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Biased Judging

YYW
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7/10/2014 3:26:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Bias is prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. And there's a lot of talk about bias, especially in the context of RFD's, that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes it comes out into the open, but sometimes it does not. Even still, allegations of bias where there is none are damaging.

First, let's talk about where bias exists, and where it does not. Second, let's talk about baseless allegations of bias and how they play out. Then, let's figure out a way to know if there actually is bias in an RFD.

If someone wrote an RFD that actually showed prejudice or deference to one debater over another because of personal sentiment that existed outside of a debate, there is bias. But there is not bias if that RFD dealt with only what took place in the debate. For example, if someone says or implies in an RFD that they could not vote for the losing side only because of personally held sentiments against that position, then that is a biased RFD. Likewise, if someone says that they voted for a debate because they agreed with the position they voted for and for no other reason gave that side the win, that's a biased vote.

It should be said that in many cases, bias exists even without these clear indicators. For example, some arguments are always going to carry more weight with some judges than others just because of who the judge is and what they bring to the table. This is the case whether the judge pretends to be a tablua rasa judge or not. (1) But, rather than viewing that as a problem for the competitor, it should alternatively be viewed as a challenge to overcome -and that all debaters can and should avail themselves to overcome. While not all judges are persuadable, the majority of judges are. Fundamentally, debate is an exercise of persuasion before it is anything else.

Bias may exist for other reasons, as well. For example, one debater may have a personal affiliation with a judge. In that case, it is possible that the judge may lend undue deference to a debater's arguments, where the judge is friends or more with the debater whose debate is being judged. But, a judge's having a personal affiliation with a debater is not sufficient to indicate that bias of any kind necessarily exists. That is because personal affiliation is perhaps necessary, but in no way sufficient to indicate that bias exists.

When a debater makes an accusation of bias, what he is essentially doing is claiming that he or she got unduly slighted. And if a judge was biased, then the debater who was on the losing side did get slighted. But, that a judge gives a competitor a loss is not sufficient to indicate that the debater who a judge gave a loss too was slighted. The loss might be necessary, but again, it is not sufficient to show that there was bias in play. However, perception -rather than reality- is often how debaters evaluate the notion that they got slighted... and for very predictable reasons.

Debaters almost always view their arguments as being stronger than they are; this is called a "self serving bias." It occurs where debaters believe that their arguments are better than they are, stronger than they are -and especially stronger relative to their opponent. When a debater loses, he or she is more often than not evaluating what it means that he or she lost against their inflated perception of their own arguments. The logic plays out in a foreseeable way:

"My arguments are superior to my opponent, and I lost. Therefore, my loss is only explainable by a judge's bias."

The great irony is that in making that allegation, the debater is relying on their own biases as evidence of a judges bias. That's a totally human thing to do, but it's problematic when a judge who is not biased gets accused of being based because an inferior debater lost to a superior opponent. It would seem like an easy solution to this would be to only have judges who are not friends with either debater score debates, and that would mitigate the 'perception' that decisions as such are biased because of personal affiliations which may exist between judges and debaters. But, that's an overreach because (a) there are always already other biases in place, (b) the most probable reason that debaters conclude that bias occurred at their expense is because of their reliance on their own biases and (c) it is impossible to remediate all biases, and impractical to cater to perception.

Even if one judge on a debate is close friends or perhaps more with a debater, the other judges could have prejudices on the issue itself which may or may not be self evident. So, in repudiating "bias" -especially bias which can't even be established with a compelling degree of probability- in judging, two consequences follow: a chilling effect on judging -meaning that fewer people want to cast ballots and an unsolvable tension between judge, debater and intermediaries which may be called in to resolve the issue. That takes a lot of time to resolve, and there are better uses for it... like asking a judge, whether the debater perceives bias or not, what they could have done to win the debate. That discussion might actually reveal evidence of bias, but it's likely that it's not even going to happen because debaters -especially immature ones- tend to get unduly bitchy whenever they lose, and make irrational conclusions of bias where none exists.

