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Shifting the BOP

Chrysippus
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10/5/2013 12:54:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
A lot of n00b debates go like this:

RESOLUTION: Pennies Are Better Than Dollars.
"My opponent will be arguing that pennies are better than dollars. Round 1 is for arguments."

Notice that they do not post any arguments. They are waiting for Pro to post their opening arguments, which Con will then respond to.

These debaters want someone else to go to the trouble of creating the constructive argument, which they will then argue against. What they don't understand is that, by stating the resolution, they have made a statement that they then have the burden to prove or disprove. Being Con on a positive statement does not absolve one from making arguments in support of one's position.

A real-world analogue:

Bob: "Tell me why the Dodge Charger is the best car ever."

Fred: ". . .That's just a bit random. That isn't actually a defensible position to hold, as I can give you lists of cars better in one way or another than the Charger. Which model year of Charger were you even talking about, anyway?"

Bob: "No! You're supposed to say, "The Charger is the best car ever because it is fast and gets great gas milage," and then I come back with "Every Lamborghini ever made is faster, and the Prius gets better gas milage, so YOU'RE WRONG!"

Fred: "That's not how conversations are supposed to work, dude."

If you start a debate, you have to defend your position. If you are Pro, make a positive case for the resolution; if you are Con, make a negative case against the resolution. From now on, if you refuse to make your own case, I am going to consider it a concession and vote accordingly.
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Daktoria
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10/7/2013 7:48:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'm not sure about that.

When you propose a pro position for someone else to take up, there's nothing forced about it. It's freely based around offer and acceptance. Even in real life, if you believe that something is a bad idea, others are free to agree with you and not debate your claim.

That said, I've seen your complaint upheld here very often, and I've even lost debates because of it. That's highly depressing because it shows a lack of understanding for how burden of proof is on the affirmative. There is very little tolerance here of skepticism.
Chrysippus
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10/7/2013 8:46:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/7/2013 7:48:19 PM, Daktoria wrote:
I'm not sure about that.

When you propose a pro position for someone else to take up, there's nothing forced about it. It's freely based around offer and acceptance. Even in real life, if you believe that something is a bad idea, others are free to agree with you and not debate your claim.

By making a debate, you are making a statement that needs to be upheld. Making a negative statement does not somehow absolve you from having to back it up.

That said, I've seen your complaint upheld here very often, and I've even lost debates because of it. That's highly depressing because it shows a lack of understanding for how burden of proof is on the affirmative. There is very little tolerance here of skepticism.

Make that a lack of agreement. And no, skepticism is extraordinarily welcome here - as long as it is backed up with facts and good arguments.
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Smithereens
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10/8/2013 2:28:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is true, but you would only accept the debate if you are interested in presenting that Dollars are bigger than pennies. In a real world analogy, it's more like holding a sign up asking passerby's why Doge charges are the best car and having a fan of Doge charges (or whatever car you said) stop by to answer you.
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Daktoria
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10/8/2013 9:16:41 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/7/2013 8:46:49 PM, Chrysippus wrote:
At 10/7/2013 7:48:19 PM, Daktoria wrote:
I'm not sure about that.

When you propose a pro position for someone else to take up, there's nothing forced about it. It's freely based around offer and acceptance. Even in real life, if you believe that something is a bad idea, others are free to agree with you and not debate your claim.

By making a debate, you are making a statement that needs to be upheld. Making a negative statement does not somehow absolve you from having to back it up.

That said, I've seen your complaint upheld here very often, and I've even lost debates because of it. That's highly depressing because it shows a lack of understanding for how burden of proof is on the affirmative. There is very little tolerance here of skepticism.

Make that a lack of agreement. And no, skepticism is extraordinarily welcome here - as long as it is backed up with facts and good arguments.

That's not skepticism. Skepticism is when you're skeptical of a proposal lacking facts and good arguments.

