Dustin Meyers-Levy ParadigmLast changed 2/29 3:50P EDT
Misc procedural things:
1. He/him/his; call me DML or Dustin, preferably not "judge;" if you call me Mr. Meyers-Levy I'll assume you think I'm old and I'll give you old-person points
2. Debated at Edina HS from 2008-2012, at the University of Michigan from 2012-2017, and currently coach at Michigan and GBN
3. Please include me on all email and/or jumping chains (but why would you use jump drives if email is accessible?)--my email is dustml94[at]gmail[dot]com. please no pocketbox or speechdrop or whatever the latest one is. Asking if I want to be added might suggest that you didn't take the time to read on. (thanks Kurt)
4. Nothing set in stone debate is up to the debaters go for what you want to blah blah blah argument is a claim and a warrant don't clip cards
5. I lied, this is what is set in stone: there are two teams of two debaters (excluding maverick situations), each debater gives one constructive and one rebuttal according to tournament speech times. I will flow, and I will only flow the words that the first debater who speaks in their assigned speech says (I won't flow prompting until the debater giving the speech says things). you can do whatever else you want during the debate, but I intend to judge a debate and will attempt to flow whatever does occur in the manner that I would a debate, and if one team is attempting to debate while the other one is not, I will unequivocally listen to the team attempting to debate and vote for them when the time allocated for the 2AR ends. if you need some part of this clarified in order to determine your strategy, I'm likely not the judge for you in the first place.
6. I talk in cross-x sometimes, usually it's just to resolve clarification questions, occasionally to check against obnoxiousness
7. Really, really not okay with cards written by current debaters (at the time of authorship). If you read a card that meets this standard, I reserve the right to pause the debate after the speech and give you 1 minute to decide on a new card (of your choosing) that you can retroactively insert into the speech to replace the original card. If I'm on a panel, I won't stop the round, but I will probably give you a really angry look and conspicuously refuse to flow the card, and every time you cite the card in a following speech to support an argument I will cross the argument out on my flow.
8. I will not even begin to consider evidence that is "footnoted" or "inserted into the record" unless it's a picture or chart or something that can't be converted into card format. this applies to rehighlighting of the other team's evidence. you have to read the entirety of a card for it to be considered. I have no idea why people think anything less than that is acceptable practice.
9. Speaks usually range from 28-29.5 (realistically more like 28-29.3 on average); below 28 and there are some serious deficiencies, above 29.5 (again, realistically above 29.3) you're going above and beyond to wow me. I don't really try to compare debaters across different rounds to give speaks; I assign them based on a round-by-round basis.
10. If you would enthusiastically describe your strategy as "memes" or "trolling," you should strike me.
Debate is a game and at the end of the 2 hours we spend together I will be obligated to make a decision as to who won and who lost. This implies a few things that are non-negotiable, mostly implied above, and entirely stolen from Joe:
1. There are rules in debate. Speeches have fixed times. The first partner to speak in a speech is the only one whose words count. This is non-negotiable.
2. I'm going to flow your speech. There is nothing you can possibly do to stop this short of concede. What's worse, I'm even going to decide the debate based on said flow and said flow alone.
--2.1. I'm going to flow your speech straight down on whatever page you've indicated you're going to. If you really think your overview needs a new sheet of paper, or that I should save space on my flow for framework/the perm in the 1NR instead of you just taking each arg in order and figuring out how to split the block more efficiently, then I guess I'll do it, but I've literally never been in a debate that was won because an arg was in an overview on a new sheet that couldn't have been made in a shorter overview/on the line-by-line, and I can't remember a time when saving space on my flow made things simpler and not messier (if only because I misjudge how much space to save basically every time). The more you deviate from the line by line and try to jump around between different parts of the debate (especially in K debates), the less I'm going to care about the order you're trying to give, because I'm just going to flow every argument in a row after you make it.
3. I apply a strict standard of technical refutation and argument framing to the final rebuttals. You will not win if you drop arguments. In practice, this means I vote against kritik teams more than I vote for them. It’s not personal.
