Raul Larsen ParadigmLast changed 2/12 6:13P EST
Email chains are a tangible improvement to debate. RLarsen at desidancenetwork dot org. You can read my entire paradigm for bolded passages, as you would a card. Pronouns are he/him/”Judge”. Flow paper is always appreciated and often needed; Affirmative should have speech doc ready to be emailed by round start time. Flight 2 should enter the room at Flight 2 start time.
(Long Version is for procrastinating non-debate work)
(Pre-round Prep/Deadline Preffing):
Debate is a group of people engaging in performances. The nature of those debate performances (including my role as a judge) is settled by the competitors in the round with arguments. My default as a policy judge is to believe that those performances regard policymaking and that plans (/counterplans/alts/advocacies) create worlds with real impacts I should calculate via fiat as the plan is executed. As an LD judge, I think the round is about pursuing philosophical reasons to affirm or negate the resolution, and impacting through the lens of the criterial structure. Any successful movement away from the default paradigm typically entails explaining why I, the judge, should interpret your speech time differently. Most people succeed in shifting my defaults, and would consider me a “tabula rasa” judge. Nearly all of my LD rounds look like solo Policy these days. I’m expressive while judging, and you should take advantage of that, and look for cues.
Clash happens through the lens of the ballot. The nature of how the ballot is to be considered is the framework flow, and that means that arguments like Kritiks might engage with T/Theory in some rounds and not others. This means I will vote for your take on burning down civil society in one round and vote you down on T in the next. More at the top of the long version below.
Negatives are currently going for too much in the 2NR, while dropping case. Affirmatives are currently spending too much time extending case while dropping world of the perm articulations.
Perms: I give the benefit of the doubt to the intuitive status of the permutation. I’m happy to vote against my intuition, but you need to lead me there (more below).
Tricks: If you go for this, impact the tricks out, as you would a dropped card. Slow down for the key line(s) in rebuttal speeches. Eye contact makes this strategy sustainable. Yes, Tricks rounds have '19-'20 ballots from me. No, it should not be your first move.
Topical Version of the Aff (TVA): Gotta read them, gotta answer them. Most of the rounds I vote for T are from a dropped interp or dropped TVA
Independent Voters: explain to me why the voter stands apart from the flow and comes first. Debaters are not consistently executing this successfully in front of me, so consider my threshold higher than average
No Risk: I do vote on no risk of the aff/plan doesn't solve. Terminal defense is still a thing
If you expect me to evaluate charts/graphics in your speech doc, give me time during the speech to read any graphics. It will otherwise only be a tie-breaker in evidence analysis
Uplayering: layers of debate often interact with each other; that they exist in separate worlds is not very compelling. Sequencing why I should analyze argument implications before others is the best way to win the layers debate.
While I recognize there's no obligation to share your analytics, the practice serves a good pedagogical benefit for those who process information in different ways. I will begin awarding +.3 speaker points for those speeches including all/nearly all analytics in the speech doc AND that are organized in a coherent manner.
Updated 2/12 Average Speaker Points '19 - '20 Season: 28.770
185 rounds judged for the season ('19-'20) going into Berkeley/Harvard, mixed LD and Policy
(good luck, get snacks)
I recognize that this is no longer a viable read between rounds. Because I continue to receive positive feedback for its detail, it will be kept up, but I do not have any expectation that you will memorize this for my rounds. Bold text is likely worth its time, though.
Long Version (Procrastinating Other Work/Season Preffing):
Role of the Ballot:
Framework debaters: if you think the debate space should be predictable and fair, you should articulate what education/fairness/pick-your-voter means to the activity and why the ballot of this particular round matters.
K debaters: if you think rhetoric and its shaping matters more than the policy impacts of the 1AC, you should articulate your world of the alt/advocacy/pick-your-impact in a way that allows me to sign the ballot for you.
Performance debaters: if you think the debate space is for social movements/resistance/pick-your-story, you should explain why your performance relates to the ballot and is something I should vote for. Ideal performance cases explain topic links or provide reasons they actively choose not to be topical.
Everybody else: you get the idea. Clash happens through the lens of the ballot. The nature of how the ballot is to be considered is the framework flow, and that means that arguments like Kritiks might engage with T/Theory in some rounds and not others. This means I will vote for your take on burning down civil society in one round and vote you down on T in the next.
The world is unfair. Fairness is still probably a good thing. We get education from winning, and from losing. Some topics are poorly written and ground issues might not be the fault of your opponent. For debaters pursuing excellence, traditional voters aren’t the end of the conversation. Argument context can be everything. Tech speak, fairness is an internal link more than it is an impact.
