* The Debatewise Blog

WODC: Some rough dates for your diaries and calendars

17 Dec 11 | Leo
This just a quick note to let you know that the provisional dates for the World Online Debating Championships 2012 have been set.

The first round of next year’s tournament will begin on August the 8th and will finish provisionally after eight weeks of intense yet interesting competition with the grand final beginning at the end of September.
Registration itself will formally begin on the first week of May (beginning Monday 30th of April) and will end on Monday the 2nd of July. So please write or type those dates (particularly registration!) in those diaries. If you are interested in forming a team for next years WODC and taking part in some olympian competition with a chance of possibly joining teams from Canada, The Czech Republic and Lithuania in the ranks of WODC Champions then please contact us through the contact form.

Finally we hope you have a good Christmas if you celebrate it and a really great new year.

Hopefully see you in May...

Posted by: Leo, 17 Dec 11, 11:10pm

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WODC 2011 Review: Three is a magic number for Canada

25 Oct 11 | Leo
The World Online Debating Championships (WODC) celebrates its triennial (3 year anniversary) after delighting you with gripping, exotic and thought provoking debates around subjects including philosophy, sexuality, politics. This year’s WODC reached a full grid of 32 teams with new countries such as Brazil and Uzbekistan taking to the stage against veteran countries such as title defending Czech Republic, Lithuania and some stalwarts such as Venezuela and Canada. An interesting pool but ultimately there could only be one team that would reign supreme and from two academies: One new to the tournament and one in its second attempt at climbing to the peak of championship stardom.

Prelims: Thirty two teams were whittled down to eight in these two rounds with the championship finalists filtered out from the championship contenders. The opening debate of this year saw an impressive debut by Uzbekistan who consigned USA 2 to a first round loss with their sister team following suit. Next up the defending champions of the Czech Republic took their opening round win against Mongolia and Canada also emerged victorious. However, Lithuania the inaugural champions would go no further this year after a loss to Canada, adjudicator Protagoras (he who shall not be named) advised:“Use every weapon you’ve got or die like dogs”. At the bottom of the table Romania made an improvement defeating South Korea in a tight contest on the motion of: “Governments Should Try To Reduce The Gap Between Their Richest And Poorest Citizens” with more focus regarding: “human interaction with foreign policy” . However, the South Koreans’ impressive performance as team Opp was duly noted by the adjudicators... who allowed them a crucial second chance along with Mongolia 1 after the retirement of a number of teams.
Round two: Latvia started off against Uzbekistan. Latvia may have had some stalwarts in its ranks but the Uzbeks won the key clashes in the debate. In the regional derby of the tournament Venezuela faced off against Colombia. The Prop (proposition) started well but were beaten by a hair’s breadth in the end. Adjudicator Abida Shareen summed up the match as follows, “Opp managed to clearly illustrate that Prop’s proposition could create multitude levels of harms for the South American nations... A good debate overall.”
Following this, South Korea took their second chance and ran with it against Pakistan 2. As adjudicator Rinat Gershfeld assessed “Opp, despite the dangers explained by Prop, was able to prove that the benefits of nuclear technology in terms of resources and the environment are greater.”
Israel continued their impressive performance with a win over Macedonia. And in doing so, Israel became the most improved nation of the WODC going from two first round losses in previous years to the semis this year, impressive.
On this particular debate adjudicator Protagoras concluded,“ Opp proves that although it's tough to give the HRC credit, it does do some good action.”
Meanwhile Canada and Australia both enjoyed a high-quality debate with a gracious Amie McGraw the Australian- team co-ordinator praising the Canadians for their debating and wishing them well towards winning the tournament. But the quarter finals would be round the corner first...
Quarter Finals
The quarter finals commenced with a right-on-the-money debate (Uzbekistan vs. Czech Republic) on NATO’s stance in Syria. Adjudicator Adiba Shareen Al-Ayubi summed up the show down, thus: “In conclusion Opp managed to clearly illustrate that the idea put forth by Prop though noble could create multitude levels of harms for Syria in the long run, thus not benefiting the very people they aim to protect.” This proved on the whole, a well-rounded match very relevant to current political affairs won fairly and squarely by the Opp. Uzbekistan’s loss to the the Czechs marked the first time a debuting nation will not win a WODC title. This loss can be counted as symbolic of the championships’ maturity. The WODC is getting bigger and better!
Second to bat were Venezeula up against Canada, on the time-independent topic of steroids and sports’ stars. This was a stellar, descriptive and well balanced debate as one would expect in the quarter finals: Another Opp win. “In sum, I gave the win to Team Canada on the basis that Team Venezuela's claim of justification and effectiveness of their policy were successfully opposed and defeated by the Opp.” Adjudicator Loke Wing Fatt.
Third in the lineup, was still another Opp win, Mexico vs. South Korea. In a delicious debate titled “Antarctica should be opened up for resource exploitation”, South Korea stepped up for global environmentalists and Antarctica’s people alike, in great style and as adjudicator Rinat Gershfeld noted, “The comparisons to tourism and fishing for successful regulation - are not equivalent to regulation required in the case of extracting oil and water, as the Opp stated.”
Last but not least, another Opp team “Israel” won against Romania. Israel flaunted their militarily precise ability to put facts, substantiation and rebuttals in perfect alignment without leaving any loose ends for the Prop to jump on. Israel punched up an exemplary debate, in keeping with their performance in previous matches this year. In winning against Romania Israel secured their status as most improved nation. Romania’s loss meant that for the first time in WODC history a trophy would be leaving Europe. Whether it went East or West remained to be seen...
Semi finals
As the momentum sparked high so did the number of adjudicators who would decide the fate of the teams. Both semi final matches would be decided by the best of 3 adjudicators.
First up, a long awaited title fight which the “staff” religiously avoided jinxing, took place in the semis ‘weave a circle round it thrice’. The Canadians were revved up for a rematch after a brief victory dance...
Last year the Czech Republic won as Prop against Canada and went on to take 2010’s title. This year Canada attempted to do the same with the motion: “The US should immediately close Guantanamo Bay” fitting enough given that the Czech Republic has been accused of hosting a Canadian secret prison in the past and both countries are NATO members. However, the Canadians would be the ones to advance this time around as a result of convincing both Josh Martin and Sharmila Parmanand of their prowess. However, this was a close contest and the Czech Republic did well to get one adjudicator voting in their favour: Anne Valkering, who praised the Czechs for being “ more effective in rebutting and being more case-specific.” Josue Anderson one of three Canadian coaches noted that this was the motion that the Canadian team “connected with most” out of the all debates in the tournament.

The second semi final saw a tremendous effort by the Israelis who were stopped dead in their tracks by South Korea’s best and brightest! The debate saw South Korea a.k.a
the “comeback kids” of this year’s WODC bank a unanimous win. Adjudicator Jens Fisher remarked, “Both teams are much stronger in their rebuttals than in their own substantial arguments”
Min Hong lee (South Korea) told us that this was the Bugil academy’s first WODC. Adjudicator Jens Fisher noted that “both teams are much stronger in their rebuttals than in their own substantial arguments” something that seems to be a feature of WODC competition given that the majority of actively contested matches were won by a good defense rather than the best offense this year.

The Grand Final
The best of 5 adjudicators would crown the champion of this year’s tournament. A champion that would emerge rather interestingly enough from a modern equivalent of a regional derby as most of the team from British Colombia Academy (which is in Langley near Vancouver, Canada) were of South Korean origin, and would be opposing a team from Cheonam in South West Korea.
Canada got the three out of five majority vote with adjudicator Nick Bibby observing: Canada made better use of evidence and a clearer understanding that assertion is one thing but argument is another”. Loke Wing Fatt summed up that Team Canada did a better job of opposing the motion than the South Koreans did of proposing it. Neill Harvey Smith noted :”The Canadian teams critique of the behaviour of corporations was made consistently and with evidence”. Congrats to both teams from the adjudicators and us for a worthwhile final. And Congrats to Canada for winning the WODC’11 Trophy.
Team Canada 2011 CHAMPIONS Line up

● May HyunJi Lim
● Christina Seong
● Alice SeEun Kim
● Ally Jung
● Ryan Song
● Christina (CJ) Jeon
● Loretta Lee
● Harry Go
● Danny choo

● Coaches: Josue Anderson, David Jung, Jen Swan

The final marked Canada’s 9th debate win in the WODC. That makes Canada, the nation with the most debate wins in the WODC to date. Reacting to the Canadians victory a relieved and proud coach (and competitive debater in his own right) Josue Anderson praised the team for their willingness to learn, He also noted in the final that although it was “a battle of attrition” he thought that: “ it would be a point of pride if we could beat them on their terms, we mentioned Samsung (a Korean corp) in our [arguments].
“We won as we were the most dedicated. We met for 4-5 hours every single day we had something to post. After our meetings where the kids would exchange notes/research links, brainstorm ideas as I kept them focused (Kept them off Facebook) many would stay up until the last minutes (5am) polishing their posts. Outside of these meetings,everyone talked through a Facebook group, where things could be co-ordinated. we took it seriously and in return the tournament took us seriously” So there you have it, the WODC awards a mix of real talent and hard work.

Representing Bugil Academy South Korean team Min Hong Lee didn’t have much time to comment as he and the rest of Bugil Academy were (as this report went to press)in preparation for their mid term exams, something for which all of us at Debatewise/ IDEA wish them well on. However he did say that the team were “very honoured to be [finalists]” and was pleased to have earned some well deserved “attention”.

