Jordan and I talked a little more backchannel about this, because when I
look back at my
post now, it seems a lot more harsh than what was on my mind. I was in my last competitive debate in 1991, which is the same year one of my current team members was born. The biggest difference between my view of debate then and my view of debate now is that I now understand that my, or anyone's, individual taste in argument quality isn't very reliable. Certainly there are persuasive appeals that are designed to reach specific individuals, in the same sense that you can design a bedtime story for your own children, but arguments
are more likely to be aimed at a broad audience, like a film whose producers want it to appeal to millions of viewers. Up to the last days of my competitive career, I frequently dismissed arguments with blunt language because they didn't persuade me
. What I learned from judging and coaching is just how true it is that arguers and audiences are diverse, and an argument that doesn't persuade me in the slightest can still be extraordinarily powerful. That awareness is at the root of cognitive complexity
, so I suppose coaching and judging is a good way to grow in that dimension.