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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:08 pm 
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Many people argue statistical significance vs. quality significance. The case that I am thinking about running is definitely a quality problem. Below is what some people say about qualitative and quantitative significance.

"Significance isn't just importance. If we reformed the UN to save one life, that might be important, but it's not an overall significant reform. There are two kinds of significance: Qualitative and Quantitative. Many people think you only need to prove one of them, but the truth is... they work hand in hand. For instance, you can't just be statistically significant, and unimportant. and you also can't be importantly significant and non-statistically significant. let me give an example. let's say we're going to reform salaries in the United States. If we gave everybody a $5 salary increase, that wouldn't be that great of a reform... it would affect everyone, but so little that nobody would care. On the other hand, what if we decided to give one person a $1,000,000 salary increase. That might be significant to them, but the United States as a whole, that wouldn't be significant. It is my belief that you need to be both qualitative and quantitatively significant, if that makes sense. Just because the case is reforming the UN in the important way, it doesn't mean the judge has to vote for you, because if you look at the case as a whole, in the UN... it's not that significant."

So, CAN you win significance if you case isn't numerically significant? I would say yes, but would love here other's wise thoughts because I know it is an issue that many people have come across.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Why do we build memorials to honor those who fought to protect us in wartime? What kind of quantifiable benefit would justify that? We honor our fallen warriors and our veterans because it's the right thing to do, and because failure to do so would mean we were being ungrateful. That's a qualitative benefit and averting a qualitative harm. It's clearly not for the purpose of saving X lives or Y dollars.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:54 pm 
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2 things:

1. significance always needs to be measured relative to something. usually, if you're changing something, that reference point will be the object you are changing. so significance is properly measured as a percent, not a number.

2. if you're looking at it from a strictly mathematical standpoint, (total significance) = (qualitative significance)*(quantitative significance). so for the salary example, ($5/person)*(300 million people) = ($1.5 billion), which is definitely more significant than $1 million. but going back to point 1, this doesn't mean anything in and of itself - it's significant to my family, but not to the DOD. so let's say we're comparing this to the gross national income of $15 trillion. 1/10^4 = 0.01% = not very significant. now, this is obviously easy with things that can be counted like money and lives, but not with more abstract benefits like duty to veterans, or democracy. so when you deal with things that can't be counted, quantitative significance doesn't really exist. it would be helpful to know what case you're talking about, but i would say that if the problem can be counted, you need to factor in quantitative significance. if it can't be counted, then a quantitative evaluation is impossible and irrelevant.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:06 pm 
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In terms of the stock issue of significance, yes you can absolutely win the argument with qualitative significance warrants.

In terms of the topicality press on the word "significantly" (notice that this resolutional word is an ADVERB, not an adjective), it is harder to win the argument if it is well-structured (read: has a bright line that makes sense) and is being run by a good team.

Your best route for the latter is to appeal to the common sense/gut reaction side of the judge. Only debaters run semantics on topic wordings, because only debate HAVE topic wordings in the first place. The topic wording is really there to make it so that legitimate policy changes in a given context are discussed. If you understand that then it's easier to come up with RTPs saying that quantitatively small changes with qualitatively BIG effects are fair game. A couple RTPs I might run (under that aforementioned FW) are a) literature prevalence/expert discussion (i.e. if the literature and experts talk about it then it's fair game), and b) the only-quantitatively-big-changes interp means that aff must always be radical (i.e. small/balanced/moderated changes aren't topical and that's dumb, because those are often the best ones).

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:41 pm 
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You can win every significance debate quantitatively. You just have to pick the right number (or "quantity") to use.

I can't count the number of times I've seen a Negative attack the Affirmative's significance using statistics, and the Affirmative just concedes that it's not quantitatively significant, and starts arguing some qualitative point. While this can work, it helps to remember that everything that is qualitatively significant is also quantitatively significant - just not always by the first statistic that comes to mind (saving lives, or percent of spending cut, or whatever.)

A few bad examples:

Processing refugees 25% faster is tiny compared to total UN operational capability. However, it does affect a significant number of refugees.
Improving the average happiness of villagers in Bangladesh seems unmeasurable. However, it does make a significant number of people happier.
Building a war memorial doesn't save any money or lives. However, it does provide a significant quantity of gratitude, or something.

Just something to consider. You may not find this the most appropriate strategy depending on your case.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:02 am 
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If I may say a few words...
I believe MSD hit the nail directly on the head. It all depends on putting the significance number in context. For example: during environmental year, there was a team from R5 who ran a bee health case (hehe I think you know who that was Spencer... ;) ). The harms were something to the effect of 1/3 of bees were dying, because of something called CCD. The Neg always come up with excuses of how 1/3 was not a significant number, and the Aff would always then explain the fact that the 1/3 statistic represented apprx. 2 million bee colonies, and over $3 billion in US food production. So with those facts, they argued both qualitative and quantitative significance.

And also, because I know exactly what case you are running, :lol: :ugeek: and what the issue is, I'd just like to add that your definition for significant is one of the most important factors. If you run a case that is quantitatively significant, run a "of a noticeably or measurably large amount" type; whereas if your case deals with qualitative and/or both, run a "important; of consequence" styled definition. It makes it much easier to defend against any potential Neg attacks.
And, especially with the case you are running, you shouldn't have any problems ;) :becool:

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:16 am 
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This is actually a very simple issue.

