APDA Style v. NPDA Style


#21

“The fact that MASH and Seinfeld had high TV ratings does not mean that everyone should be expected to know the details of the characters or anything about certain plot lines.”

OK, so wait: I would not be expected to know the plot lines of the latest Seinfeld reference but am I expected to know the fine details of the separation from chunky vs. non-chunky peanut butter? For shame! What if I am allergic! I cry foul: Peanut butter kritik!!!

Firmly liking Ian’s analysis-- it doesn’t get more obvious than that…

S


#22

Matt and Ian -

Feel free to come to the Haverford tournament next year and run whatever cases you want. Diversity is good. :slight_smile:

Seriously, though, I will make sure to post our invite for next year’s tournament here next spring (we just had our tournament for this year in early February). Our tournament is fairly representative of an average APDA tournament (excluding the fact that we ran a 4 in round, 4 outround system the last two years as opposed to 5/3, but that’s changing next year anyway).

Chris


#23

APDA tournaments do seed first round, in the sense that teams with seeds (ie teams in which one or both members have made a final during the season, or one team designated by the school, called a free seed) are protected from hitting one another. Free seed protection is less than that of full or half seeds - for example, we had to put free seeds against each other in our first round.

There’s no deep seeding process, just a mechanism to make sure that top teams don’t hit first round.

Chris


#24

As you can tell by my born-on date over there, I obviously just saw this thread, but I had something that I wanted to ask about. I had the pleasure of judging at one of the tournaments here in Cambridge (a proud “dino” in the good sense of the term), and though I didn’t get to see an opp-choice round, I did get to see the phenomenon of time-space many, many times. Now, I’d seen that in NPDA on occasion (there’s a midwestern school that involves itself in APDA and was known in our region for throwing a time-space shift into the mix every once in a while). Now, this is all well and good, on some levels; I personally have preferences against it merely for what I see to be many trappings (implicit appeals to knowledge of what happened, the faux sense of “we don’t know what’s going to happen”, the really difficult task of immersing oneself completely in the mindset of a given time and people). But I won’t discuss that here (though others are welcome to if they’d like). My issue is thus:

So let’s say the Gov runs a time-space shift, and it puts you right before the Six Day War (a topic the Gov conveniently knows the background of solidly, and also some stuff possibly considered “specific knowledge” in APDA so they don’t mention it). The opp, however, are not such history buffs or Israeli scholars, so they honestly don’t know the background. But, as happens frequently in time-space cases, the Gov nicely opens the floor for a conversational Q-and-A about the “current situation” and its facts and background that weren’t clear in PMC. Judge, however, knows what’s going on. Opp clearly doesn’t, and there’s really no way to hide it when they’re asking questions fundamental to the situation that were (accidentally) omitted by the Gov. Later they get up, and do their debating… my question is: where’s the ethos? I have a debater who two seconds ago was unclear about who was threatning whom, how, and why, yet all of a sudden I’m supposed to buy mindset arguments from them? Though APDA makes a valiant effort at trying to keep people from losing just because they don’t know about some fact (obscure, well-known, or somewhere in between… I think that this might even have regional differences as well), the “believability” of one side is completely shot.

I have to admit, I wasn’t nearly smart enough to anticipate this until I saw it from behind the judge’s desk, but it definitely made me think. Further, might this have impact on the recurring suggestions for “q-and-a” time in NPDA, either voluntary or forced, for clearing up unclear cases?

-Mark


#25

I think clarification, on any case is important… does NPDA not force people to take points of clarification? If so, that’s pretty awful. Obviously, there’s room for abuse (people forcing questions in by saying clarification), but that’s frowned upon and generally not done. Clarification usually just helps round quality.

As far as believability… I think in every round one goes into, there’s a possibility of a lack of full knowledge on Opp. I think part of the beauty of debate is when people get basic facts and, in seven minutes, can craft a good opp to a case, because of an understanding of the principles of the situation (ex. IR, econ, etc.). Parli’s not about credibility, it’s about well-informed bull-shitting.


#26

I don’t think I’ve seen a point of clarification turned down; I know in one round this weekend, we stood for a point, were turned down, said “on clarification?,” and were accepted. So I think we’re pretty good about that as a community.

Dan


#27

It’s impossible to ask a judge NOT to take into account credibility when assessing an argument.

Not to mention I don’t think APDA would react kindly to one of the most basic defenses against hyperspecific advocacies: the critical element. I could be wrong though.