“Two ships passing in the night” is something we hear in approximately 143% of RFDs, and it’s almost always the most efficient way to sad faces, frustration, and post rounding. RESOLVE this by finding points of clash, demonstrating that your claims engage with the claims of your opponent in a way that is beneficial for you. Clash shows that you are aware that your opponent has ground, and your following that with an explanation of why that ground couldn’t possibly earn my ballot is very persuasive. A round without clash is a round left to the judge, and you don’t want to leave any argument, big or small, up to the discretion of the judge.
The preventable argument issue that most often shows up on my ballot is how the permutation functions. I give the benefit of the doubt to the intuitive status of the permutation. For example, I think it’s very easy to imagine a world where two separate policy actions are taken. I think it’s very hard to imagine a world in which Civil Society is ended and the 1AC still solves its harms through implementation. The former gets preference for the permutation making sense. The latter gets preference for exclusivity making sense. I’m happy to vote against my intuition, but you need to lead me there.
I flow on paper, because as a wise teacher (Paul Johnson) once (/often) told me: “Paper doesn’t crash.” This means I will NOT:
Flow your overview verbatim
Flow your underview verbatim
Flow your tags verbatim
But I WILL:
Follow the speech doc for author name spelling
Have no issues jumping around sheets as long as you signpost as you go
Still always appreciate another run through the order (if you don’t have the order, or you change it up, that’s O.K. Again, just sign post clearly)
Write in multiple colors (for individual speakers and notes)
Typically respond to body language/speech patterns and give you cues to what should be happening more or what should be happening less (furrowed brow + no writing usually means bad news bears. No writing, in general, means bad news bears)
I will keep the speech doc open on my computer, because it seems like a good idea to live the round as closely to the competitors’ experience as possible. However, it is YOUR job as a debater to COMMUNICATE to me the most important parts of your speech. 9 times out of 10 this means:
SLOW DOWN to emphasize big picture ideas that you use to contextualize multiple parts of the round. Let me know that you know it’s important. That level of awareness is persuasive.
TELL A STORY of the debate round. Are you winning? (the answer is almost always “yes”) Why are you winning? What are your winning arguments? Why do they demolish your opponent’s arguments into a thousand pieces of rubble that couldn’t win a ballot if you were unable to deliver any additional arguments?
WEIGH IMPACTS. Time frame/magnitude/probability. These are all great words that win debate rounds. There are other great words that also win rounds.
PRIORITIZE (TRIAGE) arguments. You don’t need to win all the arguments to win the debate. If you go for all the arguments, you will often lose a debate you could have won.
I’m still hearing this debated occasionally, but cross ex is binding. I flow it/take notes.
Flex Prep is alive and well in my rounds. You have an opportunity to ask further questions, but not a clear obligation to answer them. I also think it’s pretty fair that prep time can be used to just… prep.
If you ask me to call for evidence, you probably didn’t do a sufficient job presenting your cards during the round.
Rhetorical questions seem very clever as they’re conceived, but are rarely persuasive. Your opponent will not provide a damning answer, and your time would have been better spent working to make positive claims.
I tend to like policy arguments and performance more than philosophy-heavy kritiks because Ks often lose their grounding to the real world (and, it follows, the ballot). Policy arguments are claiming the real world is happening in the speeches of the round, and performance debate has had to justify its own existence for as long as it has existed, which makes it more practiced at role of the ballot. If you love your K and you think it’s the winning move, go for it! Just make sure to still find clash. Related: “reject” alts almost always feel like they’re missing something. Almost like a team without a quarterback, a musical without leads, a stage without performers.
Good links >>> more links
Good evidence >>>>> more evidence
Many definition interpretations are bad. Good definitions win [T] rounds.
Many framework card interpretations are bad. Every debater is better off reading the cards in the entirety at some point during their infinite prep, in order to better understand author intent.
My threshold for accepting politics disads as persuasive feels higher than the community average. I think it’s because probability is underrated in most politics disads.
Anything I believe is open to negotiation within the context of debate, but general truths have a much lower standard of proof (i.e. Debater 1 says “we are currently in Mexico.” Debater 2 counters “Pero estamos en Estados Unidos.” I consider the truth contest over at this point). The more specialized the knowledge, the higher the standard of proof.
Technical parts of the flow (T & Theory come to mind) can be really fast. I mentioned above that I’m writing by hand. You are always better off with -50% the number of arguments with +50% presentation and explanation to the remaining claims. Yes, I have your speech doc. No, I’m not doing your job for you. Communicate the arguments to me.
Debaters are made better by knowing how arguments evolve. There’s a reason a permutation is a “test of competition” (see: plan plus). Knowing the roots and growth of arguments will make you better at clash will make you better at debate will make you better at winning real, actual ballots.
