Andrew Myers ParadigmLast changed 3/20 12:12A PST
Current Assistant Director of Debate for Gonzaga University and Former Assistant Head Coach at Mead HS.
BA- Phil/Poli-Sci GU '12, MA- Phil SUNY Buffalo '14
4 Years Debating for Mead HS, 3 Years for Gonzaga. 5 Years Assistant Coach Mead HS, 5 Years ADOD at GU.
Final NDT Update – Minnesota NDT 19 (3-19-19)
To paraphrase Ryan Wash, this shit here is like a novel – it’s long and a lot to read. Fair, so I stole the “philosophy for the Twitter generation” idea from Adam Symonds for those that don't want to read it all:
TLDR: I have voted for and against Framework, Antiblackness, ESR + Flex, Nuclear Deterrence, Storytelling, and the State. Boo untopical policy Affs and abusive ESR CPs. Hater's Guide: Strict about highlighting, thinks Logic is real, votes for caring about people, Education > Fairness, thinks Debate isn’t just a game, hates agenda politics disads, votes for identity arguments.
My Decision Making Process:
My Vote means I think Team A wins and Team B loses. The final rebuttals most likely to win my ballot are clear on why my vote should declare their Team the winner, but the final rebuttal isn’t the only thing I will consider.
The Process of deciding which Team wins
1. General Impression – What is my first intuition about which team won the debate and why?
2. Check the Record – Did I miss something? Did I undervalue an Argument? Is there a critical concession?
3. Casting a Vote –
A. What are the “voting” issues?
B. Which, if any, arguments were decisively won or lost?
C. How do those arguments relate to the voting issues raised?
4. Determination and Decision – How will I explain the decision? Why Do I accept one of Team A’s or Team B’s voting issues over the other, i.e. Why not vote the opposite way?
This, quite simply, is how I make a decision. For why I make my decision, the rest of my judging philosophy is committed to continued debates where the voting issues are familiar. Debate is more exciting when the ground is unfamiliar, but that doesn’t mean classic debates are not interesting. Note that what constitutes a “classic” debate has more to do with intensity than ideology.
I cannot express anymore so clearly than this: Debate should not be a violent exercise, but it should be competitive, performative, and reasoned activity.
Arguments I will not likely ever vote for
A. Make debate a violent activity
B. Refuse Competition, Performance, or Reasoning.
(See below: Ethos, Pathos, Logos)
Examples of Arguments I will likely not like voting for:
1. No K’s ever judge, philosophy is too hard! If making sure when we act we do the right thing is hard for you, I have no sympathy.
2. Debate is Bad because it’s competitive! If your argument is right that winning is bad, why should you win? Clearly debate can take the competitive spirit too far and into the realm of toxicity (see: Either, A.). That violence forgets that part of playing a game is that you play with others.
3. The Circular Logic of Intrinsicness – There is a difference between what I think is intrinsic to the activity, a.k.a. what is to be done while judging, and the assertion of something being intrinsically good. The remnants of theory debates recirculating invoke too fondly paramount truths that are evidently not so self-evident.
4. The Argument as You experienced it/know it – My role here is to consider how we experience you making that argument in relation to others.
Finally, Debating about a Topic is language gaming. There are various language games we play, but we do so competitively at the intersection of thought and performance.
The 2018-2019 CEDA-NDT Topic headache:
I’ll evaluate the debate in front of me. I don’t think this resolution makes sense, and worse, is the bad kind of language game. I miss resolutions that were a statement, not a matrix.
If y’all are intent on having an ESR/Flex debate, that’s fine. Aff’s should be able to answer those core generics, some CPs are more abusive than others. I just don’t find that debate interesting.
I don’t get why Framework teams read not-topical Affs and not-topical TVAs, but especially on this topic (where the floodgates are clearly open). Aim Higher! K teams should not be afraid to read T in front of me against policy Affs. Policy Negs should be ready to defend the topic if your Framework argument is that the topic is good.
No Exec Authority to First Use Nuclear Strike =/= No First Use
Affs should specify the restriction(s)
I don’t think the Act of students debating simultaneously does anything about Trump in the moment. I do think I have seen debating by students on this topic that could effectuate change out of the round. I don’t know if this means anything in regards to presidential power.
I’m really not cool with War Criminals or Fascists.
NDT 16 Judge Philosophy Update 3-25-16
This will by my second year judging and coaching at the NDT for Gonzaga, and I feel compelled to comment on my continually developing disposition(s) as a judge.