Cheers
IS


#28

Hello,

The basic problem with most of the time-space cases I’ve seen is that they inherently rely on the idea that hind-sight is 20/20… on the other hand, what is necessary to refute them is to allow only arguments knowable at the time.

As for the credibility issues in the specific case above, I would expect that gov knows more about the case area than opp… they picked it. Opp has the challenge of extrapolating and asking the right questions, which it sounds like they did.

As for the use of the POI — asking for clarification’s sake can be used as a trap by a smart team… as it pins down the advocacy and thus creates room for argument on the other side.

Patty


#29

OK, post-by-post here…

Chris, as already noted, NPDA is generally OK about taking “clarification” points. As for believeability and BSing, I have to say that I can’t disagree with you more. This is where I begin to see somewhat of a rift between NPDA and APDA: “communication”, or at least communication theory. The activity isn’t about “informed BSing”, it’s about communicating with an audience, having credibility and ethos, and thus ultimately being believable. I’ve really come to love a lot of the communication practices and theory that I’ve learned from other coaches and even other competitors. If Parli isn’t about believability and credibility, and how they are reflected through all of your actions, I don’t know what is. That being said, the issue for me then becomes the “breadth of depth” that is necessary to defend against all time-space cases and still maintain credibility. I feel as if it’s “easy” to be able to grasp all of the significant current and recent events such that if something is obscure to you it is highly likely it would be obscure to the judge, but when people take specific points in time in famous past historical situations, it can put the other team at a disadvantage in terms of knowledge (judge may see it as elementary/well-known), leaving them with a choice of either hopefully faking their way through it, or getting the right information to construct good arguments but losing some (perhaps large, depending on the circumstances) of credibility. So, I guess my question is: are T-S cases used to exploit this different sort of God advantage, or are they really, honestly, truly only used to “mix things up” and keep it fun?

Ian, I can’t agree more with your point on credibility. But my question is, what exactly do you mean by “the critical element”? Forgive my lack of knowledge of terminology… I’ve been out of it for a while, living in the land of engineers.

Patty, while I am the first one to say that on balance, I prefer NPDA over APDA from what I’ve seen so far, I have to admit that your characterization of T-S cases seems to be a strawman. In their most ideal sense, they don’t “rely” on any idea of hind-sight being 20/20… rather, their problem is that though they are good theoretically, it’s almost impossible to get beyond the hindsight that we already have. Their very premise is what you say is “necessary to refute them”. I think if you check out either APDA rules or just norms, the T-S is founded on the concept of only allowing knowable arguments. And as for credibility issues, what I’m saying is this: if a team winds up trying to make complex IR arguments that depend upon perceptions at the time, politics at the time, regional differences, etc, and the opp from the get-go clearly doesn’t know the basics of the situation, the opp loses some potentially large bit of credibility. See above comments to Chris re: T-S for non-T-S analogues.

-Mark


#30

Mark,

Sorry for being unclear. By “the critical element,” I mean the criticism/critique/kritik. Against a very specific advocacy you’ll almost never win arguing the details, so you need to go back to principles. Well, in my experience.

Cheers
IS


#31

I’ve been thinking about T-S cases a bit lately, because of the issues Patty mentions here: there was usually a good reason for what happened actually happening, or else it wouldn’t have happened, and hence a lot of them are predicated on hindsight. Thus, T-S cases seem to rely on a perversion of truth in regards to what issues were important in the decision making process of the actor.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to imagine T-S cases (and basically, this is their saving grace), is to imagine a policy debate on the matter, happening at the time. If the arguments the Gov makes were relevant, and could have conceivably swayed the decision maker, then basically what one has is a re-enactment of the policy debate, essentially making it no different than a regular round, except that the debaters are working in the past.

As far as the arguments Mark makes about credibility, I don’t see how they apply any more to these cases then to others. If I run a case about a specific provision of the alcohol policy at Haverford, and someone is unfamiliar with my school, and thus the context of the debate, then their credibility is necessarily low. What Opp needs to do is develop an appearance of credibility, because it’s impossible for them to have actual credibility. This is what I meant by informed bullshitting. If we wanted Opp to be credible, we’d allow them to know what the case was in advance, because then they could do research and be credible on the subject. Parli isn’t about being credible by spitting out facts at each other, though - it’s about argumentation, and a good parli debater doesn’t need more than basic facts at hand to shape arguments in a persuasive and credible fashion.


