View Full Version : Misinformation and Judging Advice
12-10-2006, 08:51 PM
Okay, so this past Saturday, I was judging Junior Varsity Extemp for a round. I also happened to be hosting a observer judge for that round, that is someone with no prior experience learning how to be a judge. After I had finished ranking the competitors (because he didn't want to influence my decision in any way) he asks me what a judge is supposed to do if he/she notices a grievous factual error upon which the speaker has based his or her argument. I told him that something like that was usually to the discretion of the individual judge. I've heard some judges saying that they will rank competitors down for "lying" to them or for trying to employ a strategy described in a writing guide I once read as Building Slippage. Other judges have said that they look more at the structure and delivery of the argument, rather than the content.
Now, on the one hand, the observer asked me this with some urgency in his voice, so I was wondering if I had missed something important. He walked away before I could ask him. (Then again, I didn't want an outsider to make me second guess myself either.) I guess I'll never know.
On the other hand, this started me wondering about the same question he asked. I've only judged at three tournaments so far, and I've yet to solidify my judging paradigm for extemp, the only category in which I never competed. Since the tournament director (also my former coach) seems to like making me judge JV-X, I was wondering whether you pros could give me some advice.
If a judge notices a grievous factual error, how much should he/she take that into account when ranking?
More importantly and in a more general case, what kind of things do you think a good JV-X judge should look for?
We've all have those judges that just don't seem to know how to give helpful comments or make informed decisions. Since I know what that feels like, I don't want to be that type of judge. It's not that I have no idea what I'm doing (I did manage to mostly correctly predict the results of last years NFL FX final round, and I'm generally not the judge that gives a competitor his/her random low rank.), but I would like to hone my judging skills if that's possible.
12-10-2006, 09:16 PM
As an extemper, facts in the arguments of our respective speeches are the basis for the speech itself. Would you consider someone who was able to skillfully spin a lie a good extemper? I wouldn't. Although speaking ability is a large part of extemp, and there is some wiggle room concerning facts in speeches, lies are not acceptable, at least not to me. If I catch someone lying then a four it is. If they seem to believe what they're saying but it is simply wrong, use your own judgement. Everyone makes mistakes, but some people are not making mistakes.
12-10-2006, 09:36 PM
Since you can never tell if an extemper is lieing about information I always treat things as factual errors. Content is a large part of my extemp paradigm and students who aren't able to have strong factual speeches are usually ranked down (although I am gradually factoring delivery into a more reasonable percentage of my paradigm). How far they are ranked down depends upon the round but a speech with a great deal of factual errors or a few major ones (ex. not knowing the same of the British prime minister, head of the UN, head of the Federal Reserve, etc.) will probably average no higher than a 4 on my ballot.
12-10-2006, 11:09 PM
"Grevious" really needs to be defined in context. To me, it rests with intent. Did the speaker intentionally alter facts to fit an argument, or just forget that this was the 109th congress, not yet the 110th.
For me, I judge based upon analysis of the question and delivery of said analysis (usually in that order, but pretty evenly.) Of course there are rounds where everyone's analysis is bad, so only delivery can separate. But I digress...
If in a prelim round one speaker had good analysis and good delivery with a big 'ole factual error, but none of the other speakers were even close, (which seems most of the rounds I have judged this year turn out,) I would still rank high but likely use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS pointing out the error on my ballot to ensure the speaker is more careful in the future (especially if drawing me as a judge again.)
Otherwise, it would definitely be a deciding factor when two or more speakers are close to the same rank in my mind.
On a side note, I like the idea of requiring new judges to observe veteran judges in round -- something to add to the list of best practices in judge training!
12-11-2006, 05:05 AM
Well, I think the key in this particular instance is that it is JV Extemp. Therefore, I believe it would be easier to write the mistake of to ignorance, rather than deceit. However, if you catch a competitor in a serious lie, you should definitely deduct points. Misleading a judge is a sin I find unforgiveable, because it takes advantage of your position. It's very easy to completely misrepresent the facts on Sri Lanka, if you wish, because few are going to contradict you. However, in my opinion, this is a serious ethical violation, and it should be deducted for harshly, if you can catch the competitor. On the converse though, make ABSOLUTE certain that what the competitor is saying is a lie and not just a different viewpoint or approach to a topic.
I'd just like to side with Logan; you can almost never be sure the person is lying-- but if they're not lying, than at least they are basing their argument off of a faulty premise, which makes it a weak argument, which makes it a weak speech Part of an extemper's job is to be well informed on the issues, and if they're not, whether they are lying or simply incredibly confused, It is perfectly justafiable to mark them down. It helps preserve the integrity of the event.
At the same time, What David says is also true. Bear in mind the context of the tournament. If we judge novices too harshly, then they won't keep competing! And on the flip side (as David also observed), the event also dies if we let people say whatever they please. If an extemper says something that blatantly contradicts common knowledge, than they should realize that they are saying something surprising, and they need to go out of their way to show you why that piece of information is credible-- not just to prove they're not lying, but to prove that the information is valuable even though it flys in teh face of conventional wisdom. If they don't, then you can once again mark them down for failing to make a persuasive case.
Finally, if you feel strongly that someone is lying, tell them you feel that way on the ballot. If they are lying, they need to know that they can be caught. If they aren't lying, than they need to know that their speeches seriously lack credibility. Its all pretty much a win-win.
Notice how everything I said here is a paraphrase of somone who already posted? Thats partly because I'm unoriginal, and also partly because I suddenly miss extemp very much and am willing to babble about nothing just to get my forensics fix. ;)
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