Adam Testerman Paradigm

Last changed 5 October 2021 10:31 AM CST


-If I show preference for a genre of arguments, it’s not known to me. I wish for folks to read the arguments they find strategic/interesting and try not to worry about my feelings. This could mean, however, that non-topical approaches to debate are more good with me than you'd prefer. I’m not begging for framework in response to those positions, but I also feel like I will absolutely vote on framework if you win the position.

-I enjoy quick, technical debates over debates where public presentation is prioritized. I’m also open to being persuaded that quick, technical debates are bad/wrong/misguided for any number of reasons. I rarely find arguments suggesting speed is a tool of exclusion compelling, however, I also think speed as a means to avoid substantive engagement is weak in the paint.

-I like procedural arguments, in general. However, I like arguments with clear links and reasonable standards, so… too much theory, too fast… bums me out. I'm often disappointed when folks go for things like condo in the last speech (an out is an out, I'd just rather see other strats, all things being equal). I often think MG theory makes debates less good.

-Fast rounds are fun, but too fast rounds are a smidge miserable. I wish I could give a clear idea of what too fast means, but that’s tough. I feel like if it’d be difficult for you to flow your speech, you’re too fast. If it sounds like you’re reading cards, that’s too fast.

-Arguments that rely on subtle tricks and logic games are not necessarily intuitive, for me. I was bad at logic in college and would not describe myself as mathematically inclined. I feel more comfortable with arguments that demonstrate narrative cohesion and substantive engagement.


Hi there!

My background as a competitor involved a couple years reading primarily policy strategies and a couple years reading primarily old-white-man criticisms (Baudrillard, Marx, Lacan, etc). As a coach, my teams have dipped their toes into nearly every kind of argument. I love it all, when it is done well. I can hate it all, when it ain't.

I feel comfortable judging any “genre” of argument and have no real argument preference beyond the desire to see clash.

General Issues

Debate is the most fun and the most educational when a variety of argumentative styles, people, knowledge bases, and strategies are given room to thrive. I feel lucky to have judged a vast array of different arguments in my judging career. One of my main goals as a judge is to allow teams to run the arguments they feel are most compelling in front of me. I’ve picked up teams reading structural indictments of debate about as many times as I’ve picked up teams reading policy affirmatives and defending incrementalism.

It is my goal to involve myself in the debate round as little as possible. I have no preference for any particular kind of argument and generally feel that almost every debate issue can be resolved in the round. I will vote for arguments with warrants. I will try my best to synthesize your arguments, but I also believe that to be a central skill of effective debaters.

I will vote for arguments I think are stupid 10 out of 10 times if they are won in the round.

I rely on my flow to decide the round. I attempt to flow performances and I do my best to write down what you’re saying as close to verbatim as my fingers allow me. If there is an expectation that I not decide the round based on the way I understand argument interaction on my flow, that should be stated explicitly and it would be a good idea to tell me how I am intended to evaluate the debate round.

Emphasize explanation early… don’t let your argument make sense for the first time in the LOR or PMR etc.

All constructive speeches should take a question if asked, and it’s strategic to ask questions (unless there is flex, then I'm agnostic on this question).

Theory interpretations and advocacy statements should be read slowly and read twice.

Points of Order should be called, but I will also do my best to protect new arguments… don’t be excessive with them though [I’ll be vague about what that means, but be an adult]

RVI’s have never been good arguments, read them at your own risk.


I cut my teeth on procedural arguments in college, and I am still a huge fan. To vote on a procedural, I need an interpretation explaining how the debate should be evaluated, a violation detailing specifically why the other team does not fit within that interpretation, standards that explain why the interpretation is good, and a voter that outlines why I should vote on the argument. PLEASE read your interpretation/definition slowly and probably repeat it. It is good to have an interpretation that makes some sense.


DAs and Advs. require uniqueness arguments that explain why the situation the affirmative causes is not happening in the status quo. Defensive arguments are useful, but they often serve to make offensive arguments more impactful or serve as risk mitigation, as opposed to terminal takeouts.

I ran politics in a majority of my negative rounds and I coach my teams to read the position as well. So, I will totally vote on politics every time it is won. That being said, I’m finding the position to be one my least favorite and least compelling these days. The obscene nature of congress make the position even more laughable than it was in the past [and it’s always been sketchy at best, without cards (and with?)]. Read the DA if you’re a politics team, but there are almost always better arguments out there.


Critique debates can be fun to watch, but only when the position is clear at the thesis level. If your shell argues that the K is a prior question or something like that, spend some meaningful time explaining why that’s the case instead of “shadow” extending an argument from the shell. I am familiar with a lot of the literature, but you should argue the position as if I am not. Critiques are totally dope, but only because they have the potential to advance compelling arguments… not because they are obtuse.

Framework debates (on the top of critique... i.e.: epistemology comes first) are a waste of time a vast majority of the time. I do not understand why teams spend any substantive amount of time on framework. The question of whether the affirmative methodology/epistemology/whatever vague term you want to use, is good or bad should be determined in the links and impacts of the criticism. I see almost no world where framework matters independent of the rest of the shell. So… the only K framework questions that tend to make sense to me are arguments about why it is a prior question. It makes sense that if the critique wins that the affirmative impacts are threat constructions that I’m not going to weigh the affirmative impacts against the position. That’s not a framework debate though, that’s a question determined by winning the thesis of the position.