I’ve had 52 rounds on this topic, varying in all styles.
I implore you to read what I’ve written here. I take this part of my job seriously and want to demonstrate how my thinking (philosophy) changes and stays the same.
If you don’t read it, ask Michigan KM how that went.
I prefer my role as a judge to be a primarily nonverbal communicative partner – including me in the round, making eye contact (when appropriate), reacting to how I am understanding you, is not merely a narcissistic request: it’s a recognition of a preference for active learning and teaching, for all of us.
I have previously written here that I prefer to be an educator, but frankly that won’t be the case for certain content or experiences. I can, however, offer some academic advice on the structure of your arguments, rhetoric and speaking style. Thus, being an educator is a preference based on comfort, but my comfort isn’t my preference with exception to the following uncomfortable (enough to vote you down) scenarios:
- Making jokes about rape, or responding to issues of sexual violence with jokes. It’s not funny to me. You know who you are.
- Sex, Gender, Orientation, Race or Ability discrimination
- Being willfully ignorant about Race. Racial naiveté isn’t always a reason to lose a round, but being unwilling to admit fault, mistake or responsibility for certain behaviors is not, at the very least, a persuasive way to get my ballot.
As a quick aside on education, the question of what a university should be for often causes me consternation. After all, for someone who valued education as an excuse not to go home, my growing pessimism in the academy (whether from the expected bitterness of graduate school or from the contemporary conversations of the occupy and black lives matter generation) makes me receptive to some cynical positions. I’ve seen some pretty indefensible things condoned in the University. That said…I still believe this activity can be good for students and as such my responsibility is primarily to them. The second I don’t believe that, I won’t be here. Without students we coaches don’t have a job. See Below: Commitment to Educational Debate.
And so I return to my reason for posting: I felt compelled because of my position to comment on some topics pervading the debate community right now:
- If I’m on a panel and someone wants to replace me, I won’t be offended as long as I can cover the rounds I am obliged to so my students can debate.
- If there is a recording, I don’t really want to be on it… So I understand the concern with being recorded against your will. I know states differ on their local laws and the NDT Committee has put forth polices on it. If both teams have to be on video, then I will also have to be on video for the space to be fair(er). I think there are interesting privacy arguments in support of extending protections against being recorded in debates, but I also think accountability is important. In the end I just want to judge the debate.
- I think speech times have to be rigid. I am fine with flex prep, and am honestly lax about prep in general, but at some point fairness and timeliness is a concern.
- I once judged a debate where a Bifo team hit a Buddhist team and they deconstructed the round, reconstructed it, and gave final speeches after dialogue. It was different but not uncomfortable, on time, mutually agreed upon, and productive.
- The only things I will say about civility concerns: a) Before the debate starts I don’t expect much other than if I’m asked I’ll answer questions. b) When the timer starts for the 1AC it’s all performance – that’s a necessary space to express some seriously challenging thoughts c)When the timer stops I prefer some quiet to make a decision, but I often will go smoke or put my headphones in anyway d) At no point should you physically harass anyone. Consent for me applies equally well to unwanted intentional physical touching e) Other issues are probably not my fight and I don’t poke around in them unless beckoned to – either by the ballot or as a community member and academic employee.
As a child Hip Hop made me read books,
And Hip Hop made me wanna be a crook
And Hip Hop gave me the way and something to say
And all I took in return is a second look
- Slug, Party for the Fight to Write
An Admission of Hubris –
“I probably have read the primary sources your authors are talking about.”
Turns out I don’t know much about many contemporary primary source debate authors, even if many of them I do (Given my previous disclosures of my education, expected authors would include stuff like Foucault and Fanon, but exclude stuff like Berlant and Bifo). Either way, you could plausibly predict what I’ve read merely given the MA and BAs in Political Science and Philosophy from a Jesuit Liberal Arts School. Ah how the tables have turned!
To Finish, another nod to Z-Lowe..
Ten Things I Like and Dislike
1. Terrible highlighting -
Honestly a lot of the “evidence” students are reading into the round has become unrecognizable by academic standards of clarity and integrity. Examples of things that irk me: sentence fragments, highlighting parts of a word as a word (i.e., deforestation becomes “defo,” proliferation becomes “prolif,” nuclear weapons becomes "nucs" ). A good way to understand my expectation: highlight your evidence as if you were quoting your sources in an academic paper. Anything else is the privileging debate norms over educational standards of scholarship.
