Tyler Thur ParadigmLast changed 7/13 9:15A EDT
*Updated October 2018*
I debated for four years at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Go Packers/Brewers/Bucks! In college, I debated for four years at Michigan State University, earning three first round bids and a semifinals appearance at the NDT.
I taught at the SDI this summer, and I've researched both the college and high school topics. That said, any given debate can get in-depth quick, so you should be careful with acronyms/intricacies if you think that your strategy is really innovative or requires a deep understanding of your specific mechanism. Teams sometimes get so deep in the weeds researching their business that they forget to provide basic explanation for the argument's context/history/background. Instead, they jump into the most advanced part of the topic. If something is creative, that's an issue because it's likely the judge's first time hearing it.
Everyone says it and almost no one means it, but I think that you should debate what you care about/what interests you/what you're good at doing. In other words, put me in the "big-tent" camp. All of the stuff below is too long and shouldn't impact your debating (maybe besides the meta issues section). It really is just my thoughts (vs a standard), and is only included to offer insight into how I see debate.
META ISSUES/ABBREVIATED PHILOSOPHY/STRIKE CARD ESSENTIAL
1. Assuming equal debating, I'm *really* bad for the K on the neg/as planless aff. I find my self constantly struggling with questions in decision-time like: Does the neg ACTUALLY have a link to the plan's MECHANISM or even their SPECIFIC representations? What is the alternative? How does that advocacy change the extremely sweeping and entrenched problems identified in the 1NC/2NC impact evidence? If it's so effective, why doesn't it overcome the links to the plan? If the alt is just about scholarship/ethics/some -ology, how does that compare to material suffering outlined by the 1AC? In the end, when I vote negative on it/for planless affs, it's generally because the losing team dropped a techy ballot like ethics first, serial policy failure or we're a PIK. I normally don't like footnoting philosophies, but I love what Cody Crunkilton has to say when he comments that "I won't hold it against you if you like Ks, and am not going to feel like my time was wasted or you are destroying debate or anything - I am just genuinely very confused about how kritiks answer the aff" and that "it is possible to convince me otherwise, but the amount of work you will have to do will be so high that nineteen out of twenty times you would be better off doing something else."
2. College debate made me more oriented to tech than truth. In my experience as a debater and judge, ignorance of tech resulted in a callous dismissal of arguments as “bad” and increased judge intervention to determine what is “correct” instead of what was debated in-round and executed more effectively. That said, truth is a huge bonus, and being on the right side makes your task of being technically proficient easier because you can let logic/evidence speak a little for you.
3. Despite my inclinations to tech, I still care a lot about evidence quality (namely because it demonstrates hard work and provides some insight into the relative truth of arguments). This idea has a couple of implications: a strong analytical argument can defeat bad evidence, one good card is better than 5 meh ones, and part of my role in judging is comparing evidence *when it's contested/debated*
4. Every round could use more calculus and comparisons. The most obvious example of this thesis is with impact calc, but I think there are a laundry list of other examples like considering relative risk, quality of evidence, and author qualifications. As a format, any of these comparisons should have a reason why your argument is preferable, a reason why that frame is important, and a reason why your opponents’ argument is poor/viewed in a poor lens. In the context of impact calc, this framework means saying that your impact outweighs on timeframe, that timeframe is important, and that while your opponent’s impact might have a large magnitude, I should ignore that frame of decision-making. Engaging your opponents’ arguments on a deeper level and resolving debates is the easiest way to get good points. Beyond that, making a decision is functionally comparing each teams’ stance/evidence quality/technical ability on a few nexus questions, so if you’re doing this work for me you will probably like my decision a lot more than if I’m left to sort through a pile of cards.
5. I hold debaters to a high standard for making an argument. Any claim should be supported with a warrant, evidence and impact on my decision. Use early speeches to get ahead on important questions. For instance, I won’t dismiss something like “Perm do Both,” but I think the argument would be bolstered by a reason why the perm is preferable in the 2AC (i.e. how it interacts with the net-benefits) instead of saving those arguments for the 1AR/2AR. By the way, you should consider this point my way out in post-rounds where you're like "but I said X...It was right here!" For me, if something is important enough to win/lose a debate, you should spend a significant amount of time there, connect and make sure your claim is *completely* and *thoughtfully* warranted.
