Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review Of My Debate Plus Night Of Philosophy

So, what a week it's been. President Trump has banned refugees and residents from 7 Muslim majority countries, sparking outrage around the world, he revived the Keystone pipeline, and has introduced "alternative facts" into the dialectic. Oh yeah, and I had a debate about the abundance of open source information and attended the Night of Philosophy event at the Brooklyn Public Library.

First things first — the debate review. This was my first formal public debate and I hope will certainly not be my last, but I was not as experienced as our opponents were and it showed. They were both fairly experienced and formidable debaters. The format was two-on-two, with my friend Thomas Kim, who ran the NYC debate group for 5 years on my team. And on our opponent's team were two men named Avi and Lenny. Avi is an assistant coach on the debating team of a private K-12 school, and Lenny was on the debating team in college. They did a really good job debating for their side and we made some mistakes we should have looked out for.

First, Thomas and I didn't prepare as much as the other team did, and that was generally evident. Second, I wasn't as forceful as I should have been. I was just too reserved. I held back from trying to make the other team's arguments look bad. Third, since there was no rebuttal period, the closing statements acted effectively as a rebuttal period, but I didn't use my closing statement to do that. Instead I just reiterated many of the same points I made in my opening statement when I should've rebutted the other team's arguments. On top of that, Thomas's arguments were even less forceful than mine, making our entire case much softer and less polemic than our opponent's. And as a result of all these mistakes, we lost. And I really hate losing debates. How do we know we lost? The audience was asked before and after the debate and more people switched to the other side's view from ours.

So that's the bad. What's the good? I nailed my opening statement. It was nearly perfect and much better than any of my rehearsals. I was loud. I was confident. I gave great fucking opening speech. A woman even came up afterwards and told me how good it was. But unfortunately, it was all down hill from there. I will be putting up the bullet points from my debate in the near future.

Over all it was a good experience. I learned a lot and I can definitely see what makes a good public debater a good debater. I can see now why so many inexperienced public debaters just skip to their prepared speeches. That's the mistake I made. I didn't use my time to rebut my opponent's arguments as I should have. Also, many debaters just aren't aware of the format they're in. I made that mistake by failing to recognize there was no formal rebutting period. But I will definitely be better for my second debate. Here are some pictures:

And then there was the Night of Philosophy, this time at the Brooklyn Public Library instead of the French Consulate. It was packed. Really packed. It was overall good but I have a few complaints. In many of the rooms where the speakers spoke you just couldn't hear anything because the room was too big and they didn't have a good enough microphone and sound system, or had none at all. I told that to David Chalmers as he came into the room for his speech and he got up on one of the tables in the library and spoke loudly about virtual reality, as a good public speaker should. He definitely commanded the audience. Most of the good lectures were towards the end of the night when the crowds died down. There needs to be a better venue for stuff like this.

I did see philosopher Gregg Caruso, who spoke about justice without retributivism. Basically how we can have a criminal justice system without the notion of just deserts, which is a major question for those who are free will skeptics. I left at 5:30 AM just in time and took a cab home. I slept almost until 3 PM today and was going to record a new podcast for the Firebrands but our host is still sick with the flu and we're going to postpone it until next week. We're going to be interviewing a refugee from Malaysia who fled after speaking out against Islamists. It should be perfect in light of Trump's recent travel ban from 7 Muslim majority countries. For now I have to go edit the last podcast and put it up on the site.

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