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 Post subject: The Heritage Foundation
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:48 pm 
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For years, the Heritage Foundation has been a credible (though clearly conservative) source who could be quoted in debate rounds as a legitimate think tank.

No longer. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... ink-tanks/

The hiring of Jim DeMint proves what so many had assumed for so long; that the Heritage Foundation is nothing more than a mouthpiece of the Republican party. Doing studies to help the party, promoting research to aid the party, and all in all being a totally biased right wing institution. Quoting the (now) republican party to prove the success of the Republican party is like quoting Obama to prove Health Care Reform is a beneficial policy.

I've seen dozens of debate rounds where the debaters (90% of whom are extreme right-wing conservative homeschool kids) would whip out the Heritage Foundation to support their conservative case. This hiring however, could be a huge momentum changer for debate. I know that as an alumni judge, if I hear from the Heritage Foundation in the future I will not let their evidence hold much weight in my mind. How bout all of you? Does this clearly biased hiring make the Heritage Foundation an unusable source? How much does it hurt/help Heritage? And how much does it impact the way you'll use this so-called think tank as a source in the future?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:10 pm 
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God forbid the Brookings Institute hire a Democrat, then we will have to throw all their evidence out also.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:20 pm 
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Hiring a Republican makes you a part of the Republican party? It's well known that DeMint is a conservative Republican, making it his objective to make conservatism more popular both in the Legislature and overall. Heritage is a very well known conservative think tank. Their hiring only makes sense. I don't see how you could, if you saw them as credible before, see them as any less credible as a result of this.

I find this very telling: "The hiring of Jim DeMint proves what so many had assumed for so long; that the Heritage Foundation is nothing more than a mouthpiece of the Republican party." this sentence already shows that those who already assumed that Heritage was a wing of the Republican party, had their assumptions confirmed. The hiring of Jim DeMint does nothing to their credibility in the minds of most, just in the minds of those it had little or no credibility in already.

I will continue to use Heritage evidence, and I see no reason to do otherwise.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:29 pm 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
Hiring a Republican makes you a part of the Republican party? It's well known that DeMint is a conservative Republican, making it his objective to make conservatism more popular both in the Legislature and overall. Heritage is a very well known conservative think tank. Their hiring only makes sense. I don't see how you could, if you saw them as credible before, see them as any less credible as a result of this.

I find this very telling: "The hiring of Jim DeMint proves what so many had assumed for so long; that the Heritage Foundation is nothing more than a mouthpiece of the Republican party." this sentence already shows that those who already assumed that Heritage was a wing of the Republican party, had their assumptions confirmed. The hiring of Jim DeMint does nothing to their credibility in the minds of most, just in the minds of those it had little or no credibility in already.

I will continue to use Heritage evidence, and I see no reason to do otherwise.
Heritage is supposed to be a think tank, not a partisan mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh or Mitt Romney. They didn't just "hire" DeMint, they hired him to lead the think tank. DeMint has no qualifications other than that he's a conservative who has made it his goal to make republicans more conservative. This hiring has no motivation in anything except partisanship.

@MM: haha its true that most judges will assume "oh they're conservative... Me Too! That means they're probably right!!!" but in the actual pursuit of truth, that's ridiculous, and as a debater I tried to always take an angle that was true or to the best of my knowledge was true. I just don't see how anyone can call Heritage a think tank any more. Now they seem to be an extension of a set of beliefs, rather than an organization dedicated to finding new information. Good call on quoting the author, rather than the think tank itself.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:41 pm 
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What do you mean when you say he has no qualifications?

He has an MBA, ran a Market Research company, has a decade of experience in the USFG and played drums in a cover band called "Salt & Pepper."