Aside from these things, I’m overwhelmingly agnostic about any argument/argumentative style in debate. The only thing I’m concerned about is how certain I can be that one side won and lost. I think I am truth over tech in the sense that if I am uncertain about whether or not an argument is explained enough to merit a ballot, I am unlikely to vote on it even if it's technically dropped by the other side, because I believe arguments have a burden of proof to meet before they require rejoinder. Thus, I often make decisions in terms of relative certainty; that is, how certain (or uncertain) I am about any given argument. This is an arbitrary threshold, but one that's relatively easy to lower/raise based on framing your arguments in these terms ("they've conceded X, which means you can be certain voting aff solves Y but you can't be certain voting neg does, Y outweighs"). This is why well-developed presumption arguments will win many ballots and points from me; presumption is a way of minimizing relative uncertainty and telling me what to do if I'm uncertain about something. Using this framing explicitly in your 2NR/2AR will both make debates far easier for me to resolve and demonstrate that you’re adapting to my philosophy.
NDT 2020 updates:
Ideologically, I believe that I'm decidedly okay for K arguments, but I strongly prefer judging teams who attempt to innovate creatively within the bounds of the topic, and my voting record this year has largely reflected that. If your aff talks about China/Russia, then you're in a decent spot with me. If you defend the ramifications of cooperating with one/both of them over space activities in one of the topic areas, you're in a great spot. If your aff says "going to space is bad," I will likely be very persuaded by the argument that that is neg ground. Uniqueness and relative solvency matter overwhelmingly for me; I usually vote for whoever accounts for both of those things to a greater degree (which usually ends up being the team making policy args--see below re: cost-benefit analysis/opportunity cost).
The teams who win going for the K on the neg in front of me are those who creatively engage the substance of the aff and apply their theory in the context of specific turns case arguments which encompass as much of the aff's offense as possible while also forwarding a uniqueness argument. For me, the optimal block/2NR would elaborate why, if the K's theory is correct, the aff is more likely to cause their impacts than the squo/the alt would be, and why the K's theory means I can be more certain about that turns case arg than I can be about aff solvency.
The teams who win without reading a plan in front of me are those who proactively reckon with my predisposition that debate is primarily (though perhaps not exclusively) a competitive activity and commit to one of two strategies against framework: 1) impact turn, or 2) creative engagement with definitions. Option 1 is simpler to execute, but requires more explanation as to why considering debate as just a game is bad, and is something of a harder sell for me. I'm much more interested by option 2; I think affs that creatively redefine terms in the resolution with actual definition cards and defend a relatively limited interpretation of the topic are strategic and intriguing. However, this strategy is a lot harder to execute, and requires a well-thought-out plan for how you want to defend your definitions.
I do a lot of K work, but I've tried to maintain a healthy balance of topic work as well this year. That said, most of my policy work has been focused on process CPs and some space law stuff. I'm not super up on the arms control area beyond the K side, and while I'll catch on to the legal aspects of most SSA/STM affs pretty quickly, the technical aspects might take a bit for me to conceptualize. I'm not too familiar with the details of China's/Russia's space programs, or their governments in general. I don't know what asteroids are.
I'll go on the record to say that I'm a better judge for T than most. In general, on a topic this big I find myself caring less about the quality of evidence for an interpretation than I do about the vision for debate it espouses. I'm more persuaded by strict debatability args than args about the affs that people have collectively agreed are/aren't topical. This also means I'm more persuaded by ground (especially neg ground) as an internal link to debatability than limits.
I'm so serious about vague perms. I'm completely willing to discount an under-explained perm or give a lot of leeway to the neg, especially if the neg points it out, and I'd gleefully reject a vague perm purely on theoretical grounds if the neg tells me to. I've judged a decent amount of rounds, some of them elims in which I sat, in which the 2AR extended the perm for under 10 seconds as a tiebreaker and I voted neg despite the perm making intuitive sense because the aff never developed it. "Do both" is not an argument; "do the CP" is a waste of everyone's time. Say more in the 2AC. (Obviously the latter isn't true vs all CPs, but it's on you to explain why that's the case in any given debate.) See below for more explanation.