Debate of the Tournament
This award is a staff award for the best debate of the tournament. And it goes to : Uzbekistan Versus Czech Republic on the Motion of "NATO should act to protect civilians in Syria" primarily because of the way the two teams handled a hot, flagrant and messy topic in our world, today. Both teams demonstrated tolerance and civility with no attempts to cut each other off or get emotional about a subject it is very easy to get lost in. Good evidence and good rebuttals added the spice to this match, a very satisfying read.
To paraphrase adjudicator Adiba Shareen Al-Ayubi “ Prop managed to highlight the responsibility of UN and that of NATO in protecting civilian lives subjected to oppressive killings. But Unlike Libya (opp side), the geo-politics and internal dynamics of Syria makes it susceptible to break into civil war.” On this Alexander Helling, the content officer at Debatewise wrote, “(the debate) very much engaged with an issue that has been boiling over for the last few months and as such is something that deserves debate and the debate nicely compares the situation in Syria with that in Libya. As a student of international relations I like that it has been put in a framework (R2P) that is very much itself still open to debate and the debate recognises that. Both sides made use of evidence. This is something which is much more important in a text debate where the observer can read any backing evidence the debaters have and can quickly click on a link and review the weight of these proofs... from a debating stand point it has to be conceded that what Czech Rep. did was right, it would have been much harder for them to win if they were providing alternative methods of resolving the crisis as fundamentally there is no easy solution. When the other options are given (diplomacy - currently making no difference, sanctions - will the government really care when its survival is at stake?) then the case for military intervention or support for the opposition of some variety becomes a much better option by comparison!”
Wrap up...
BC Academy is turning its attention to the International Public Policy Forum(IPPF, NYC) but they’ll be back next year to defend their title . As for Josue Anderson his next move is to finish his psych degree and keep coaching to pay off his student loans. After that who knows? he might go on to teach in South Korea. The Manwha style chapter of the WODC epic will continue on. Either way we wish him all the best for the future.

For this year Canada raced to the finish despite a salvo of motions designed to raise their collective blood pressure in what has been a challenging 2011. To reiterate Josue Anderson’s last remark:“ We took the WODC seriously and in return the tournament took us seriously”

We depart with thanks to all of the adjudicators who spent their spare time thinking about which teams reigned supreme, Neil Harvey Smith our venerable chief adjudicator for setting the motions. and the staff in Curtain Road and last but not least to all the competitors who make the competition what it is.

2012 will be a Paralympic, Olympic and possibly a world-ending year. We hope to have a WODC field of grand proportions to match the excitement of the London Olympics 2012 (not too far from the Debatewise offices in London) . If you’re interested in forming a team , booking your interest and competing in next year’s tournament then please e-mail either Dave at dcrane@idebate.org or us at wodc32@gmail.com . This way we can send you reminders when registration opens.

For now its goodbye, annyǒnghi kaseyo and Syonara!
Leo Capella and Nadia Shireen Siddiqi- (with a long quote from Sir. Alexander Helling, knight of the round table)

Interviews & additional remarks came from Min Hong Lee (Team co-ordinator South Korea) and Josue Anderson (Canada) who kindly provided a roster of the Canadian team, comments and remarks came from the adjudicators all of whom can be found on the WODC 2011 Debates page

Appendices
ALL TIME DEBATE WINS BY NATIONS IN THE WODC
Rank Nation Wins counting byes Tournaments
1. Canada * 9 3
2. Czech Republic 8 2
3. South Korea * 5 2
= Lithuania 5 2
= England 5 3
= Mexico 5 3
• *=This years Finalists

Contested Debates won over past two years
Year From Proposition Opposition
2010 9 (36%) 14(56%)
2011 4(18.18%) 18 (81.81%)



Posted by: Leo, 25 Oct 11, 9:06pm

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WODC Round 2

24 Sep 11 | Leo
WODC Round II report

Debatewise.org is proud to announce that the third World Online Debating
Championships commenced on 1st August and will continue until 1st October.
This year, our full pool of thirty two globe spanning contenders from countries
as spread out as Japan, Israel, Mongolia and Rwanda masterfully debated it
out to join previous winners from the Czech Republic and Lithuania in being
crowned the best online debaters of the world.

About the WODC: Over the last two years over 40 teams from nations in
all seven continents have exhaustively tackled subjects as diverse as diet,
aliens, war mongering, marriage, drugs, gambling, nuclear armament, socioeconomics,
the environment and immortality. Each debate has five 24 hour
phases during which participants present and evidence their cases; from
anywhere with internet access.

Round II Summary:
First off, Latvia went against Uzbekistan. Latvia may have had some stalwarts
in its ranks but the Uzbek team won the key clashes in the debate.
In the regional derby of the tournament Venezuela faced off against
Colombia. The prop started well but were beaten by a stronger Opp in the end.
Adjudicator Abida Shareen summed up the match as follows, “Opp managed to
clearly illustrate the fact that the idea put forth by the proposition could create
multitude levels of harms for the South American nations... A good debate
overall.”
Following this, South Korea took their second chance and ran with it against
Pakistan 2. As adjudicator Rinat Gershfeld assessed “Opp, despite the dangers
explained by Prop, was able to prove that (a) it is a safe technology to be
exported and (b) that the benefits of nuclear technology in terms of resources
and the environment are greater.”
Israel continued their impressive performance with a win over Macedonia. And
in doing so, the Israeli's became the most improved nation of the WODC going
from two first round losses in previous years to the semis this year, impressive.
On this particular debate adjudicator Protagoras concluded,“ Opposition proves
that although it's tough to give the HRC much credit, it does do some good
action, even if it is subjected to voting blocs and other political machinations.
Opposition wins this debate on the issue of reform does not mean abolish.”
Next up Mongolia and Mexico .Adjudicator Nick Bibby presided and Mexico
moved on to the quarter finals for the second time in three WODCs, good
show.

Debate of the round: , Canada vs. Australia debating the subject
of "Governments of resource rich nations should impose high taxes.”, This
debate boasted clean, structured, arguments and a plethora of cited resources to
back them up. On this a happy adjudicator Andy Hume remarked, “For these
reasons (among many others; these are only a small selection) I awarded a
narrow victory to the Proposition team. Well done to both sides.” It was also a
good debate for the sportsmanship shown by team captain Amie Mcgraw, who
conceded graceful defeat and well wishes to the winning Canadian team on the
WODC's facebook group. The perfect sign off to a great contest with Australia
equalling their nations’ best; meanwhile Canada drew ever closer to a possible
semi final with the Czech Republic. Congratulations to all qualifying teams and
those who made it into the second round.

Results
Latvia V Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan win by adjudication
Czech Republic V Scotland
Czech Republic won by default
Canada V Australia
Canada wins by Adjudication
Colombia V Venezuela
Venezuela wins by Adjudication
Pakistan 2 V Republic of Korea
Republic of Korea wins by Adjudication
Mexico V Mongolia 1
Mexico win by adjudication
Romania V England
Romania Win by walkover
Macedonia V Israel won by adjudication.
Retirements: Scotland and England

Posted by: Leo, 24 Sep 11, 12:36pm

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WODC ROUND 1 2011

05 Sep 11 | Leo


WODC ROUND 1 2011
Debatewise.org is proud to announce that the third World Online Debating Championships
commenced on 1st August and will continue until late September. This year, our full pool of thirty
two globe spanning contenders from countries as spread out as Japan, Israel, Mongolia and Rwanda
fiercely battled it out to join previous winners from the Czech Republic and Lithuania in being
crowned the best online debaters of the world.

About the WODC: Over the last two years over 40 teams from nations in all seven continents have
exhaustively tackled subjects as diverse as diet, aliens, war mongering, marriage, drugs, gambling,
gender bias, socio-economics, the environment and immortality. Each debate has five 24 hour phases
during which participants present and evidence their cases; from anywhere with internet access.
Round Summary: First up were Latvia and Brazil; both countries wrote a variety of points, using each
phase economically. No time was wasted in vagaries but as the adjudicator Josh Martin noted, this was
a clear win for prop :“The Opposition side in this debate failed to match the detail and specificity offered by
the Government side. Following this was a rude awakening for Mongolia1, who naively hit the Czechs
(last year’s champions) with strong argumentation but no substantiation, references or evidence for
support. Both sides remained engaged through the entire run of the debate, coming up with coherent
and sometimes unique (larger families protect the environment) points.

Next were Scotland and Nepal. Nepal improved from last year; a wise old guru meditating in the
Pashupatinath Temple once said peaceful engagement builds more than a dragon’s caustic flame
could ever destroy. To quote adjudicator Loke Wing Fatt, “I awarded the win to Scotland because its
case was cogently and coherently made while Nepal's responses were not adequate.”

Canada defeated Lithuania in a well written debate (albeit with minimal references), in the words of
adjudicator Protagoras “As the samurai said, "To die with a weapon undrawn is to die a dog's death."
Use what you have to make your case as strong as possible!” That said this was a moderately close
debate but not close enough for Lithuania to remain as a best loser into the next round.
Australia won the next debate by walkover. Australia flaunted their incredible talent even in the
face of an invisible enemy but was struck with bad luck in the next round, when they lost the closest
debate of the third WODC to date. While Bangladesh had a strong start, the case presented by
Colombia illuminated in contrast, as adjudicator Sharmila, lamented, “The Defending team outlined
their arguments clearly at the beginning of the debate but were less able to defend their initial
arguments as the debate progressed.”

After this, USA-1 was missing in action albeit Venezuela managed to win accolades from a satiated
adjudicator Abida Shareen, who wrote “The scope of argumentations made was commendable,
especially on the point of how it will be an unjust advantage to the ruling party candidate. I
personally enjoyed the illustration on how it can be used as a propaganda tool to gain the advantage.”
Then Pakistan-1 diligently represented a fair case for democratic representation, to an absent team and
adjudicator. And China missed the summary phase and couldn’t tie up the loose ends of their slightly
fractured argumentation; good show otherwise. “The government (China) made a number of fluent
arguments and took time to engage with some opposition points. But there were two factors which led
them to defeat”. -Colm Flynn.

And then there was what I dub the best debate of the round, more on this below Following that, a
disappointed Josh Martin gave England a win because they fared better than Mongolia-1. Albeit
Josh Martin found that neither England nor Mongolia-1 performed up to par. A slow start for
Nigeria, as in their initial points they made no references or quotations, marking poor organization.
Opposition (Macedonia) managed to make a better first impression by stocking up on abbreviated
links icing well-substantiated arguments from the very start. This performance par excellence was
preserved and bettered still, with stronger rebuttals through the entire run of the debate. As adjudicator
Rinat G remarked, “Side Opposition was very effective in their rebuttal, rebutting straight on Prop's
examples and logic. Opp case was very solid and the ROMA example was right on point and was left
unanswered by Prop side.” And to close, Israel revealed a good many useful debate pointers for all
WODC contenders, with a well-fought run against an absent opponent. In the words of adjudicator
Protagoras, “Opposition wins and they do it in great style and demonstrating many strategies that
future debaters should keep in mind. This is a good model of how to handle a far too common
situation in debates.”