2. Reading a Pile ‘O’ Cards -
In almost every entry here I bring this up. I still will read a bunch of evidence after the round given certain circumstances, but it’s my least favorite thing to do. Given the complexity of debate and the relative short times to make decisions, I don’t want to spend my time adjucating reading evidence I should have heard as part of your “speech.” Making a decision after re-reading read evidence in a debate distances judges from the performance of the speech and increases the likelihood of interpretive hubris. I don’t think either of those things are desirable characteristics of a decision. My novel idea for debate would be for judges to hear evidence read, the first time its read. I also think this is possibly a reason why I often find affective modes of communication persuasive – what they lack in depth they make up in clarity. I don’t think debate is a research competition.
A minor quip on the subject of speech documents: sending a speech doc for your opponents and judges that is 100 pages is both annoying and unrealistic. It makes it hard for everyone and borders on obfuscation. For my philosophy on obfuscation, See: Baudrillard.
3. Affs That Do Things –
I was more often a 2A than a 2N throughout my career. I loved the challenge of changing the status quo. Debate is one of the few spaces you can advocate things we would otherwise be shutdown for: ideas being politically unlikely, socially difficult or subject to academic inertia. If you aff decides to do nothing, I am very likely to buy presumption/pessimism arguments in response. If your aff does something, I am more likely to filter the debate through that proposed change. On a somewhat related note, my proclivity for opacity arguments is almost always as a neg strategy. I do think there are instances in which an opacity Aff makes sense, but given my biases here, it may be best to explain opacity as somehow a strategy to change the SQ, instead of merely retreat from it.
4. Violence, Nebulas… not Stirred
Too many debates I’ve seen have debaters using violence as an ultimate impact, without explaining intricacies or giving frameworks for understanding what violence means. How am I supposed to adjudicate different claims of violence against each other? Or what about violence against some tangible traditional impact (War, Environment, Disease)? Ethics can’t function if everything is axiologically leveled to “violence,” and thus questions of what I should vote for is very likely to be arbitrary in the minds of participants, even if inevitable given the level of analysis in the debate.
5. Demarcating Points of Contestation
Similar to my respect for taking on the challenge of the SQ, I reward debaters who clearly demarcate points of contestation in the round and focus on those matters of debate. Too often debaters run away from arguments rather than engage them. In the college policy debate community this can be discouraging, because we are supposedly a model for deliberation and dialogue. Those latter realities only exist if you’re willing to admit where the debate is, admit that you may not necessarily be right, but debate out the issues.
6. Lost Art of the Case Debate
I am by no means a stock issues judge, but I do think that every argument, every aff should be responsible for these questions. A lot of the time case debate devolves into alt causes and impact defense. While those are good arguments to have, especially in the 2nr, not debating the case is almost always an important forgone opportunity. This is particularly true for K affs – put up a fit and you will be in a much better position than simply ignoring the case. Because of my expectations of an affirmative, I can be persuaded to not vote for an aff based on solvency alone.
7. Joshua Greene on Deontology and Util –
I feel it’s important to disclose this bias, and I have to a few teams. Here’s the thing, when you spend a year on a masters thesis and one of the opponents of your thesis becomes a large focus of effort, time and intellectual investment…it’s nearly impossible to remove that bias. Joshua Greene’s arguments in favor of a moral realist/essentialist account of utilitarianism and deontology invariably raises my blood pressure and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Read a different defense of utilitarianism in front of me – I’m not persuaded FMRI’s prove how people think morally.
8. Flex Time –
I think there is enough to be gained in cross-examination, the most lively and engaging part of debate, that using prep time to ask and answer questions has almost no downside for me. That said, I think the other team has the right to not consent to questions of content (instead of clarification questions: theory, technical or flow) after the normal 3-minute cx period has expired.
9. Conflating Topicality and Framework –
The more persuasive arguments for me center on the content/object of the resolution (military presence) rather than on implementation/actor questions. For one, I think a resolution without “federal government” makes traditional Topicality arguments that turn into framework arguments very duplicitous. Framework should be the debate about what that Aff and Neg should have to do to meet a good interpretation of debate. If an aff makes an ethical statement that US Military Presence is bad, you have the grounds to say its good. You don’t need USFG action to do that. An Aff that doesn’t engage in the question of military presence, or some interpretation of that, isn’t being topical and I can find it a reason to vote Neg. I have voted on different conflations of Framework and T, but I increasingly find it important to delineate the two.
