Doug Miller ParadigmLast changed 2/1 1:37P CDT
Currently a law student + Assistant Coach for Washburn Rural (KS)
Formerly Assistant Coach at Lake Highland (FL), and Head Coach of Fairmont Prep (CA), Ransom Everglades (FL) & Pembroke Hill (MO)
Coached for 15 years – Have coached all events. Have coached both national circuit policy & PF.
Scroll down for Policy Paradigm
Public Forum Paradigm
- If you want me to evaluate anything in the final focus you MUST extend it in the summary.
- Absent any other framing arguments, I will default to an utilitarian offense/defense paradigm.
- Narrow the 2nd half of the round down to one key contention-level impact story and 1-2 key answers on your opponents’ case.
- No new cards in 2nd Summary. No new cards in 1st Summary unless directly in response to new 2nd Rebuttal arguments.
- Make sure you evidence really says what you say it does.
- 2nd Rebuttal should rebuild + extend any portions of case they want to go for in FF.
1. Summary extension
If you want me to evaluate anything in the final focus you MUST extend it in the summary. Yes, that includes defense & turns from the rebuttal. In fact, that especially includes defense & turns from the rebuttal. If you want to go for it in the FF, make sure your partner knows to extend it. Even if it is the best argument I’ve ever heard, failure to at least mention it in the summary will result in me giving the argument zero weight in my decision. Basically, too many 2nd speakers just ignore their partner’s summary speech. Attempting to extend things that were clearly dropped in the Summary will result in a lowering of speaker points for the 2nd speaker. This is # 1 on my list for a reason. It plays a major factor in more than half of my decisions. Ignore this advice at your own peril.
2. Offense defense
Absent any other framing arguments, I will default to an utilitarian offense/defense paradigm. Just going for defensive response to the the opposing case in FF won’t be persuasive in front of me. Additionally, I am open to non-traditional framing arguments (e.g. rights, ontology, etc), but you will need to have some pretty clear warrants as to why I should disregard a traditional net offensive advantage for the other team when making my decision.
3. Narrow the final focus
It would be in your best interest to narrow the 2nd half of the round down to one key contention-level impact story and 1-2 key turns on your opponents’ case, and then spend most of your time doing impact comparisons on those issues. Going for all 3 contentions and every turn you read in rebuttal is a great way to lose my ballot. If you just extend everything, you leave it up to me to evaluate the relative important of each of your arguments. This opens the door for judge intervention, and you may not like how I evaluate those impacts. I would much rather you do that thought process for me. I routinely find myself voting for the team that goes all in on EFFECTIVE impact framing on the issue or two they are winning over the team that tries to extend all of their offensive arguments (even if they are winning most of them) at the expense of doing effective impact framing. Strategic choices matter. Not making any choices is a choice in itself, and is usually a bad one.
4. No new cards in 2nd summary
I do not believe that if 2nd rebuttal fails to answer all the 1st rebuttal’s arguments, that they have dropped their case. Answering 1st rebuttal arguments for the first time in 2nd summary is fine, with one major exception. If you need to read new cards to answer the 1st rebuttal arguments, those new cards need to be read in 2nd rebuttal, not 2nd summary. New cross-applications of existing arguments are OK, but any new cards need to be read in rebuttal. Just like with extending things straight into FF & ignoring the summary, I won’t evaluate any of those new carded responses, and your speaker points will take a hit.
I will, and am often eager to, vote on debate theory arguments. That being said, debaters in PF rarely, if ever, know how to debate theory well enough to justify voting on it.
I believe that there are several highly abusive forms of advocacy that have appeared recently that are very bad for PF, and just bad debate in general. I welcome a discussion of those practices in round, and believe that the best way to stamp them out is for teams to make those abuses voting issues in rounds. I won’t vote on these issues unless the objections are raised and effectively argued in-round (e.g. impacted, extended in all the necessary speeches, etc). but I have strong leanings that make me VERY receptive to several theory arguments.
