Adam Scher Paradigm
My thoughts on Why Debate is important are best explained here: http://havokjournal.com/nation/can-college-debate-improve-the-civil-military-divide/
COMBAT TROOPS ARE PRESENCE (this is my basic assumption unless it goes completely dropped in the round to the contrary)
Philosophy: I started intercollegiate debate as a novice in 2000 and left the activity in 2004 to begin my career as an Infantry officer in the United States Army.
I returned to the activity as judge/coach in 2012 when the Army returned me to West Point to teach American politics and government.
I believe my experience as a debater helped me become a better thinker, a better leader, and a better defense intellectual than I otherwise would have been without debate.
I find it hard to operate on any other assumption than debate is about education in the round, in the broader community, and in society writ large.
I believe we access this education through our discourse, our performance, our policy analysis of potential actions by the United States Federal Government and other state and non-state actors, as well as our understanding of ontology, epistemology, and our preconceived notions constructed by the society we live in.
I don’t think that it is possible for me (or any judge for that matter) to ever make a WRONG decision at the end of the debate round. We have designed an activity that is subjective – we have rules and guidelines (that are open for debate themselves) to help create objective standards, but at the end of the debate we quantify success by a decision made by the human being in the back of the room.
That being said there are plenty of BAD decisions in our activity that are/will be made and I am sure that I do/will make more BAD decisions than most other judges in our activity.
I believe, however, such BAD decisions happen when debaters fail to realize their ultimate goal in the round. The job of each debater is to convince, compel, persuade the person in the back of the room to cast a vote, sign a ballot, endorse the advocacy, or affirm/negate a resolution. Explain to me how you think my decision should be made. Define my calculation process or articulate a framework that can guide my method of thinking.
Mechanics: I dislike intervening in debate rounds. I would much rather apply the criteria the debaters supply and work things out that way. As a result the final rebuttals should provide me with a clean story and a weighing mechanism. If only one side provides this I will default to their standards. If neither side does this, I’ll use my own opinions and evaluations of the round.
I think it is the debater’s responsibility to explain the analysis of their cards, particularly on complex positions. I do not like to read piles of cards and being forced to apply my analysis to them.
As a side note, I have not embraced “paperless” debate since I am just recently returning to the activity. I flow on paper and I rarely flow author names so don’t just extend the author’s name- also be clear to which argument the card applies to.
I don’t appreciate sly or clever attempts to steal prep time.
I am not sympathetic to technologic difficulties.
I like to vote on the easy way out of a round- I don’t try to divine the ultimate truth of what the debaters are saying. I’m just adjudicating a fun activity that has been a very important part of my growth and development- but still an activity that is abstract and disconnected in many ways from much of society and many other aspects of our lives.
I hope you enjoy your time as a debater and your round with me as your judge regardless of the final ballot decision - do your job and I will do mine.