10. Being Big
I am still working on my pronoun usage and am myself unclear about my thoughts on many issues of identity, but I do think my persona in debate, while always authentic, is somewhat reserved. I am not particularly motivated to be extroverted in an activity that often reminds me how stuck up academics can be, and how they think that just because of my appearance they can crack jokes I find distasteful. As a result, I want to be known by who I am when I’m in the debate community. Calling me Andrew is a sign you haven’t given me the courtesy of reading this. Big is always the best way to refer to me.
2015-16 (Military Presence) Preseason Update:
I still endorse my philosophy as written below. Just a few quick updates as we begin this year:
- I am probably not the best judge for Baudrillard debates. Sue me. (Or Forget Baudrillard)
- I still like watching CPs and DAs, much to the dismay and/or shock of my fellow judges and coaches.
- I have a fairly low threshold for what is reasonably topical, but I prefer a reasonability argument on T to make an interpretation of the topic and give me a claim as to why the Aff (and other Affs) could engage the topic under that interpretation.
- Teams that escape jargonism, fashionable witticisms, and oversimplified argument explanation will do well in front of me. I like creative and unique debaters (which can be accomplished in any style - it's usually a matter of dedication, effort and presentation).
- Please explain Acronyms early in the year. Not everyone is going to get what your particular subdivision affirmative is on first hearing it.
- If you didn't read my judging philosophy before round, expect no pity for ignoring my preferences and/or committing offenses I find particularly blameworthy.
- If you can't debate technically, debate thuroughly. I am just flowing in excel columns anyway.
- Random but non-negligble pet peeve: students who start lists and never finish them (e.g., Debater says "There are Three Impacts to the K" then explains only two impacts).
- I value Cross-Examination like a speech. You can win and lose a round in one of those 3 min segments.
- Finally, I proscribe to this ridiculous notion that Debate is a Communicative Activity where Debaters try and Persuade me to Vote for them. See below for what persuades me and what doesn't.
2015 NDT Update:
I decided to post an update to my judging philosophy for the upcoming NDT (2015). Hopefully this is with enough time (a couple of weeks) for everyone to review it.
By far the most important thing: While I've judged 40-45 rounds on this topic, I have done so primary here out west. I don't think that disqualifies any of the debates I've watched - there were some terrific debates I had the privilege to judge this year. Still, full disclosure: I am more familiar with some teams than others, in the sense I've judged them debate before. Then again, with mutual pref judging, this seems like an inevitable outcome - you will always have seen certain parts of the debate community, hardly ever the whole field.
I decided to update what I've written so far for my judging philosophy primarily because I know the preceding to be compelling case for further disclosure of how I adjudicate debates. I stand by much of what I've already written. To expand, I decided to give a "Top Ten Things I Like and Don't like" (primarily an influence of reading Zach Lowe/Simmons Inc... also playing liberally with "Like" and "Don't Like," substitute "find persuasive" and "don't find persuasive" if you wish) in debate rounds.
Top Ten Things I Don't Like (In no particular Order):
My First round back in debate came down to a clipping call out. Where I come from this is a "no-brainer" ethics question, but I do feel strongly that some rules in debate are necessary. One of those is you must read what you submit as evidence in speeches, particularly when in the form of cards. You will lose if you clip in front of me, but I need video/audio evidence and speech docs to determine this. Please, for everyone involved, do a better job of digitally "marking" your cards - don't leave things to chance.
Because I view clipping this way, it's important to note that while I'm not willing to vote for a team that clipped evidence, not all infractions are alike. I will not always simultaneously reduce speaker points to zero, or some other tanking number, and vote a team down. I believe mistakes can be made, but I also believe people can be malevolent.
Just don't do it, slow down and you'll probably sound better anyway.
I mean this somewhat sarcastically, but nothing about you reading into a computer screen is persuasive to me. I will always believe in the value of files, evidence and research, but those are neither absolute ideals nor the only means to win a debate round. Arguments, for instance, are not something I'm willing to vote on because it was written somewhere - explanation of evidence is key. I feel the prevalence of paperless debating is a evil necessity, primarily because debaters lose something of their ability to speak otherwise. Look up at me occasionally?
