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HB Debating Society

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Reading my Old Boys newsletter last night I was struck by the fact that three of my co-pupils have attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the bomb disposal crowd, no mean feat. One of our masters at the time, we called him the Major, had taken up teaching on retirement from the Hong Kong Police and gave us a very useful education. We had sessions on surveillance (following without being seen, not electronic), bomb making, interrogation (without violence, just how to harangue and repeat questions until the victim slipped up and revealed something he shouldn't), wine tasting, which way to pass the port etc.

I expect the National Curriculum has knocked all that on the head now, but there was one other institution which he ran and which I revelled in, the school debating society. This was run to very tight rules but on a highly adversarial system, we were encouraged to rip apart the arguments and character of our opponents but intelligently and civilly.

This brings me to the nub of the idea, the Halfbakery debate. A motion is proposed and two volunteer hafbakers post two speeches each, one supports the motion the other opposes. No other annotations are permitted until these speeches have been made.
Once completed questions could be raised by anyone and answered by the speakers. Voting for or against the motion performed in the usual way.
The technology is all in place and the results could be very stimulating and enjoyable. It may very well be that you all feel that this site is not the place and I think that is correct in many ways, however there are a lot of clever and articulate people here and I propose this as a small adjunct to the normal business on a once ever few weeks basis.
We could even attempt to recruit 'celebrity' speakers to pit their wits against a regular baker, celebrity in being a noted expert not a rock star or TV chef.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002

Goooogle: "It Belongs to Daniel" http://www.google.c...&btnG=Google+Search
Huh? [angel, Jun 18 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Debating creationists http://www.talkorig...g-creationists.html
"[P]ublic debates with creationists do little to further the cause of quality science education". A lesson which could be expanded to show the limits of debating. [pottedstu, Jun 18 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Jane, you ignorant slut http://search.freef...u+ignorant+slut&t=s
4 of 'em for General Washington, Sir [thumbwax, Sep 04 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       www.halfdebatery.com?
sappho, Jun 18 2002
  

       Nice idea. Although it is not too hard to set up a site, its very difficult to attract regular thinking intelligent people to populate it. Very difficult indeed, and most unlikely that it would work as a stand alone, but as a small add-on it might have some merit.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       I think if you try the "It Belongs to Daniel" site, Ivan, you'll find any number of willing and capable and familiar playmates with whom to debate.
jurist, Jun 18 2002
  

       Let's consider your post as the supporting speech. The motion proposed: to create a HB Debating Society.
waugsqueke, Jun 18 2002
  

       [Jurist] I'm sorry, could you clarify? what would be the url?
[Waugs] I had a feeling this would come up. Problem is that it is a bit dull. I suppose I am suggesting nothing further than a more formal and rigorous structure to what goes on here every day, to be applied on an occasional basis only. I woudn't want the debate and banter here to be stifled in anyway. I think I may be alone in enjoying this kind of competitiveness.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       Ivan, you're already a member at IBD.
jurist, Jun 18 2002
  

       My school had a highly successful debating society, but I'm opposed to debating as a discipline for a number of reasons. There is seldom any attempt to consider the logical validity or consequences of a complex argument, or to prevent detailed evidence. It has little regard for truth, and is mainly about following protocol, showing off, bad jokes, and using words prettily. And it encourages the development of lawyers and politicians. (So possibly not that different from the Halfbakery.)   

       For more information on the shortcomings of debating as a method of bringing out truth, I suggest you read the accounts of creationist vs. scientist debates on the talk.origins website to see how easily an expert with logic and evidence on their side can be beaten by a skilled speaker with a few flashy examples and the ability to railroad the debate.
pottedstu, Jun 18 2002
  

       I'm with [pottedstu] on this one. Debates are often won purely through sophistry, and many times the speakers don't even hold the point of view they're supposed to be arguing for.   

       I went to a debate on creation 'science' once. A total waste of time - if not worse, as several people went away converted.
-alx, Jun 18 2002
  

       [Potted]Everything you say is true except for the failure to consider logical validity, it is always considered but if the logic doesn't suit you have to use tactics.
I really, really used to enjoy the cut and thrust of it as an intellectual activity but woudn't rely on it as a means of reaching philosophical truth.
But you can't blame the protagonists for using all the weapons available, particularly if you don't actually believe the case you are making, the verdict depends on the audience.
  

       [jurist] stupid of me. same people though, but massive formatting problems.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       pottedstu, I have some peripheral experience with this kind of debating, too, and I observe the same problems you do. And I tend to sympathise more with those who teach evolution than those who would remove it from the classroom.   

       But I am shocked by the link you posted. As someone who values the scientific method and earns my living with it, I am embarrassed for the scientific community that the people responsible for your link purport to represent what science is all about. In the summary of the first discussion, the first two points amount to "evolution is too complex a concept for ordinary people to understand, so it's senseless to try to teach them," and the third point is that "the other side makes points that must be refuted, and that's a problem for us."   

