Zach Baker ParadigmLast changed 10/19 4:35P CDT
I am currently a graduate assistant coach for the Kansas State policy debate team. I debated in high school and for Weber State in the NDT/CEDA circuit. Argumentatively, my focuses have been on philosophy and critical theory, so it is likely that I will have at least a respectable amount of background in whatever literature base you are pulling from. That said, I don't do work for you. I do not consider an argument completed until it has been articulated in a speech.
Yes, I want to be on the email chain. email@example.com
I evaluate debates by looking for central questions or tensions to be resolved. My eyes are drawn to ink. The heavy implication is that strategic focus is in your interest. A necessary debate skill is being able to tell what matters and what doesn't, and to make arguments about these classifications.
The 1NR is a rebuttal and cannot make new arguments except in response to 2AC arguments. That said, the affirmative must point out that an argument is new for me to disregard it in this manner, barring extreme cases.
My views on debate as an activity are better said by Calum Matheson (https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=6330).
"Either defend it, or don’t say it. Defend everything.
The appeal of debate for me is in chicanery and sophistry. Arguments are refined by endless friction, like gems in a tumbler…or at least, turds with a good coat of polish. It is a mistake to limit out a class of arguments because they’re “stupid,” “offensive,” or “something no one will ever say”—if they’re bad, then beat them, don’t complain about them. Nothing is too dumb to appear in public discourse. Evil things get said. They flourish when no one engages them; they metastasize when they are labeled taboo and off-limits. That only adds to their appeal. If something is so vile that it would not survive exposure to the light, then be the one to bring it there. Victory in debate rewards good argument. If you can’t beat some argument, then you don’t deserve to win—doubly so if the argument is “bad”—because you’re not a good advocate of your cause if you cannot respond to your opponents. It’s as simple as that. Nearly every supposed benefit of debate is easy to replicate, but this environment of ruthless inquiry is not, and neither is the crucible of high-level competition.
Does that mean I might vote on “warming good because it solves ice age” against a critical aff about object oriented ontology and the Anthropocene? No. It means I will especially do that. Where there’s a link, there’s a way.
Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. I don’t care what kind of argument you make. All kinds of debate can be done well or done poorly. If you can explain why it’s important, then do it. If you cannot, then I cordially request that you do not. One caveat for the college topic: I am more interested in the policy aspects and science of this topic than I usually am, and my favorite debates are likely to be about that. The argument that we should learn about these things is more compelling to me than it normally would be, although that hardly means I’ll ignore the counterarguments. See above.
You have to communicate arguments clearly. The baseline requirement of this activity is that you communicate with the person you’re trying to persuade—that is, after all, how you persuade them. My hearing is not very good, but I will compensate for that without you needing to do anything. I will not yell “clear.” I will not read your stupid card that you slobbered through. I will simply ignore you without feeling, much less remorse.
I am not an unusually emotional person, and as a result, pathetic appeals are not particularly effective for me. I tend to disassociate when people get very emotional. It’s especially obnoxious when debaters scream at each other or generally perform overaggressively. This isn’t a matter of respectability—it’s just boring and tedious to watch a bunch of people I usually don’t know get live about something I don’t usually care about. Saying that you’re upset about something is fine, of course, but you can’t beat an argument by reporting on your brain chemistry. Concentrating on readjusting the dopamine levels of your enemies through losses.
Here are some ways that I think about debate. None of them are immutable; I have changed my mind before and intend to do so frequently in future. I’ll ignore all of these things if you’ve made and won an argument to the contrary in a specific debate. I’m writing this because people make decisions within sets of unquestioned normative parameters all the time (e.g. “human life good” even if no one explicitly says that), so here are some of mine:
--“Any risk” is just objectively wrong. A small enough signal is overwhelmed by noise, which means not only that we can’t establish its magnitude with precision, but if sufficiently small, we can’t establish its sign either. Similarly, “this is 100% true” is almost never the case, even with conceded causal arguments, because the full weight of most things is radically overclaimed. “X will cause Y” almost invariably (there are exceptions) means “X is highly likely to cause Y” because even in well-established relationships r seldom equals 1. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should—I mean that because it will make you a better (policy) debater.
--Uniqueness does not determine the direction of the link. Deep reflection suggests that the, uh, link determines the direction of the link. If X thing prevents Y thing, the occurrence of Y does not make this relationship less likely to be true. In most situations, there should be some residual link turn, because uniqueness tends to be a projection of future likelihood which, although possibly almost certain, is very, very rarely actually certain. If X prevents Y, and Y is almost certainly not happening now, that doesn’t mean that X might cause Y. It means that X would prevent Y if Y was not in fact going to occur, which is possible, although unlikely. “Y happening now” doesn’t change the issue of whether X would cause Y. Those probabilities are calculated separately. Yes, “Y happening now so anything you do might change the outcome” is possible, but it relies on the same sloppy thinking as “any risk.”
--Fairness is usually an internal link, not an impact. Fairness is important to preserve a kind of debate, which needs an impact, or maintain the quality of competition, which needs an impact, etc. If debate was perfectly fair in an argumentative sense (not in an acceptance-of-difference sense), it wouldn’t necessarily be a good model for the world. If we need to learn to debate to overcome warming deniers (or whatever), wouldn’t those skills only be sharpened by unequal odds? Maybe, maybe not, but make an impact argument anyway.
--“The identity of this author is X so this argument is bad” doesn’t typically compel me. It’s not that I don’t think it matters, but rather that people usually don’t make a complete argument. If their identity influenced this argument and so it’s bad, make that link claim specific about what they said. That’s probably more helpful to you anyway.
--“Critical” or identity-based debate has evolved beyond the point where the theoretical language of policy debate still analogizes easily to it. What I mean is that concepts like “permutation,” “opportunity cost,” “intrinsicness,” “net benefit,” “mutual exclusivity,” and so on, most of which are the products of game-theoretical modeling or RAT economic thought, don’t track very well. That’s perhaps good—make the argument you want to make and explain (if necessary) why that’s okay. We should be innovating here, trying to figure out what works in a newer style of debate assessment, not fixating on false analogies. For example, I don’t think “permutations” make sense in debates without plans, but that doesn’t mean that an argument about why two strategies are complementary is necessarily bad.
--Points don't really make any sense to me anymore, but I've gone back to assigning them based on how well a particular speaker fulfills their position's role; i.e., 1Ns get points for being "good 1Ns," so I've been giving them somewhat higher points relative to other debaters that the average (I think). Speaker points are still arbitrary and best used as an expression of praise or disdain, so that's what I'm doing."
A couple of things to add:
My conceptual framework for a kritik is that it is a non-unique disad with a non-instrumental counterplan. If I should think differently, tell me so.
I really like it when debaters pull specific lines out of evidence in speeches. I tend to mentally track link extension by looking for vocabulary and terms of art to be repeated and applied.
Overview or don't overview, I don't actually care.
If you are making arguments you don't understand, I can probably tell. Do yourself a favor and stick to arguments you can be an effective advocate for and which you find fulfilling, instead of trying to satisfy what you assume I want you to argue. Debate is ultimately for you, not for me.