Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

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Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:26 pm UTC

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/ar ... ge/360746/

I'm very nearly speechless.

This is it. The social justice warriors have won. Scream "Fuck the time!" In a national debate competition and win because you're the right ethnicity.

Having rules, demanding a bare minimum of courtesy, is "white supremacy".

Why of all generations was I born to this one? To watch the Spenglerian decline of my civilisation. In case it wasn't obvious, this was an "O tempora, O mores" bit.

Title fixed. Clutch your pearls harder. -B
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Re: Is this what academia is reduced to?

Postby aoeu » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:35 pm UTC

What a farce. Lysenko comes to mind.

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Re: Is this what academia is reduced to?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:08 pm UTC

Non-traditional debate styles are good times. Risky, perhaps, but a stylistic choice. Use if you want. If I were in the judge's seat, I'd be pretty brutal on those who go far enough afield to not even address the question being debated, though. I've watched presidential "debates", and that sort of evasive "and now I'll talk about what I want" is obnoxious.

And yeah, I do not dispute that elements of academia, perhaps even debate, may be biased. Topics might be chosen unfairly, so as to introduce bias for instance.

However, the time limit really isn't. The time limit is perfectly fair for all.

I'm also a little skeptical if your "style" does not incorporate research, etc. Replacing actual data with arguing from anecdote seems to be...terrible. Anecdotes can be used to support data in a persuasive way, sure, but if you're skipping the research part altogether, something is wrong.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:12 pm UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby aoeu » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:34 pm UTC

Brace wrote:Traditional academic debate isn't any more grounded. It's more about who can use the most appealing fallacies or obfuscations without being called out on them, and who can spin their opponents arguments as fallacious and obscurantist more effectively (validly or not). In essence, about exploiting the blind spots and biases of the judges. So in a sense these sorts of stunts ruin debate, but in a sense it's also an extension of existing trends in debate. Competitive debate was a ruined enterprise for a while. Logic is a branch of mathematics. Debate is a branch of rhetoric. Effective rhetoric uses logic like a cheap whore. It's a stupid game that has nothing to do with actually pursuing truth, wrapped in the trappings of intellectual rigor. The joke here is everyone who's up their own ass to the point they think the game represented logic and reason when they were winning.

The article says it clearly that this is a deviation from the trend.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:35 pm UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby aoeu » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:10 am UTC

Brace wrote:
aoeu wrote:
Brace wrote:Traditional academic debate isn't any more grounded. It's more about who can use the most appealing fallacies or obfuscations without being called out on them, and who can spin their opponents arguments as fallacious and obscurantist more effectively (validly or not). In essence, about exploiting the blind spots and biases of the judges. So in a sense these sorts of stunts ruin debate, but in a sense it's also an extension of existing trends in debate. Competitive debate was a ruined enterprise for a while. Logic is a branch of mathematics. Debate is a branch of rhetoric. Effective rhetoric uses logic like a cheap whore. It's a stupid game that has nothing to do with actually pursuing truth, wrapped in the trappings of intellectual rigor. The joke here is everyone who's up their own ass to the point they think the game represented logic and reason when they were winning.

The article says it clearly that this is a deviation from the trend.

Argument from authority, -98903245789 points

At least it's an argument.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:25 am UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:07 am UTC

Brace wrote:Traditional academic debate isn't any more grounded. It's more about who can use the most appealing fallacies or obfuscations without being called out on them, and who can spin their opponents arguments as fallacious and obscurantist more effectively (validly or not). In essence, about exploiting the blind spots and biases of the judges. So in a sense these sorts of stunts ruin debate, but in a sense it's also an extension of existing trends in debate. Competitive debate was a ruined enterprise for a while. Logic is a branch of mathematics. Debate is a branch of rhetoric. Effective rhetoric uses logic like a cheap whore. It's a stupid game that has nothing to do with actually pursuing truth, wrapped in the trappings of intellectual rigor. The joke here is everyone who's up their own ass to the point they think the game represented logic and reason when they were winning.


