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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:03 pm 
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Over the past 3-4 years openness has really taken off in speech and debate. Teams will post their cases on a case list and will share what other teams are running and everyone will eventually know what each team is running. The idea is pretty simple, as your case hits better and newer strategies on an exponential scale, the Affirmative is able to counter just about every conceivable strategy against their case which makes their position stronger and stronger. This has been tested and shown to be true.

But where does this leave the negative side? Seemingly, the only course of action is to find newer and better evidence to take down the time built case of the Affirmative team. Suddenly it's a research war, who has the most recent card of evidence? Research teams, clubs, and individuals start researching like there's no tomorrow and debate quickly turns into a competition of who can find the best evidence. Is this harming us? Is this narrowing our minds and hindering us from in-round debate capabilities?

Most alumni can probably agree that there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of debate over the past few years. The teams today seem to be nothing like the teams of yesterday. I feel that debaters are forgetting what debate really is. They're forgetting about the clash of minds and the split-second critical thinking that makes debaters stand out above the general population. Rather debate seems to have been derailed into a state of drones surfing the web looking for the most recent articles, minds made lazy by the lack of surprise and the lack of need to think on the spot.

What do y'all think?

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:22 pm 
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If we take either side (openness or closedness) to its extreme, we're going to get bad things. But I think that the extreme alternative to winning based on research, which is winning based on taking-people-by-surprise-ness, is worse. Research, no matter how you look at it, is certainly an important skill, whereas catching people unawares is... not. So while I think you're right overall, and debate is moving towards being based more on who has the better cards, I don't think that's always a bad thing, and it's definitely better than the alternative.

And, well, alumnis (or even just anyone who's been around for a while) will pretty much invariably think that quality is going down. As a person gets older, their skills go up, and if the competition as a whole is not constantly improving, it seems to be getting worse. I'm not saying that people who think quality is going down are necessarily wrong; just that it always looks like quality is going down, even if it isn't.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:46 pm 
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Johnnyw256 wrote:
If we take either side (openness or closedness) to its extreme, we're going to get bad things. But I think that the extreme alternative to winning based on research, which is winning based on taking-people-by-surprise-ness, is worse. Research, no matter how you look at it, is certainly an important skill, whereas catching people unawares is... not. So while I think you're right overall, and debate is moving towards being based more on who has the better cards, I don't think that's always a bad thing, and it's definitely better than the alternative.
This is Gold.

I think that all rounds still have the ability to add "surprise" even when a team has an open-policy.

I don't know how much you are taking your analysis out of last resolution or two. Last year, with such a volatile and constantly changing subject as the Middle East, it was necessary to have a sort of "research war" by virtue of the subject matter. I wouldn't blame this on openness. If people start using evidence as a crutch without the other arguments that need to go along with it, they tend to lose--there is still a need to think on your feet in rounds with "open" teams.

I guess I'm struggling to answer your question partly because I'm wondering what form of "Closed-ness" you are seeming to suggest.

Also, for those who are willing to espouse this theory, are they also willing to be unable to access caselists and research clubs? In most instances of when Openness is criticized I still see those who criticize it taking advantage of these "open" policies.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:26 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
But where does this leave the negative side? Seemingly, the only course of action is to find newer and better evidence to take down the time built case of the Affirmative team. Suddenly it's a research war, who has the most recent card of evidence? (...)

They're forgetting about the clash of minds and the split-second critical thinking that makes debaters stand out above the general population. Rather debate seems to have been derailed into a state of drones surfing the web looking for the most recent articles, minds made lazy by the lack of surprise and the lack of need to think on the spot.

There are only two ways to win on negative against affirmatives that win consistently:
1. Run the same arguments that everyone else is running, better than everyone else.
2. Run different arguments than everyone else.

This problem lies not with openness but with the negatives who are taught to be mindless drones who don't think on the spot. NCFCA (and probably Stoa) clubs routinely discourage creativity in argumentation.

I know for a fact that some coaches (including one who is popular and teaches camps) teach static theory and essentially force debaters to use their paradigms, which is a terrible foundation for developing a creative debater. Debaters become hesitant to venture into new territory whenever they're used to treating theory - the structure of debate - as a stable, inanimate thing that you can't mold and form. Debaters need to feel free to try things out and experiment - even in tournament rounds.

Most coaches teach delivery, presentation, and rebuttal of arguments; precious few coaches and clubs are teaching how to construct arguments. I don't know anyone who has run practice rounds without evidence in the past few years and you'd be hard pressed to find people teaching theory as something more than a set of facts.