Fiat – Until the “no plans” rule is changed, PF is essentially a whole-resolution debate, no matter how much teams would like for it to be policy. Thus, if teams want to read a specific subset(s) of the resolution, they need to provide some warrants as to why their specific subset(s) of the resolution is the MOST LIKELY form the resolution would take if it were adopted. Trying to specify and only defend a hyper-specific example(s) of the resolution that are unlikely to occur without your fiat is ridiculously abusive without reading a plan text, and makes you a moving target – especially when you clarify your position later in the round to spike out of answers. Plan texts are necessary to fiat something that is unlikely to happen in order to create a stable advocacy. Basically, in my mind, “no plans” = “no fiat.”
Multiple conditional advocacies – Improbable fiated advocacies are bad enough, but when teams read multiple such advocacies and then decide “we’re not going for that one” when the opposing team puts offense on it is the zenith of in-round abuse. Teams debating in front of me should continue to go for their unanswered offensive turns against these “kicked” arguments – I will weigh them in the round, and am somewhat inclined to view such practices as a voter if substantial abuse is demonstrated by the offended team. If you start out with a 3-pronged fiated advocacy, then you darn well better end with it. Severance is bad. If teams are going to choose to kick out of part of their advocacy mid-round, they need to effectively answer any offense on the "to-be-kicked" parts first.
6. Arguments in Crossfire
If you want me to evaluate an argument or card, it needs to be in a speech. Just mentioning it in CF is not sufficient. You can refer to what was said in CF in the next speech, and that will be far more efficient, but it doesn’t exist in my mind until I hear it in a speech.
7. Evidence availability
If you read any evidence, have the card available to hand over. Immediately (within reason, of course). Constructives should have their cards ready to hand over, in order, (probably even in the same document) because you know someone is going to ask for them. And having a bunch of PDF’s that you have to Command-F is not having your cards available. That is just lazy debating. Cut a card like a real debater. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. If you are reading this deep into a judge paradigm, it means you’re a big kid now. Act like it. As far as time is concerned, taking 10 minutes to find a card is inexcusable. At some point, I will just say you can’t find it, and and tell you to move on. This is becoming enough of a problem that I’m considering starting a running clock for “evidence hunting time.” I’m not there yet, but this practice really annoys me (and ALL judges), and needs to be stopped. If you can’t find the card you read in a reasonable amount of time, “Just drop it off the flow,” is not a sufficient recourse. In my mind, that is tantamount to evidence fabrication. If it happens once, I will be annoyed and chastise you after the round, but I’ll likely grudgingly give you the benefit of the doubt. If it happens multiple times, I am likely to be persuaded should the opposing team make such offenses a well-warranted and properly extended theory voting issue in the round.
8. Evidence Quality
I will, on occasion, ask to see key pieces of evidence at the end of the round as I make my decision. If I do ask for cards, and the text of the evidence you provide me doesn't match up with the argument you make in-round (e.g. eggregious power-tagging, taking out of context, etc - basically, more than what I perceive to be an honest mistake), I reserve the right to penalize the team providing the evidence, even if the opposing team does not bring up the quality of the card in question as an issue in the round. Best case for the offending party: I will simply not evaluate the evidence in question and decide the round as though that card has been redacted from the debate, leaving the argument with the same functional weight as an unsupported analytic. Worst case: If I see multiple offenses in the round, see a particularly eggregious offense, or have seen and commented on the team committing the same kind of offense in previous rounds I've judged, I may choose to drop the team solely on evidence quality. This is the one and only form of judge intervention I will engage in, as I have increasingly seen far too many teams get by functionally fabricating evidence and getting away with it because there is simply not enough time for opponents to question each and every card. Someone needs to serve as a check on such practices, and I believe judges should have a hand in that service. Rest assured, I will not decide a round in such fashion often, or without serious cause. I understand the serious ramifications of judges deciding rounds arbitrarially. If I do have a serious enough issue with your evidence to warrant some sort of intervention (which, again, is still very rare for me), I will be very clear in my RFD what the issue was, and how it factored into my decision, so that students can learn to not make the same mistakes again.