Conclusion: The first round brought into light a truly international spirit. An engaging world voice
resonated in round 1 with multiculturalism and totems of identity glorified to the full. A number of
teams including Australia, Pakistan-2 and Venezuela went through by walkover as their opponents
failed to show. Israel however did break their two year purdah and culminated with an exemplary
performance. All of this means that sixteen teams remain with some yet to type in anger.
^ Debate of the round: There were quite a few interesting ones but if I were to take my pick I would
go with http://goo.gl/8WIP3 . (South Korea V Romania) The length, organization and evidencing of points by both sides was
similarly paced. Neither wrote too aggressively or passively, and their engagement was harmonious.
Prop could have taken on a slightly more direct approach and balanced out a win, as this was a very
close debate. As adjudicator Iqbal Hafiedz put it, “I felt that the style of response coming from
the government stopped short of making an effective conclusion to what they wanted rather left
questions to the adjudicator to answer; which intuitively will favor the government but if reviewed as
to attempts to analyze and reach a conclusion as to effectively persuade the adjudicator, the opposition
slightly edged the proposition.”

RESULTS
1: Latvia vs Brazil, (P R OP W I N S) http://ow.ly/6bhM7
2: USA 2 vs Uzbek istan (OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6bhOJ
Monday , 1 August, 13:00 – 14:30 G.M .T
3: Mongolia1 vs. Czech R epublic , (OP P W I NS w ith M ongolia1, best loser1) here
4: Scotland vs. Nepal (P R OP W I NS) here
Tuesday, 2 August, 13:00 – 14:30
5: Lithuania vs. Canada, (OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6hC9n
6: Rwanda vs. Australia (OP P W I NS by w alk over) http://ow.ly/6hCeR
Wednesday, 3 August, 13:00 – 14:30
7: Bangladesh vs. Colom bia , (OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6hCol
8: USA 1 vs. Venezuela (OP P W I NS by w alk over) http://ow.ly/6hCMy
Thursday, 4 August, 13:00 – 14:30
9: Belgium vs. P ak istan 2 , (OP P W I N S by w alk over) http://ow.ly/6hCSx
10: Zim babw e vs. P ak istan 1 (no show by both sides) http://ow.ly/6hCYu
Friday, 5 August, 13:00 – 14:30
11: China vs. M ex ico , (OP P W I NS) http://ow.ly/6hD6B (Decision by N.H.S)
12: Trinidad and Tobago vs M alaysia (N o show both sides) http://ow.ly/6hDi0
Saturday, 6 August, 13:00 – 14:30
13: Republic of Korea vs. R om ania , (OP P W I N S w ith R epublic Of K orea, best loser2)
http://ow.ly/6hDMi*(Both contenders qualified into the nex t round, arguably one of the the best debates of the
round)*
14: Mongolia 2 vs. England ( OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6hDWM
Sunday, 7 August, 13:00 – 14:30
15: Nigeria vs. M acedonia , (OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6hEcz
16: Kenya vs. I srael (OP P W I N S) http://ow.ly/6hEns Monday, 8 August, 13:00 – 14:30
Key:
Proposition vs. Opposition
WODC ROUND 1 2011
Winners (including wins by default or bye or walkover) in Bold Italics
CONGR ATULATI ONS TO ALL (THE) QUALI FYI NG TEAM S! :D
Retirements – teams who were inactive for their turn:
Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe, Pakistan 1, Rwanda, USA 1, Malaysia, Belgium and Rwanda
No Shows:
10: Zim babw e vs. P ak istan 1 (no show by both sides) The match
Friday, 5 August, 13:00 – 14:30
12: Trinidad and Tobago vs M alaysia (N o show both sides) The match
Walk Overs:
6: Rwanda vs. Australia (OP P W I NS by w alk over) http://goo.gl/DQ7wU
8: USA 1 vs. Venezuela (OP P W I NS by w alk over) http://goo.gl/8oxKu
9: Belgium vs. P ak istan 2 , (OP P W I N S by w alk over) http://goo.gl/oZzzs
NADIA SHIREEN SIDDIQI
Saturday: 03/09/11,
(WODC Evangelist)

Posted by: Leo, 05 Sep 11, 5:21pm

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Start of WODC III

02 Aug 11 | Alex
The third World Online Debating Championships are underway. They started yesterday at 12:00 GMT with Latvia vs. Brazil debating aid to developing countries with nuclear weapons and USA2 vs. Uzbekistan debating cotton subsidies – probably one of very few issues that affect both countries and is not terrorism related!

As the debates are unpublished while the proposition writes their case the debates have not been visible until now. You can watch these debates as they develop over the next four days and read the opinion of the adjudicator to find out the result on the fifth (Saturday):
Latvia vs. Brazil: http://debatewise.org/debates/3510-countries-should-cease-giving-development-aid-to-countries-with-nuclear-weapons-programmes
USA2 vs. Uzbekistan: http://debatewise.org/debates/3511-minimum-price-guarantees-to-cotton-farmers-should-be-outlawed

We hope we have a good tournament with lots of interesting debates.

hope you enjoy it!

Posted by: Alex, 02 Aug 11, 11:50am

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WODC: Ten days to go until registration ends

20 May 11 | Leo
If you want to take part in the third World Online Debating Championships you better get your skates on. Registration closes at the end of May which means you’ve got ten short days to tell us you want to take part in the world’s toughest and best online debating tournament.

If you do join us you could be debating against teams from Malaysia, Wales, Australia, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Greece, Mongolia, Nigeria, India and the USA.

And if you win you’ll be given a fantastic trophy to keep for life and the honour of calling yourselves a World Champion, something you’ll bore your grandchildren about.

To find out more please visit www.debatewise.org/wodc or email David Crane at dc@debatewise.org with any questions you have.

Entry costs $20 per person or $100 per team regardless how many members. Send your registration fee to wodc@debatewise.org using Paypal - or get in touch with us for alternatives. Bursaries are available.

The tournament starts in July and ends in September for the winners.

Don’t delay, registration will close very soon.

A photo of last years Champions from the Czech Republic can be found here

Posted by: Leo, 20 May 11, 2:38pm

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Guest blog: Introducing Wall Display

09 Mar 11 | Dave
'Wall Display' is a brand new learning tool for teachers and students in the form of a free blog. The project was set up in 2010 by a Teach First participant and his friend a graphic designer.

Currently there are no popular magazines that specialise in publishing student's work; this is the virtual alternative. Teachers can now comment on students’ work from different schools across the nation. WD has been devised to give teachers the opportunity of rewarding, motivating and inspiring their pupils through presenting homework online. It also provides a platform for other teachers to comment on work; ensuring that the students whose work is on WD receive a wider breadth of praise and feedback.

WD is dedicated to helping learners at any point on the academic spectrum; from rewarding those who struggle to access learning to inspiring those who move more quickly. If teachers feel they want to share why they like the work they are submitting, we add their comments beneath to allow learners an insight into why they should feel proud. It is our hope that this will inspire feedback from other teachers across the country and aid students to feel like they can own their learning process.

The only way that WD can reach students and have an impact is by their teachers submitting work As such, we have tried to make the usability of our site a priority going through three full upgrades since October 2010 and including a submit form on the site to allow teachers to send us work there and then without leaving the page!

Jo Taylor

http://www.walldisplay.org


Posted by: Dave, 09 Mar 11, 10:49am

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WODC 2010 Review

15 Nov 10 | Leo

Summariser- Leo Capella, Commentary and analysis- Nadia Siddiqi

As the cruel winters enshroud the northern hemisphere, it's time to review the
second edition of the World Online Debating Championships. This year the
tournament kicked off in August with the FIFA World Cup in South Africa,
ending in October with the Commonwealth Games starting in New Delhi.
However none of the motions discussed were sports oriented.

Last year's world champions, Lithuania were watching from the sidelines so a
new champion would be crowned after the final. Most teams from last year did
make a comeback and there were a greater addition of contenders this year.
The total number of different countries who have participated in the W.O.D.C
(both 1 and 2) is Forty One. Fourteen teams from the 2009 pool returned;. In
addition, fifteen new teams joined up in 2010 making the total number of
teams participating this year twenty nine, four greater than the twenty five
incumbent teams; last year.

Before we sweep into the rounds themselves, it's important to note although
a number of teams got byes into the second round this year the competition
was a straight knockout contest right from the start unlike last year. No top
losers going through the second round or any other round, the winners
remained logged on and the losers logged out

First Round

Day one and China typed off against USA 2. The adjudicators were
divided on this debate. One judge figured China should have won, because
unlike U.S.A-2, China debated more and commented on the other side less.
The other judge gave the win to U.S.A-2; which won by the site users vote
(the first time ever that the tie breaker had to be used). Team China had a
lot of very good points but failed mainly because the members refused to
engage, address and critique U.S.A-2 during the debate. Where as, on the
flip-side U.S.A-2 consistently probed and dissected the weak generality of
China's argumentation; perhaps a little more than was warranted. USA 1 won
by default over Israel .whom unfortunately failed to get off the start line for
the second year in succession. So, Team U.S.A remained bifurcated into the
second round.

Also on the same day, Macedonia won their encounter against a
feisty Zimbabwe side; by adjudication (the agreement of both judges).
Following this; Pakistan won against Nepal; because one, the Nepalis never
summarized their debate and two, because of a series of superior rebuttals.


The stage was set for the new nations to show the old ones that just
because they may have gone far in the WODC last year didn't mean they
could go all the way this time around. New Zealand opened their account
against Indonesia, Australia also advanced against Estonia. Both losing
teams had advanced beyond the first round last year but failed to do so this
year.

The biggest scalp though in this year's contest was that England who
were finalists last year; lost to Mongolia in their first match; in the first
round. This was done by both adjudicators noting that the Mongolians were stronger in their analysis and had a wider of amount of examples opposing England.

