting one's best ideas out there and if an argument is left unaddressed, as many should be in this case, then nuclear war is not inevitable no matter what.

There are many more points to add in coming rounds. I hope this is enough to entice you into voting for me (pro) that policy debate is inherently flawed. Due to the time limit/format and cards debater's do not explain complex issues and they attempt to fit in too many issues. This leads to a state where no one can judge and no one can learn as the issues being debated are not explained or debated. Debate turns into a "whoever has the best cards/speaks the fastest/indexes best" folly. Education and knowledge are not rewarded. Indexing skills are.
wingnut2280

Con

1) Cards

This is only true of novice policy debate. Had you become more experienced in the field you would have realized that cards are simply provided as an initial validation of the claim. Further analysis of the argument such as structure and function in the debate is critical to winning any varsity round as early as the constructive speeches. While I concede that most novice debaters will simply trade cards, Varsity policy debaters simply use them to access the chess game that follows.

While immense research and piles of ev is certainly helpful, it is in no way essential to winning a debate at the policy level.

2) Format

Again, this is only true of novice policy. Kids who don't know how to pick out critical arguments and filter the debate into effective rebuttals have this happen.

The speed of policy is what makes it so valuable. It forces you to think quickly and adjust yourself on the fly. These quick adjustments prove that you have knowledge of the topics and can think critically and strategically in a very short amount of time. I was the 1AR for four years. Believe me, you must have excessive knowledge of the topics in order to be an effective debater. No judge will vote for you if you simply throw out excessive amounts of cards.

Your interpretation of policy debate is pretty pedantic. Novice policy has some big flaws like this, but that is only because people with little experience rely on these skills to win.
Debate Round No. 1
claypigeon

Pro

Cheers for the response and best of luck the rest of the way. I will start with responses to my original cards section and then go onto format.

1. Cards

While I see your point and fully agree with it my original argument relied not on "trading cards" being bad. That of course is a waste of time if no education or knowledge is gained. If I read a textbook but do not process the information what have I accomplished? My argument relies on explaining complex ideas in very limited time. One cannot get in depth knowledge of most if not every subject in the limited amount of time Policy offers. One cannot fully compare and contrast Deontology and Utilitarian or Biopower and Federalism or Communism and Capitalism in this short amount of time. People spend their lives researching this stuff. At best a few argument from each side can surface. But this doesn't neccesarily get the truth out there. This can be based on a plethora of factors. An example is below.

Assume we are debating evolution. One side has its spiel and the other side claims evolution is too complex to happen without direction. It would take a bio major let alone an average debater at least a few minutes to explain how evolution can occur spontaneously. This leads to a huge time deficit. Throw in a few of these straw man arguments and the other team is done.

And unless a judge is well versed in these complex ideas the cards or the speaker deliver then the vote isn't based on objective facts but on subjective interpretations. We'd gain much more knowledge debating in formats that allow for depth or breadth of knowledge and not compromising one for the other as is done here.

2. Format

On format I again see your point however here I disagree. I disagree with your claim that "No judge will vote for you if you simply throw out excessive amounts of cards." A fair judge on this format should vote for the arguments presented or the in round evidence. If some judge wants to subtract speaker points for taking advantage of a rule go ahead but if judges start voting against the logical winner due to a personal disagreement with speed or card rules then we have (subjective) judge anarchy and no effective way to judge a debate.

My speed argument is not directly addressed either. Many debaters or judges miss out on what the opponent is saying. Then there is the tactic of whispering to the judge so the other team cannot hear you. I do not disagree that being quick to respond is a valuable asset however it comes at the cost of understanding each others arguments fully.

3. Misc

I understand tactics have been made to deal with these issues. Lumping arguments into one big thing, line by line, etc. Maybe this works sometimes at varsity policy level. The potential for abuse is still there. One can take advantage of time and mention many arguments or time wasting arguments or a combination and still win. Fast talking is still an issue and often people cannot debate b/c they cannot hear. Conceding arguments leads to almost every round ending in nuclear war. Even if a judge can somehow alleviate these symptoms then the judge is subjective and we do not want a subjective judge on his or her own personal mission judging. I understand that policy debate has some merits but there are better formats for knowledge. If one wants to learn how to speed read or speak quickly policy is the way to go.
wingnut2280

Con

1) Cards

I guess your argument is more for the time structure. The speed of the debate allows several arguments to be processed at once. It also greatly adds to your critical thinking skills. Rather than drawn out back and forths, debaters must rely on their actual debate skills. Weighing arguments against each other and filtering the debate to critical points.

2) Format

Your argument for the subjective judge isn't true. Good judges won't vote for a team that simply throws out an arg. This is where your position falls apart. Judges CONSTANTLY encourage analysis over simple card overload. Without good analysis faster teams lose.

I have spent five years on the policy circuit and have never seen a team whisper arguments to the judge. Teams pick up cards or ask during crs-x if they are unclear.

Speed reading is an advantage, but not what comprises policy debate.

We don't need subjective judges. Good policy judges look for analysis in the rebuttals and clear concise arguments. Not something merely spat off of a block.

While speed reading is a tactic which allows teams to gain an advantage during the constructives, teams need solid critical, debate, and logical skills in order to be successful. Policy debate treats debate like a chess match of sorts. Rather than eloquently explaining a single issue, policy debate engages quick thinking, resource gathering, and logical skills. While I agree, policy doesn't involve the same skills that this site or other forms of debate do, it is still a legitimate form of debate.
Debate Round No. 2
claypigeon

Pro

This debate has gone extremely well so far and I applaud debate.org and its members for having the first online forum I have ever encountered where debates don't just fall into anarchy.

Now to get on topic.