Well, yeah. Rhetoric is not necessarily logical. And there are tactics like asking questions that simply take too long to refute, exploiting time constraints(see also, every creationist debate ever).

That said, I wish they'd go in the direction of fixing that, not of embracing more of it.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:19 am UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Djehutynakht » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:26 am UTC

"White Privilege"

Yes, because a white student from the poor inner-city attending state college inherently knows these rules through their cultural heritage to a greater extent than the black student attending an Ivy League.
_________

In any case, establishing some general rules regarding procedure (such as how much time people will have), I think, is a general matter of fairness.

Regarding presentation, however, I believe that's up to you. If you want to present your argument via rap, go ahead. Whatever works for you.

However, I would be more strict on, you know, actually talking about the topic at hand. Going off on a well-explained tangent is understandable but just saying "You know what... I'm going to not talk about this but instead talk about that because I can" ruins the purpose of discussing a topic. That's more of a freestyle open-speech competition than a debate. Which is fine, but let things be what they really be.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby xkcdfan » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:34 am UTC

"social justice warriors"

Pre sure OP wouldn't have used that wording if it had been some white kids doing the same thing.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:39 am UTC

I am getting so overwhelmed with this 'help help I'm being oppressed' bullshit Conservatives are screaming on the tops of their lungs in response to minorities fighting for equality.

I have never seen a group protest more loudly than scared the scared white majority in the face of various minorities flexing their political rights. The decline of your civilization. Jesus fucking Christ; when was the last time a Bollywood movie was shown in your local movie theater? When was the last time someone who didn't look like you covered 90% of the magazine stand racks? When was the last time you were heckled by the police for entering a location? My sympathy for the 'decline of white culture' could honestly not be smaller.
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Belial » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:49 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:when was the last time a Bollywood movie was shown in your local movie theater?


Last friday in cambridge, actually. I came out of Winter Soldier at the Apple Cinemas just as the bollywood flick next door was letting out. Ton of happy indian folks getting to see bollywood stuff on the big screen. It was pretty cool.

Almost no civilizations collapsed, though, so I get your point.
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:50 am UTC

Oh, dude, yeah, I was actually hugely impressed at how many foreign films were being shown. And nary a collapse of progress to be had!
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby EMTP » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:32 am UTC

This article is a fine example of recent developments in journalism, whereby:

1. Events that may or may not be new or prominent in a given space get cast as a massive and revolutionary change -- a generational earthquake, a paradigm shift.

2. The revolution (which may exist primarily in the mind of the journalist) gets critiqued within the article by more or less traditional values.

3. Those values are challenged. Although the challenge may be presented as a strong challenge or a weak challenge, you are left with the strong implication that this new way of doing things is The Future.

Perhaps I'm old and cynical, but I don't believe, based on this one article, that debate competitions across the country are dominated by angry spoken word poets, throwing books and screaming "Fuck the time!"

If I had to guess, I'd guess that a few exceptional incidents are being presented as a broader trend, and strong traditional debaters with non-traditional styles are being presented (and perhaps present themselves) as a much more radical break with the past than they in fact are (a common cultural pattern repeated over and over as with the metaphysicals, the Romantics, the Modernists, the Dadaists, the Postmodernists, etc., etc.)

Being enraged by this "trend" is an exhibition of charming naivete -- you are reacting exactly like this boring hack wants you to react, just as if you had not seen this same cheap trick of a journalistic genre a hundred times over.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:41 am UTC

I'm a member of the Cambridge Union and have been to quite a few debates there, both the less serious emergency debates between students and the more serious main debates between invited speakers.

As far as I can tell, there is no real distinction between the two groups when it comes to how likely they are to argue from anecdote or statistics and likewise there doesn't seem to be much difference based on age amongst the invited speakers. If anything the more experienced debaters are the more likely to argue from statistics. They know that humans don't grok percentages in the same way they grok experience and they exploit that. Besides, when one party brings up statistics, the other side usually ends up either criticising the study, interpreting the statistics in favour of their position or bringing up their own study which says the opposite; whichever way, the audience is, without the time to properly investigate the merits of the studies in question, left with little understanding beyond what they had before the statistics were brought up.