My finest negative round was in quarters at DFW 2011. Aff ran a case that was ever-so-slightly altered (thanks to feedback they had received, I'm sure) such that it delinked 95% of our brief. We won with a counterplan on a sticky note written in the final 30 seconds of prep time. I know of only one or two top teams who could do such a thing anymore even though they're far better speakers - it's just not something they're taught.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:26 pm 
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I know not this "leverage" of which you speak.
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Quote:
Most alumni can probably agree that there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of debate over the past few years.


1. Are things getting worse? It's hard to tell. I'm not the same wide-eyed novice I once was. The great legends that I looked up to have long since graduated, and it's hard to assess if their replacements are equally good because I'm looking at them from a different vantage point. Older eyes like Coachvance and Isaiah might have a better perspective on this.

2. Cause vs. Correlation If the quality of debate is indeed declining, it's even more difficult to determine whether openness is the cause of that decline. The rooster crowed then the sun arose, but the rooster obviously didn't cause the sun to rise. Perhaps this situation is similar.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:56 am 
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Mr Glasses wrote:

2. Cause vs. Correlation If the quality of debate is indeed declining, it's even more difficult to determine whether openness is the cause of that decline. The rooster crowed then the sun arose, but the rooster obviously didn't cause the sun to rise. Perhaps this situation is similar.


This.

Openness opens the door for better debate by giving teams more time to prepare (via sharing cases before tournaments). How teams decide to use that time is unrelated to the merits of openness. Teams often use this time to write larger briefs instead of deeper briefs, and to make more arguments instead of better ones.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:43 pm 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
How teams decide to use that time is unrelated to the merits of openness.

That isn't actually true. Teams prepare specifically against teams that are open but generally against teams that are closed.

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
10-11 | Folkert/Folkert | Verdict | R8
11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
14-15 | Folkert/Porter | Arx Axiom | R8
15-16 | Doto/Folkert | Verdict | R8


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:44 pm 
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I don't know if the quality of debate has gone down. I remember alumni telling me that the quality of debate had "gone down" every year since the very first year I started debate. Looking back at old videos of national championships, I'm pretty convinced that in NCFCA the level of competition has remained generally the same for the nation as a whole. The balance of power has shifted between regions, but nationally I think it's remained the same since the split.

The quality of briefs, however, has obviously and definitely declined. The era of 100+ page briefs is over, the brief trading market has gotten smaller in size and popularity along with the rise of bigger clubs, and small collaborative briefs have become more popular than large individual briefs. The focus these days tends to be on "only put the winning arguments in your brief," but the definition of a "winning argument" seems to have changed. Direct, broad and obvious arguments have gained popularity over the small, detail oriented and unique arguments that were in favor back around five years ago. When I was very into debate culture, you would have seen second and third year teams walking around with 30-40 page briefs, generally running the most common arguments (and running them better and better each tournament.) You would have seen advanced third and fourth bearers with 40+ page briefs on every case (even squirrels) and a copy of all the relevant policies/documents regarding each case, with highlighted sections, running more and more detailed/obscure arguments every tournament. For example, when I did policy UN year, my research for each case always involved me reading all the founding documents/constitution/budgeting reports and GAO reviews of the UN branch in question, and looking for inconsistencies with the case narrative (down to minute details, like what month the case plan goes into action juxtaposed with the regular operational calendar of the organization, and how improper implementation time would create structural inefficiencies. That kind of thing.) You don't see teams doing anything like that anymore.

The focus of NCFCA has always been community-judge oriented, with "communication for the common folk" mindset. That mindset is taken a lot more seriously now, it seems, than it was in my day.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:46 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
_TakenUsername_ wrote:
How teams decide to use that time is unrelated to the merits of openness.

That isn't actually true. Teams prepare specifically against teams that are open but generally against teams that are closed.


And that's their own fault. Part of what you're saying proves what I was trying to say entirely - the ability to prep against specific cases ahead of time opens the door to better debate, especially juxtaposed to the idea of prepping general arguments and trying to fit them into cases later on. Specific preparation leads to deeper debate.

+X wrote:
The quality of briefs, however, has obviously and definitely declined. The era of 100+ page briefs is over, the brief trading market has gotten smaller in size and popularity along with the rise of bigger clubs, and small collaborative briefs have become more popular than large individual briefs. The focus these days tends to be on "only put the winning arguments in your brief," but the definition of a "winning argument" seems to have changed. Direct, broad and obvious arguments have gained popularity over the small, detail oriented and unique arguments that were in favor back around five years ago.


I would definitely agree with this. Trying to run more nuanced and unconventional arguments became a slightly frustrating pursuit during my senior year, because people would always ignore the details and nuance, leading to a very shallow and inane debate. I find the general quality of arguments to be really lacking, which I would attribute both to the lack of critical thinking and the shallowness of most research.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:36 am 
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I've personally never noticed openness to be a problem. I love the fact that we can all prepare against each other's cases, and I don't find that ti creates unbeatable Affs. No matter how many caselists and flows people share, they aren't going to know EVERYTHING about peoples' cases.