Every debate is about finding the right answer. If the benefits of a plan outweigh it's losses it must be considered correct. Regardless of whether they're qualitative or quantitative, if the advantages outweigh the costs of the plan then it should be adopted. Who cares about technicalities of how you use words? It's about the benefits.

If someone handed you a dollar no strings attached would you take it? Assuming no strings attached (D/A's) any reasonable person would take the dollar. It might not give you a quantitative advantage, but it makes no difference, because you gain something, and lose nothing.

Debate isn't about nitpicking through words, it's about finding the right answers to tough questions. The proper question isn't "is this the right technical form of significance?", it's "how significant are the advantages when compared with the Disadvantages?".

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:20 am 
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I.rule.this.game wrote:
If I may say a few words...
I believe MSD hit the nail directly on the head. It all depends on putting the significance number in context. For example: during environmental year, there was a team from R5 who ran a bee health case (hehe I think you know who that was Spencer... ;) ). The harms were something to the effect of 1/3 of bees were dying, because of something called CCD. The Neg always come up with excuses of how 1/3 was not a significant number, and the Aff would always then explain the fact that the 1/3 statistic represented apprx. 2 million bee colonies, and over $3 billion in US food production. So with those facts, they argued both qualitative and quantitative significance.

And also, because I know exactly what case you are running, :lol: :ugeek: and what the issue is, I'd just like to add that your definition for significant is one of the most important factors. If you run a case that is quantitatively significant, run a "of a noticeably or measurably large amount" type; whereas if your case deals with qualitative and/or both, run a "important; of consequence" styled definition. It makes it much easier to defend against any potential Neg attacks.
And, especially with the case you are running, you shouldn't have any problems ;) :becool:

now i am curious about what your case is, spencer. ;)

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- Will

2010-11 | Freshman | Bardsley/King | IX | 13th at Regionals
2011-12 | Sophomore | Dovel/King | IX | Q'd to Nationals
2012-13 | Junior | Dovel/King | IX | 17th at Nationals
2013-14 | Senior | Dovel/King | IX | 5th at Nationals

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:29 am 
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1. I plan on responding to a few responses here, because I have a couple questions. This is great stuff.
2. I'll send it to you, if you'll critique it for me. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:59 am 
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King Downing wrote:
1. I plan on responding to a few responses here, because I have a couple questions. This is great stuff.
2. I'll send it to you, if you'll critique it for me. :)

deal :) (kingwill27@gmail.com)

edit: a little delayed, but i think lucky was spot on with his post. significance as a stock issue isn't so much that "aff must have really significant harms and stuff!" because aff could win that with an abolish UN case - except the really big harms are outweighed by really really big DAs. at the end of the day, if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, you "should" reform, which is what the resolution calls for.

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- Will

2010-11 | Freshman | Bardsley/King | IX | 13th at Regionals
2011-12 | Sophomore | Dovel/King | IX | Q'd to Nationals
2012-13 | Junior | Dovel/King | IX | 17th at Nationals
2013-14 | Senior | Dovel/King | IX | 5th at Nationals

Baylor University class of 2018


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:06 am 
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My first post on this forum in what is such a good question :)

Just a couple premises about the stock issue of Significance when I'm talking about it:

1) It falls under the goal(s), violation(s)/harm(s), advantage(s), disadvantage(s), and ASQ's.

2) There are 5 types of significance: qualitative, quantitative, social, moral, and I'm blanking on the last one. :oops: EDIT: traditional significance

Now onto the question.

In my primary league since I began High School (CCA), you must win one of the 4 stock issues to win the round as neg and aff must win all 4 to win. Because of this I spent more time researching debate theory regarding the 4 stock issues than I did cards sophomore year and we don't have sourcebooks!

That being said, here's my point. It's all about the context of the argument. Qualitative and quantitative sig are for primarily economical arguments, its good to have impacts for both but not required.

A great example is when the neg team runs a DA that someone could lose their job under the plan with the impact that the judge is going to be out of work. Awful argument but to often the aff team will respond with not many people are losing their jobs without actually flipping the DA to a quantitative point from a really bad qualitative point. I won that argument freshman year to often :)

So again its all about the context of the argument. Whoever starts the argument gets to provide the arguments context giving the other team the option of either flipping context or arguing the point as presented by the other team.

It must be remembered that qualitative and quantitative sig are economical only though and that you can win sig on moral, social etc. Also the argument may be qualitative but when referring to it as so, you only mean that it is primarily qualitative, it must include some quantitative as well and vis versa.

As far as I see it I don't see any reason this would change league to league either as it is stock debate theory. Anyway if you read that thanks :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:06 pm 
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You don't have to think of it this way, but I think of quantitative significance as being one method of establishing a qualitative view :P

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:46 pm 
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Good, thought-provoking read from David Brooks. Not on point to this discussion, but only a stone's throw away.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:37 pm 
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That which is significant is that which is fundamental and important.

Qualitative significance is a far greater argument than quantitative significance because qualitative significance presses reduce policy-making to simple math, dollars and cents, when it can and often is so much more.

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