Another casualty was Venezuela. They lost to the host nation of the 2011
World University Debating Championships: Botswana in a match that split the
adjudicators. Botswana won marginally by popular vote. Uganda faced off against Ghana with the jaunty Ghanaians ambling through by adjudication. Ghana put forth meatier arguments than their Ugandan competitors. This was by no means a perfect victory but even a skim through reveals that Ghana was winning from the start. Ghana's points were fluent and longer; they presented more factual evidence backing up the failure of quotas; while they did not address all of the Ugandan teams concerns; they did make it clear that the quota system is discriminatory and got Uganda to agree that all kinds of discrimination is wrong. All in all an easy win for Ghana.

At the bottom of the bracket there was an air of anticlimax. Aside from the
Israelis, a Malaysian tiger failed to roar against India, Palestine fared slightly
better than Israel, starting off with a strong opening argument but the team
faded away against Latvia. As a result; both countries that define the
crux of the Middle East conflict were booted out of the competition fair and
square, at the very first hurdle.



Second Round

History repeated itself; America and Pakistan lost in the second
round. At the top of the bracket Macedonia defeated USA 1 to set up a
Mediterranean derby between themselves and Greece in the Quarter Finals.
Greece being the first team to be awarded a bye started their campaign
against Pakistan, winning by adjudication and majority vote against Pakistan.
This was a clear victory as Pakistan never bothered to argue against the
success of Public pensions in greater Europe instead constantly diverted/
restricted the motion to only include market based economies such
as Chile, the U.K and U.S.A. Greece penned a fine summary sealing their
admirable victory with flair.

USA 1, a six member team lost to the Czech Republic (engaged in their first active debate) which had four members only. This revealed that smaller teams rise above larger ones when
there's a clear and marked discrepancy of team talent. The Czechs were without doubt the superior contenders. The Czech Republic through-out the contest, presented their points in a very organized format; each sub-point always has a separate paragraph and is therefore easy to distinguish and read. This organization aides in eliminating irrelevance which they were very rarely guilty of. The Czech Republic also substantiated their points with greater vigor,more to the point references and more evidence. U.S.A-1 failed to answer to most of what the Czechs wrote and lacked team coordination(refer to" continue edit here!!!" in the counterargument to the Czech's point titled: Homeschooling Increases Quality of Education). U.S.A-1 seemed upset about the suggestion that small private schools are not too different from home schools but provided no evidence to the contrary(such as additional requirements for registering a private school etc)


New Zealand managed to get through against Mexico by adjudication
opposing the motion of: "The police should use racial profiling to tackle
the problems of illegal immigration”. Mexico seemingly got themselves into a mix up after attempting to support racial profiling and not managing to shift the burden of proof on to New Zealand. That and failing to engage with New Zealand’s counter arguments. The Ghanaians their defeat paralleled the loss of their football team coincidently losing in the second
round to Mongolia who were on a roll; a 'rise of the underdog'
and a big improvement from last year; when they lost in the first round.

Quarter Finals

There's nothing like a “good local derby to spice things up” and that was
something that happened with Greece and Macedonia debating whether
new E.U member countries like Macedonia or as the Greeks see it "The
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" should have been fast tracked
into becoming European Union members. Greece won as a result of a split
decision that went their favour by majority users vote.

The remaining match of the top half was a tough fought debate between
the Kiwis and Botswana on the subject of whether "Prostitution should be
legalised to protect sex workers from HIV/AIDS" with Botswana in opposition.
New Zealand trudged through on the public vote with both adjudicators being
split in what Fred Cowell described as a "messy" debate.
Any thoughts of a rematch between Mongolia and Canada in the semis went
out the window as Mongolia lost to the Czech Republic by adjudication.
Canada would be the sole survivor from last year's contenders; after defeating
India by adjudication to book their place in the semi finals.

Semi Finals

Only the creme de la creme makes it to the semis and all four qualifiers
continued their exemplary performances in this round.
All four teams ardently participated with persevering diligence. The teams
demonstrated work ethic, worthy of a plethora of commendations; by
relating all the debates and writing bona fide rebuttals as well as superlative
summaries. Something that made for very interesting reading.

At this point the Canadians had an opportunity to equal Lithuania's record for
the most WODC matches won (Five) by winning their semi. But it was the
new kids on the block who prevailed in both matches. Firstly, New Zealand
advanced over Greece opposing the motion of whether patents should be
bypassed on life saving drugs, with three out of four adjudicators voting for
them and one for Greece. Greece was shown the proverbial door. Apollo, the
sun God was possibly busy painting his nails and a host of mythical creatures
from the underworld dragged the team back to Mount Olympus.

The Greeks failed to explain the mechanics of the plan outlined by Stiglitz.
Instead depending almost entirely on cited authorities; this is something a
debater should never do. Nothing was explained about the effect of the prize
on the research and development of drugs if patents were removed. While, it
is important to distribute drugs to the masses that need them; if the quality of the drugs is compromised because of reduced funding in the development of drugs; this effort is void. The Greeks never explained from where the money lost from removing patents will be
compensated for. New Zealand was wonderfully entertaining in highlighting this very pronounced weakness in Greek's argumentation; rebutting at a time with: "Where are you going to get the money? Oh you're Greek so you'll just borrow it!"

Adjudicators: Patrick Rooney, Rose Helens-Hart and Josh Martin gave the
win to New Zealand.

On the other hand the Greeks were very lucid in case presentation &
definitions; not beating about the bush or wasting time with vaguely conveyed
half-baked ideas. Adjudicator Tommy Tonner who gave Greece the win;
preferred Greek's use of evidence over N.Z's sharp wit;. Over all the win went
to N.Z by majority adjudication; three to one.

The other semi final debate came down to Canada and the Czech Republic
over the thorniest of controversial motions whether "minors should be
allowed to obtain abortions without parental consent". A tight debate with a
unanimous decision by all four adjudicators(Beth Harvey Smith, Loke Wing Fatt, Manos
Moschopoulos and Fred Cowell), granting the win to one side, the side of
proposition, the victorious and glorious Czech Republic. Mr.Fatt additionally,
went on to say that this was the best debate that he has ever judged and
had to read the entire debate three times just to be content with his decision
of choosing the Czech Republic and not Canada. He came to this decision
mainly because Canada spent some time avoiding confrontation by practicing
an over-reliance on the judicial exception of judicial bypass.

Fred Cowell found Canada very slightly vague at some points and this
obscurity would normally be ignored for it was about negligible but the Czech
Republic's superior case forced a need to nitpick. Manos Moschopoulos
pointed out that the difficulties faced by an unwed teenage mother were made
little or no mention of; oddly given their relevance to the motion. Beth Harvey
Smith pontificated that the opposition did not argue about the moral question of
whether teenagers 'should' decide on getting abortions and instead tackled
whether they 'can', saying rather weakly that they do not have fully developed
brains and are therefore, unable to make the choice. For one thing, teenagers
are perfectly capable of making consensual decisions; the brain development
that is lacking is in areas that are irrelevant to the case of whether they
should get aborted or not. Teenagers can but should not make decisions
under the coercive influence of older persons; because they are very very
impressionable and rebellious at that age(raging hormones maybe?).

Either way, Czech Republic, had the stronger case of the two and won; thus.


Final

The playing field was whittled down to two sets of players, battling it out
in a classic combinatorial game( A two player game that is zero sum; there is a winner and loser and the game cannot be drawn). New Zealand was summoned to propose
and define the motion of "Social Housing should be assigned in a way that
engineers mixed race communities" to the Czech Republic. Debate number
2335 typed off on Monday the 27th of September and finished
on Friday October the 2nd. This time the adjudication was the best of five
judges. And eventually the Czech Republic emerged as this year's World
Online Debating Champions with the result going in their favour, by judges'
decision to 3-2 in a painfully proximal hard-fought final. No side presented
a perfect debate but then debate teams, in the pursuit of impartiality
and objectivity; rarely do. The Proposition presented a rather obscure
Model at the start not giving proper and lucid definitions and using complex
terminology as a crutch. This, a debater should never do; as the object of
a debate is to clarify and comprehend a topic before removing the motion's
dichotomy and coalescing the judges and audience to their side's particular
point of view.

Thankfully, the proposition expertly clarified their views along the way; meanwhile
the opposition was arguing keeping in mind their interpretation of the
proposition's vague case. All the prop was asking for was a race-quota
system assigning tailor-made minority rights taking into consideration
perceived cultural considerations in marginalized ghettos. The opposition
harangued the Kiwis lashing out against fascism, han-isation, Zionism and
whatever else to put the prop in its place for even suggesting different rules
(inferred to mean second citizenship for minority groups).

The proposition then clarified what turned out to be their rather soft and fairly moderate
position; to which we have pre-emptively heaved a grateful sigh. The opposition did not manage to suggest alternative means by which and/or examples of when, minorities could potentially be or have been integrated and treated as equal to every other citizen in a country. A very emaciated start by both teams; lots of confusion and rebuttals lacking.

Then came a turning point in the debate, when both teams finally rolled up their sleeves and got down to nitty gritty exemplar (i.e. model based) debating fun. The opp (opposition for those of you that are new to debating) successfully proved with multifarious examples that the co-existence of starkly opposed communities exacerbate racial tension rather
than putting it out. The proposition had nothing convincing to answer this with; they provided no evidence what so ever that geographical integration would lead to tolerance in the long run. The opp also pointed out correctly; that the model would dupe the poor without really helping them; again the prop (the proposition or side for the motion) provided a very attenuate answer; rather than proving that the poor would not suffer they went on to say that the government can do what ever it wants. On the whole; a clear win for the Opposition: Czech Republic; congratulations.

Conclusion

So the Czech's are champions and a WODC trophy flew from Scrutton Street
to the Baltic States once again. At the risk of shaking the entire team's virtual
hands off, congratulations to them and commiserations to New Zealand for
an intensely fought final. Hopefully, we'll see them next year as well as all of
the teams who gave their all this year and some more new faces too. Registration
should begin sometime in the beginning of May.

Still to come though is the inaugural World Online Debating League. For
which entries are still open through contacting wodl@debatewise.com. A
more pressing concern is the Park 51 online debates with the main one being
on the motion of: "An Islamic Cultural Centre Should Be Built Near Ground
Zero" with the first debates being published tomorrow...