Call this my inverse justification for Clash being a thing I like. Debaters who avoid issues in debate/debate rounds are usually being: (1)selfish, (2)cowardly, (3)strategic or (4) unknowing/naive/unwilling. Only two of those states become problematic for a debate round, for two produce clash and argumentation, and the other two make the debate messy and needlessly complicated. Don't avoid a point of contestation with me, but also don't feel like I have a preferred set of points from which all arguments should begin.
4. Reading Evidence After the Round
I still dislike this practice, and I wrote about it previously below. However, I should make something clear: I really, really dislike debates where reading a pile of cards is the way to come to a decision. This, I understand, can be the natural outcomes of both good and bad debates. However, I want to stand by my statement:
"I will check evidence for accuracy/truth in representation if another team claims it doesn't support its intended use (i.e. your card that says the sky is purple actually claims the sky is blue). If an argument wasn't clear to me, and you were supposed to win a round on it, you probably should have made it clearer than a mumbled 15 seconds."
I have read multiple pieces of evidence in the post-round this year. I will admit that evil necessity paperless debate has this charm, and having the evidence in an email chain seems like not only good academics, but also a modicum of professionalism. I can't say I haven't been more compelled to read because I can get entire speech docs. This is a particularly helpful part of adjudicating that I won't ignore. However, if I can't get what you want me to get out of evidence in the post round (particularly if it's under-highlighted, which happens too frequently and is frankly discouraging) you will likely have dissuaded me more than had I not, and that matters for close NDT Debates.
The easy way to avoid all of this is to read evidence clearly, and draw the necessary warrants out of it. I think it's lazy to collapse an evidenced argument into a Authors last name (excluding titling a flow). Yes, technically there could be a "line" there, but is a bad practice of rhetoric and I find it unpersuasive. I also am always willing to check on factuality rather than persuasion. If you provide reasons why the other team's evidence is misread/doesn't support their argument, I value that style of argumentation equally as much as I dislike having to interpret evidence for/against speeches. I do not have a problem reading evidence, especially at the NDT, on the basis of these arguments. Ultimately, I am not going to read every piece of evidence submitted for review like that was all you did in the debate round - submitting evidence for review. I have other portions of the debate to think about.
5. Victim Blaming
I have no desire to vote for any argument that implies this ethos. This is both an ethos and a logos question. For example, Psychoanalysis K's can run dangerously close to blaming rape victims. I am not cool with that frame of mind and will flush your expensive euro-trash with a L.
6. Rude Partners
This is the sneaky dark-horse for my ideal in debate: the best debate occurs when partners work together, not individually.
Crazy right? Those who chose 2 person CX debate at some point chose to work with others. I reward debaters who embrace that aspect more than the sound of their own voice. A smart team is almost always two individuals working hard for each other, rather than two smart debaters working for themselves.
Don't be destructive to each other. Agonistic partnerships can be very successful, but they can also hurt your chances at winning. By far the best indictment of your argument, in any round, comes from your partner. Don't belittle, unnecessarily interrupt, or look upset/uninterested during your partner's speech. I ultimately give my ballot to a team, not an individual.
There is also a way to be kind/authentic in criticizing the arguments of your opponents (if you need a primer, see Dennett's "How to compose a successful critical commentary" in Intuition Pumps. I am by no means a fan of Dennett, but that process is one every debater should think about). Make sure, as much as one can, to do this as a team.
7. Tagless Taglines
A bit of 4 and 2 in this one, but I am also old school in how evidence is tagged. I am fine with short tags for evidence that requires no explanation. "Extinction," however, is neither a claim nor statement of fact. In fact, many cards read and tagged in such a manner frequently have little to make me believe the argument is even that strong. On the opposite end of the spectrum are K teams who read 3-4 paragraphs and don't introduce the evidence, or make it clear what part of their argument is supported by some fragment of analysis. Taglines in K debates I have a higher threshold on, but those issues irk me as much as badly tagged evidence that is then read unclearly anyway. Make claims, support them with evidence (or as I told many of my students in the past: evidence is a tool, not an argument).
8. Speaker Point Inflation
Mostly because I couldn't avoid it and my judging philosophy no longer represents my scale well. For the NDT:
26 and Below - You were punishably rude.
26.5. Incomplete, your speech ended with large gaps, whole flows dropped, no persuasiveness
27. Poor, you made a crucial error, were completely disorganized or had gaps in your speeches
27.5 Below Average, you provided no momentum for the ballot
28 - Average, you proved you should be here
28.5 - Above Average, you have the power to win some more ballots here
29.0 - Excellent, you should break at the NDT.