6. All debates have technical mistakes, but not all technical mistakes are equal or irreversible. Given those assumptions, the best rebuttals recognize flaws and make “even if” statements/explain why losing an argument does not mean they lose the debate. I think debaters fold too often on mistakes. Just because you dropped a theory argument doesn’t mean you cannot cross-apply an argument from another theory argument, politics or T to win.
7. I think offense-defense is a poor way to view debates as it can be an overly rigid while most issues are relative. Consequently I’m a decent judge for “terminal” defense and reasonability. Likewise, I’m not the best judge for arguments like CP Yes/No links to politics.
8. Favorite Critics (Not 100% match in ideology, ask if interested): Leah Moczulski, Eric Morris, Will Mosley-Jensen, David Cram Helwich, Jonathan Paul, and David Heidt. They all work hard judging debates, care about their role as educators, and offer detailed feedback every round. That's what I will try to do in the round.
9. Things people don't do enough:
a) Start with the title for their 1NC offcase positions (i.e. first off TPP)
b) Give links labels (i.e our "docket crowdout link" or "our bipart link"
c) Explain what their plan actually does - For instance (in college), how does the plan restrict executive authority? Who does it? What is the mechanism? What, specifically, is covered? I've decided that if the aff is vague to an egregious extent, I'll be super easy on the negative with DA links, CP competition, and T. Aff vagueness is also a link to circumvention and explains why fiat doesn't solve definitional non-compliance.
d) Call out new arguments - I don't have sympathy if you *wish* you said no impact in the 2AC. There are times that I wish it existed, but there isn't and can't be a 3AC. I will say that for mostly pragmatic reasons, I'm not to the point of reviewing every new 1AR argument. I'll protect the 2NR for the 2AR, but you have to do the work before that.
10. Random (likely to change) college topic thoughts:
a) ESR (when written with extra planks to create aff-specific internal restraints, spur public perception, and fiat out of practice-bad advantages) is an absolute monster. It would be really tough to get me on ESR theory in an equally-debated round, I think most affirmative evidence says that the aff's mechanism is good (not that it is necessary or that executive-action would not be sufficient), and I think most aff perception arguments about Trump tweeting/flip-flopping/lacking credibility take out the affirmative. I'm hoping that teams skip ahead to the part of the War Powers topic where affs had a practice AND authority advantage (even if it's imperfect against the squo) instead of just a bunch of arguments why tariffs/treaty exit/surveillance/etc are bad.
b) The negative state action part of this topic will likely make it very difficult to win K links (sans legalism/Rana-type stuff). As always, negative specificity matters. In the end, you have to explain why the affirmative's particular action/scholarship/reps are problematic
c) The "Trumper" is both overrated and underrated. In terms of it applied to solvency/open non-compliance, expect that the aff will get leeway with durable fiat/implementation is robust. Given that approach, it's a non-starter. In terms of it applied to advantages, I would be worried. If you read climate/free trade/relations, you just need some specific twist OR great evidence that Trump will backdown.
d) Be careful your UQ CP doesn't overwhelm the link to your DA. Sometimes the neg goes a bit too far.
e) There doesn't seem to be a very good topic DA. Trump's bad, spillover links lose to thumpers (or just no spillover), and Yoo and friends are still war criminals. Given that, I imagine I'll be better for signal/politics/midterms-based DAs than prez powers, etc.
Planless affirmatives – The affirmative would ideally have a plan that defends action by the United States federal government (Least important). The affirmative should have a direct tie to the topic. In the context of the college resolution, this means you would have a defense of restricting executive authority on one of the topic areas (Pretty important). The affirmative MUST defend the implementation of said "plan" - whatever it is (MOST important). While I will NOT immediately vote negative on T or “Framework” as a procedural issue, if you don’t defend instrumental implementation of a topical plan *rooted in the resolutional question*, you will be in a tough spot. I’m especially good for T/Framework if the affirmative dodges case turns and debates over the question if presidential restrictions are good or bad. In particular, I am persuaded by arguments about why these affirmatives are unpredictable, under-limit the topic, and create a bad heuristic for problem solving (though procedural > political offense especially given Trump). Short version is that you can do you and there is always a chance I’ll vote for you, but I’m probably not an ordinal one for teams that don’t want to engage the resolutional question.