9. Evidence citations
You should probably read the citations according to whatever the NSDA says, but I’m not likely to vote on any irregularities (e.g. no date of access) unless the abuses are proven to be especially egregious and substantive in the round.
10. Speaker points
My reference point for “average” is 27.5. That’s where most everyone starts. My default is to evaluate on a scale with steps of 0.1, as opposed to steps of 0.5. Below a 25 means you did something offensive. A true 30.0 in HS debate (on a 0.1 scale) doesn’t exist. It is literally perfect. I can only think of 3 times I have ever given out a 29.6 or higher, and each of them were because of this next thing. My points are almost exclusively based on what you say, not how you say it. I strongly value making good, strategic choices, and those few exceptional scores I’ve given were all because of knowing what was important and going for it / impact framing it, and dumping the unnecessary stuff in the last half of the round.
11. "What's your methodology?"
Asking “What’s the methodology of your study” is a huge pet peeve of mine. Nails on a chalkboard bad. It’s a lazy way of saying, “I don’t really have an answer to this, so I’m just going to ask a bunch of questions about it and hope that clouds the debate enough to make it go away.” Questions about a card / study without evidence/warrants supporting the opposite aren’t arguments against it. They are just tricks debaters who got out-researched use to cover up that they got out-researched. In short, they are defensive only, and are only offensive if there are warrants / evidence as to why the opposite conclusion is true.
12. Ask for additional thoughts on the topic
Even if you’ve read this whole thing, still ask me beforehand. I will probably have some specific thoughts relating to the topic at hand that may be useful.
Notice how I didn't say anything about that above, even though it's the first questions like half of kids ask? Yeah, that's intentional. If you can't fugure out the answer to that quesiton from the numerous comments above, then you really are beyond help. But basically, yes, I can handle your blazing speed, you debate god, you. But it would still probably be a good idea to slow it down there a little, Speed Racer. Quality > quantity.
14. Rebuttal Rebuild
I debated for 4 years in high school (super old-school, talk-pretty policy), didn't debate in college, and have coached at the HS level for 15+ years. I am currently a law student + Assistant Coach at Washburn Rural in KS, and previously was head coach at Fairmont Prep in Anaheim, CA, Ransom Everglades School, in FL, and The Pembroke Hill School in MO.
Generally, do what you do, as long as you do it well, and I'll be happy. I prefer big-picture impact framing where you do the comparative work for me. In general, I will tend to default to such analysis, because I want you to do the thinking in the round, not me. My better teams in the past read a great deal of ontology-based Ks (cap, Heidegger, etc), and they often make some level of sense to me, but I'm far from steeped in the literature. I'm happy to evaluate most of the normal disads & cps, but the three general classes of arguments that I usually find less persuasive are identity-based strategies that eschew the topic, politics disads, and to a lesser degree, performance-based arguments. But if any of those are your thing, I would in general prefer you do your thing well than try and do something else that you just aren't comfortable with. I'll go with the quality argument, even if it isn't my personal favorite. I'm not a fan of over-reliance on embedded clash, especially in overviews. I'd rather you put it on the line-by-line. I'm more likely to get it down on my flow and know how to apply it that way, and that's the type of debating I'll reward with higher speaks. Please be sure to be clear on your tags, cites, and theory/analytic blocks. Hard numbering/”And’s” are appreciated, and if you need to, go a little slower on those tags, cites, and theory/analytic blocks to be sure they are clear, distinct, and I get them. Again, effort to do so will be rewarded with higher speaks.