Do you believe people have to believe in things by default unless people can prove things wrong?
Daktoria
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10/8/2013 9:19:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/8/2013 2:28:44 AM, Smithereens wrote:
This is true, but you would only accept the debate if you are interested in presenting that Dollars are bigger than pennies. In a real world analogy, it's more like holding a sign up asking passerby's why Doge charges are the best car and having a fan of Doge charges (or whatever car you said) stop by to answer you.

Exactly. There's nobody forcing another to have the debate in the first place. People won't necessarily be fan of Dodge Chargers.
Chrysippus
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10/8/2013 4:45:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/8/2013 9:16:41 AM, Daktoria wrote:
At 10/7/2013 8:46:49 PM, Chrysippus wrote:
At 10/7/2013 7:48:19 PM, Daktoria wrote:
I'm not sure about that.

When you propose a pro position for someone else to take up, there's nothing forced about it. It's freely based around offer and acceptance. Even in real life, if you believe that something is a bad idea, others are free to agree with you and not debate your claim.

By making a debate, you are making a statement that needs to be upheld. Making a negative statement does not somehow absolve you from having to back it up.

That said, I've seen your complaint upheld here very often, and I've even lost debates because of it. That's highly depressing because it shows a lack of understanding for how burden of proof is on the affirmative. There is very little tolerance here of skepticism.

Make that a lack of agreement. And no, skepticism is extraordinarily welcome here - as long as it is backed up with facts and good arguments.

That's not skepticism. Skepticism is when you're skeptical of a proposal lacking facts and good arguments.

Not always. There are times when all the facts available could support a variety of interpretations, and no clear way to determine the truth of the matter. Honest disagreements are possible.

Then there are times when the consensus position is based on a lot of the facts, and sound arguments from them, but carefully downplaying the inconvenient facts that disagree. Skepticism then is pointing out the holes in the accepted position, and boosting the facts that don't fit.


Do you believe people have to believe in things by default unless people can prove things wrong?

Hardly. Proof requires much more than just not having yet been disproven. But in a debate, if one side fails to fulfill their burden, the other side wins. If the instigator is making a statement, he has the burden of upholding that statement, positive or negative. I fail to see what skepticism has to do with it.
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Daktoria
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10/9/2013 9:03:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Well that's your problem. You're equating affirmative to negative.

According to you, someone could have an honest, openminded curiosity towards a proposition that is presently opposed, but because someone doesn't prove that proposition wrong, now, that person is automatically expected to believe in the proposition.

Your definition of skepticism is questionable as well since it tolerates Occam's Razor being used to expect people to believe in things that appear real, but actually aren't. The mere abundance of quantitative facts does not equate to qualitative facts. Correlation is not causation.

For example, A causes B, C, D, E, and F, but A does not exclusively cause B, C, D, E, and F.

B, C, D, E, and F are presented as evidence that A existed. The burden of proof in society is satisfied since so much evidence presented is treated as sufficiently burdensome.

Does that mean someone has to believe A existed and isn't entitled to be skeptical?
Chrysippus
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10/9/2013 4:40:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/9/2013 9:03:29 AM, Daktoria wrote:
Well that's your problem. You're equating affirmative to negative.

According to you, someone could have an honest, openminded curiosity towards a proposition that is presently opposed, but because someone doesn't prove that proposition wrong, now, that person is automatically expected to believe in the proposition.

That doesn't even begin to make sense. That does not reflect my position, and I do not see how you could have derived that from what I said. I said nothing about believing anything. I was talking about upholding your side of the debate, and that's all. No-one is expected to believe anything based on a poor debater's performance.


Your definition of skepticism is questionable as well since it tolerates Occam's Razor being used to expect people to believe in things that appear real, but actually aren't. The mere abundance of quantitative facts does not equate to qualitative facts. Correlation is not causation.

Thank you for the lesson in elementary logic. Perhaps you should re-read what I said. It doesn't imply that at all.