K/planless aff/T debates:
I emphasize my agnosticism at the top in order to indicate that I’m better for the K/planless affs in the abstract than previous iterations of my philosophy indicated; that said, in practice, I still find myself voting against it a lot. Maybe it’s the neoliberal bastard in me, but in my ten-plus years in debate (and not without trying), I haven’t been able to conceptualize a coherent way of making the determination of how certain I am outside of cost-benefit analysis and evaluating unique opportunity costs. Topical, plan-focused debate appeals to me because it's the only form of comparison that I've encountered in debate thus far which allows me to make that determination as objectively and fairly as possible and which enables both sides to evaluate unique opportunity costs in a relatively equitable manner. While I could be persuaded that other such metrics exist, I think it would take quite a bit of work, and I'm much more persuaded by creative we meet/counter-interpretations (preferably that counter-define the words that the neg defines). For Ks on the neg, this means that more often than not unique links are the most influential factor in my decision calculus. Whichever side more persuasively articulates why things will be uniquely better or uniquely worse than the status quo/aff/whatever usually wins. Framework arguments that attempt to minimize the relevance of unique links are not persuasive to me. Ks that are able to explain why the world is made measurably worse by me voting aff, and have a framework argument that give me a metric by which I can measure how much worse, are very persuasive.
1. I’m skeptical of any totalizing theory of how the world/society/politics works. Saying that a counter-example to your theory is an exception that proves the rule or whatever just indicates to me that your theory lacks scholarly rigor. I prefer theories that direct me towards how to act/understand the world when I don’t have complete information about it, or how to determine which side's theory has more explanatory power when there are counter-examples to sort through from both sides.
2. Planless affs usually lose in front of me because of a disconnect between their impacts and what they claim to solve/how they claim to solve it. Proactively lowering that threshold as much as possible will go a long way for me. An easy way to do this is by explaining solvency/impact arguments in the context of me making a decision, not just what the 1AC offered.
3. I often vote neg in T debates because the aff fails to explain why debating the aff is valuable. Aff framework arguments that don’t explain the unique value of competition and negation are not persuasive; framework arguments that prioritize a role for competition/negation and the comparison of opportunity costs while attempting to use them in different ways than debate conventionally does are very persuasive to me.
4. This all said, "fairness is an intrinsic good" doesn't really make sense to me. Fairness isn't the intrinsic good of debate; contestation is.
5. I think that others should not suffer, that the cessation of mitosis is bad, and that contingent truth is possible and a better basis for action than nothing. If your K disagrees with any of these fundamental premises, I am a bad judge for it.
6. I don't get Ks of linear time. I get Ks of whitewashing, progress narratives, etc. I get the argument that historical events influence the present. I just don't get how any of those things are mutually exclusive with, and indeed how they don't also rely on, some understanding of linear time/causality. I think this is because I have a very particular understanding of what "linear time" means/refers to, which is to say that it's hard for me to disassociate that phrase with the basic concept of cause/effect and the progression of time in a measurable, linear fashion. This isn't as firm of a belief as #5; I can certainly imagine one of these args clicking with me eventually. This is just to say that the burden of explanation is much higher and you would likely be better served going for more plan-specific link arguments or maybe just using different terminology/including a brief explanation as to why you're not disagreeing with the basic premise that causes have observable effects, even if those effects aren't immediately apparent. If you are disagreeing with that premise, you should probably strike me, as it will require far longer than two hours for me to comprehend your argument, let alone agree with it.
7. Args about what another team did in another debate are not persuasive to me. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened, and there’s enough going on in the round at hand that I don’t feel compelled to make it my concern. Similarly, I will not vote for or against a team based on who they are--I vote based on arguments made, not who made them; random ad-homs against a debater or their schools aren't endearing and will probably lose you some speaker points. I really don't like homogenizing schools as all reading one specific type of argument; please don't do that in cross-x or speeches.