So this argument that arguing from anecdote is new is, quite frankly, bollocks.

The idea of people performing their speech as a rap, that is new but I can't see why anyone should care how people are delivering their speech; it's not like rapping will give them some incredible advantage over people giving a speech in a conventional manner (provided the audience is paying attention to the argument and not just going by the fact that they seemed fun).

"Fuck the time" though? I can't really see any justification for that (outside of some very specific edge cases where they took a point of information which ended up being longer than the time allowed or something) and I also can't see how the time limit is racially biased. Idk, I could be wrong.

Basically, everything in their sounds reasonable other than refusing to keep to the time limit. That was out of order (and the speaker/chairman/etc. should have awarded any extra time that side got to their opponents to try an compensate).
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Ormurinn » Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:07 am UTC

xkcdfan wrote:"social justice warriors"

Pre sure OP wouldn't have used that wording if it had been some white kids doing the same thing.


If white kids were swearing at judges, spouting off about their pet subjects instead of answering the question, and ignoring the rules of the debate, I doubt they'd be winning competitions.

That said, it's "white kids" tolerating and abetting the debasement of the medium - I can't really blame black kids for exploiting an easy win being handed to them.

Izawwlgood wrote:I am getting so overwhelmed with this 'help help I'm being oppressed' bullshit Conservatives are screaming on the tops of their lungs in response to minorities fighting for equality.


Listen. Really carefully. Equality would be people, no matter their background, winning a competition by performing best at the task set, in this case, a rigorous academic debate requiring courtesy to your opponent, use offormal informal logic, and argumentation backed with evidence.

When one group of contestants gets to harass their opponent, ignore rules of decorum, say "fuck your evidence I have personal anecdotes", address their own pet peeves instead of the question, and then win despite preforming, by any objective standard, worse than their opponent, well, that's something else. The opposite of equality.


Izawwlgood wrote:I have never seen a group protest more loudly than scared the scared white majority in the face of various minorities flexing their political rights. The decline of your civilization. Jesus fucking Christ; when was the last time a Bollywood movie was shown in your local movie theater? When was the last time someone who didn't look like you covered 90% of the magazine stand racks? When was the last time you were heckled by the police for entering a location? My sympathy for the 'decline of white culture' could honestly not be smaller.


Yeah, there's a tradition of rhetoric and debate going back to 444BC, a string of public debates and respect for rationality passing through the roman senate to parliaments and senates, and now, in one scene at least, that's being replaced by appeals to "Nigga authenticity." That's an aspect of civillization, one very near and dear to my heart, declining.

As for your rhetorical (see?) questions - Bollywood films are much more common in my local cinemathan English language ones. There are plenty of magazines with non-white individuals on the cover at the newsagents too. I've never been "heckled" by the police but I've been stopped plenty. I'm from here. which may explain some of this.
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:19 pm UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Zamfir » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:24 pm UTC

So, there is some game played by American students. There has been change in fashion where judges now sometimes accept or even reward players who challenge the framework of the game. And some people don't like that fashion, would prefer a new league, but don't have enough support for that. Apparently this new mode is popular.

Where in that story is civilization falling and the age old tradition of rethoric disappearing? Seriously, if student debate games on the other side of the ocean are now a cornerstone of civilization, then we are screwed anyway.

Luckily, the XKCD forum is a last refuge for rational debate.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Ormurinn » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:36 pm UTC

Brace wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:use of formal logic


There aren't usually blackboards or whiteboards available during debates, and I'm not sure most audiences would be able to follow the use of formal logic. It's a fairly unnatural way to argue for most people, even if they are familiar. The on-the-spot alternation between two different languages also opens up possibilities of obscurantism and sophistry further.

Ormurinn wrote:and argumentation backed with evidence.


You mean argumentation backed with citations which can't be checked or analyzed within the structure of the debate. Seems kind of hollow.


Apologies, was supposed to read informal logic. Edited now.