I ran TNWs last year, and by nationals people were still running arguments that I had been responding to since the beginning of the year.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:50 am 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
the ability to prep against specific cases ahead of time opens the door to better debate,

Better informed debate at the cost of critical thinking development.

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
10-11 | Folkert/Folkert | Verdict | R8
11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:59 am 
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Hammy wrote:
_TakenUsername_ wrote:
the ability to prep against specific cases ahead of time opens the door to better debate,

Better informed debate at the cost of critical thinking development.


That's not the cost of openness, that's a consequence of lazy debate. You have a correlation between the two, but at the cost of sounding cliche, correlation =/= causation. There's no reason to believe openness causes more shallow debate; the opposite, in fact, is true. Why would it be any better without openness? People could still make shallow arguments. There's no reason to believe that turning away from openness would lead to better debate.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:12 pm 
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_TakenUsername_ wrote:
That's not the cost of openness, that's a consequence of lazy debate.

And lazy debate is perpetuated for some people (myself included) by openness. I'm not saying that this is absolutely indicative for everyone, but based on my own experiences I'm worried that it might have negatively affected more people than just me. I understand the whole correlation =/= causation but don't forget that correlation can equal causation. In this case, when openness is heralded there's no tension. Most teams know what everyone is running. This leads to teams growing comfortable with their strategies because there are no surprises. For some this can easily lead to atrophy of the mind, how can critical thinking grow if there isn't effort? Teams have strategies planned out to a tee before entering rounds. Practically they don't even think in round, they're simply drones of a strategy they came up with in the comfort of their homes. Sure, for some it might not harm, but for others it could lead to a fall in critical thinking.

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
10-11 | Folkert/Folkert | Verdict | R8
11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
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15-16 | Doto/Folkert | Verdict | R8


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:58 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
This leads to teams growing comfortable with their strategies because there are no surprises. For some this can easily lead to atrophy of the mind, how can critical thinking grow if there isn't effort?


Can people use openness as an excuse to be lazy? Yes. Is that a problem with the concept of openness? No.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:57 pm 
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Attending a Public Research University, it's been made very clear to me that research skills are invaluable. Debaters routinely bemoan the domination of evidence. But honestly, aside from pure speaking skills, effective researching is one of the most practical skills that a debater can learn. Research skills matter in the real world! It's not a cop out,

Also, most people have bad opinions that aren't very well informed. So what use is developing the ability to think critically if your base presumptions are off? Often times it's appropriate to outsource your thinking to the experts and stop pretending you're a guru in everything. If all debaters ever learned was that high quality research is important, debate would still be incredibly valuable.

NCFCA wants to train leaders. Leaders use facts and analyze evidence skeptically. They follow the proof. Evidence isn't a cop-out. It's a desperately needed virtue in our leaders.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:24 pm 
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Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Evidence isn't a cop-out.

Except when taken out of balance with critical thinking. Knowledge (evidence) without wisdom (critical thinking) is worthless.

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
10-11 | Folkert/Folkert | Verdict | R8
11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
14-15 | Folkert/Porter | Arx Axiom | R8
15-16 | Doto/Folkert | Verdict | R8


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:29 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Evidence isn't a cop-out.

Except when taken out of balance with critical thinking. Knowledge (evidence) without wisdom (critical thinking) is worthless.


Realistically, though. That's not true. Not in the sense we're talking about. Also, that's not mutually exclusive.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:38 pm 
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I feel you're projecting your research methods onto everyone else. In my expirience, effective research requires lots of critical thinking (assuming the case is actually decent.)

I feel like the opening question to this thread would sound absurd if worded at all differently, (e.g. Is researching facts and expert opinion making us stupid?)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:06 pm 
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Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Hammy wrote:
Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Evidence isn't a cop-out.

Except when taken out of balance with critical thinking. Knowledge (evidence) without wisdom (critical thinking) is worthless.


Realistically, though. That's not true. Not in the sense we're talking about. Also, that's not mutually exclusive.

That's why a two year old with four, full debate boxes can still pull off a solid debate round?

_________________
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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
10-11 | Folkert/Folkert | Verdict | R8
11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
14-15 | Folkert/Porter | Arx Axiom | R8
15-16 | Doto/Folkert | Verdict | R8


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:11 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Hammy wrote:
Crazy-Clubin'-People wrote:
Evidence isn't a cop-out.

Except when taken out of balance with critical thinking. Knowledge (evidence) without wisdom (critical thinking) is worthless.


Realistically, though. That's not true. Not in the sense we're talking about. Also, that's not mutually exclusive.

That's why a two year old with four, full debate boxes can still pull off a solid debate round?


You're being absurd.

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