8. I'm not persuaded by "debate bad."
9. I do not know what the Iraq War is, nor do I know what the Vietnam War is, I have never heard of either of these events in my life, nor have I ever encountered any evidence of their existence, and in the context of debate they are fundamentally unpersuasive to me as examples, as it would take longer to explain to me what happened in these events than you have time for in a debate round
I've actually been doing a lot more policy research this year than in past years, though I still do a lot of K/K answer research and almost exclusively coach teams who are having K debate during tournaments. That said, a lot of the policy research I do centers on process CPs and impact turns; this does mean occasionally I’m less on top of the topic in policy debates than I wish I were. I’m good at picking up on the tricks in your argument if I understand the subject matter, but I might need a bit more hand-holding than other judges for your super-specific strats.
1. I'm not the best judge for most theory args as a reason to reject the team if the offending position is not in the 2NR (with the exception of conditionality, which is a context in which I fundamentally do not understand how I can reject the argument but not the team). In general, I tend to hold the 2AR to a high threshold for new arguments in theory debates that they usually do not meet, and I think the amount of time that would be required in the 1AR to avoid that threshold is almost universally better spent elsewhere. I'm much more persuaded by theory args about what happened in the debate than setting a model/precedent/whatever.
3. Apparently T against policy affs is no longer in style. Fortunately, I have a terrible sense of style. This resolution is very large, but in general, I think I'm better for the neg for T than (I guess) a lot of the pool; I wouldn't normally put myself in this place, but reading through some judge philosophies I find a lot of people who say they don't like judging T or don't think T debates are good, and I strongly disagree with that claim.
4. I think judge kick makes intuitive sense, but I won't do it unless I'm told to. That said, I also think I have a lower threshold for what constitutes the neg "telling me to" than most. There are some phrases that signify to me that I can default to the status quo by my own choosing; these include, but aren't necessarily limited to, "the status quo is always a logical policy option" and/or "counter-interp: the neg gets X conditional options and the status quo."
5. "Perm do both" is not an argument! Neither is "perm do the counterplan/alt!" I'm very easily persuaded by neg vagueness args against perms like these, and I've started voting neg in situations where I can imagine other judges voting aff because the perm was like 10-15 seconds in every speech starting from the 1AR. I hate giving decisions where I have to decide that because there's a perm, there must be some world in which the aff and counter-advocacy aren't competitive, even if I can't possibly explain what that world is. If the neg gives me reason not to, or the aff explains that world for me, I'll be much happier. This doesn't mean you have to write out full perm texts--and "perm do both" can be okay, as long as you say more than just that--the 2AC should include at least an explanation of what actor does what action when and how it's net beneficial.
6. I would gleefully welcome a nuanced, developed intrinsicness debate with substantive amounts of time invested starting in the 2AC.
A lost art.
Misc judging quirks:
· I don't think memes are funny.
· I usually take until decision time; I like to write out as much of my decisions as I can. Sorry for being thorough.
· I'm usually pretty expressive, especially when I'm not feeling an argument. I'm interested in making debates the best they can be--if you're confused about why I'm shaking my head for some reason during an argument, I think I'd be open to answering if you asked what you're doing wrong during the speech.
· You do you, but I rarely find myself persuaded by excessive posturing. I've always thought the debaters with the most ethos were those who kept above the fray and stayed cool, who had fun and treated their opponents with respect rather than trying to prove how much more they know.
· I have a lot of distaste for canned speeches. I notice this a lot more on the neg than on the aff, but if you're obviously reading pre-written stuff for the majority of your final rebuttal, you won't get very good points. I will subtract a full point for a 2NR/2AR that rereads significant portions of earlier speeches.
· Please don't make a big deal about reading a card that I cut in front of me. It's just kind of uncomfortable both for myself and the other team.