As to the latter, any formal citation at all is better than "My lived experience, which you aren't allowed to question because of your "privilege", and which I can define to be whatever I want"
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:58 pm UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:"White Privilege"

Yes, because a white student from the poor inner-city attending state college inherently knows these rules through their cultural heritage to a greater extent than the black student attending an Ivy League.
_________

In any case, establishing some general rules regarding procedure (such as how much time people will have), I think, is a general matter of fairness.

Regarding presentation, however, I believe that's up to you. If you want to present your argument via rap, go ahead. Whatever works for you.

However, I would be more strict on, you know, actually talking about the topic at hand. Going off on a well-explained tangent is understandable but just saying "You know what... I'm going to not talk about this but instead talk about that because I can" ruins the purpose of discussing a topic. That's more of a freestyle open-speech competition than a debate. Which is fine, but let things be what they really be.


Precisely. You have to have a time limit as a matter of practicality. And if you have one, it has to be fair for everyone. That gets us to the present. And you have to limit topics, or it's...no longer even a pretense at fair debate.

Limiting style is much, much squishier grounds. Personally, so long as you can make your case, I don't give two craps if it's via rap or iambic pentameter or a non stop series of limericks. Ok, so the last one might get extra points for hilarity, but you definitely see the point, =)

I do agree that personal experience being overused so much as to entirely displace data is probably not limited to these examples...it's a very human thing to do, because personal examples told right can be very compelling, even if anecdotes are statistically....ehhh. Fixing that is likely more of "overcoming a cognitive bias common to humans" than it is anything else. Arguing from anecdotes IS problematic, but...it's equally problematic regardless of who is doing it.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby KnightExemplar » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:07 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:So, there is some game played by American students. There has been change in fashion where judges now sometimes accept or even reward players who challenge the framework of the game. And some people don't like that fashion, would prefer a new league, but don't have enough support for that. Apparently this new mode is popular.

Where in that story is civilization falling and the age old tradition of rethoric disappearing? Seriously, if student debate games on the other side of the ocean are now a cornerstone of civilization, then we are screwed anyway.

Luckily, the XKCD forum is a last refuge for rational debate.


Agree'd. Has anyone else been part of a debate club? I personally haven't, but I was part of the local Quiz-Bowl team... and there was some overlap.

I was once mildly interested in joining the debate club, but then I started talking to people I knew who participated. I asked about logical fallacies, how they are penalized. For example, the Association Fallacy, commonly known on the internet as Goodwin's Law. I explained that invoking Goodwin's Law on the opponent often means you win a debate online.

My friend responded: "Oh no, I always use Hitler as an example. It has won me debates before".

So I've never really looked upon "debate clubs" as a real source of academic discussion... at least since that time.
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:25 pm UTC

*shrug* I grew up in a very fundamentalist family(Calling them a cult is probably fair), and of course, creationism is the norm. They view debate very positively, so I got trained for that. Never really participated in it outside of very causal level stuff, because being an anti-social geekling, public speaking was not yet something I was good at. I admit, though, the exposure to it in that context may have given me a certain cynicism about it.

I think it could perhaps be made into a worthy thing, though.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:34 pm UTC

The only debates I've ever been to have been ones decided by the audience rather than judges (they were all regularly scheduled debates at the union or my school's debating society and not actual competitions) and so fallacious arguments often go unpunished. Quite often, their opponents or someone in the audience will call them out on it either as a point of information or in the next speech.

There's no formal system for penalising them though. Luckily the debates tend to still be interesting and, well, a lot of fallacies (appeals to authority and anecdote in particular) are necessary evils of the time-limited format; the problem comes when they're overused.
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Considering that in the real world, fallacious arguments work, I'd say learning how to master them is important. Which university do you think will produce the most senators, the one that trains people to rationally explain each point or the one that makes his opponent look like a godless commie monster?

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:21 pm UTC

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:45 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Considering that in the real world, fallacious arguments work, I'd say learning how to master them is important. Which university do you think will produce the most senators, the one that trains people to rationally explain each point or the one that makes his opponent look like a godless commie monster?