While I view policy as a legitimate form of debate I have yet to be convinced of how it is not inherently flawed for multiple reasons. I have explained my reasons in full so I will not drag them on for multiple paragraphs. It seems as if we simply disagree on what constitutes a significant flaw.

I have never claimed that one cannot learn from policy. I believe much can be learned. As we find formats that allow further learning and better learning we naturally migrate towards those. Schooling 50 years ago was vastly different than it is now. There used to be one thick book students learned math, english, history, and religion from. Now we have separate structured classes, multiple books, and have toned down religion. That one thick book is a great way to learn but there are BETTER ways and that is what I advocate here.

Policy is flawed for two main reasons as I have stated.

1. First is the issue of leaving arguments unanswered. If this is done one is not allowed to address the argument for "fairness" sakes in a closing argument. The impacts of this unanswered argument are pulled all the way through. If someone claims that pain is enjoyable empirically due to the prevalence of S+M and I don't have time to address this silly argument then the other team wins assuming they have a large impact. This is a flaw. If we have judges who throw this S+M argument out as it is silly then we have subjective judges and that is a flaw and brings a host of other issues.

2. Time limits and speed reading also make policy debate flawed. As I have stated people that speak faster and throw out more arguments have an advantage, even if the arguments are silly or plainly wrong or if they speak so fast few can understand them. But we have been over this and we simply disagree how much of an unfair advantage it gives. You argue this is ameliorated by other debate skills. I say all else equal, this still confers an unfair and flawed advantage.

3. My final repeated argument is the issue of explaining complex phenomena in a very limited time. Policy debaters often bring up Malthusian economics or Biopower and sometimes even S+M. These ideas, including S+M take a long time to explain and in order to draw concrete conclusions from. Using simple econ I can reason that since the west has many resources they should have many kids (due to spendable resources) or I can reason that since the west has many resources they should have few kids (as kids don't give much utility compared to their cost and econ is about maximizing utility). Which answer is correct? Noone knows and an 8 min debate from people who don't have a deep understanding of economics isn't going to solve this.

I hope I have convinced you of the flaws in policy debate. Whether it is the speed reading or the depth of arguments people now little about, or the issue that unanswered arguments impact's are extended even if the argument is silly. Policy debate is a great learning tool but it is flawed due to the above.
wingnut2280

Con

What's your deal with S&M? haha. Kinda creepy.

Anyway, I will admit that there is a difference between policy debate and l-d or this site for that matter. However, the differences don't make one thing better than the other, just different. Policy debate isn't better or worse than any other form of debate, just different. To prove, I will refute and show how most of the disadvantages you point out are actually positives in policy.

1) Again, more policy experience would have shown you that this isn't true in good policy debates. Novices can stomp around and whine about abuse, but rarely win with good judges. This is actually a positive. The time structure of the debate allows us to get to critical issues rather than trudging through 15 min of muck while touching on the real issues. If you fail to answer a critical argument, that just makes you a worse debater. As the 1AR, it was critical for me to pick out which arguments were critical to the debate and make sure that I answered them fully. Not all debates are just weighing which Nuke war is more likely. You would know this if you had spent more time in policy.

2) Again, time limits are a good thing. They encourage you to focus on critical matters rather than whining abuse or wasting everyones time with nonsensical arguments. Time limits make the debate MORE educational.

3) Speed readers make the debate MORE educational. It allows a broader range of topics for the debate. While the everyday person would have a hard time understanding them, other debaters are kind of trained to listen well.

So, all of the things you listed are actually GOOD things. While I admit, the depth of the topics cannot be touched, this holds just as true for other forms of debate. It would take extremely lengthy periods focused solely on that issue to get to the heart of it. This impractical and not necessary for this type of debate. Time limits and speed reading allow debaters to touch a broad range of topics and force them to focus on the ciritical elements of the debate. While some who aren't used to it see it as difficult and ridiculous, policy debaters play a different type of game that takes some getting used to.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Cobjob 9 years ago
Cobjob
My favorite debate ever! Great points from both sides. I know there is a school that refuses to debate with normal judges( they pull them off the street). I always thought that was a great concept, and would change the dynamic. As far as speed reading, you can here it after a few tournies. I've won a debate because one of my opponents was uninteligable, I just dropped all the arguments that I couldn't understand, and let the judges know why. Card swapping is lame, and some of the cards are ridiculous, but it's such a prep time suck to check credentials. Whenever I judge I let the kiddies know I weigh logic arguments heavier than ev. Great job both!
Posted by smilingsoprano 9 years ago
smilingsoprano
I have to say that I agree fundamentally with Con, but my argumentation would be a little different. Here are my points.
1) Just because some people read too fast and throw out ridiculous arguments to fill time does not mean that policy debate itself is flawed. It means that their interpretation and application is not correct.
2) As a policy debater myself, I have won rounds where I had only one or two pieces of evidence to each of my opponents' twenty. If the team with less evidence has clear, logical arguments, it doesn't truly matter how many cards they read.
3) Not all policy debate rounds include speed reading, fallacious or frivolous arguments, and/or nuclear war. Since I have witnessed professional, intellectual, and frankly impressive rounds in the absence of such tactics, it clearly supports my first point.

I love policy, but I do get annoyed with people who abuse it. It seems, Pro, that you have debated some of those people, and I'm sorry for your bad experience, but a few individual problems do not equal an enduring flaw.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
. . . and personally, I believe there can be more intellectual advantages to a slow paced debate.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Hmm, I personally prefer LD (although it must be noted that "Dumb Judginitus" is far more likely to occur)
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Vote Placed by zander 9 years ago
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claypigeonwingnut2280Tied
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Vote Placed by Logical-Master 9 years ago
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