I debated for four years at Northview High School (09'-13') and very occasionally debated for the Barkley Forum at Emory University (13'-17'). [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I've randomly inserted a couple quotes from some debaters who have impacted how I view the activity.
on evidence / debating
tech over truth. Good evidence is good. But good debating is always better. What does this mean? Having a better/more qualified/more recent piece of evidence won't do you much if you can't coherently explain and impact the argument itself as well as how it affects the debate. If you really think your piece of evidence is better and/or that the difference in evidence quality should matter in how I resolve the argument, then tell me.
"I really don't care what arguments you read. Debate is cool because it's an intellectual marketplace in which a debater's persuasion, not my ideology, determines what sinks or swims." - Alex Miles
I'm policy-oriented in terms of how I used to debate and my fundamental evaluation of different arguments but I can be persuaded to vote for **almost** anything.
Debate is always about communication. Be clear. Sacrificing clarity for a bit more speed won't do you much good in front of me. I also feel like speed at some point trades off with persuasiveness which is something I value not just in terms of speaker points, but also in terms of evaluating arguments. That being said, you can go extremely fast idc I'm just saying understand when to use inflection or slowing down to break down an intricate argument, etc.
I think zero risk of an argument is possible but my threshold is relatively high.
Judges try to remain as impartial and unbiased as possible but the nature of communication is that we will be persuaded by arguments that make intuitive sense. Does this mean you can't run confusing/nuanced arguments? No. Does it mean there's a higher threshold to actually explain what your nebulous process CP does and why it solves better? Yes.
Recognizing that an argument was dropped is not sufficient. Explain the argument, it's warrants, and how the concession of the argument affects the debate.
"I wish the debate norm was less focused on whether every impact escalated to maximum magnitude. Most of them probably don't. Things can be bad without being an extinction event.I am definitely guilty of being a debater." - Daniel Taylor
I am definitely guilty of being a debater who often used existential / try-or-die framing but I whole heartedly agree with the above. Intuitive arguments that can dismantle improbable extinction scenarios while articulating why something can be very bad without needing to eviscerate every human on the planet is very persuasive to me.
There are valuable things to learn from just about any topic you could think of. But I believe the resolution is the only non-arbitrary starting point from which both fair and meaningful discussion can occur. goes w/o saying that the affirmative probably needs a plan
On theory and topicality
One conditional advocacy is probably okay, more justifies the question. Most theory arguments I don't lean one way or another and in most cases its not a reason to reject the team. That being said you should not be afraid to go for theory, but recognize that these debates are often incoherent exchanges of short, jargon-filled arguments so unless you're ready to unpack or show some level of analysis earlier in the debate the threshold is high.
I think severance or intrinsic perms being justified by multiple conditional advocacies or PIC/process cp's bad is a persuasive arg if done correctly.
I default to competing interpretations. I think reasonability is arbitrary. but I just feel like the aff should be able to prove the type of debate and topic they justify via their plan is better than a world of debate without it.
I think topicality is inherently about presenting your vision of what the topic should look like under your interpretation and why it is better
the argument that the affirmative does not meet their own c/i should probably be made more by negative teams extending topicality into the block (if it makes sense)
On the criticism
I think winning the link level is particularly important in K debates. Case must be part of the discussion i.e. the criticism must be both relevant and relative to the affirmative. In order to win the criticism in front of me you must be impacting it as it relates to case and thus you should be "winning case" in some sense. I'm always going to vote for the devil I know over the one I don't i.e. explaining what the alternative does and why that's a better approach then the affirmative is also important. that being said most aff teams should capitalize on this or make arguments that combat these mistakes by negative teams more.
I believe affirmative arguments against the criticism that are rooted in some form of "the K is a non-unique disad" aren't particularly persuasive but the negative should be able to contextualize / differentiate between residual link instances in the status quo vs the plan and whether the alternative does / need / should resolve both or just the latter.
I've judged a decent amount of debates on this topic, however I am probably not as familiar with the topic as y'all are. So buzzwords and concepts that are commonly tossed around in rounds will probably need to be contextualized a bit better at first. Fine to use afterward.
blatant performative contradictions like reading realism against a criticism when your aff is not realist erk me but aren't nearly leveraged enough by either side anymore.
I believe 'uniqueness controls direction of the link' can be a particularly persuasive framing mechanism if done correctly.
I understand that debate is inherently a competitive activity and things do get heated, but there is a clear distinction between being competitive and being obnoxious/rude.
I don't have a great poker face. If I'm particularly vibing/not vibing with an argument, you'll probably be able to tell. It'll also remind you to look up once in a while.
I love a good impact turn debate (heg good/bad in particular) but people don't really go for it or straight turn disads etc. anymore and it disappoints me. I'm not going to vote on these things just bc you go for it. I'm just saying I miss it.
Death is probably bad.
no need to read this, just food for thought.
Debate is inherently a relative, arbitrary, and qualitative activity. There's no quantifiable way to determine winners, all participants and the judge possess their own implicit and explicit biases that are impossible to flip 'on' or 'off' or separate from our evaluation of ideas and arguments, regardless of how hard we 'try' (I put the word try in quotes because its not something you can try to do, it just exists whether you like it or whether you let yourself believe it or not).
Through this view, consider the following hypothetical situation: a local tournament is short on judges and so a soccer mom with absolutely zero experience in any form of debate or any activity dealing in rhetoric or discourse for that matter has agreed to judge to help alleviate the shortage. She judges a round between a novice team of two freshman who are debating at their second tournament ever and a team that has cleared at the TOC before, made it to the late out rounds of multiple national tournaments, and have attended 'prestigious' debate camps. Both teams debate their hearts out and she votes for the former. Most would just chalk this up to circumstance, or because the judge doesn't understand the technical aspects of the activity. The novice team may have double turned themselves or dropped multiple critical arguments and by every major 'indicator', lost the debate. They could have dropped an entire flow. They could have got up in their final speech, made animal noises for 30 seconds and sat down. In my view, none of that matters. The novice team has won and the other has lost, fair and square.
the judge and your audience exist on a completely independent plane from everything else. in debate and in life. and this is a margin of error that you must willfully accept and embrace in order to truly understand this activity.