That gets into the purpose of debate. I mean, lying is clearly an advantageous skill to have if you want power, but I don't see many people advocating for teaching lying in grade school.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Zamfir » Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:20 pm UTC

Sure, that would defeat the point. You don't say lying, you say 'leadership' and 'communication skills' and 'strategy', you boast how many of your alumni were successful lawyers or politicians or investment bankers or whatever you're into. People will get the message.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:27 pm UTC

I prefer "framing".

With oppressive voter ID laws you aren't trying to reinstate Jim Crow laws, you are trying to protect States Rights. It isn't about taking away voting rights but about expanding rights! You don't oppose rights, do you?

You aren't taking away States Rights by telling them whom they are allowed to marry, you are protecting the sanctity of marriage! What do you have against marriage?

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Derek » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:46 pm UTC

This sounds like a great premise for an "inner-city underdogs overcome elitist rich kids" movie.

Izawwlgood wrote:Jesus fucking Christ; when was the last time a Bollywood movie was shown in your local movie theater?

The theater near me always has one Bollywood movie playing. I think they change it every week.

That gets into the purpose of debate. I mean, lying is clearly an advantageous skill to have if you want power, but I don't see many people advocating for teaching lying in grade school.

Well seeing as the traditional debate format assigns you one side of a topic regardless of whether or not you agree, I would say that that it kind of does train lying. (There's a reason I never liked the traditional debate format)

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:52 pm UTC

The traditional debate format has you take sides you don't like because you should be able to understand how the other side thinks, and why they believe what they believe. You must grok your opponent's viewpoint, and find why it's flawed. You should do the same with your own. If the logic is all correct, figure out what the difference in assumptions lay.

For example, gun rights. Different areas have different needs, and the rural area with bears and a 1 hr response time from the police is going to have different needs than Manhattan. People may value the extra liberty from gun rights as more important than safety, and the amount of liberty vs safety also varies between areas.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Derek » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:12 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The traditional debate format has you take sides you don't like because you should be able to understand how the other side thinks, and why they believe what they believe. You must grok your opponent's viewpoint, and find why it's flawed. You should do the same with your own. If the logic is all correct, figure out what the difference in assumptions lay.

For example, gun rights. Different areas have different needs, and the rural area with bears and a 1 hr response time from the police is going to have different needs than Manhattan. People may value the extra liberty from gun rights as more important than safety, and the amount of liberty vs safety also varies between areas.

I'm aware of why they do it that way, but for me to argue in favor of creationism, or socialism, for example, would be intellectually dishonest, because I know the massive flaws in the arguments I would be using.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:29 pm UTC

Creationism has a fundamental flaw in that it is not falsifiable.

Socialism is only right or wrong depending on how much you value various rights.

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Brace
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:36 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
Last edited by Brace on Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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CorruptUser
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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:14 pm UTC

German style economic organization where the board of a major company is 50% workers (that is, unions are automatic and all companies are run by a combination of owner and worker). Seems to be working out for them. So does the Norwegian brand. French, not so much.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Ormurinn » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:25 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:German style economic organization where the board of a major company is 50% workers (that is, unions are automatic and all companies are run by a combination of owner and worker). Seems to be working out for them. So does the Norwegian brand. French, not so much.


This is something I've never understood - unions are swimming in cash (in the UK). Why don't they invest some of it into voting shares?

Do they just get more bang for their buck using it to control the labour party instead?
"Progress" - Technological advances masking societal decay.

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby Brace » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:29 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
Last edited by Brace on Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
"The future is the only kind of property that the masters willingly concede to the slaves" - Albert Camus

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Re: Does traditional debate reinforce White Privilege?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:35 pm UTC

And "capitalism" includes just as wide a variety of economic styles as "socialism". Including some that count as BOTH. Your point?

And please, know the difference between what is and is not "socialism". Socialism is where the workers have a significant say in how the economy is run. It does not mean a bunch of autocrats determining how the economy is run. Capitalism means private individuals are free to accumulate wealth and more importantly means of producing wealth. It does not mean a group of autocrats controlling all the wealth and creating laws to prevent anyone else from obtaining significant wealth.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.


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