It's really frustrating for moderation to deal with accusations of bias in judging, because resolving that problem either requires that a moderator hurt a debater's feelings by saying that, in fact, there was no bias and the debater deserved to lose a debate or it requires that moderation request that voters not vote on certain debates where there may be a perception of bias. Both of those are unpalatable options for moderation, and for the debater who feels like they received a biased RFD as well as the judge accused of bias. It's also stupid and juvenile, because most judges try to be fair when they're judging. (2) And yet, there is a better solution.

The solution to biased RFD's, or RFD's that appear to be biased, is more RFD's. The absolute last thing that any debater should ever do is take a measure that will ensure that fewer debates are voted on. (3) In receiving more votes, the debater who feels slighted can do one or both of the following: overshadow a biased vote if it was, in fact, biased, or improperly decided for any other reason or measure the "biased" vote (that is, the vote the debater perceives to be biased) against others cast on the same debate. Just as the best answer to bad speech is more speech, the best answer to bad votes is more votes.

--

Notes:

(1) Tabula rasa judging is a myth, because we cannot forget what we already know and believe and we cannot help but, on some level, measure whatever we're being told against what's being advocated for. There are varying levels that this occurs, and some judges are better at setting aside their biases than others. But, the only judge that can do this is the judge who is cognizant of the biases they hold. Even still, almost all judges believe they are being impartial whether they are or are not.

(2) There are, however, at least four distinct exceptions to this statement that I will be happy to discuss with anyone via PM.

(3) With the exception of the four members who I referred to in (2), whose voting privileges should have been permanently removed ages ago.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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7/10/2014 3:28:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
tl;dr (2)

If you think you lost because of a judges bias, don't go bitching to moderation. Just get more votes.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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7/10/2014 3:52:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
It should also be noted that, not only do most judges believe that they are being impartial, but they try to be as fair as possible -especially where there could be the appearance of bias.

Moreover, there are circumstances where bias is more likely to exist than when it is not. For example, let's say that hypothetically one judge viscerally hates another debater because that debater has made the judge in question look and feel incredibly stupid on multiple occasions. In that case, the judge, who the debater has made feel incredibly stupid on multiple occasions is almost invariably going to vote against the debater who made him feel that way.

That a judge would passive aggressively vote against a debater like that is shallow, vile and unforgivable... but it happens with a few people. That is, however, incredibly uncommon because the personality disorder and intellectual deficiency that are both necessary prerequisites for this kind of situation to play out is exceedingly rare.

I think that it is highly unethical for any judge to vote on any debate where he holds personal animosity against one of the debaters, and I apply that standard to myself as much as I think that others should follow suit. But, for some, the satisfaction of passive aggressive revenge is more compelling than any potential pangs incurred as a result to violating ethical standards. However, I think it is equally problematic to, except in the most egregious of circumstances, restrict anyone from voting on anyone else's debates. And there are circumstances like that, but again, they are exceedingly rare, and restricting voting should only be a solution of absolute last resort. It would be far better to just publicly shame such a judge, and get a whole bunch of other people to vote on the debate.

To illustrate the point further, let's suppose that hypothetically a judge is just absolutely head over heels in love with one of the debaters and not the other. Should that judge recuse himself or herself from the debate? Maybe, if the judge thought that he couldn't be impartial when it came to judging the debate... but not necessarily. Strong personal sentiment towards one of the debaters doesn't imply that a decision that a judge who felt that way would necessarily slight the debater he was not in love with. And I think that the judge who loves one of the debaters is far less likely to slight the other debater than the judge who casts a ballot where he hates one of the debaters.

I am, however, sympathetic to the perception of bias. Nothing sucks more than feeling like you've been treated unfairly, but just because you lost does't mean that you've been treated unfairly. It just means that you lost. If you feel like you were treated unfairly, there's an easy solution to that: get more votes. Bitching to moderation will not solve the problem. It just makes you look like a whiner, and is likely to cause others to lose respect for you -especially if everyone else thinks you lost the debate too.
Tsar of DDO
Romanii
Posts: 4,851
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7/10/2014 8:09:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/10/2014 7:55:50 PM, YYW wrote:
By the way, if anyone disagrees with anything I've said here, I invite their dissent.