But until next time pravda vitezi


Acknowledgements

The W.O.D.C Evangelists would like to give thanks to the more-than-able
adjudicators in the final, namely Andy Hume, Rose Helens-Hart,Anne
Valkering, Loke Wing Fatt and Fred Cowell.

Posted by: Leo, 15 Nov 10, 10:20pm

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Debate Park51

27 Oct 10 | Dave
According to polls, most Americans recognize the right of developers to build the Park51 Center on its proposed site. But most Americans also oppose the developers exercising that right. A local planning issue has become a topic of such national concern that President Obama has voiced his views. Yet some are reluctant to debate it, fearful that intolerance will drown out the voices of reason.

The lack of reasoned public discussion on this issue may be for any number of reasons, but it can only be remedied by engaging in exactly what has been avoided so far: debate. IDEA thinks open, fair and informed public discourse is at the heart of an open society. It is especially important in our schools and on contentious subjects so we'd like you to join us in debating this issue.

Get together a group of friends and visit www.debatepark51.org/register-online to register your team. You will take part in at least two debates - first on one side of the issue and then the other. Those debates will be adjudicated and scored by some of the finest debate coaches in the world. The best team will receive a stunning trophy. The best debate will secure both teams another beautiful trophy each. You can also join in 'bonus debates' on related issues, testing out your clarity of thought, learning and earning extra points for your team.

Our aims are to give you a space to engage with diverse people, to promote informed discussion, to foster tolerance and enhance understanding. Through debating - and reading the arguments made by others - you can improve your critical thinking skills. Together we can create a fabulous resource, breaking down barriers to understanding a potentially divisive issue.

Debates start on 15th November so register now!

Posted by: Dave, 27 Oct 10, 4:37pm

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How to win an argument (Part 2)

25 Aug 10 | Will
In part 1 we had a look at four problems of reasoning, stemming from generalisations and implications:
(1) Destroying the exception - all swans are white... until you find a black one.
(2) Disregarding the exception - all surgeons are criminals cos they cut people up.
(3) Mistaking the direction of the arrow (confirming the consequent) - clouds mean it must be raining.
(4) Mistaking the meaning of the arrow (denying the antecedent) - no rain means there must be no clouds.

In this second part, we will be looking at some more ways to take down an argument; this time by identifying distraction techniques (even when your opponent wasn’t intending to distract).


-- Red Herrings

For some reason, the practice of strongly curing in brine and heavily smoking a kipper has lead to an idiom that means ‘a distraction’. This ‘red herring’ is also a logical fallacy and a debating tactic in which the respondent seeks to divert the opponent. When it’s not done on purpose, though, it’s called ignoratio elenchi. This roughly translates as ‘ignorance of refutation’, which in turn can be better expressed as ‘not understanding what response would correctly refute the argument’.

A ridiculous example might be:
Alice: “Monkeys are intelligent, because they can peel bananas.”
Bert: “You’re wrong, because whales live in the sea.”

Be careful of clever debaters who will employ subtle red herrings to avoid discussing difficulties in their arguments.


-- Scarecrows

Another way you might be duped by a devious debater is via a Straw Man. If you find that your opponent is attacking an argument that is superficially similar to yours, but not quite what you are saying, then they have built up a Straw Man and are attempting (maybe not on purpose) to follow this sort of reasoning:

(1) You present argument X.
(2) They, in what sounds like a refutation of your position, present argument Y that is superficially similar to your argument X, but isn’t the same.
(3) They show argument Y to be wrong in some way and so conclude that argument X is wrong in the same way.

So it looks like they’ve proved your argument wrong, when in fact they just made something up and proved that wrong instead.

Alice: “Monkeys are intelligent, because they can peel bananas.”
Bert: “Just because monkeys eat bananas doesn’t mean they’re intelligent. Bats, parrots, hamsters and mice all eat bananas - and they’re clearly not intelligent.”


-- Mistresses

Our final distraction technique is the loaded question. My favourite name for this fallacy (they all have many names) is the Fallacy of Many Questions. The famous complex question is “When did you stop beating your wife?” To answer this question, whether yes or no, is to implicitly admit to having a wife and having beaten her at some point.

There are three levels of complex question, two of them fallacious, but only one of them counts as a loaded question.

(1) Legitimately complex questions:
“Who is the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?”
To answer this question directly, you would be implicitly accepting that there was such a place as the UK and that it has a queen.

(2) Illegitimately complex questions:
“Who is the present King of France?”
To answer this question directly, you would be implicitly accepting that there was such a place as France and that it has a king - but it doesn’t. So this is a Fallacy of Many Questions.

(3) Controversially complex questions:
“Does your mistress live by herself or with your other wife?”
To answer this question directly, you would be implicitly accepting that that you have both a mistress and a second wife. Not wise. This is both a Fallacy of Many Questions and a loaded question.

The loaded question can be used as a distraction device, but watch out for the more general fallacy when people accidentally use illegitimately complex questions (i.e. ones with false assumptions).


-- Journalists

According to Wikipedia, the loaded question is often mistaken for Begging the Question. I’m not sure why. I think it might be because very few people seem to know what begging the question actually is. Please excuse what is about to be a mini-rant.

I just went to guardian.co.uk and typed into the search box ‘begs the question’. There were 1394 results. Here are the first six (with my italics).
“..hours of dull activity that requires their personal intervention. It begs the question: why do they do it?” (22 Aug)
“...where it conflicts with the "principles of Islam" (which of course begs the question of how the principles of Islam are to be determined)” (5 Aug)
“...by Francis Veber's 1998 French comedy Le Diner de Cons, begs the question – what has happened to mainstream US comedy? “ (2 Aug)
“Even more than most titles based on popular pastimes, it begs the question "why not try the real thing?” (1 Aug)
“That of course begs the question about whether it is strictly necessary...” (28 July)
“Research has shown that boards comprising a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences are more effective. This also begs the question why the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, making key decisions about everyone's future, is all male?” (19 July)

I would put a lot of money on ninety nine per cent of “begs the question” on most UK newspaper websites being followed with what particular question is being begged. This is very, very, very wrong. What they mean is something like ‘implies the question’, ‘asks the question’, ‘raises the question’, ‘inspires the question’, or even ‘we should ask’.

If an argument begs the question, the question that is being begged is this - and ONLY this:

“How can you justify your conclusion, when you have already assumed its truth in your argument?”

A very simple example:
(Premise 1) Monkeys are intelligent.
(Premise 2) Monkeys can peel bananas.
(Conclusion) Therefore: Monkeys are intelligent.

This argument begs the question, because its conclusion has already been assumed in the argument. It usually isn’t so easy to spot.

One of the most famous examples of question begging is with inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning goes from premises to conclusions mathematically and undoubtedly. Inductive reasoning is the reasoning we use in our everyday thinking. I was tempted to delete this whole section, as it goes off into a little history of philosophy, but I think it illustrates nicely some of the pitfalls arguments can fall into. Please feel free to skip it if you get bored, but that does mean you will go straight to the end of the article.


-- Swans

“Every time I have seen a swan, it was white; therefore, I can reasonably believe that all swans are white.”

Inductive reasoning is going from a finite number of observations to a general rule. (For you pedants out there, this is only one kind of induction, called enumerative induction - but it is the easiest to explain and there are lots of academic papers about how the problem of induction can be translated into these other kinds.)

The rotund Scottish philosopher David Hume was the first to note that this kind of reasoning is problematic. In fact, he concluded that it was entirely irrational. If we construct inductive reasoning in a deductive way, we’ll see why:

(1) So far, all swans have been white.
(2) Nature is uniform - i.e. the future will be much like the past; and ‘over there’ will be much like ‘over here’.
(C) Therefore: ALL swans are (and will be) white.

The problem is with (2) - it needs proving, we can’t just assume it. Hume identified that we couldn’t prove it deductively, because that would mean that we couldn’t conceive of it being any other way - but of course we can, we can imagine a black swan. So we have to try and prove it inductively.

So we might say something like “Nature has been uniform so far, so i can reasonably believe that it will continue to be.” But this argument, however you put it, begs the question. It assumes that nature is uniform in order to prove that nature is uniform. You can’t, concludes Hume, prove induction with an inductive argument. It begs the question. (For further discussion on this topic, particularly about the people who say you can prove induction with inductive arguments, go to the entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

That is what ‘begs the question’ means - when an argument’s conclusion is assumed within the argument.


-- End of Part 2

So this time, we’ve seen:
(1) Red Herrings - arguments that don’t address the issue.
(2) Straw Men - arguments that address a superficially similar, but in fact different issue.
(3) Loaded Questions - controversially complex questions that presume things that haven’t been proved.
(4) Begging the Question - when the conclusion is assumed in the argument.

In Part 3, plain old laziness and a discussion of verbal fallacies.

Posted by: Will, 25 Aug 10, 4:22pm

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How to win an argument (Part 1)

20 Aug 10 | Will
Can you win an argument without any evidence, or without even being right? By the end of these articles, you should be able to.

Think about how many times we have come across someone who is clearly wrong, but seems to have all the answers, all the arguments and absolutely no weak points? They may be suffering from argumentum verbosium, which is when someone

"tries to persuade by overwhelming those considering an argument with such a volume of material that the argument sounds plausible, superficially appears to be well-researched, and it is so laborious to untangle and check supporting facts that the argument might be allowed to slide by unchallenged." Wikipedia

So how do we defeat these ‘masters of argument’?

Identifying the problems, mistakes, assumptions and fallacies in an argument can be tricky. This is especially because the symbols usually used to explain them can be very confusing.

Take this for example:

∃x[sky(x) & blue(x) & ∀y(sky(y) → x=y)]

Which means “The sky is blue.”(1) Great.

I’m going to put together a list of fallacies (misconceptions as a result of incorrect reasoning) while trying not to use the brain-blending symbolism above. I will use symbols, but they will likely be of breasts or bananas, or other things beginning with ‘b’.

There are two broad categories of fallacy: problems with reasoning and problems with words. The latter is usually to do with the fact that words can mean more than one thing. The former is mainly to do with the fact that our natural reasoning is not as rigorous as true, proper, mathematical, godlike logical reasoning. Well, not necessarily godlike. Or true. But that’s another discussion entirely.

