In class, we held a debate on whether “ignorance is bliss” or not. I was assigned to argue for the claim and attempt to convince the adjudicators that ignorance was really bliss. Although both sides had valid and effective points, it was a “wash” because neither side fully engaged the other.
From a technical standpoint, the debate was extremely hard to judge. I say that because none of the speakers “weighed” during their speeches. “Weighing” is the process of convincing the adjudicator that the arguments brought up by one’s own sides overweighs the arguments brought up by the other side. This can be prompted through three essential questions: why is my argument more important, more impactful, or more likely to occur than all other arguments?
When both sides have valid and effective offensive arguments, weighing is essential to a debate – without it, the adjudicator simply cannot how they should judge the debate. To give an oversimplified example, in the debate “which is better, cats or dogs?” If one side’s argument is that “dogs are generally more playful, ” and the other side’s argument is that “cat are generally more self-reliant,” it is almost impossible for the adjudicator to tell which side has won because neither side proved that “playfulness” is more important than “self-reliance” (or vice versa) as qualities in a pet.
This “lack of weighing” manifested itself in our classroom debate. While both sides had effective offensive arguments, neither side proved that their arguments were more important, more impactful, or more true than the other side. Both sides mounted valid offensive arguments, but failed to fully engage the other sides arguments.
If I was the adjudicator, I would have no idea , from a technical standpoint, which side to give the win to. Neither side was able to prove to me that I should value their argument over any other arguments. Therefore, I would see this debate as a giant “wash” (with both sides scored equally) and rely on my own biases to give the win. It must be noted, however, that I am a BP debater, and generally we are seen as pretentious pomps when it comes to debate adjudication.
Regarding this prompt, my personal opinion is that each individual scenario must be judged on it’s own. To claim that in all possible scenarios “ignorance is bliss” is definitely not true: ignorance of a shark in the bay would probably lead to my death. However, ignorance of the horrible atrocities conducted in the middle-ages would, and probably is, is contributing to my happiness. If I had to choose one side of the argument though, I would prefer knowledge over ignorance solely because the advancement of knowledge is the basis of human advancement, and I would trade large-portions of my happiness to create significant human advancement: If each one of us could fully understand the horrors of war, we would all suffer through different levels of depression, but probably won’t start another war.
To that extent, there are no set responsibilities one has in the process of acquiring knowledge. All knowledge may advance one’s understanding of the world in some shape or form, and the information in and of itself is not condemnable. However, it is what one does with this information that is subject to judgment. For example, reading a serial killer’s book on “how to murder” may help the police force better deter and catch future killers. On the other hand, the book may also incentive potential killers to murder because they have learned techniques that might increase their chances of “getting away with it.”