These are all excellent qualifications.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:01 am 
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honestly, i've never thought too highly of heritage before this, and to some degree i think the hiring of jim demint hasn't really changed anything, it's just made the purpose of the heritage foundation more clear. before this (and especially now) the heritage foundation wasn't really a "think tank" in the traditional sense of the word (an institution dedicated to academic policy research). the thing they do best is cherry-pick and condense research that supports the conservative position, then spit it out in the form of dense, rhetoric-laden reports. so, if you start with the assumption that the typical conservative position is wrong when it comes to some issues (not an unreasonable assumption), then it's obvious that the heritage foundation is also wrong on some issues (since they are more or less a mirror of conservative thought). and since you need other evidence to show whether the conservative position on the issue at hand is correct, heritage evidence should rarely be the deciding factor, as it means little on its own. i don't use it often, and when i do, i always make sure the author has credentials from outside the organization.

as for demint himself, i think the main hit on him is summed up nicely in this quote [from the article posted in the OP]:

Quote:
But DeMint doesn’t have even one foot in the policy world. He’s a politician who made his mark practicing a particularly hard-edged form of electoral politics: raising money to undermine insufficiently conservative Republicans. Heritage, which now has a direct political arm in the Heritage Action Foundation, isn’t just bringing in a politicized policy wonk. It’s bringing in an unusually politicized politician. That’s breaking new ground.

note the distinction between two types of politicians: politicians focused on policy, and politicians focused on getting their party elected. demint is squarely one of the latter.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:40 am 
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lucky13 wrote:
Heritage is supposed to be a think tank, not a partisan mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh or Mitt Romney. They didn't just "hire" DeMint, they hired him to lead the think tank.


And because he is a Republican automatically means they are a Republican think tank?

Quote:
"oh they're conservative... Me Too! That means they're probably right!!!" but in the actual pursuit of truth, that's ridiculous, and as a debater I tried to always take an angle that was true or to the best of my knowledge was true.


What if conservatism is the angle that is true or true to the best of someones knowledge? People don't just choose a political ideology like conservatism, or any political ideology, because they want to be on one side of the other. They choose it because that is what they believe to be true. In the pursuit of truth, it is not "ridiculous" to be conservative, because being a conservative infers that on a large portion of issues, you think the conservative side is the truth. Some people, in the pursuit of truth, go to conservatism because they find it to be true.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:51 am 
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Think tanks have always been risky sources unless you know the precise author of the article they posted. I can't think of a single think tank I've cited in my years as a debater that hasn't been challenged at least once; "they have a bias," "Angelina Jolie is a member," "they hired a member of x party," etcetera.

Generally, judges just brush those indictments off, because they really don't mean anything, and because the evidence in question is rarely crucial to the round. Think tanks usually put up analysis of a topic, not the report of the topic itself. That means they all have a clear bias, and a good debater will use them to support the logic behind a position, not the position itself, which stands regardless of the quality of any of its supporters except the debater presenting it.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:07 am 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
lucky13 wrote:
Heritage is supposed to be a think tank, not a partisan mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh or Mitt Romney. They didn't just "hire" DeMint, they hired him to lead the think tank.


And because he is a Republican automatically means they are a Republican think tank?
Because they hired a Republican Senator with no qualifications other than being Republican (and being in a band hehe) to lead their think tank they are automatically a Republican think tank.
_TakenUsername_ wrote:
What if conservatism is the angle that is true or true to the best of someones knowledge? People don't just choose a political ideology like conservatism, or any political ideology, because they want to be on one side of the other. They choose it because that is what they believe to be true. In the pursuit of truth, it is not "ridiculous" to be conservative, because being a conservative infers that on a large portion of issues, you think the conservative side is the truth. Some people, in the pursuit of truth, go to conservatism because they find it to be true.

No.

Bias is bias. It doesn't matter if it's conservative or liberal bias, it's an automatic tendency of humanity to look at issues based on their own experience/thoughts. Bias is inherently a negative thing, whether you come to the right or wrong conclusions, because it means you did not come to your conclusion through true rationality. Your reasoning may be partially correct, but if you skipped certain steps of the logical process through bias your reasoning has the potential to be invalid.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:13 am 
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lucky13 wrote:

Bias is bias. It doesn't matter if it's conservative or liberal bias, it's an automatic tendency of humanity to look at issues based on their own experience/thoughts. Bias is inherently a negative thing, whether you come to the right or wrong conclusions, because it means you did not come to your conclusion through true rationality. Your reasoning may be partially correct, but if you skipped certain steps of the logical process through bias your reasoning has the potential to be invalid.


