Category Archives: Research/Links

Podcasts About The Criminal Justice Reform Topic (Part 1)

In “Using Podcasts To Become A Better Debater,” I argued that podcasts are an underutilized resource that can help debaters enhance their content knowledge and practice their listening and flowing skills. In the five years since that article was published, the podcast boom has continued to grow. In 2019, “at least 90 million U.S. consumers (27% of the population) listen[ed] to podcasts monthly.”

More new podcasts are being produced than ever before, and many are related to the issues that debaters will be researching for the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic. In this two-part series, I will recommend some of the podcasts that I think will be most useful for students as they study and prepare to debate criminal justice reform.

In this article — part one — I will suggest five podcasts that are entirely about criminal justice reform and related issues. All or nearly all of the episodes from these podcasts will be useful for debaters researching criminal justice reform.

In part two, I will suggest individual episodes from other podcasts that are relevant to the criminal justice reform topic. Some of these are one-off episodes from podcasts that normally do not cover criminal justice reform issues; others are from podcasts that cover those issues often but not exclusively.

Continue reading

New Videos About The Criminal Justice Reform Topic

I’ve recently posted three new videos that will be helpful for students preparing to debate the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic:

The third video (“Lesson Plans…”) includes four “plug-and-play” lesson plans to help you organize small group discussions about criminal justice reform-related documentary films: The Thin Blue Line, The Central Park Five, 13th, and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

These three videos and the accompanying lesson plan documents are embedded below.

Continue reading

Tips For Competing As A Small School

The October issue of Rostrum—the National Forensic League’s monthly magazine—features an excellent article written by Josh Brown of Homewood-Flossmoor High School about competing in policy debate as a “small school” (pdf). It echoes much of the advice provided by Dr. David Cheshier in a 2002 Rostrum article, “How Very Small Debate Programs Can Achieve National Success” (pdf). Both articles are worthwhile reading regardless of the size of one’s program.

Some Good cites

An interesting new study about Util and public policy makers that is going around the blogosphere:


Most of us seem to be placing too much value on the wrong characteristics. Our preferred candidates are able to “connect” with the public. We want to like our leaders; we favour candidates who we’d be comfortable having a beer with. But according to the study, this isn’t the type of candidate who will give us utilitarian outcomes. If we really want the greatest happiness of the greatest number, we should be electing psychopathic, Machiavellian misanthropes.



Since it seems implausible that we are best off governed by Machiavellian psychopaths, I take the findings of Bartels and Pizarro–that those attracted to utilitarianism tend toward the psychopathic and Machiavellian–as prima facie evidence that utilitarianism is “self-effacing,” that it recommends its own rejection.

And some global conflict U for K debates

(all pilfered from the dish)

Tetlock Interview

Can be found here

Relevant college topic teaser

Lehrer: Can non-experts do anything to encourage a more effective punditocracy? Should I feel bad about watching Meet the Press?

Tetlock: Yes, non-experts can encourage more accountability in the punditocracy. Pundits are remarkably skillful at appearing to go out on a limb in their claims about the future, without actually going out on one. For instance, they often “predict” continued instability and turmoil in the Middle East (predicting the present) but they virtually never get around to telling you exactly what would have to happen to disconfirm their expectations. They are essentially impossible to pin down.

If pundits felt that their public credibility hinged on participating in level playing field forecasting exercises in which they must pit their wits against an extremely difficult-to-predict world, I suspect they would be learn, quite quickly, to be more flexible and foxlike in their policy pronouncements.

Space Policy Day Hosted By Houston Urban Debate League

The Houston Urban Debate League is hosting Space Policy Day on August 1 from 8:00AM to 2:30PM. Of interest to students and coaches who are preparing to debate this year’s space topic, the event will feature discussions of space policy by experts in the field. The event will be webcasted live at Questions can be submitted in advance by emailing; they will be read live during the event. For more information, please visit

Demo Debates

Here are some demo debates I partook in at the Emory debate camp, turnabout being fair play feel free to unload the criticism in the comments/post mocking RFDs.

There are 2 more that may be eventually uploaded to the wiki.


Substance Debate- Phillips/Turner vs Berthiaume/Herndon

K Debate- Phillips vs Turner 


Herndon/Phillips vs Cambre/Gordon 


Student Challenge Debate Herndon/Phillips vs Lab champions 





Evolution and cooperation

A recent article in the Harvard Business review offers some good responses to AT: K args about human selfishness:


The biology of cooperation draws our attention because it speaks with the authority of the most reliable way we know how to know: science. If we simply say the word empathy, it sounds mushy. If a scientist like Tania Singer shows, using fMRI scans, that women’s brains light up in three places when they get electric shocks, and that when their partners are shocked, their brains light up in two of the same three places, we understand empathy not as a hard-to-define feeling but as something that people experience in a physical sense. This phenomenon was originally discovered by neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti, who also found that our brains mirror not only pain and motor movements but pure emotions as well. When Rizzolatti and his colleagues showed subjects videos in which people were expressing disgust on their faces, the same neurons fired in the subjects’ brains as the ones that had been activated when they themselves were exposed to disgusting smells. Cognitively and emotionally, we may be able to “feel” what others are feeling.