#32

I’ve been thinking about T-S cases a bit lately, because of the issues Patty mentions here: there was usually a good reason for what happened actually happening, or else it wouldn’t have happened, and hence a lot of them are predicated on hindsight. Thus, T-S cases seem to rely on a perversion of truth in regards to what issues were important in the decision making process of the actor.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to imagine T-S cases (and basically, this is their saving grace), is to imagine a policy debate on the matter, happening at the time. If the arguments the Gov makes were relevant, and could have conceivably swayed the decision maker, then basically what one has is a re-enactment of the policy debate, essentially making it no different than a regular round, except that the debaters are working in the past.

As far as the arguments Mark makes about credibility, I don’t see how they apply any more to these cases then to others. If I run a case about a specific provision of the alcohol policy at Haverford, and someone is unfamiliar with my school, and thus the context of the debate, then their credibility is necessarily low. What Opp needs to do is develop an appearance of credibility, because it’s impossible for them to have actual credibility. This is what I meant by informed bullshitting. If we wanted Opp to be credible, we’d allow them to know what the case was in advance, because then they could do research and be credible on the subject. Parli isn’t about being credible by spitting out facts at each other, though - it’s about argumentation, and a good parli debater doesn’t need more than basic facts at hand to shape arguments in a persuasive and credible fashion.


#33

The basic problem with T/S cases is that they look good if you know how things came out… so, in order to make them debatable, you must revert back to the mindset of the time…

BUT, you and your opponents and the judge all know how it actually came out, and as such are persuaded by that knowledge… no matter how much you say you are shifting the mind-set, it simply cannot happen completely.

This isn’t the PBS program 1865 house, (you know the one, where a family lives completely as they did in 1865) and, even if it were, you still can’t erase the knoweldge of the present… just like they couldn’t.

T/S cases are painful for the judge and in many ways unfair to try to debate — forcing such a shift on opp is one way, another is that T/S cases rarely go back and argue for things to come out worse than they did in reality…

I really hope the T/S case stays dead.

Patty


#34

patty writes:

"The basic problem with T/S cases is that they look good if you know how things came out… so, in order to make them debatable, you must revert back to the mindset of the time…

BUT, you and your opponents and the judge all know how it actually came out, and as such are persuaded by that knowledge… no matter how much you say you are shifting the mind-set, it simply cannot happen completely."

patty understands painfully little about the marketplace of ideas. if patty is correct that the judge and opponents are necessarily biased in favor of the status quo, then they are more likely to pick up OPP since GOV must propose a change from the status quo. thus, teams that run t-s cases should be dissuaded from doing so as it’s not in their best interest. i don’t see any reason to legislate agains T-S if, as patty contends, the market will necessarily solve against them.

why do apda kids run t-s cases? because patty’s status quo argument is bunk. historical counterfactuals are quite interesting to discuss. the presence of t-s widens the discourse of parliamentary debate. under npda/apda status quo, experts in policy, political theory and philosophy flourish. what about debaters who chose to study and are interested in history? should they not be able to run their strong suit? i think well rounded debaters should be prepared to discuss history in addition to theory.

mark writes:

"my question is: where’s the ethos? I have a debater who two seconds ago was unclear about who was threatning whom, how, and why, yet all of a sudden I’m supposed to buy mindset arguments from them? "

the issue of specific knowledge has absolutely nothing to do with t-s. mark’s right, i might not know anything about the six day war and might get fucked in a given round. then again, i might also be a history major and get fucked when someone runs a present day constitutional law case.

the beauty of debate is in the ability of the participants to think quickly on their feet on the widest variety of topics possible. we shouldn’t arcanely and legislatively limit our discourse, we should expand it. if it need be limited, let the marketplace of ideas solve.


#35

Hang on a second, are you trying to tell me that teams running, oppsing and people judging T/S cases can actually set aside ALL of their knowledge of the SQ in order to be fair… please. That is much like the scene at the end of Ghostbusters I where they are told not to think about anything… as anything they think about will come to get them… thus, the StayPuff Marshmallow man — instructing the judge not to think about the way an event actually ended is along the same lines, and VERY unlikely. It seems clear to me that “unknownone” knows little about the human memory, psychology or epistemology.

It is also clear that “unknownone” also knows little about parli debate theory, as in NPDA gov teams are allowed to support the status quo.