So you are saying it is impossible to be a conservative or a liberal and be unbiased? Having a political ideology does not automatically mean you don't look at the facts. Someone can come to an ideology through the facts, because they see those facts as supporting an particular ideology.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:23 am 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
So you are saying it is impossible to be a conservative or a liberal and be unbiased
Yes. It's impossible to eliminate bias, although it is possible to suppress it.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:35 am 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
Someone can come to an ideology through the facts, because they see those facts as supporting an particular ideology.

what you're describing is somebody researching every issue, separately, from a neutral framework (i.e. without bias), and then independently coming to a conservative position for every issue. this never happens. bias that is "based off of facts" is always extrapolation, because people will research a handful of issues from an unbiased perspective, and then they will say "oh the conservatives are right on these issues, ergo conservatives are right on all issues! and my bias is totally based in fact, which means i'm basically not biased!" either that, or they will never research any issue from a neutral perspective (and this is more common), due to unavoidable factors such as parents, etc.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:47 am 
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"To meet with the Heritage Foundation's policy experts is to be transported back to the days of the Bush administration." haha
http://euobserver.com/foreign/118084

To not be a troll:
1) As with all pieces of evidence, don't rely on just ONE source and/or just ONE piece of evidence for your argument. Using the Heritage Foundation evidence is fine IF it is collaborated with other sources.
2) Even if the other team uses the Heritage Foundation, don't indict the source just based on who they are. Actually look at what the evidence is saying, and see if it has merit. Doing source indictments just based on who they are while neglecting the actual argument is lame in my opinion.

Just my two cents...

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:14 pm 
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In most debate rounds I attend, I hear what I would describe as "speculative" sources most often. Heritage has always been that. Publishing claims like that the Clean Air Act costs $500B, with zero methodology.

Nothing new. Learn to use ssrn.com, opencrs.org, and lexis, and the library.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:18 pm 
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DeMint is taking a radically different job from his old one. Maybe he wants to do different work.

When George Stephanopolous was a top aide to the Clinton administration, he was every inch the partisan DeMint has been. As host of Meet The Press, he's done a reasonably good job of being a journalist.

Why not judge DeMint by the work he does in his new job, not what he did in his old one? I doubt the French panicked over Eisenhower being elected, thinking he'd just invade Normandy over and over again.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:02 am 
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Whenever I had the name of the author of a card, I would just cite the author and ignore the organization/publication unless my opponents asked (which they rarely did). The political leaning of an organization that publishes something is unimportant unless the person criticizing the card can explain, with evidence, why the person writing for the organization is probably dishonest in that specific case.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:15 am 
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One of my all-time favorite - and unfortunately wholly unquotable - comments about Heritage goes as follows:
The PONI article begins with:
| "Two recent editorial from Heritage fellows have criticized the Obama administration for abandoning Eastern European allies."
Ah yes: the missile defense cheerleaders at Heritage. This should be enough to disqualify everything that follows, but in these days, one never knows.
For those who don't know, I became somewhat infamous Russia year for running "abolish European missile defense." Researching this case kind of killed my respect for Heritage as a policy analysis organization. It's just that the whitewashed pro-MD impression you get from Heritage is so completely disconnected from the impression you get reading the actual political-science literature (and listening to actual military commanders); they're not even talking about the same issues. Articles by established MD experts mince and backtrack for pages about industry funding bias and the precise failings of real-world countermeasure tests. Heritage articles just say "BLAH BLAH BLAH MISSILE DEFENSE HAS A GOOD TEST RECORD END OF STORY MORE FUNDING PLEASE" and then throw in a stock scare-line or two. (And sometimes, they didn't even get basic facts right: I recall a number of times when Heritage articles just simply mixed up different delivery systems, or didn't bother to look up what Obama's 2009 phased-adaptive approach actually did and how it was different from existing midcourse defense systems.)