For example, A causes B, C, D, E, and F, but A does not exclusively cause B, C, D, E, and F.

B, C, D, E, and F are presented as evidence that A existed. The burden of proof in society is satisfied since so much evidence presented is treated as sufficiently burdensome.

Does that mean someone has to believe A existed and isn't entitled to be skeptical?

. . . Where did this come from? Did I say you need to believe things that aren't proven? Did I ever question your right to be skeptical?

I have been talking about the burden of proof in debating - which has little or nothing to do with ANYONE believing or not believing in either side. It has nothing to do with skepticism. It has nothing to do with the straw man you are holding up as my position.

Presenting lots of facts is not necessarily a proof of anything; they need to be relevant, and they need to logically imply the truth of the resolution. Correlation is not enough, of course - no-one with any education disputes that. Stop putting words into my mouth.
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Chrysippus
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10/9/2013 4:56:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Here is what I am saying, in as clear of terms as I can:

- Starting a debate makes a statement.

- That statement must be upheld.

- Burden of proof is therefore on the instigator.

- His opponent's burden is usually limited to refuting his arguments.

Now, as this applies ONLY TO DEBATES, this does NOT imply anything about the following:

- Your beliefs

- The proof needed to believe anything

- The amount of evidence needed to prove anything

- The need or lack thereof for skepticism, however it may be defined.

Fun topics for conversation, but not the point of the OP.

And, for the record, I believe one ought to have good reason for any opinion one holds. Unjustified skepticism is not admirable, any more than unjustified belief. Basing one's belief or disbelief on logical fallacies or a nebulous lack of proof or disproof is pointless and wrong-headed - and completely human.

But debate is not about what people believe. It isn't necessarily about persuasion, although a good debate should be persuasive.

It is about logic and evidence, and presenting the stronger case.

Which is impossible to do if you never argue your own side at all.

Which is the whole point of this thread.

/rant
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wiploc
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10/9/2013 6:28:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/5/2013 12:54:41 PM, Chrysippus wrote:
A lot of n00b debates go like this:

RESOLUTION: Pennies Are Better Than Dollars.
"My opponent will be arguing that pennies are better than dollars. Round 1 is for arguments."

Notice that they do not post any arguments. They are waiting for Pro to post their opening arguments, which Con will then respond to.

These debaters want someone else to go to the trouble of creating the constructive argument, which they will then argue against. What they don't understand is that, by stating the resolution, they have made a statement that they then have the burden to prove or disprove. Being Con on a positive statement does not absolve one from making arguments in support of one's position.

A real-world analogue:

Bob: "Tell me why the Dodge Charger is the best car ever."

Fred: ". . .That's just a bit random. That isn't actually a defensible position to hold, as I can give you lists of cars better in one way or another than the Charger. Which model year of Charger were you even talking about, anyway?"

Why would Fred accept the debate if he didn't want to debate?

Bob: "No! You're supposed to say, "The Charger is the best car ever because it is fast and gets great gas milage," and then I come back with "Every Lamborghini ever made is faster, and the Prius gets better gas milage, so YOU'RE WRONG!"

Fred: "That's not how conversations are supposed to work, dude."

If Bob made it clear that whoever accepted the debate would have the burden of proof, then Fred shouldn't accept the debate unless he wants to accept the burden of proof.

Note that I'm not saying that, "My opponent will be arguing that pennies are better than dollars. Round 1 is for arguments," clearly assigns the burden of proof to the person accepting the debate.

If you start a debate, you have to defend your position.

That's not always the case. You don't get to make up rules for the rest of us.

If you are Pro, make a positive case for the resolution; if you are Con, make a negative case against the resolution. From now on, if you refuse to make your own case, I am going to consider it a concession and vote accordingly.

Wanting to votebomb debates as a way of protesting that you don't like the rules? Looking to get banned?

If Pro and Con agree to a set of rules, you don't get vote according to some other rules.