As for teams being allowed to run their specialties… go for it, as background points, examples etc. to support cases about NOW… BUT if the case itself requires me to imagine I’m the lead pilot on the run to bomb Pearl Harbor and I am being persuaded whether or not to turn around, we are no longer discussing history, but are play acting… interp is great in interp rounds… don’t ask me to assume some counterfactual mindset – I was hired as a judge/coach because of what I know, not because of what I can forget.

While counterfactual argumentation may be interesting in other contexts, its use in debate is troublesome at best… and pure T/S cases are simply not good debate… tell me, how would you know WHAT Hitler was thinking… I can’t even pretend to know… so, please, no T/S cases in my room.

Patty


#36
  1. In APDA, you have to propose a change to the status quo. Patty’s right. It’d be retarded to run “You are JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis, blockade Cuba” and then subtley hint at the “what could happen” arguments. APDA gives OPP the advantage of Patty’s judge’s bias toward the status quo. Thus, my marketplace of ideas analysis holds. The only exception to this rule is in the case of OPP Choice cases. The GOV can present the option of the ‘status quo’ or the ‘change’ to the OPP. If the OPP can chose whether or not they really do believe that the status quo was the best idea. If GOV thought the status quo assumptions were so strong that they couldn’t overcome them, then they wouldn’t run T-S cases. If the OPP chose This hasn’t proven true in neither CUSID nor APDA where T-S cases abound.

  2. The brilliance of time-space cases lays in the ability to discuss larger theoreticcal issues that might be obsolete in the present day. For example, the case “You are a successful coup leader in a hypothetical South American country in 1960, OPP choice, ally with the Soviet Union or the United States.” This allows for a compelling, multi-faceted debate. Both teams clash over 1) economic theory (command vs. market, technological / infrastructural / bureaucratic success), 2) economic reality (third world’s relationship to the first / second), and 3) realpolitik (geography, soviet/us power dynamics, strategic interests). This debate doesn’t require any specific knowledge as the Cold War is a pretty well studied era in addition to the fact that many of the arguments are theoretically grounded. Another interesting time space case reads: “You are the owner of a Negro league team during the mid-late 1940s. An all-white MLB team owner invites you to play an exhibition game at their ballpark. OPP Choice: Accept or Decline his invitation.” This cases deals with issues of motivations, economy and implications of the result. All of these arguments are predicated on the nature of race relations in a legislatively segregated America. Multi-faceted, interesting debate that doesn’t rely on the simplistic conception of T-S I fear many in NPDA hold.

  3. Patty never challenged my broader discourse analysis and I really do think it holds. She claims that there is a broad dialectic within the present. She is correct. However, there is an even broader discourse present with the inclusion of t-s. Patty’s right, she judges/coaches because of what she knows. She knows arguments. If the T-S case is retarded and bad, drop it. Cases that get dropped don’t come back. I bet if NPDA allowed for loose links and loosened their restrictions on T-S, the interesting, winning T-S cases would flourish and the losers would disappear. The market will solve.

Note: Allowing for loose links and fewer restrictions on the types of cases, you’ll see a decrease in OPP advantage and an increase in the potentiality of your discourse.


#37

Hi All,

As a member-at-large of the Harvard Parliamentary Debate team, which competes on APDA, I’ve been following this debate with a mixture of pleasure and frustration. It’s hard to have a good discussion on the relative merits of APDA vs NPDA when none of the posters have experienced tournaments of both types and hence can’t compare them.

To which end I’d like to invite everyone interested in this thread (and also those who aren’t) to attend our annual debate tournament, this October 10 - 11. The Harvard Parliamentary Debate Tournament is the biggest, and we like to think best, on APDA – though because we’re applying for NPDA sanction, you won’t be missing out on anything if you come. Because we feature both the largest field and the strongest teams on APDA, it’s a great chance to experience our style and see how the best schools from both circuits match up. We’re also expecting a large Canadian contingent (we’re unopposed on the CUSID calendar) as well as teams from Oxford and Cambridge, so it’s really a chance to test your mettle against the best on our continent and the world.

If you’re interested in the details, you can either contact me (aizenman at fas.harvard.edu) or our TD Jason Wen (wen at fas.harvard.edu). We look forward to seeing you (and Chris as well :slight_smile:

-Ya’ir Aizenman


#38

thanks and welcome!! Do want to point out that SOME people on this thread have been to both styles, like Jason and Dan.


#39

APDA is the GOAT debate style. NPDA is hella lameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Sucks to suck