Debate 2 Con Side Arguments And Evidence

Opening Statement

The group of the three of us, myself; Brad Falcone, John Kee, and Patrick Reilly will be arguing against Public Deliberation and Deliberation Trials. We
feel that public deliberation does represent the voice of the majority people. Public Deliberation only selects a small few. These people that are selected are supposed to represent everybody with a better understanding of the topics covered. We feel that the students in this classroom today would not want their opinions measured by a small sample of people who may have a completely different set of ideas than you do. We see this misrepresentation all the time as the acts of a few can give a title to another group of people who are in guilt by association. For example students at Ohio State are seen as rioters because of the cars flipped over and burning couches we have seen on campus after big football games in recent years.
In addition those affected by the issues discussed during public deliberation debates never or very rarely are those who have participated. We will also argue that the use of public deliberation is not cost effective and the information gained through the use of public deliberation can easily be attained using methods such as opinion polls which will have many more respondents. In addition there are a greater number of people who participate in opinion polls which gives a greater representation of the community. We will explain why the response rate to deliberation polls is so much lowers that normal public opinion polls and why public deliberation receives such a lack of media coverage.

Public Deliberation also challenges the work of everyday journalist by forcing them to change their objective style of writing that we as journalism majors have been taught to abide by since day one. Public deliberation can force journalists into choosing sides, when they should never try to influence public opinion.

Furthermore we feel that although public deliberation stresses equality in terms of race, gender, and class there is no debate that people who are higher up will have their voices heard as opposed to those who are further down on the totem poll. Men have more say than women, whites have more say than black, and upper-class has more say than the middle and lower classer citizens. When speaking of racial classes, deliberation is a very difficult thing to work on in that although we are all one people, blacks and whites have very different opinions in terms of most political agendas. We also believe in this
We will attempt to show that public deliberation trials do not change the attitudes of citizens but only reinforce pre-existing attitudes which have been previously formed. Public deliberation also attempts to tell us as citizens that we do not know enough to make intelligent decisions regarding political issues. There are many experts that are ordinary citizens including doctors, lawyers, school teachers, and police officers. How do we know the information that is being taught is legitimate information or just journalist’s framework?


James Fishkin calls his new "unprecedented experiment" a deliberative opinion poll. He
says it will "represent the considered judgments the public would come to, if people were
really engaged to become more informed and to think about the issues." Never before has
so much social science talent and money been focused around a so-called poll. The event
will prove misleading to the American public, and it's a dubious use of the nearly $ 4
million that have been contributed to the undertaking. (Mitofsky) For four days, 600 people
were supposed to gather in Austin Texas in 1996 to play along with this charade that Fishkin
called an opinion poll. One of the main reasons that these people came along was that they
were given big time incentives such as free trips to Austin and all of their expenses paid (Bedford)
This public opinion deliberation cost more than any major news sources budget for all of their public
opinion polls throughout 1996. This high cost of public deliberation could be rectified if something good
was actually coming out of it. However, in the Austin Texas example, it was not truly known whether or not
the changes in public opinion was due to the facts being brought forward or just due to the fact that the TV
cameras were in some spotlight and changing the way people think becuase people dont want to be seen as
weird or tasteless in front of their friends and family on PBS. In Austin, Fishkin decided that only 3 issues would be discussed during the weekend: economy, state of family, and America's role in a Post-Cold War. These persons formed discussion questions for the candidates that were answered. (Claitor) So therefore, was the change in numbers due to just the candidates or people discussing and coming up with their own results. Another example is in Britian where these public opinion polls did not bring much change whatsoever to the end results of the game.

The average voter would not participate in a public deliberation for a number of reasons.
The average voter has neither the time or the will to participate in public deliberations because many citizens
can not take off 4 days from their job in order to participate in such opinion polls. If people really do not
like being asked simple opinion polls by phone if they get called, why in the world would the average voter wish to
participate in this issue. The average voter feels also that they know just enough in their mind to make strong
decisions that they believe are correct. Therefore the average citizen chooses not to participate because they feel
that their world does not need to be rocked by such misinformation.

Fishkin himself says that deliberation polls are not to meant to describe or predict public opinion. That is a fact because
Fishkin chooses such a small sample for his deliberation polls. If 600 people are meant to predict what the public thinks about
issues at a national level, how small would the sample be for a town like Columbus. Would Fishkin believe that 15 or 20 people
could choose issues that are important to Columbus and there ideas would change things? Fishkin for his deliberation poll to work, needs
to choose a bigger sample and a more representative sample of the public that Fishkin wants to sample.