At 10/9/2013 4:56:49 PM, Chrysippus wrote:
Here is what I am saying, in as clear of terms as I can:

You weren't unclear, just wrong.

- Starting a debate makes a statement.

- That statement must be upheld.

- Burden of proof is therefore on the instigator.

I like to refute the free will defense (FWD). To do that, I have to find someone who will state the argument so that I can refute it. I initiate the argument as Con, and specify that the Respondent (Pro) will argue first and will have the burden of proof.

If you insist that I'm making a statement, then my statement is this: "If you field the FWD, I will refute it." But Pro still has to argue first. And Pro still has the burden of proof. If you don't like that, you shouldn't read the argument. You certainly shouldn't vote on it, given that you have proclaimed your intent to vote based on your prejudices rather than on the agreed rules of the debate.

- His opponent's burden is usually limited to refuting his arguments.

I set up the FWD debates so that the instigator's burden is limited to refuting the respondent's argument.

... a good debate should be persuasive.

It is about logic and evidence, and presenting the stronger case.

Which is impossible to do if you never argue your own side at all.

There is no sound version of the FWD. I can destroy any version you field. But I can't destroy it in the abstract. I need someone to field a specific version for refutation. Any version, just something specific. Therefore, I have to let my opponent go first.

If you don't like it---more to the point, if you don't accept it---then don't vote on debates of that kind.
Daktoria
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10/9/2013 8:41:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Sorry. If debate doesn't go hand in hand with beliefs, then it's pointless. The very endeavor should be banned as harassment of any audience member's attention span.
bsh1
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10/21/2013 12:27:31 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think whoever gives the constructive is the one who has the burden of proof, be it the Pro or the Con. New debaters should be wary of accepting topics that include "every," "none," "always," or "never" in them, because then the other side only needs one example to disprove them. However, making the opponent give the first constructive and bear the BOP is not, itself, abusive.
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bladerunner060
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10/21/2013 12:36:02 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/5/2013 12:54:41 PM, Chrysippus wrote:
A lot of n00b debates go like this:

I don't think it's only noob debates that go like you describe.

RESOLUTION: Pennies Are Better Than Dollars.
"My opponent will be arguing that pennies are better than dollars. Round 1 is for arguments."

Notice that they do not post any arguments. They are waiting for Pro to post their opening arguments, which Con will then respond to.

Correct. They are looking for someone who believes that pennies are superior. Perhaps they've heard it a lot, and want someone to present their case.

These debaters want someone else to go to the trouble of creating the constructive argument, which they will then argue against. What they don't understand is that, by stating the resolution, they have made a statement that they then have the burden to prove or disprove. Being Con on a positive statement does not absolve one from making arguments in support of one's position.

No. This is just wrong. The position in this case is merely "That pennies are better than dollars is not sufficiently supported".

A real-world analogue:

Bob: "Tell me why the Dodge Charger is the best car ever."

Fred: ". . .That's just a bit random. That isn't actually a defensible position to hold, as I can give you lists of cars better in one way or another than the Charger. Which model year of Charger were you even talking about, anyway?"

Bob: "No! You're supposed to say, "The Charger is the best car ever because it is fast and gets great gas milage," and then I come back with "Every Lamborghini ever made is faster, and the Prius gets better gas milage, so YOU'RE WRONG!"

Fred: "That's not how conversations are supposed to work, dude."

This is rather a straw man.

More akin would be going to a car convention, standing near the Charger fans area, and saying "Can anyone give me a reason that Chargers are the best car ever?"

If you start a debate, you have to defend your position.

No.

If you are Pro, make a positive case for the resolution; if you are Con, make a negative case against the resolution. From now on, if you refuse to make your own case, I am going to consider it a concession and vote accordingly.