Problematic reasoning stems from generalisations, assumed implications, distractions, circularity or just plain old laziness. Today I will talk about generalisations and assumed implications, because I’m just lazy.

Generalisations are the most common mistake people make. We are very good at generalising, it’s hard wired into our brains to look for patterns and generalisations to make our lives easier. The problem comes when we start to construct arguments around them.
We are all guilty of generalising from too little evidence. For a long time people said that all swans were white. Until they found a black one. Then they felt silly. This is known as destroying the exception, because in claiming that all swans are white, you destroy the possibility of there being any black ones (or fuschia ones for that matter).
Another problem with generalisations is called disregarding the exception. Cutting people up with knives is a crime. That clearly doesn’t apply to surgeons. So to argue that because surgeons cut people up with knives, they must all be criminals, is silly. And probably wrong.

Which brings me to an aside. The argument about surgeons being criminals is invalid. This doesn’t mean, however, that its conclusion is wrong. All surgeons might be criminals - but they wouldn’t be criminals because they cut people up with knives. Finding fallacies in an argument does not automatically make the conclusion come out false - it just means that your opponent has to find another argument to support their position.

Another natural mistake in our everyday reasoning is assuming implication. If it is true that one thing implies another, we implicitly allow for the possibility that the implication works the other way round. It is true that rain implies clouds, but not that clouds imply rain. But we do still get the feeling that clouds imply rain. We’re wrong: clouds imply that rain may have occurred or may be occurring or maybe is going to occur. Rain implies clouds. Straight, bang, just like that - no wishy-washy maybes.

In symbolic logic, an arrow is used to describe this relationship. The arrow goes from rain to clouds, but not from clouds to rain. It is unfortunately called confirming the consequent when we assume that the arrow goes the other way. Like this:

(1) "If it is raining, then there are clouds."
- Setting up the arrow from rain to clouds.
(2) "There are clouds."
- Confirming the consequent (the bit after ‘then’).
(3) "Therefore, it is raining."
- Mistaking the direction of the arrow.

It might not be raining. In fact, I just looked out of the window and there are clouds and no rain. Ha. Mistaking the direction of the arrow.

You can also mistake the meaning of the arrow. To be more specific, the arrow means that the existence of rain implies the existence of clouds. It does not mean, as is assumed in the next example, that the non-existence of rain implies the non-existence of clouds.

(1) “If it is raining, then there are clouds.”
- Setting up the arrow from rain to clouds.
(2) “It is not raining.”
- Denying the antecedent (the bit before ‘then’).
(3) “Therefore, there are no clouds.”
- Mistaking the meaning of the arrow.

As we saw in the previous example, we can have clouds without rain.

So far we have seen four fallacies: two from not being careful with generalisations and two from not being careful with implications (or conditional relations).
1. Destroying the exception - all swans are white, until you find a black one.
2. Disregarding the exception - all surgeons are criminals cos they cut people up.
3. Mistaking the direction of the arrow (confirming the consequent) - clouds mean it must be raining.
4. Mistaking the meaning of the arrow (denying the antecedent) - no rain means there must be no clouds.

Next time...
Distractions, circularity and plain old laziness.


---
Footnotes:
(1) Take a deep breath... “There exists a thing, such that the thing is a sky AND the thing is blue AND for all the stuff that might not be the thing, if it’s a sky, then it’s the thing.”

Posted by: Will, 20 Aug 10, 1:12pm

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WODC Perspectives: First Round- Pakistan

16 Aug 10 | Leo
With Round 2 of the WODC having got underway we have the first of our WODC Perspectives (inspired by an idea) coming from she who shall not be named who is the team captain of Pakistan.

PAKISTAN AND THE W.O.D.C:


The World Online Debate Championships augured last year and were discovered by the captain of our team (she, who shall not be named); entirely by chance. Hallelujah sung thrice in her head as she scoured through the first Google result for the entry: ‘World debates cheap’. (Well, second result. The first was admittedly a blog-rant by a fifteen year old about how all the debaters in the world are so cheap.) Excited that such an opportunity existed; she asked if anyone on her Face book friends’ list was interested. About twenty people said something to the effect of ‘Yeah sure; why not? But we’ll only participate in debates we find interesting’. Two divine souls; however: Yumna Sarwar and Hania Jilani promised her their eternal loyalty… not quite…
Well, we were interested in the W.U.D.C which required each of us to pay a specific fee and for our respective universities to pay a much larger fixed amount which we knew was never going to be paid. The W.U.D.C also came with travel costs and very detailed tips on how to debate British Parliamentary style. The W.O.D.C seemed like an easier and less expensive alternative. We (rather I) assumed that this contest being ‘online’ would essentially mean we’d sail through and win it. Wrong!
Rounding twenty people who aren’t actually interested in debating is troublesome when one attempts to coordinate them. Emails headed ‘URGENT/IMPORTANT’ lose their potent credibility just as the boy who cried wolf did; especially when in the first round the other team doesn’t show. Meetings to ensure points already made were not repeated/ deleted bore no fruit. Frustration over the inability to coordinate team members, no sleep (crank calls) and then unprecedented critique from the other side resulted in an incredible loss. We didn’t know that criticizing the other side was a requirement and reprimanded that they should leave the judging to the judges/adjudicators. We (read I) thus appeared to be spoilt rude angst ridden children.
On this WODC we plan to keep our cool, be diligent and critical.


Debate of the Round China V USA 2


Posted by: Leo, 16 Aug 10, 11:48am

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Information overload

12 Aug 10 | Dave
This is the first in an ongoing (if occassional) series of guest blogs. We start with one from Will Bentinck, who we are delighted to have interning with us at the moment.

We have surely entered the information age. We are deep between her thighs and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We should be careful we don’t get overexcited though. We don’t want to lose control and find ourselves overwhelmed.

I talk, of course, of Information Overload. Information has become cheap and easy. We’ve all been there, though, and we know that road leads to poor quality and a bad feeling the next morning. We have the world of knowledge at our fingertips; with our smart-phones (our WiFi-enabled brains), we’d put the QI elves to shame. No longer does someone ask in the pub “I wonder what the hottest chilli in the world is...”, only to inspire two hours of hot (sorry) debate. Now it’s a competition to see who can get Wikipedia to work faster, or who knows the best site to turn to for Scoville-related advice.

So what happens when this question is asked?
“Should Wikileaks have released all those Afganistan documents?”

Well, most people will vomit up the received opinion they’ve dutifully memorised from The Sun or The Guardian (depending on which pub you’re in) and then everyone will agree with whatever they think is socially acceptable (again, dependent on the pub) and then go home, thinking they’re engaged in political debate and are thoroughly good citizens.

But we’re not, are we? We’re not politically engaged. We are passive consumers of opinion, withering away at our computers; not active members of international democracy, all hands on hips, inflated chests and billowing capes. We stand rank and file in the servitude of the popular media. Political scientists across the Western world are despairing at the thunderous decline in political engagement, particularly in our youth. And what do they recommend we do about it? The Internet of course!

It is hardly surprising, ten years into the 21st century, that our panacea is digital; even less so that it is on-line. So what is my radium-infused solution for our lack of engagement? It is called Debatewise.org and it should be taken once a day at minimum.

Debatewise, for those of you that haven’t spotted the clever pun, is a debating website. This is a very simple and quite misleading description. For a start, it doesn’t stand across from you and tell you that you’re wrong. Instead, debates are created, added to and edited by anyone. In a wiki-style, crowd-sourcing, gathering of communal knowledge and opinion, Debatewise is the daddy of argument. You want to make your mind up on an issue? Go to Debatewise. You want to tell other people what you think about an issue? Go to Debatewise.

Take a look at the debate about Wikileaks and Afganistan. No really, even if you just go to have a look at the format. Red on one side, blue on the other. FOR and AGAINST, YES and NO. This is not impartial, this is not just facts and figures; this is opinion and argument and persuasion. This is where to make decisions.

So, lost under the sheets with our cheap and easy information, we can be sated and spent, knowing that we didn't get overwhelmed. We can be smug in the knowledge that we took the information just as we wanted it and gave it the time of its life.

Posted by: Dave, 12 Aug 10, 12:16pm

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WODC First round preview

02 Aug 10 | Leo
Today the first two debates of twenty eight matches in the World Online Debating Championship 2010 begin at 12.00 GMT (13.00BST) and four teams out of the twenty nine nations taking part begin their hopefully two month campaign to become the second WODC champions after last years winners Lithuania ,who are not defending their title in this year’s competition.

Last year it was all about the east ,with countries from East Asia and East and Central Europe taking part and performing strongly. This year’s WODC promises to be more of a mixture with five teams from Africa competing (including Botswana and Zimbabwe) and some of the old debating powers emerging in the form of Australia and New Zealand. Some old faces such as Venezuela and the USA who field two teams amongst others make a welcome return to the fray as well as some other new ones such as (but not only) Malaysia and Mongolia make their equally welcome debuts in this second edition of the World Online Debating Championships

Changes in the debates include a limit on characters at least for the first round of 20,000 characters. This means that each team gets a maximum set of six points (not counting the opportunity to rebut) and a summary in which to make their arguments. This means that hopefully things should be easier to read and take part in.

A word about the format of the tournament: particularly in this first round. Last year twelve teams went through along with three top losers in the second round with one team getting a bye. Well this year there are no top losers so right from the start the winners go on and the losers will log off. There are also no more random draws unlike last year. So each winner of a first round debate will debate the winner of the other debate that started on the same day so winner of the first debate on the day faces the winner of debate 2 and so on right up to the final.

Added to that there are three countries have got byes in to the second round as opposed to South Korea being the only one last year. They are newcomers Greece who debate the winners of Pakistan versus Nepal which begins on Tuesday the 3rd , Last years Quarter Finalists Mexico await the Asia Pacific clash of Indonesia v New Zealand which starts a day later. And then on Friday, Team Canada begin the final stage of their wait to find out who they will face in the second round as Pakistan Versus Latvia begins. By August the 15th at the earliest we should know which teams will be competing in the second round

For those of whom who are wondering about the home nations, last year’s runners up and this year’s sole representatives from the Isles England begin their campaign against Mongolia on Sunday. Whoever wins in that match faces African competition in the form the winner of the other debate on the day: Uganda versus Ghana. I wonder who the Scots amongst others will be rooting for? (Anyone but England?!...)