[dissent]
YYW
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7/10/2014 8:09:56 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/10/2014 8:07:22 PM, LogicalLunatic wrote:
I agree! Confirmation bias can't be beaten!

Hello, RM.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/10/2014 8:10:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/10/2014 8:09:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 7:55:50 PM, YYW wrote:
By the way, if anyone disagrees with anything I've said here, I invite their dissent.

[dissent]

lol
Tsar of DDO
Ajab
Posts: 395
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7/11/2014 9:36:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/10/2014 8:09:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
[dissent]
#StandWithBossy
#Addison/Blade-of-Truth: I slapped a girl on the arse once with a piece of uncooked chicken, things got weird.
You threw it away, right? -Ajab
...
Oh lord did you eat it?
...maybe!
Romanii
Posts: 4,851
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7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.
YYW
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7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?
Tsar of DDO
Romanii
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7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/12/2014 3:39:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.

Can you prove bias there?
Tsar of DDO
Romanii
Posts: 4,851
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7/12/2014 3:48:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/12/2014 3:39:23 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.

Can you prove bias there?

Not in any definitive way.
The BSness of the source points is pretty much all I've got.
And some knowledge of the voters' personal preferences, but that doesn't carry much weight.
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/13/2014 11:04:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/12/2014 3:48:37 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:39:23 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.

Can you prove bias there?

Not in any definitive way.

Precisely.

The BSness of the source points is pretty much all I've got.
And some knowledge of the voters' personal preferences, but that doesn't carry much weight.
Tsar of DDO
Romanii
Posts: 4,851
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7/13/2014 11:08:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/13/2014 11:04:45 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:48:37 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:39:23 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.

Can you prove bias there?

Not in any definitive way.

Precisely.

But I can still prove that the points awarded to the other side were totally stupid and unjustified :D


The BSness of the source points is pretty much all I've got.
And some knowledge of the voters' personal preferences, but that doesn't carry much weight.
ChosenWolff
Posts: 3,361
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7/13/2014 11:09:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/13/2014 11:08:25 PM, Romanii wrote:
But I can still prove that the points awarded to the other side were totally stupid and unjustified :D
Tip: Shorten the message to the length of your response
How about NO elections?

#onlyonedeb8
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/13/2014 11:10:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/13/2014 11:08:25 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/13/2014 11:04:45 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:48:37 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:39:23 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:33:34 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:26:16 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/12/2014 3:19:20 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/10/2014 3:28:12 PM, YYW wrote:
tl;dr

If you think that you lost because of a judges bias, think again. It's probably not the case.

I beg to differ. I am almost certain that there is one particular debate that I lost because of voter bias, and another particular debate I'm pretty sure I won solely because of voter bias.

What's the debate?

My debate with Defro.
http://www.debate.org...

We both used Youtube clips of scenes from the animes as sources, and then Defro used one wikia source in addition to that, which somehow got him the source points from all three voters.
And then that one last voter gave a totally BS spelling point.

Can you prove bias there?

Not in any definitive way.

Precisely.

But I can still prove that the points awarded to the other side were totally stupid and unjustified :D

You might be right...
Tsar of DDO
Romanii
Posts: 4,851
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7/13/2014 11:10:52 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/13/2014 11:09:40 PM, ChosenWolff wrote:
At 7/13/2014 11:08:25 PM, Romanii wrote:
But I can still prove that the points awarded to the other side were totally stupid and unjustified :D
Tip: Shorten the message to the length of your response

I don't think that sentiment can be expressed in a single word...
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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7/13/2014 11:11:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/13/2014 11:10:52 PM, Romanii wrote:
At 7/13/2014 11:09:40 PM, ChosenWolff wrote:
At 7/13/2014 11:08:25 PM, Romanii wrote:
But I can still prove that the points awarded to the other side were totally stupid and unjustified :D
Tip: Shorten the message to the length of your response

I don't think that sentiment can be expressed in a single word...

lol

I love how jifpop gives out advice... that's just about the most amusing thing I've seen all night.
Tsar of DDO