This is vote bombing--your vote will likely be reported. Even in the abstract, were it accepted as a concept, it would result in less debates, because sometimes a person doesn't necessarily think that THEY know the answer, merely that the other side's assertion of knowing the answer is unfounded. Instigating the debate does not mean you have a position of your own, just that you feel the "other side"'s position is flawed.
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RoyLatham
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10/22/2013 12:37:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I've changed my mind on this since being at DDO. The model I was acquainted with previously always had (a) Pro instigating the debate, (b) Pro supporting the resolution, and (c) The resolution always proposing a change in the status quo. So no matter if the instigator has the BOP or the constructive has the BOP or the change in the status quo has the BOP it always ended up with Pro. DDO certainly challenges that model.

I now think that, with a couple of exceptions, the side advocating a change in the status quo has the burden of proof. The logic behind that is that doing nothing happens automatically without a debate. So if the debaters meet and neither side says anything, then the status quo continues on. It's only when someone wants a change that a debate occurs, and so the burden of proof goes with making the change. change should happen when the change is affirmed.

So if Pro affirms "Marriage laws should not be changed," then Con has the BOP. The only reason I can think of for Pro to initiate a debate where Con has the BOP is so that Pro can get practice opposing the resolution, say to prepare for a debate tournament.

One exception to the BOP rule is when there is no status quo. For example, "This year the Yankees are more likely to win the World Series than the Red Sox." Or the ever popular, "Dogs are better than cats." The debate is then decided by the preponderance of evidence.

The Instigator can say in the challenge that by accepting his opponent agrees to accept the BOP. That's nice, but the opponent doesn't vote and the readers who judge the debate didn't accept the condition. Judges can consider the request, but they have a right to put the BOP as they choose. Baseball teams can agree to a rule change, but the umpires are likely to reject them.
wiploc
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10/22/2013 1:40:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/22/2013 12:37:47 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
The Instigator can say in the challenge that by accepting his opponent agrees to accept the BOP. That's nice, but the opponent doesn't vote and the readers who judge the debate didn't accept the condition. Judges can consider the request, but they have a right to put the BOP as they choose. Baseball teams can agree to a rule change, but the umpires are likely to reject them.

I think, as a general rule, a voter who rejects the rules agreed upon by the debaters is cheating, votebombing.
RoyLatham
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10/22/2013 5:08:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/22/2013 1:40:42 AM, wiploc wrote:
I think, as a general rule, a voter who rejects the rules agreed upon by the debaters is cheating, votebombing.

How about agreeing to ignore the site rules? Any problem with that? Surely personal insults must be okay if both sides agree to it. Or the pesky rules about character limits? Or confining arguments to the debate and not to Comments. Many people get tripped up by logical fallacies, so new debaters might agree that fallacies shouldn't count. There are actual DDO debates where acceptance conditions demand that rules about profanity be ignored, spelling and grammar be ignored, and character limits be bent in one way or another.

Explain how you go about judging a debate in which S&G is so bad that one side is incoherent, but you are bound not to count it.

How do you overcome the generalization to all competitions? How about if major league players decide one day that running the bases in either direction will spice up the game?

And how can you possibly be against votebombing? There's just an informal convention against votebombing. The principle you espouse is that participation in the competition itself does not impose any overarching rules; it's just a matter of what the participants want on a particular day. Judges are participants and they don't formally agree to anything as a condition of voting, so shouldn't they have equal rights to do whatever they please? If the ball players get to change the rules arbitrarily, surely the umpires ought to have that right as well.

The point of a debate is that arguments are carried out according to certain conventions. The internet is full of places where there are no rules about how to argue, but a debate site ought to demand a minimum set of rules that set out what a debate is. I'm not claiming that all variations must be rejected. For example, if someone imposes a condition that "in each round each side must answer the other side's question and pose a new one" that's fine. It doesn't upset the basic structure of the debate. But I think it is appropriate to reject rules that say, in effect, "for this debate, we are not going to debate."

BTW, A condition of responding to this post is ...