My default is always to give an RFD, and to start that RFD with my decision. This will typically be followed by the winning argument(s). Ideally, the RFD should look suspiciously like the final rebuttal speech of the winning team.
I apologize for this paradigm becoming unreasonable in length.
Advice I give frequently enough to consume space on this infinitely long page that is now my paradigm:
Ships passing in the night/Clash wins rounds (see above)
Thanksgiving standard: if you can't explain why this argument is important to your Grandma during Thanksgiving dinner conversation, you probably need to keep reading the literature until you can contextualize to the real world. There's also a really good chance it won't win you the round.
At least try to live the advocacy you endorse. If you think coalition-building is the move, you shouldn’t be exclusionary without clear justification, and possibly not even then. The debate space is better for inclusion efforts.
It’s always to your advantage to use cross ex/prep to understand opposing arguments. Don’t realize after a rebuttal speech that your strategy was based on an incomplete understanding of your opponent(s) and their case.
It’s almost always worth your time to take a small amount of prep to sit back, breathe, and consider how you’re going to explain this round to your coach, debate-knowledgeable legal guardian, or friend-who-doesn’t-like-debate-but-supports-you-in-your-endeavors-because-they’re-a-good-friend. It’s an exercise that will tell you what’s important and help clear the clutter of speed, terminology, and tech.
This is also a good test for seeing if you can explain all the arguments using small words. I think the fanciest words I use in this paradigm are “verbatim” and “temporal proximity”. If you can’t explain your arguments in a simple, efficient manner, you need to keep reading.
It’s also almost always worth your time to take a moment, a sip of water, and a breath to collect yourself before a speech. Do this without excess and every judge you compete in front of will appreciate the generated composure and confidence in your ensuing speech.
Don’t start that speech with a million words a minute. Build to it. Double plus ungood habit if you forgot to check that everyone was ready for you to begin speaking.
I have never, not even once, in a decade+ of debate, heard a judge complain that author names were spoken too slowly.
Don’t take 5 minutes to flash a speech or to sort together a speech doc after you’re “done” prepping.
Your speech and prep time is yours to do with as you wish. Play music, talk loudly, play spades.
Opponent prep time is theirs to do with as they wish. That means you don’t get to play music intrusively (read: use headphones), talk intrusively, play spades intrusively, you get where this is going. This is one of the areas I think speaker points is very much at judge discretion.
If it’s not a speech and it’s not cross ex and neither team is running prep, you should not be prepping. Stealing prep is another area that I think leaves speaker points very much to judge discretion.
Don’t set sound alarms to the time you keep for your opponent’s speeches. Nobody ever, ever wants to hear the timer of the opponent go off before the speaker’s. I will keep time in 99% of debates, and if you’re wrong and cutting into their speech time, you’re losing speaker points.
I’m almost always down to give notes between rounds/after tournaments/via email on your performance in debate. Temporal proximity works in your favor (read: my memory has never been A1).
There are few things I love in this good life more than hearing a constructive speech that takes a new interpretation of an old idea and expands how I see the world. Writing your own arguments makes the time you invest in debate more worthwhile.
Spend some time teaching debate to others. Most things worth learning are worth teaching, and the act of teaching will give you an excellent perspective to arguments that have staying power in the community.
Lincoln-Douglas Debaters: A priori arguments can win rounds, but I’d rather see a debate where you win on substance than on a single line that your opponent dropped/misunderstood. If you’re going for a dropped analytic, impact it out in the 2R, as you would any other dropped card.
I feel like the rounds that end up being primarily the criterial debate typically indicate that the debaters could have done more to apply their arguments to the lens of their opponent’s criterion.
This space is for you. We don’t hold debate tournaments so that judges can sign ballots. You don’t spend hours/years preparing arguments and developing this skill because you just really want Tab Staffers to have something to do on the weekends. Mountains of money aren’t shifted so that we can enjoy the sweet, sweet pizza at the lunch hour. We’re here so that you can debate. Performance is about communicated intent, and debate is no exception. You can take anything out of that experience, but articulating your purpose walking into the round, even if only to yourself, will make you more persuasive.
Closing note: I typically think dialogue is the best way to educate, and that my role (at a bare minimum) is to educate the competitors following the round, through the lens of my decision and its reasoning. I will typically write a short Tabroom ballot and give as extensive a verbal RFD as scheduling permits/the students have asked all the questions they desire. The short version of this paradigm caused me physical pain, so that should indicate my willingness to engage in decision-making/pedagogical practices.
4 years high school LD/Extemp/PF
3 years college policy/parli/public
Coaching/teaching debate since 2009-ish
Writing Arguments by Allegory since 2013