Anyway I’d better cut off my idle speculation to give you a reminder that there are three ways teams can win a debate (apart from forfeiting it of course) something that people will be relieved to know hasn’t changed. Firstly a team of wisers can win by a unanimous decision from two adjudicators (judges) who will be marking the debate based on a number of factors such as a well constructed argument . Secondly if the adjudicators are stuck then it goes down to you and how you the users of the site have voted on the debate (hopefully not just on what you think about the issue being debated). If both the public vote and the adjudicators are tied then the chief adjudicator Neill Harvey Smith makes the final decision on which team wins. So your vote can still count in possibly deciding the fate of the competition.

So with Twenty six teams set to type off over the next eight days we’re in for an interesting contest hopefully blending the clash of politics at Westminster with the length of test cricket and now a bit of rugby league too!

First Round
Monday 2nd August
China v USA 2
Zimbabwe v Macedonia

Tuesday 3rd August
Greece BYE
Pakistan v Nepal

Wednesday 4th August
New Zealand v Indonesia
Mexico BYE

Thursday 5th August
Estonia v Australia
Botswana v Venezuela

Friday 6th August
Canada BYE
Palestine v Latvia

Saturday 7th August
Malaysia v India
Romania v Colombia

Sunday 8th August
England v Mongolia
Uganda v Ghana

Monday 9th August
Rwanda v Czech Republic
Israel v USA 1



Posted by: Leo, 02 Aug 10, 11:44am

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Would you like to be a world champion?

18 May 10 | Dave
WODC - The World Online Debating ChampionshipWe are proud to announce that the second World Online Debating Championships will place in August and September of this year. Thirty-two teams from thirty-two countries will battle it out to be crowned the best online debaters in the world and you are cordially invited to be one of them.

Last year teams from Eastern and Western Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia tackled subjects as diverse as euthanasia, terrorism, vegetarianism, aliens, marriage, alcohol, drugs, gambling, banking and the environment. The subjects are announced on the day but you have 24 hours to present your arguments and the internet is at your disposal.

All debates take place in English under what is close to British Parliamentary rules. Judging will be done by ex-world champions, chief adjudicators and other highly experienced debaters, so ensuring your work will get the kind of feedback that allows you to develop your debating expertise regardless whether you win or lose.

Entrance costs $20 per person or $100 per team no matter how many members it has. Bursaries are available for those who need them. To enter or apply for a bursary please email us at . Registration closes on the 30th June so don’t delay, enter now.

The WODC is sponsored by the OSI Youth Initiative and is partnered by IDEA - the International Debate Education Association

To enter or find out more:

Last year’s debates: debatewise.org/wodc-debates

Download our flyer to send to your friends
- Our leaflet (12Mb)
- A4 flyer

Why you should enter

  • Fantastic prizes

  • Chance to call yourself a World Champion

  • Hone your debating skills

  • Permanent recognition in the Debatewise Hall of Fame

  • Certificates of achievement for all 32 finalists



Useful links

  • More details on the competition (pdf)

  • Tips and tricks (pdf)

  • The rules (pdf)


  • Posted by: Dave, 18 May 10, 10:52am

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    Electoral reform: do we need it?

    04 May 10 | Alex
    The second of our articles on issues affecting the election is on electoral reform by Carina Elizabeth Lewis.

    Electoral reform: do we need it?

    We all know that the upcoming General Election has been the most hotly contested in years and the surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, as well as the idea that one party could win a majority of seats without securing the majority votes, have led the British electorate to consider the question of electoral reform more seriously. Would proportional representation lead to a fairer system of voting? Should powers be further devolved to the local parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? And should the House of Lords remain unelected?

    To answer these questions briefly, let me first make it clear that I do not believe our current electoral system to be perfect. If it is true that only those of us living in the one-fifth of constituencies described as “marginal” have the ability to influence the government, this is surely not an ideal situation. Nevertheless, I firmly believe the current system of voting to be superior to the alternatives espoused by parties such as the Liberal Democrats.

    Firstly, on the topic of proportional representation. There is no doubt it has its advantages, but these are arguably outweighed by its drawbacks. We have all heard David Cameron recently warning about the dangers of weak governments, the kind of government which proportional representation all too often creates. Forcing parties into unnatural coalitions in order to hold some kind of majority does nothing but dilute policies and cause the kind of backroom dealings which we should be seeking to eradicate from politics.

    This is not to mention the topic of extremism. It has been suggested that under a PR system, parties such as the BNP could gain up to 60 seats in the House of Commons . This is a startlingly high number, which would give the party the ability to influence legislation and even enter into coalitions. Yes, the BNP are a legal party and it is the democratic right of the population to vote for whomsoever they choose, but should the rights of minority groups be endangered because of this?

    Next, let us take the issue of devolution. This is an issue about which I can speak with some authority, having spent my summer working for a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), and if it taught me anything, it is this: devolution does nothing to help the concerns of the average voter. To have to go to one’s MP for help on one issue, and to one’s MSP, who may belong to a different party or even to a differently named constituency, for another, is not helpful, but confusing, time-consuming and overly bureaucratic. As admirable as the aim of localising government may be, devolving further powers to the parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would only serve to complicate matters. Let us take the example of the recent Calman Commission, which recommended the devolution of powers such as setting speeding and drink-driving limits to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. Measures like this are confusing and unnecessary to the general public: how can a person be considered to be driving safely on one side of a border, when several miles away the same person would be defined as speeding and drunk?

    Finally, on the House of Lords. It has been suggested that the Lords in their current form are undemocratic and unaccountable, and that elections should be introduced to combat this. Ideas such as this, however, forget the purpose of the House of Lords: to scrutinise the legislation proposed by the House of Commons. The Lords include successful and intelligent people from all walks of life: industry, science etc. who are not necessarily drawn to a life in politics and would not be comfortable with standing for election. Yet it is exactly the specialist skills and knowledge of these people which we need, skills which our House of Commons can sometimes lack. Also, let us not forget the relative independence of the House of Lords: where party whips have less sway and elections are not a constant worry, one is free to fully consider the issue in hand rather than merely offering a party line. To fully elect the House of Lords would be to trade this specialist knowledge and ability to judge each issue on its relative merits for sheer populism and careerism.
    To summarise, then, whilst the ideas for electoral reform proposed by parties such as the Liberal Democrats may sound attractive on paper, it is my belief that in practice they would have effects quite opposite to those intended. No, our electoral system is not perfect: but let us consider carefully the nature of the problems at hand before proposing sweeping, and frankly unnecessary, changes.

    Carina Elizabeth Lewis

    Posted by: Alex, 04 May 10, 10:20am

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    Change we can’t afford?

    22 Apr 10 | Alex
    As part of our coverage of the election we have a group of volunteers writing debates on the issues coming up in the election, some of them are also writing articles that are going up here.

    The first is by Mohsin Zeb

    Change we can’t afford?


    The impressive display by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during last Thursday’s Prime ministerial debate has thrown the upcoming election wide open. For the first time in a political era, an election is not a foregone conclusion. We may well end up with a near three way split, which would both signal the return of the Liberals as a major political force after nearly a century in the political wilderness, and concurrently signal the end of the existing dominance of the two major parties.

    That the first debate has had such an impact makes the upcoming debate that much more important. The issues it will address, namely Britain’s foreign relations, are unmatched in their importance. Our engagement in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has defined the political landscape for the past decade and issues related to our foreign engagements and related defence issues are set to dominate the upcoming parliament alongside the ongoing economic crisis. For that reason, I feel it pertinent to give my thoughts on the issues of our involvement in conflicts and on our nuclear deterrent, hours before the ‘three wise men’ say what they think we want to hear.

    Let me set my stall out immediately so that my position is clear. I am not a Hawk, a neo-Imperialist or a cold-blooded Realist. I have a firm believe in cooperative politics and the value of institutions as sustainers of peace, but whilst I reject the rabid militarism so fondly held to by the likes of Douglas Murray, I am by no means a peacenik. There is a time and a place for war. From my perspective, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are necessary conflicts for Britain. Our young men and women need not lose life and limb in the dusty streets of Iraq or the rugged hills of Afghanistan; neither conflict is being fought to sustain British interests. Our involvement occurred to sustain our place as the most allied of allies to Washington. On this point, I welcome the Liberal agenda. To the credit of the Liberal Democrats, they have opposed the wars long before it became socially or politically fashionable to do so, and continuing to define British interests in narrow terms can only work in their favour.

    However, those of who listened attentively last week, assuming for a moment the listener wasn’t on the lunatic fringe of the political left in the UK, would have been taken aback by the lack of commitment from Clegg and his party to the nuclear deterrence of the UK. I understand fully the arguments espoused by the party, nuclear weapons are expensive, both to build and to maintain and their functionality in this day and age may not be immediately apparent. It is true that security threats have shifted from state centric as they were during the Cold War, to today being largely manifest in the form of Non-State Actors. This lack of obvious target raises the question of where exactly, or against whom one would use the ultimate weapon. You can’t nuke the Taliban or Al Qaeda, and a shift to a more flexible deterrent may be appealing today. However, the Liberal policy has two massive flaws.

    Firstly, it is incredibly myopic strategically. Yes today we face threats from non-traditional sources, but who can predict the events in 10 or 20 years, at the time our present system would be reaching the end of its shelf life? Surely, it is responsible to have the platform, in our case a successor to the Trident nuclear attack submarines, and never have to use it, then to scrap it and one day find you wish you had it in place. The primary responsibility for any government is to ensure the safety of the state and sustain its ability to defend itself. Stripping our nuclear deterrent would leave us potentially at the mercy of numerous powers.

    Secondly, the Liberal policy goes against a clear trend of proliferation globally. When many of the world’s most unpredictable regimes are going nuclear, how irrational is it to forsake your own equalizer? Without our deterrent, there is nothing from stopping an aggressor from choosing total war, save perhaps the protective arm of Washington which may act as a deterrent for its time tested ally. Such reliance on another power leaves one at its mercy.