I do want to say that at tournaments with relaxed prefs, I will do my absolute best to keep an open mind about these assumptions. That shouldn't be read as "Thur says he's open to our planless aff - let's move him up to push down 'policy' people." It should be read as if I come up at one of these tournaments, you might as well do what you're most comfortable with/what you've practiced the most instead of over-adapting.
Critiques—Honestly, just read the first point in the "meta issues" section. I understand neolib/deterrence/security pretty well because they were a big part of my major. If you want to push against my confusion on the K (as a concept), you need to have specific links to the plan’s actions, authors, or representations. Again, trying to be honest, if you're itching to say Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, death good, etc., I'm not your guy. On framework, the affirmative will almost surely be able to weigh their 1AC (unless they totally airball), and I'm pretty hesitant to place reps/scholarship/epistemology before material reality. One other thing - substitute out buzzwords and tags for explanation. Merely saying "libidinal economy" or "structural antagonism" without some evidence and explanation isn't a win condition.
In terms of being affirmative against these arguments, I think that too often teams lose sight of the easy ballots and/or tricks. The 1AR and 2AR need to “un-checklist” those arguments. In terms of disproving the critique, I think I’m pretty good for alternative fails/case outweighs or the permutation with a defense of pragmatism or reformism. Of those 2 - I'm best for your alt does nothing...we have an aff...
Case- I’m a huge fan. With that, I think that it’s very helpful for the neg (obviously?). I believe that no matter what argument you plan to go for, (excluding T/theory) case should be in some part of the 2nr. In the context of the critique, you can use case arguments to prove that the threats of the 1AC are flawed or constructed, that there are alternative causes to the affirmative that only the alternative solves, or that the impacts of the affirmative are miniscule and the K outweighs. For CPs, even if you lose a solvency deficit, you can still win because the net benefit outweighs the defended affirmative. Going for case defense to the advantage that you think the CP solves the least forces me to drop you twice as I have to decide the CP doesn’t solve AND that the case impact outweighs your net-benefit. That seems like a pretty good spot to be in.
CP- My favorite ones are specific to the 1AC with case turns as net benefits. Aside from that, I think that I am more inclined than most to vote aff on the perm when there is a trivial/mitigated net benefit vs. a smallish solvency deficit, but in the end I would hope you would tell me what to value first. I had a big section written up on theory, and I decided it's too round-dependent to list out. I still think that more than 2 conditional positions is SUPER risky, functional > textual competition, competition is dictated by mandates and not outcomes (i.e. CPs that are designed to spur follow-on are very strategic), judge kick is good, consult/condition/delay/threaten generally suck, and interpretations matter A LOT.
Topicality- I default to reasonability, but I can be convinced that Competing Interpretations is a decent model. The negative does not need actual abuse, but they do need to win why their potential abuse is likely as opposed to just theoretical. That is, I'll be less persuaded by a 25-item case list than a really good explanation of a few devastating new affirmatives they allow. If I were to pick only one standard to go for, it would be predictable limits. They shape all pre-round research that guides in-round clash and ensure that debates are dialogues instead of monologues. Finally, as a framing point, I generally think bigger topics = better.
They're totally broken. I'll try to follow the below scale based on where points were at GSU.
29.3 to 29.6 – Speaker Award - 1 to 10
29.1 to 29.2 – Speaker Award - 11 to 25
28.8 to 29 – Should break/Have a chance
28.5 to 28.7 – Outside change at breaking to .500
28.1 to 28.4 – Not breaking, sub-.500
27 to 28 – Keep working
Below 26 – Something said/done warranting a post-round conversation with coaches