I generally think affs should have to defend the topic, and actually have some sort of plan text / identifiable statement of advocacy. There are very few "rules" of debate, thus allowing tons of leeway for debaters to choose arguments. But debating the topic is usually a pretty good idea in my mind, as most issues, even those relating to the practices and nature of our activity, can usually still be discussed in the context of the topic. I rather strongly default to competing interpretations. I like to see T debates come down to specific abuse stories, how expanding or contracting limits functionally impacts competitive equity, and exactly what types of ground/args are lost/gained by competing interps (case lists are good for this in front of me). I usually buy the most important impact to T as fairness. T is an a priori issue for me, and K-ing T is a less than ideal strategy with me as your judge.
If you are going to go for it, go for it. I am unlikely to vote either way on theory via a blippy cheap-shot, unless the entire argument was conceeded. But sometimes, for example, condo bad is the right strategic move for the 2AR, If it's done well, I won't hesitate to decide a round on it. Not a fan of multiple conditional worlds. With the notable exception of usually giving epistemology / ontology-based affs some flexibility on framework needing to come before particulars of implementation, I will vote Neg on reasonable SPEC arguments against policy affs. Affs should be able to articulate what their plan does, and how it works. For that reason, I also give Neg a fair amount of theoretical ground when it comes to process CPs against those affs. Severance is generally bad in my mind. Intrinsicness, less so.
Personally, I think a lot of the standard CPs are, in any type of real world sense, ridiculous. The 50 states have never worked together in the way envisioned by the CP. A constitutional convention to increase funding for whatever is laughable. An XO to create a major policy change is just silly. All that being said, these are all legit arguments in the debate world, and I evaluate and vote on them all the time. I guess I just wish Affs were smart enough to realize how dumb and unlikely these args actually are, and would make more legit arguments based on pointing that out. However, I do like PICs, and enjoy a well thought out and deployed advantage CP.
Most topic-related disads are fine with me. Pretty standard on that. Just be sure to not leave gaping holes / assumptions in your link chains, and I'm OK. However, I generally don't like the politics disad. I would much rather hear a good senator specific politics scenario instead of the standard “President needs pol cap, plan’s unpopular” stuff, but even then, I'm not a fan. I'll still vote for it if that's what is winning the round, but I may not enjoy doing so. Just as a hint, it would be very easy to convince me that fiat solves for most politics link stories (and, yes, I understand this places me in the minority of judges), and I don't see nearly as much quality ground lost from the intrinsic perm against politics as most. Elections disads, though, don't have those same fiat-related issues, and are totally OK by me.
I don’t read the lit much, but in spite of that, I really kind of like most of the more "traditional" ontological Ks (cap, security, Heidegger, etc). To me, Ks are about the idea behind the argument, as opposed to pure technical proficiency & card dumping. Thus, the big picture explanation of why the K is "true," even if that is at the expense of reading a few more cards, would be valuable. Bringing through case in the 2NR to directly mitigate some of the Aff advantages is probably pretty smart. I think Negs set an artificially high burden for themselves when they completely drop case and only go for the K in the 2NR, as this means that they have to win 100% access to their “Alt solves the case” or framework args in order for the K to outweigh some super-sketchy and ridiculous, but functionally conceded, extinction scenario from the 1AC. K's based in a framework strategy tend to be more compelling in front of me than K's that rely on the alt to actually solve something (because, let's be honest here - they rarely do). Identity-related arguments are usually not the most compelling in front of me, and I tend to buy strategic attacks against them from the left as more persuasive than attacks from the right.
I understand that some teams are unbalanced in terms of skill/experience, and that's just the way it goes sometimes. I've coached many teams like that. But I do like to see if both debaters actually know what they are talking about. Thus, your speaks will probably go down if your partner is answering all of your cross-ex questions for you. It won’t impact my decision (I just want to know the answers), but it will impact speaks. Same goes for oral prompting. That being said, I am inclined to give a moderate boost to the person doing the heavy lifting in those cases, as long as they do it respectfully.