A Debate Survival Guide, In Three Parts | KERA News

A Debate Survival Guide, In Three Parts

Oct 3, 2012

Five stories North Texas is talking about: Obama vs. Romney, Rangers adrenaline, and the State Fair on wheels.

To Really Hear The Answers, Learn How Candidates Dodge The Questions

Traditionally, we Americans purport to watch debates to hear how candidates will respond to the hard questions. More than occasionally, the players absolutely do not answer them. NPR psychology reporter and seasoned question-asker Alix Speigel has a great piece on the moves that get politicians out of the fire and onto a tangent.

She consults Todd Rogers, a behavioral psychologist at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government who’s an expert on “pivots” -- tactics debaters use to avoid explicitly responding. Turns out viewers pay attention to superficial impressions more than the actual content of a debate as it happens, mostly because of cognitive limits:

This led Rogers to the conclusion that people are capable of detecting dodges — but only if they're egregious. They don't seem capable of detecting subtle evasions.

Rogers believes this is because we have limited attention, and most of the time when we're watching debates, we spend that attention on social evaluation — Do we like this person? Do we trust this person? — and only generally monitor content.

That's a bit offensive. "Politicians," he says, "are exploiting our cognitive limitation without punishment."

So get ready to catch the ducks, not just the punches. Millennials: that means you, too.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Make It, Take It: Pre-Debate Politicocktails At The Chesterfield

Folks are putting some clever politico-wordsmith-alchemist skills to use right now on our Facebook page. Eddie “Lucky” Campbell of The Chesterfield in downtown Dallas is taking your pitches for a politicocktail -- a drink that represents the Red, the Blue, or bipartisan Purple -- to serve tonight before the debate. And we’re extending the deadline for entries until 2 p.m.

Accordingly, make sure and stop by the bar before the debate from 5-7 p.m. The Dallas Observer’s Scott Reitz had some elegant fun at the bar, where he was served by today’s judge and bartender:

He struck a purposeful stance, feet wider than his shoulders, and held a stainless steel cocktail shaker high over his right shoulder. Many bartenders are content with a more utilitarian cocktail agitation, but not Campbell — not tonight. The long-haired bartender with a whiskey-and-razor-blades voice danced as he put a froth on a whiskey sour. It was that kind of night.

Check back after 2 p.m. for the winning concoctions.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Where And How To Watch

Whether you fancy television or radio, we’ve got you covered with debate broadcasts. Tune in to 90.1 at 8 p.m. or stream online; you can watch it on Channel 13, plus just about any station not showing the final game of baseball’s regular season.

Some gatherings of note around DFW:

Texas Liberty Campaign at the Free Man
Young Republicans at the Stoneleigh P

LGBT Stonewall Democrats at Pecker's in Oak Lawn
Dallas Drinking Liberally at Bryan Street Tavern
Dallas County Democrats at The Texas Black Academy of Arts And Letters
Dallas County Young Democrats
N. Dallas Debate Watching Party (Day of Action)

Debate Watching Party at The People’s Last Stand
SMU Debate Watching Party and Public Debate

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Rangers’ 162-Game Season Comes Down To One Game

Texas baseball fans, if you have any fingernails left to chew, get started. At 2:30 p.m. Central time, Arlington’s finest take the field in Oakland hoping to avoid an epic collapse.
See, coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, Josh Hamilton and the guys had been in first place, alone, since April 9. Until last night. The A’s handed the Rangers their fourth tight loss in the last five games.

So it comes down to this: Oakland and Texas are tied. The winner has a couple of days off, then has home-field advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.

And the loser? Well, if the Rangers fall, they jet back home, or to New York, or to Baltimore for a single-elimination wild-card game. And a distinct fingernail shortage.

-- Rick Holter

‘Think’ Takes A Trip To The State Fair’s Auto Show

Auto nerds, take note: David Boldt is on ‘Think’ today, talking about the cars and trucks at the State Fair and the changing industry. Terry Box of The Dallas Morning News plugged his appearance on the paper’s business blog.

Check out the write-ups Boldt’s done for Car Buzzard, including this look back at when the Ford Taurus was cool.

-- Lyndsay Knecht