       Where is the open, objective inquiry in that? The whole stance taken by Ms. Scott seems to imply that "there is one truth and it has been settled, and there's no point in opening inquiry to those who want to find out the truth, because they might find something that We Who Know The Truth know not to be true." (Yes, I'm putting words into her mouth, but I think any objective reader will sense the same implications.) And in the body of her article, she goes so far as to suggest that the "for evolution" debater should not bother to try to teach the actual principles of evolution, but to stonewall with "It's accepted by all the leading authorities" (my paraphrase). Again I ask, where is the openness to objective inquiry in that? How is Ms. Scott's position different from the position of some of her detractors (almost equally deluded, I think) who would say "It's in the Bible, so that's that."? How can she claim an interest in a "quality scientific education" if she resists both objective inquiry and education? It seems to me that this organization, which calls itself The National Center for *Science* *Education* may, at least on the basis of this one article, be closer in reality to The National Center for Turning Science into the most Chauvinistic of All Religious Dogmas." How ironic (and dangerous) is that?   

       I'm not that familiar with the broad spectrum of groups that might be analogous to this one, but I can only hope these people are not typical.   

       Finally, in case it's not clear, I am not opening a debate on creationism vs. evolution. And if one erupts, I will not participate. I think the whole issue is one that is primarily a huge waste of time and a distraction from issues that really are important.
beauxeault, Jun 18 2002
  

       Lovely technique [Beaux] Swingeing attack followed by disavowal of interest in the subject.
Reply ? [potted]
See? we've started already. isn't it fun!
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       Yes, I'm aware of the irony that can be perceived if one ignores the fact that my complaint has nothing to do with the subject in which I disavow a sufficient interest. Or if one is trying to provoke a debate in annotations to an idea about holding debates... ;o)   

       Oh, oh, and please let me also stipulate that I am not attacking pottedstu at all. I appreciate his take on the whole thing. p-stu, sorry if I come across as targeting you. No, the problem is with those who want to make science into some kind of dogma rather than the intellectually honest inquiry that has served us so well.
beauxeault, Jun 18 2002
  

       Damn.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       Isn't this baked by GTR, or at least backed by him?
[ sctld ], Jun 18 2002
  

       [Sctld] It is strange how much more cerebral [gtr] has become recently, but debates don't actually involve attack on anything but the opponents stated belief system (horrible term sorry) it is never personal and if you get personal you are certainly going to lose.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002
  

       More like 'do not speak his name, lest he appear'.
StarChaser, Jun 19 2002
  

       From Saturday Night Live Transcripts:
Dan Aykroyd: I'm station manager Dan Aykroyd. During the past few weeks in Los Angeles, actor Lee Marvin and his former live-in companion Michelle Triola Marvin have been in court to settle her claim that he owes her half his income from the six years they lived together. That is the subject of tonight's Point-Counterpoint. Jane will take the pro-Michelle Marvin point, while I will take the anti-Michelle Triola counterpoint. Jane?
Jane Curtin: Dan, times change and so does the nature of relationships. People are reluctant to get married these days and looking at divorce statistics, who can blame them. But the lack of a piece of paper does not neccessarily mean a lack of a total commitment. A woman is this modern-day relationship may well give up all her personal pursuits, as Michelle Marvin claims she did, to give her full support to her man's career. And Michelle Marvin is just asking that the courts recognize that reality. Dan, there's an old saying: "Behind every successful man there's a woman." A loving, giving, caring woman. But you wouldn't know about that, Dan, because there's no old saying about what's behind a miserable failure. [ gives a look of arrogance ]
Dan Aykroyd: Jane, you ignorant slut! Bagged-out, dried-up, slunken meat like you and Michelle Triola know the rules. If you want a contract, sign on the dotted line. Oh, but let's all shed a tear for poor Michelle Triola. There was only testimony that she had sexual intercourse over forty times with another man while living with actor Lee Marvin. But I suppose that sort of fashionable promiscuting means nothing to you, Jane, who hops from bed to bed with the frequency of a cheap ham radio. But hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn, and Michelle Triola, like a screeching, squealing, reptatious swamp sow is after actor Lee Marvin's last three million dollars. I guess what you and Michelle are saying is that when you're on your backs, the meter is running. Well, please spare us, gals, and tell us the rate's at the top. Then we can choose which two bit tarts and bargain basement sluts to shack up with.
thumbwax, Sep 04 2002
  

       I thought the HB *was* a debating society.
NickTheGreat, Sep 04 2002
  

       Its a society and it debates...but a debating society will generally propose a motion and its members may be called to stand for either side and argue for/against the motion. You might not necessarily support the motion but you may have to argue for it (I think thats the idea).
Jinbish, Sep 04 2002
  

       outstanding excerpt, thumbwax. (Is there more online?)
General Washington, Sep 04 2002
  

       Ja, 4 - see link, Sir
thumbwax, Sep 04 2002
  

       So funny! <runs off to tell ex girlfriend that she hops from bed to bed with the frequency of a cheap ham radio>
daseva, Jun 22 2005
  
      
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