This sort of disconnect between Heritage and the academic literature can be striking. I recall spending a day reading nuanced journal articles about Russia's motives vis a vis Eastern European power projection and the American nuclear arsenal, with detailed policy predictions based on the power struggle between the Russian Supreme High Command and the State Duma. Then, just for kicks, I pulled up a Heritage article on the same topic. The thesis, as best as I can recall, was basically "We need to have a large nuclear arsenal because it will intimidate Russia." (Well, that's not overly simplified at all... :lol:)

On the whole, I find a good deal of Heritage analysis to be shockingly shallow, consisting mainly of talking points and random one-sided facts strung together to produce an apparently pre-ordained conclusion. The smell of confirmation bias and quote-mining can get overpowering. On the other hand, however, many of Heritage's experts have been around the block a few times, and their experience leads to some very insightful pieces. Heritage really is trying to provide useful analysis, and they often succeed. But much of their work is just too shallow and biased to be of much use.

I still quote Heritage, especially if the author has independently-notable credentials - just because, sometimes, they write really good debate evidence. :P But if I were President, trying to decide if I should (say) invade Iran, I don't think I'd solicit their advice.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:06 am 
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Heritage has been a joke ever since environment year. Their bias is usually clear. Brookings, and to a lesser extent, CATO, are far superior sources.

Anyone else remember New START? Heritage had a vendetta against it and anyone who worked on it, and that extended to the point of assigning motivation and outright lies.

Hiring Sen. DeMint doesn't really alter my perception of them. He's a smart guy, super conservative, and well-respected in the conservative community, which is what they'd be looking for.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:17 pm 
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Think tanks have always been biased. Cato's biased libertarian. Brookings is biased moderate left. Actually, people have always been biased. My guess is that the president of Heritage has always voted for the Republican Party. If the president of Heritage was a current Republican senator, that might be a little more problematic. DeMint is not a current representative of the Republican Party, so he has no non-ideological (i.e. monetary or electoral) incentive to be biased. I'm sure he's ideologically biased. So is every other think tank. And every other person.

Plus, sometimes, the partisans are right. If there's a yes/no issue, a Republican says yes, and a Democrat says no, one of them is right. That doesn't change in academia. Partisan hacks can sometimes tell the truth. My favorite example: James Dobson is literally paid to preach the gospel. But when he says "Jesus is the Son of God," I don't think anyone says "well obviously you believe that -- you're paid to believe that."

Debate the warrants, not the source. If the argument you read is a logical argument (especially a philosophical/moral/normative argument), then it really doesn't matter who the source is. If Heritage says "killing is bad," it doesn't matter that "OMGZ HERITAGE IS REPUBLICAN." The argument can be true, no matter who said it. If the argument you read is an empirical argument, then there's a little more problem.

But even then, you just can't say "that study is from Heritage, and Heritage is Republican, so the study is wrong. OK, let's move on." The better way to do it is to read the study, realize there's no methodology (as Isaiah points out), and say "this study is bad, and here are studies that have real methodology."

lucky13 wrote:
_TakenUsername_ wrote:
So you are saying it is impossible to be a conservative or a liberal and be unbiased
Yes. It's impossible to eliminate bias, although it is possible to suppress it.


Your definition of who is unbiased and biased is going to be, by definition, biased by your point of view. How can you measure if someone is unbiased or not? There's no such thing as being unbiased.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:16 am 
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^ Listen to this guy. :)

There are some occasional instances where a source indict is needed. But unforunately, some teams simply use source indicts to fill up speech time or help sway a judge who might be of a certain political persuasion. Everybody has a bias, and that bias isn't necessarily reason to disregard an entire line of logic or an entire research report.

I've used source indicts against the Heritage Foundation before in debate, and trust me, they did NOT go over very well with my judges. :-/ So know your audience before you consider running a source indict or an argument that might rub your judge the wrong way.

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