Our opponents believe that polls on such places as the dispatch are actually deliberation. If that were to be true, then anytime a news
source asks a questions of people for like a question of the night, then our opponents would be correct that is deliberation. However, this is not
deliberation at all because the only people that choose to actually go onto their computers and take the time to participate in this poll. Online deliberation
takes a whole new meaning when it comes to deliberation. People without computers are left out in the cold when it comes to these sources. That means already you are underrepresented from certain groups of persons such as senior citizens and minorities that do not have the resources
to participate. Also, only the people that are truly interested in the topic being discussed will want to participate at all.
That means a sample that is biased and without worth.

It seems rather taboo to claim that deliberation can harm democracy, however Lynn Sanders does. Her argument is even quite logical. In her essay “Against Deliberation” she says in order to real deliberation to occur, there has to be equality and mutual respect. Her argument, based on that logic, is that if those are not present and deliberation occurs, people will assume that since deliberation is occurring that those qualities are there when it, indeed, it is not. Warner states, “ In this way, taking deliberation as a signal of democratic practice paradoxically works undemocratically, discrediting on seemingly undemocratic grounds the views of those who are less likely to present their arguments in ways we recognize as characteristically deliberative.” What she is saying is that since deliberation is occurring, the negative status quo that leaves people underrepresented will continue on the grounds that “deliberation” is occurring when there is absent the equality in respect real deliberation demands.

Even if it is not true that it is easy to see that any scientific qualities that would redeem the deliberation initiated by outside groups is simply absent. For evidence, the grand experiment of deliberative democracy, the Austin “National Issues Convention”, will be the example. According to Ladd, the first issue with the scientific value of the experiment is that the assumption the experiment is based on, that Americans are largely uninformed, is flawed. Ladd, who has ran the Roper Center for public opinion research, said of this “Uninformed public” that “the public I've seen in this extensive research shows great coherence and stability in its underlying political values and judgments.”Lad details three other problems with the science of the experiment. First, even though they were a randomly sampled group, the sample size is deficient and response rate is such that it does not represent a significant sample. On the whole, a majority of deliberative excursions like this have trouble getting enough people out to the actual event. In 5 studies put on my Fishkin in Europe, the response rate to the actual test reached no higher than 1 out of 4 participants polled initially. The second issue raised by Ladd is that these experiments are a classic example of the hawthorne effect. The people selected are aware that they are on television and that the experiment depends on their participation. This would cause them to act and think differently than the population they are representing. The third issue he brings up is that the experiment does not take into account for group dynamics. Certain people are better than others at articulating. Certain people are less likely to speak out than others. This causes the output of the experiment to be inclonclusive at best since researchers cannot be sure if the output is the result of the process or if it has been altered by unexplained group dynamics.

Another flaw with the science is that there is little to no evidence showing that the changes in the 600 participants is concrete. The participants were polled at the end of the experiment which ended in January, but no polls were conducted to show if the results of the experiment stayed until election time that year. It seems that this kind of information would be crucial an d its absence seems to raise serious questions as to the validity of this experiment.

Response Rate for Five United Kingdom Deliberative Polls

Crime (1994)
Initial Sample: 869 (74%)
Deliberative Sample: 300 (26%)

Europe (1995)
Initial Sample: 900 (71%)
Deliberative Sample: 224 (18%)

Monarchy (1996)
Initial Sample: 857 (62%)
Deliberative Sample: 258 (19%)

Election Issues (1997)
Initial Sample: 1,210 (64%)
Deliberative Sample: 276 (15%)

NHS (1998)
Initial Sample: 955 (66%)
Deliberative Sample: 228 (16%)

Closing Statement

We would like to leave you all with a quote. Everett Carll Ladd, the director of the Roper Center, said in an article written for the Public Perspective, "the answer to the problem of American democracy is more democracy. It will not come through artificial events like the Austin 600 masquerading as an exemplar of purer democratic life." It is true that deliberation in its ideal form is the cornerstone for democracy. However, we hope that we have shown you that artificially induced :deliberation: put on by journalists and people like James Fishkin are not helpful to democracy and can in some cases be harmful. This form of debate gives, at worst a shallow view of American democracy. At Best, it offers very little impact to the democratic process.
As far as journalism goes, it cannot be helpful to give away the objectivity that the industry is based on. Purer democracy is an admirable goal, but the sacrifice is not worth it. There are too many problems with democracy today, and they are not going to be easily extinguished with a few dozen controlled "deliberative debates." The ideal of deliberation is not randomly selected groups discussing a pre-planned set of issues. It is a free flowing discussion among and throughout the people.The ideal of freedom of speech is a basic right afforded by the constitution. This means the founding fathers had the intent for people to freely voice their opinions. With that as the ideal can it be said that attempts have accomplished anything of significance?

Sources Used

Sturgis, Patrick: "A Different Take on the Deliberation Poll." (2005). (Bedford) (Claitor)
Fishkin's deliberative poll is flawed science and dubious democracy, Everett Carl Ladd
Its not deliberative and its not a poll pulc perspective, Mitofsky
Experimenting with artificial democracy public perspective, Tringali

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