29.5 - Elite, you will be debating on Monday.
30 - Asymptotic, per my experience, these are so infrequent you can't predict them happening.
9. Debaters who don't Check Themselves
It's important to know when you're crossing a line from competitive to exclusionary, confident to obtuse. It's also important to act in a manner that produces a meaningful debate experience (whatever that may be). If that becomes impossible because you're not willing to discuss things like privilege, it seems you've failed at a basic test of self-skepticism that makes arguing possible. When debaters know they can lose on things like "Your evidence doesn't say Econ declines" and don't agree with decisions made through that framing, that to me is on par with refusing to answer the claim that "Your experience should be recognized as privileged in this analysis" and losing because they weren't open to how experience can be interepreted. We can't have debates if we don't purport to have some level of skepticism, arguing would cease to function educationally. That said, these are questions that implicate arguments, and almost completely arguments, rather than individual debaters.
10. Coaches that Degrade, not Support, their Students
I can deal with coaches making fun of each other, but how you treat the students in debate tells me more about you than how you treat the your fellow coaches. I am very intolerant of this in all forms - the students are paying to do this, not us. Treating any student in a defamatory or rude manner, that's a major turn off and I would prefer we don't speak.
Top Ten Things I Like (In no particular Order):
1. Analytic Arguments
I don't know if this a function of my experience with speech and debate growing up, but debaters who can't make arguments without evidence almost certainly are at a disadvantage in front of me. I will not simply dismiss a logical argument because you have a piece of evidence that argues, rather than proves/demonstrates, the opposite. Analytic arguments quality check the cohesiveness of the debate, bring issues to light in the block often foregone, and demonstrate a level of understanding and willingness to argue. Analytic arguments in debate almost always function on an a-posteriori basis and rarely a-prior unless that "K-Word" comes back into play. You should be able to argue, for instance, about connections between evidence, without needing another piece of evidence. This demonstrates a higher level of skill in debate that I reward. I do this not only selfishly as a lover of argumentative analysis, but also as someone who knows this skill can be, and often is, rewarded by graduate school, job opportunities and other sectors of life.
2. Proof by Example(s)
Though I like analytic arguments, and find a-priori claims persuasive, most often the fruitful discussions in debate occur when teams give concrete examples to explain, (sometimes seemingly) abstract concepts, connections or arguments. This process of concretion demonstrates to me a level of sophistication and understanding, and also a tangible hook to hang my hat on during post-round decisions. Obviously metaphors, poems, scripted-performances, etc. could all be examples of proof by example, not just history. Consider my preference here to be a testing question:
Basic Argument Necessities:
1. Do you have a Claim?
2. How is that Claim supported?
3. Proof by example: how does your argument operrationalize in different parts of the debate? How might it explain other questions in the debate?
4. Impact in/for the Round
3. Confidence/Willingness to Make Mistakes
I believe the qualities we associate with great debaters usually include fearlessness, confidence, complete attention, etc. These can manifest in different ways, and those ways in different people. The confidence that impresses me is the willingness to try, and be willing to fail to win a debate round. I think sometimes debaters are too worried about losing to focus on winning. As long as that focus doesn't result in other harmful mannerisms, attitudes and actions, I reward debaters for trying to win the round with with a cool confidence.
4. Round Awareness
Somewhat piggybacking of of 3, Debaters who are aware of details during a debate round can always make more strategic persuasive connections. There is a difference, for instance, in debating in the out rounds of the NDT and the Prelims. The way you construct your speech should be wary of that. The composition(s) of the people in the round is not ignorable, the audience included. There is also an awareness of how arguments function, when to stop belaboring, and when to reword and reclarify those arguments. These skills develop with time, but they should be easier to excersise with me because I am a fairly expressive judge. I am no Dallas, alas, but I do nod my head, smile, frown, laugh...you know, those things that make most of us feel human. I find this to be the most honest practice. Mostly, however, I am just very bad at Poker...so I will not try to be a stone-faced judge.
Debaters should also be aware of time. I don't reward teams with more than completing a sentence when the timer ends. I don't reward desperate shadow extensions in the last few seconds. I do reward speeches that end on or before time, or speeches that properly allocate time. I do reward good use of prep and CX time. Speaking time is the most valuable aspect of debate you can somewhat control, and everyone has the same access to the same time. Utilizing time well is a very good indicator of in round awareness.
