Jonathan Silverstein ParadigmLast changed 10/27 6:58A CDT
I debated four years at New Trier in northern Illinois, and now attend the University of Michigan (I don’t debate here). This is my first tournament on this topic, but I have talked with a couple of college debaters about this topic.
In high school I was both a 2N and a 2A, though I was primarily a 2N. In addition I was fairly flexible on the neg, but read only soft-left and policy affs.
In my opinion debate is a strategy game, with a presentation component. By which I mean how persuasive you are is important, and will impact your speaks, and how I think about your arguments, but the more important part is the ability to make smart strategic decisions, which I will reward (or punish) to a much larger degree. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use generic strategies, but you have to implicate them in terms of the aff (or neg), and all of your strategies (off-case, advantages, impact-turns, whatever) should be part of a larger, coherent whole. To do this you don’t need to be fast, or eloquent, but rather think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of the different arguments in the debate, and how those things interact.
I will probably be fine with respect to speed, but slow down a little bit for analytics, especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of sub-points, or dense argumentation in a short time span. If you’re just reading cards, you can probably go as fast as you like (still be clear).
‘Dropped arguments are true arguments’ (but if your opponent dropped a 5 second blip, and you make it 2 minutes in your next speech, then they get answers to the logical extrapolation that you added to make it a real argument. In the actual scenario where an fully fleshed out argument is dropped, or responded to so poorly or incorrectly that it’s functionally dropped, then you don’t get new answers).
I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to critical teams if I didn’t start by re-iterating that I read mostly policy affs when I was in high school. In addition to that I believe that debate is a game, and that the skills you take away from doing the research and debating at tournaments are valuable. That means I’ll probably be more persuaded by arguments about how the model you advocate impacts those skills, rather than the specific implications of the education of your aff.
That being said, those are my personal beliefs, and I’ll do my best to let the debaters inform my view of the direction of the debate. I will probably re-iterate this through out my paradigm, but I think that those skills are only gained by actually getting down and arguing, so by introducing my personal beliefs into the debate would be doing a disservice to the debaters.
T 2NR’s were some of my favorite to give, but the neg has to be thorough when giving them. You have to do a lot of impact calculus, in addition to comparative link vs. reasonability work. If the aff is going to go for a non-reasonability/w-m strategy on the aff, then you should be getting pretty deep into the weeds on the impact analysis, comparing why, for instance, the ground differential means that a larger topic is ok.
If you are going to go for w-m, there should be cards from both teams, unless there is clear logic argument one way or the other.
I tend to agree with the general premise of reasonability – that the neg can always create a marginally more limiting interpretation, giving an inroad to some sort of limits argument. This is probably the only time I believe that you don’t need impact offense (you still need offense on the reasonability debate, but the terminal T impact debate, can be purely defensive). The smaller the difference in the size or the number of categories of affs, the better the arguments for reasonability become, and the more likely I’ll end up voting aff. If you want to control the direction of this debate, a comparative case list (their interp affs – your interp affs) goes a long way. For the aff, go through that list and explain why some of the affs either don’t meet that burden, are terrible and don’t represent a small burden, or the number of affs listed represents a small fraction of the number of affs on the topic.
This is nothing new, but the team that controls the Framework debate, usually controls the debate – if I should be evaluating your representations, or pedagogy, or whatever first, then the permutation has probably been poisoned, footnoted, sidelined, unless the link is actually very weak, or the aff is fairly in line with the K. It also means that the terminal impact of a teams representations are probably important to evaluate. How you do impact calculus is up to you, but I definitely should know why the world of the K is preferable, or vis versa.
For affs, I think by the 2AR you should focus either on a permutation heavy, or an impact heavy strategy, depending on the aff. You know your affs strengths better than I do, so you should probably be set up to take one path or the other.
A good counterplan debate is a good debate, but the quality of the debate is (usually) related to the specificness of the counterplan to the aff. If you are reading consult NATO, then some sort of permutation, with some theory would be fairly persuasive. On the other end of the spectrum if there is a pic that’s clearly specific to your aff, which two net benefits that clearly implicate the permutation, then you better have some good offense against the net benefit, a solvency deficit, or a permutation that is equally specific, because I probably won’t be persuaded that that CP is abusive.
I also tend to think that advantage plank counterplans are under-rated, as long as you have cards on the net-benefit with respect to the planks (or if it’s obviously contextualized to the aff). I don’t really believe that a 8 plank CP that can be individually kicked creates a large number of conditional worlds, but multi-plank CP theory can definitely be argued outside the realm of conditionality. Also I have no qualms about kicking the CP after the round if instructed to do so, and the aff doesn't explain why you should be stuck with it.
I don’t actually think this needs a section: If you want to go for one, go for it. Interact with the impacts, and internal links of the aff. Impact calculus, and defense on the advantages are your friend. On the flip side, link and impact turns (but not both) are always a fun debate, and you should establish some level of defense against the DA, then get into impact calculus. Neither side is going to win terminal defense, so don’t forget about impact calculus.
The only reason to reject the team is (probably) conditionality. I think 1 CP and 1 K makes a good 1NC, but I definitely would be willing to vote neg on more than that, or aff on less. Establish the specific, in-round abuse (strategic flexibility, time, etc.), or why it is so important for debate that fewer condo be read, explain how the CI remedies the abuse, and be thorough in the line by line. The neg will always allocate less time to condo then the aff – that means the aff has a somewhat higher thresh hold to reach.
For the neg, have an actually predictable interpretation. I honestly think that “2 CPs and 3 Ks” is the same as “I can read whatever I want”, so you should have to defend that rough model of debate (Obviously you can’t read infinitely many conditional options, and saying you can read whatever you want doesn’t require winning you can read 1000 CPs – but unless you have a real line you can draw, don’t try to). Impact out the debate, and explain why you need your interpretation to resolve your impacts.
If you want to go for something else, you should have strong reasons to reject the team and tell a story in the context of the current debate. If you don’t, even if the neg has a rather paltry response, I’ll probably vote neg.
I think the purpose of Cross-x is to establish arguments, that will be present in future speeches (I don’t think this is revolutionary). Don’t necessarily tip your hand, but do look to establish weak points in your opponents arguments, or set up your own. If you’re going to ask random questions, your speaker points will suffer.
Please be respectful of your opponent, and their arguments. You can be assertive, and even a little forceful towards their arguments, but you should always be civil.
I think that the range of speaker points being basically 29.85 to 29.99 is silly but I can’t change that. I also, frankly, have no clue what the range should be. I have, however gone through the most recent Wake Forest tournament (-1HL) and collected this information:
Percentage -> Points
0% -> 29.3
10% -> 29.1
20% -> 28.9
30% -> 28.8
40% -> 28.7
50% -> 28.6
60% -> 28.6
70% -> 28.5
80% -> 28.3
90% -> 28.2
100% -> 27.7
If you think this may indicate that speaker points have become absurd I agree with you. If you think there is something wrong, or that the rating system is wrong, feel free to talk to me before the round – I’ll weigh what you have to say (and getting your opponents to agree with you helps), as well as contact other current debaters.