Zachary Burdette Paradigm
Last changed 31 December 2019 9:16 AM EDT
I debated for St. Mark's and briefly for Georgetown. The last year I debated was 2014, and I have generally judged around once a year since then. I'm posting this for the 2020 MBA tournament.
Thanks to the wisdom of the tabroom, I rarely judge debates that are close enough that the result is a function of my idiosyncratic views about anything. The only time I've thought my subjective beliefs actually changed the outcome related to whether judging should optimize for rewarding "true" arguments or the technical presentation of the arguments in the debate (i.e., tech vs. truth). Debate serves many purposes to different people, but its primary academic value is to teach analytical thinking by forcing students to figure out how best to organize and communicate their own arguments and to pick apart stupid ideas systematically. If I cannot articulate the logic and evidence behind an argument, I will not consider it as a key factor in my decision-making. But if it is somewhat coherent and the other team has not adequately explained why it is dumb, my role is to focus on the effectiveness of the argumentation rather than the substantive veracity of the claims.
I have not yet judged any debates on the arms sales topic, but am extremely familiar with the underlying subject matter. If you show that you have worked hard to research and understand the policy issues involved, you will receive really good speaker points. If you make the debate about theory or topicality (barring egregious violations, most of which will probably be affs that are not substantial or lazy counterplans that are basically just the aff), you will not.
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