5. Commitment to Educational Debate
This is an academic community (it includes mostly people employed and/or enrolled in the academy) that should primarily be focused on the Students. As such, students who understand where the pedagogical value of their arguments lie have a greater chance of winning in front of me. This is partly a question of logos (what have you learned, how did you learn it, what are we to learn?) and commitment your fellow students. Granted: not all students are alike, nor do they have the same experience. These two facts should be treated as advantageous: because you all are not alike and share different experiences, a commitment to learning together is probably the best possible praxis for debate. How does the debate round, per your framework or role of the ballot, promote learning? If learning is not all that important to you, that's fine. But understand I value this part of debate more than fairness or love of the game. I refuse to believe that debate doesn't help students - if that's your explicit goal I will likely be dissuaded. If you don't think debate is important, don't be in debate.
Judging very stressful debates can build up a lot of pressure. Humor is a great release valve. That being said, it's not in everyone's repertoire. Do what makes you comfortable, self-depreciation is almost always humbling but also potentially lighthearted.
Debate can be frustrating when neither team argues about the other teams arguments. The worst debates to judge, for me, have been ones where the Aff only talks about aff evidence, the Neg about the neg evidence. I think this is primarily a function of three practices:
A. Horizontal proliferation of arguments. I am persuaded by claims about 4-5 conditional options as weighing heavily against in depth clash from the 2AC. Part of me believes that this is inevitable in a competitive activity, part of me believes that it is also a defensible tactic. That said, if a team is "pushing pieces" but not arguing well, I do value theoretical objections on the basis of what positons move away from clash and what positions move toward it.
B. Fear of Impact Turning arguments. Too many times arguments become needlessly unwound without a point of disagreement. Your solvency/framework/kritik cards may poke many a whole, but the best evidence takes a stance in the opposite direction. Do I believe all impact turns are the same, ethically speaking? No: see Victim Blaming, above. That being said, in front of me, you can "Impact Turn" a methodology as much as you can a value claim. Why teams don't do this more often is strategically puzzling. They said Science was Bad? Maybe there are arguments that Science can be Good, or Useful? "Impact Turn" strategies make an obvious point of contestation that makes creative clash possible. However, Impact turning is merely a sufficient but not necessary means achieve that clash.
C. Debaters hate being wrong. Probably for good reason - most have been trained not to argue wrong things. Still, without trying out different arguments that produce a response from your opponent, debate kind of becomes oratory research reports, rather than engaging discussion.
8. ROTB's that Both Teams can Access
I do not find a "Role of the Ballot" claim that is to "vote for us" to be persuasive. I think its dishonest and transparently one sided to interpret the role of a ballot through one team's participation. Strictly speaking I think the role of my ballot is always to vote for the team that did the best debating, but if you have an argument otherwise, I would be more persuaded by a functionality/interpretation of how my vote works if both teams get a chance of receiving that vote. Otherwise its a meaningless piece of debate jargon substituting comfortable rhetoric for good impact framing.
9. Balance of Pathos, Ethos, Logos
Old-School Comm in this sense. Good public speaking requires a balancing all three. Excelling in one or more is ideal, but an above average accounting for each aspect is more valuable than any one on its own.
You could be completely correct on a knowledge question, but did not impact that access to truth, nor argue for it with any passion. That is less persuasive than someone who may have lost a few questions of truth, but can still access impacts and passionately argue for them.
You could be full of passion, emotion and making an ethical case without an explanation of how your argument functions or why it should be believed (reasoning, logos).
Put another way:
If you are right on a question, that means you can win that part of the debate (Logos). You do not win for being right in places.
If you are passionate on a question, that means you can string together good arguments persuasively. Without arguments, you won't be persuasive, just passionate.
If you win an ethics question, that means you can frame the debate and win it. You could be right that violence is bad, but not provide a means to resolve it, analyze it or persuade me that its a reason to vote for you.
10. Round Framing in Final Rebuttals
Almost universally, this is what separates elite from above average debaters. Many of the Coachs and People Who Teach Labs I've talked to aree this is one of, if not the most important skill thats difficult to polish. The difficulty of the 1AR/2NR/2AR notwithstanding, the best speeches, and thus the easiest to vote for, frame how to make a decision regarding particular arguments and strategies as a whole. Not doing this puts it in my hands, which is not a bad thing per say, but it's always more strategic to tie together your arguments and show how they win the round. Old-school Voting Issues are important to me. What is most important, what could you do without? Even/if statements in the last rebuttals are supremely helpful.