    With North Korea going nuclear and Iran possibly going nuclear, plus the risk of other states opting to ensure their existence by acquiring weapons of mass destruction, entertaining the thought of abandoning our own nuclear deterrent is frankly objectionable and irresponsible. Whatever the cost, the defence of the realm is an obligation, and one the Liberal Democrats seem too willing to ignore.

    For all his style, and the moral mileage in opposing the wars in the greater Middle East, the lack of commitment to our primary means of national security makes the Liberal Democrats change we simply may not be able to risk.

    Posted by: Alex, 22 Apr 10, 9:51am

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    Yu Austin Liu’s view of globalisation

    12 Apr 10 | Dave
    In a sense, I am already a product of globalization and its effects. Although I was born in Singapore, my father was from China and my mother from Singapore. That they met in a university in the United States and later settled in Singapore is largely a result of modern globalisation.

    Globalisation is the increasing economic, social, cultural and political integration in the world today, made possible by technological advances which have effectively reduced distances between various parts of the world. Globalization can be considered to have begun since the middle to late 19th century due to colonialism and the accelerated economic integration that followed. The influx of migrants into Singapore was spurred by the ease of transportation and the attraction of better wages and hence the foundation of Singapore was built by globalization.

    More recently, Singapore has been affected by globalization in various other ways. The comparatively high standard of living here is due to global trade. Singapore is lucky to be in such a strategic geographical location, allowing it to become an important port, benefiting from trade and related activities, such as importing raw goods and exporting refined products. The economy of Singapore also benefits from the increased tourism brought about by globalization, which has made travel easier and more attractive.

    As a result of this, my friends and I enjoy a reasonably high standard of living and much of the country has access to information around the world through various media such as television and the Internet. As a consequence, Singaporeans are exposed to many new ideas in their daily life. An effect of this is the general embracing of Western ideals and values, especially among the youth. This includes the rise of individualism and in some cases a desire for greater freedom of speech and press. A natural consequence of this is the decreasing interest in traditional language and culture and a decreased sense of cultural awareness among Singaporeans, who are largely ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians. The desire for greater freedom to grow and develop has also led to some amount of “brain drain”, although the inflow of talent into Singapore is also quite sizeable.

    The future of Singapore will also be intimately associated with globalization and its effects. Whether this is for the better or worse, however, will to a large extent depend on how our citizens and the government make the best out of the situation.

    Yu Austin Liu, Singapore

    Posted by: Dave, 12 Apr 10, 5:43pm

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    Tet with a Non-Vietnamese

    09 Apr 10 | Dave
    I was scurrying in front of the arrival gate at Tan Son Nhat airport. My friend ought to have checked out already because it was displayed that her flight had arrived. It was very hot and sunny, a typical day at Ho Chi Minh City. “There she is!” Alice, in her verdant green tee, smiled a big grin and gave me a warm hug after jamming through a line of tourists. We took a cab home. Because it was the first time I had taken a foreigner friend home, I was both carried way and worried the night before that she might not feel comfortable living in a real Vietnamese household. Cultural shock, that is quite understandable. Anyway, I had cleaned up the house and stocked up the fridge with a variety of food in case she would miss the Western cuisine, so it would at least not be awkward.

    It was only two days before Tet. Wanting to show her as much as possible the biggest holiday in Vietnam, I took her around, trying to be at my best informative. “Fake clothes, house and vehicles are burnt so that our loved ones in the other world could receive them. See this dollar bill! The yellow paper symbols gold, and the white one, silver.” Alice stared at me in amusement. She later confessed that the first time she saw those things burnt was in her neighborhood in Hanoi a few months ago. “I thought it was such an insane thing to burn clothes, but then I realized they were not real ones,” she confessed. Although she did not look quite convinced, or rather did not quite believe, in the practicability of the practice, she joined me in burning those fake items.

    “Okay, now both of you can get in!” Alice and my younger sister, born in the year of the dog and the year of the horse, were the first visitors to my house this year. This practice is meant to bring prosperity and good luck to the family throughout the whole year. Alice seemed quite happy that she had brought prosperity and good luck to my family this year. She beamed at me and said, “Now you’re all lucky.”

    The first day of Tet was spent at my paternal grandparents’ house. The house was noisy with my little cousins playing around rambunctiously. “I’ve never seen such a huge family!” exclaimed Alice as soon as she realized almost thirty people were there. “So this’s what I mean by “huge”.” I turned to Alice, continued, “Tet’s also the biggest family gathering. It’s like Christmas in Europe and America, I guess.” Then came the food! Alice is quite an easy eater and loved almost everything. She tried all that she did not know, and her favorite is pickle, the one eaten with “banh chung” (rice stuffed cake). She did not quite like baloney but never said no to mango. “There’re many kinds of fruit I never saw before I came to Vietnam,” she told me when I gave her a star-fruit. “Like rambutan fruit, dragon fruit and logan.” Plus, contrary to my initial thought, Alice loved white milk sold along the streets and acclaimed that it was the best white milk. It relieved me to see her enjoy almost everything because I was worried that she might be picky about food.

    We went to the flower fair at night. Alice heard about it from one of my great aunt and insisted that we would go there. The cab left us at the rear of the fair, and we walked inside. It was after a day of good food, so we were both happy to have a walk. Alice loves taking photos as long as she is not in those. Knowing that, I kept teasing her by asking, “Do you want a photo?” before moving to the second part,” I mean without you in it.” She would give me a look meaning “You know what I mean, don’t you?” Then both of us would laugh. Her favorite part in the fair was the lanterns. “You love lanterns that much?” “Yes, very much. I’ll have some in my own house,” she smiled a big smile while enthusiastically expressing her affection for the hand-made lanterns.

    It took us about one and a half hour to get home from the flower fair. Of course, we walked. On the way home, I let her try other kinds of sweet like “com dep”, “banh nuong” and “bo bia ngot”. Alice did not have much appetite for the first, liked the second and was in love with the third. “Bo bia ngot” is the name for a kind of sweet rolls. The wrapper is opaque white, unlike the translucent rice paper used for spring rolls and egg rolls; and the stuffing includes dried coconut (Jeez, Alice loves coconut and anything that has coconut in its name!), sesame and thin sugar bar (Despite the name, the sugar bar is crispy and does not hurt the teeth! :D). After the first roll, Alice decided that she would have another one immediately.

    Alice looked quite tired. “OMG, it was so noisy I couldn’t help,” she confessed after we got home. “It’s really different in my hometown in Germany.” I listened tentatively as she went on,” I don’t understand why people were so noisy.” “Ah, come on, we were playing cards. And that wasn’t noisy, mind you! It’s a whole lot noisier at other houses.” She rolled her eyes to high heaven as though I was giving her the most glory details from an imaginary place. “Ha, not everything is perfect.” I tried to enlighten the conversation, “At least, you liked being given lucky money, don’t you?” I grinned. “Hum, you know how to get me, don’t you?!?” I still remember Alice almost cried when she got her first lucky money from my mom. “It’s just nominal, but it’s to bring you good luck,” said my mom before she reached the greeting part and handling the little red envelop to Alice.

    “Let me know when you come,” we hugged each other good-bye before she checked in. I know Alice is easily moved at the air-port (actually, she told me that she can’t stop tears from rolling down on her cheeks to see people at the air-port), so we both made the “painful” part as quick as possible. “Okay, I will. Take care!” Then she lifted her back-pack up and got in. She did not look back, yet she must have been smiling. Or perhaps tears were full in her eyes…

    Quynh Van Duong, Vietnam

    Posted by: Dave, 09 Apr 10, 5:42pm

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    Globalisation as seen from Nepal

    08 Apr 10 | Dave
    “Nepal” a country in the southern lap of the Himalayas has always been a mesmerizing tourist destination because of its Himalayas, landscapes, temples ,and many to other places people long to visit .

    The richness of culture, various ethnic groups celebrating different festivals, the chiming bells, delicious Nepali cuisine dal,bhat, tarkari , the beautiful costumes and ancient sculptures have touched the hearts of millions of people from all around the world.

    Earlier here in Nepal, there were only a few schools that too which was controlled by the government and only a certain group of people like the royal family and sophisticated people went to school. There were very less hospitals. Communication was very poor people had to write down letters to hear from their loved ones which took months and months to reach.

    However, with globalization ,we got an access to better opportunities ,education having an involvement of various private sectors .We have private clinics in almost all the parts . Technologies have developed to such and extent that we can connect the world In seconds . The use of computers, mobile phones , iPods have become really common these days . Various cars and other means of transport has made the life’s of the people easy.

    Moreover, we have foreign multinationals and franchises opening branches in our country, so we have an opportunity to wear foreign brands and go to renowned restaurants staying in the home country .Like Pizza Hut s, KFCs ,Baskin Robins which has become very popular among the teenagers .

    With the advancement in technology and choices, globalization has also brought changes in people’s perspectives, lifestyle which is a key factor for development .

    Its good to modernize with time and learn different different culture , try different food but we shouldn’t forget what we actually are . What I have seen in most of the teenagers is , in the name of modernization,they are westernising .They criticize the Nepalese culture and change their religion , celebrate some other festivals to be accepted amongst their groups or to show off that they are advanced .This is a wrong concept though .

    I was surprised when I interviewed the person working on a Nike store when he said that he only wears branded clothes and also some girls on the Shopping malls saying that wearing guniyo cholo and dhotis ( their traditional clothes) is being a way to laugh amongst colleagues .

    Another surprising thing is Nepalese people prefer advertising for foreign brands rather than promoting their own brands .

    We are not against them trying new things , being modern but forgetting one’s norms and values is destroying our images .The future is in our hands .If we start behaving like foreigners and adopt their culture then what will the foreigners come to Nepal for? Its because of our beauty , culture , hospitality that these people travel here .If we destroy that, then there is no use of them coming here ..

    So the message here is yes Nepal has developed because of Globalisation but if the Nepalese try to modernize in the name of globalization, then it will dent its image

    Snigdha Baral, Nepal



    Posted by: Dave, 08 Apr 10, 5:38pm

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