Critical affirmatives can be cool, but they also put me in a weird position as a judge sometimes. If your affirmative is positioned to critique DAs, then I still want to see specific applications of those arguments to the DAs. I need to see how the DA demonstrates your argument to be true in some specific way. By that I mean, if the negative outright wins a DA, I would need to see why that would mean the affirmative shouldn’t lose early, often, and specifically. The same is true of any set/genre of negative positions.

Performance/Non-Topical Affirmatives/Alternative Approaches to Debate

I tend to not have super strong feelings in favor or in opposition to “performance” style arguments. Several of the teams I have coached have run non-traditional arguments and I have seen those be incredibly beneficial for the debaters and have a positive effect on education garnered from their rounds. I have also seen people really struggle with performance-style arguments on an interpersonal level, in both advocating their positions and responding to others doing so. I defer to the debaters to wade through the various issues related to alternative approaches to debate.

I will vote for framework as answer to these arguments if the other team “wins” the position. However, I also think most non-topical affirmatives are written with 5 minutes of impact turns to framework. Affirmatives must explicitly extend those kinds of arguments to answer framework (don't assume I understand how that's happening just by you extending the affirmative) and teams going for framework should not assume the "a priori" nature of theory means I reject the aff out-of-hand.

I tend to think arguments about the collapse of debate due to alternative approaches to debate, are frequently poorly warranted. Which doesn't mean those warrants don't exist... I just need them to be made explicitly. Debate can look like many things, and still be interesting/educational/productive, in my mind. However, I also believe compelling arguments about "topical versions of the affirmative" can be very compelling. If there is a way to read your criticism as a nuanced way to affirm the resolution, you've probably landed close to my ideal version of critically framed affirmatives. Affirmatives seeking to indict structural conditions of debate can also be very compelling, too. I hope to put my personal desires for a particular model/instantiation of debate to the side in any particular round I'm judging.


In general, the CP/DA debate is probably what I feel most comfortable judging accurately and I think CPs that solve the affirmative are very strategic. There are probably enough arguments on both sides to justify different interpretations of how permutation or CP theory in general should go down, that I don’t have strong opinions about many CP related issues.

I tend to think objections to conditionality are rooted in some very valid arguments, however I find myself concluding conditionality is probably more good than bad in my mind. That only means the conditionality debate is totally fair game and I probably have voted conditionality bad as many times as I have voted it is good.

Cheater CPs are cool with me, so feel free to deploy delay, conditions, consult, whatever. I tend to think the theory arguments read in answer to those positions are more persuasive than the answers when argued perfectly, but that in no way makes me more predisposed to reject any kind of CP strategy.

Full Judging Record

Tournament Lv Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open Quarte Rice WZ PDAB MR Opp Opp 3-0
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open R6 PDAB KL Rice BS Gov
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open R5 Rice TR PDAB DB Opp
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open R4 Oregon GL UTTyl AK Gov
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open R2 SDSU CL UTTyl PS Gov
Golden Gate Invitational C 2021-10-30 Open R1 UTTyl SP PDAB MR Opp
Rice University Classic C 2021-09-25 NPDA Partia ConUni JN Whitma RB Neg Neg 2-1
Rice University Classic C 2021-09-25 NPDA R3 McKend JM ConUni SC Aff
Rice University Classic C 2021-09-25 NPDA R2 ConUni JN Rice TR Neg
Rice University Classic C 2021-09-25 NPDA R1 PDAB KL Rice WZ Neg
NPDA C 2021-03-06 NPDA Finals Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley MR Rice LA Aff Aff 6-1
NPDA C 2021-03-06 NPDA Elim 4 Oregon LG Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley MR Neg Neg 7-0
NPDA C 2021-03-06 NPDA Elim 3 Rice CS Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley MR Neg Neg 5-0
NPDA C 2021-03-06 NPDA R8 Rice LA Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley MR Aff
NPDA C 2021-03-06 NPDA R7 Univ of Pacific GS Minnesota BK Aff
Parli Round Robin Test C 2020-02-15 Parli R1 106 100 Neg Neg 2-0
Rice University Classic C 2019-09-28 NPDA R6 Univ of Pacific FL Rice LA Gov
Rice University Classic C 2019-09-28 NPDA R3 Rice CS Minnesota SB Opp
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 E1 McKendree SG Minnesota KK Neg Neg 3-0
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 R7 McKendree PD Concordia University Irvine GG Neg
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 R6 McKendree SG Concordia University Irvine SV Neg
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 R5 Whitman WF Concordia University Irvine MN Aff
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 R3 McKendree JM Whitman BC Neg
Minnesota Classic C 2019-09-13 R2 McKendree PO Minnesota SB Neg
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open Elim 5 Rice TB Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley RR Gov Gov 2-1
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open R5 Point Loma Nazarene GK Oklahoma SS Gov Gov 2-0
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open R4 Oregon GL Concordia University Irvine VS Opp
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open R3 Whitman FW Point Loma Nazarene DS Opp Opp 2-0
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open R2 Whitman BC Rice CS Opp Opp 2-0
National Round Robin C 2019-03-02 Open R1 Rice TB Grand Canyon CL Opp
Steve Hunt Classic C 2018-10-13 oparl OR4 Lewis and Clark BS Western Washington DS Gov
Steve Hunt Classic C 2018-10-13 oparl Or3 College Of Idaho JB Minnesota BS Opp
Steve Hunt Classic C 2018-10-13 oparl Or2 St Mary's SJ Puget Sound PU Gov