Fall 2014 Judging Philosophy**
First, I should mention: I left College Debate before my senior year at Gonzaga. This did not play well with many in the community, after all I was abandoning an activity I had previously spent so much time on.
After graduating from Gonzaga, I enrolled SUNY at Buffalo's PhD in Philosophy program. I recently received my Masters and left UB to pursue other things in life.
I mention these things only to say, if I appear bitter, I really am not. But I do believe there are more important things than debate, and all of what I have been reading - on various media and social media platforms - about debate rings true about academia as a whole.
All of that said, I still think debate is an important activity, especially for students. As a judge, I have always preferred to act as an educator. This can include simply listening and giving the reflections of an average citizen - any debate is still ultimately a two-way street of communication for me. Thus, the primary importance of debate, for me, is that it is a speech activity emphasizing persuasion skills. I have no stylistic preferences, but I have been out of the game for about 3 years so I might be a bit rusty with speed, and might need some expanding of abbreviations, jargon and/or acronyms. Clarity and rhythm are crucial either way, and I'll announce "clear" several times before giving up flowing. Frankly, speed reading ultimately trades off with clarity, and I'd rather hear your argument than guess. Because I know I'm rusty I figured I should be clear with that warning - I'm not going to flow theory real well at 400wpm, let alone cards.
The other ultimate difference between myself and my peers: I detest reading a pile of evidence after a round. With few exceptions, most debates come down to a decision about a few issues. If this were quarters at the NDT, I would definitely join this practice insofar as my due diligence for the activity is concerned. If you think a piece of evidence is important, remember that I heard you read it once, and you have multiple opportunities to explain why the evidence is crucial. The obvious caveat to all of this is that I will check evidence for accuracy/truth in representation if another team claims it doesn't support its intended use (i.e. your card that says the sky is purple actually claims the sky is blue). If an argument wasn't clear to me, and you were supposed to win a round on it, you probably should have made it clearer than a mumbled 15 seconds.
I suppose in many ways my academic traits mirror that of my debate tastes. I tend to be a generalist - arguments of many shapes and varieties can peak my interest. In terms of my degree, my AOS is in metaphysics, and my AOCs are in Ethics, Ancient Philosophy and Continental/Social Philosophy. That being said, I spent the last few years being too weird for both the analytic and continental schools of philosophy - I find Baudrillard and Dennett equally intolerable. I probably have read the primary sources your authors are talking about. Just because you think repeating "Dasein" or some other term over and over is going to get a win, the reality of things often disagrees. Be clear and concise and don't rely on jargon to win your criticisms, make them apparent with evidence comparisons and concise link work. I love a good kritik debate, but despise a bad one. I debated all kinds of arguments in my career, and found many of those debates enjoyable for different reasons. I am comfortable with most anything, but don't tolerate any physical or mental abuse, discrimination or hate. Those are the easiest paths to make my ballot simple.
I'll accept any framework if it's argued for well. Performance, Identity etc. are all important elements in thinking about arguments. As I said, I like debate rounds that are aware of the activity as a communicative one. When I make expressions during your speeches, they usually are done intentionally. It's nice to be talked to as more than a transcriber.
If you have questions about typical jargon stuff, ask before the round. Frankly you should be able to convince me of something regardless of my biases - though I admit that my worst bias is openness to arguments. So I'm probably not going to reject a team for reading a K. Sorry.
Other housecleaning: I'm always a fan of being included in the debate if I'm judging, thus if you are paperless and are emailing, include me (andrewrossmyers [at] gmail [dot] com). I'll time prep as finished when the email is sent or flash drive is ejected. My main mentors, though I have had many, were Steve Pointer and Izak Dunn.
Speaker Points - My speaker points for an "average" debater is a 27.5. If I ever give someone a 30, it's probably going to be the last time I do.
Crafty-ness and Tactics
Persuasion and Interpersonal Speaking
Clarity, Calmness, Confidence
Effective and Engaging CX's
Why you gott be so rude? Don't you know they're humans too? Actually, being a little bit rude is what makes the activity fun, but there's a difference between joking/confidence/pressure and being distracting/harmful/obtuse. Please respect the thin line.
** Weber Update: I will vote teams down for clipping. This includes skipping words. I will only do so with video evidence in combination with the speech doc. I don't think this is always malicious, so my reduced speaker points will vary with the severity of the offense. (For instance, if you skip entire lines, I will give you a zero).