Scott Woods Paradigm

Last changed 24 April 2019 1:42 PM MST

I am the Scott Woods who teaches and coaches at BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona. There are others. For instance, I am not the slam poet Scott Woods (although I enjoy his work), so if you try a slam poetry case because you think that your judge is a pretty famous slam poet, you will probably be disappointed by the ballot.

About me: I teach middle school English and high school speech and debate. I competed in interp and platform events in college. I'm a Scoutmaster, a Republican, and I go to church regularly. Many people who know me don't believe that I am as conservative as I think I am.

I want the debate round to be for the benefit of the debaters. I have been coaching and judging debate for several years, mostly in PF, but some LD. I also judge policy rounds occasionally. I've judged at the TOC twice and at NSDA Nationals twice. When I judge on a panel, my decision is often different from the majority, possibly because my judging skills are so refined and subtle, or maybe for other reasons that escape me.

I think of debate as an educational game that should be fun, challenging, and life changing for the good. I don't like sneaky approaches to debate, tricks, or unsportsmanlike behavior. I especially don't like anything that attempts to achieve an unfair advantage over an opponent. Among the behaviors I don't like to see are spreading, because it seeks to gain a time advantage by squeezing more content in the given time, forcing one's opponent either to spread or to be disadvantaged, because it makes debate into a ridiculous exercise (and I consider making good things appear ridiculous in order to achieve personal gain to be bad form), and because it is aesthetically unpleasant (and I consider intentional ugliness inflicted on others to be bad form). Also, if you spread I won't flow as much, won't understand as much, and won't believe you as much. If both teams spread, then I'll just have to guess at who won, which is very likely something that you don't want me to do. Please speak in a clear, persuasive voice at a reasonable public debate speed, and be sure to point out when the other side is spreading, show the harms, then show why they should lose on that. I'll probably buy it.

If your debate strategy includes using tactics that have the effect of giving you an unfair advantage over your opponent, your chances of winning will go down. Your arguments should give you the advantage, not your sneaky approach, your hidden claims, your abusive framework, or your tricky wording. Again, call out your opponent's sneakiness. This is especially fun and elegant in an LD round when your opponent values morality, justice, fairness, etc., and you call them out for violating standards of morality, justice, or fairness.

I prefer clear, well-reasoned arguments that are logically valid and well supported by warrants and evidence. I also value impacts. Show me magnitude and probability. I will evaluate these by taking on the stance of an intelligent person who is well educated, open minded, and not a fool. If you read a card but don't put it into the context of a clear argument, then I won't care about it. You have to use evidence to support your warranted arguments. Your cards are your evidence. I hear many LDers giving lengthy quotes of dense philosophy, without contextualizing the quoted speech. I would much prefer that you summarize the entire argument of the philosopher clearly, briefly, and accurately, rather than quoting some paragraph that seems to support your interpretation. I almost never buy appeals to authority. If you say that Philosopher X says Y, therefore Y is true, I will probably not believe you. Feel free to call your opponent on this.

Since I think that debate is a worthwhile activity that can positively shape the character of youth, I value having fun and being nice. I don't want to spend an hour or so with people who are being mean to each other. Let's have fun and enjoy the round.

I won't leave my knowledge, training, or prejudices at the door, mainly because I can't (if I were truly tabula rasa, I would be an infant or an imbecile). Instead, I'll try to be aware of them and limit the impact of my own opinions or knowledge on the debate. If you don't make the argument, I will try not to make it for you. You must do all the work in the debate. I will, however, apply my knowledge of effective argumentation and the "reasonable man" test to the arguments in the debate. If you give me a weighing method and a clear path to signing the ballot for you, your chances of winning the round go up. Please understand that I will fail to leave behind my biases, assumptions, prejudices, etc. This is a feature of being human. We can't control the processes of our thought very well, and we are largely unaware of what guides and controls our thinking. Your job as a debater is to make these biases, assumptions, and prejudices irrelevant against the overwhelming power of your arguments. Good luck.

Please understand that I will likely be judging you after having taught children all day or having traveled a long distance and slept poorly. I will probably not be at my best. This is true for many of your judges. You should consider taking this into account when you write your cases and make your arguments. After you lose a round that you think you should have won, don't complain about the stupid judge. Instead, consider what you could have done differently to compensate for that judge not being at his or her cognitive best. That's your responsibility. I don't want to think during a round. Thinking is hard. It's not my job. I often disappoint debaters when I am required to think. Your job is to pre-think the round for me, better than your opponent does. The team that does this best will win.

It's up to the round to decide on the framework. If your framework is abusive or unreasonable, I'll drop it and favor your opponent's analysis, especially if your opponent calls it out as such. I prefer realistic frameworks that generously look at the resolution as though the debate were really a public forum (even in LD) for discussing an important issue. I also prefer realistic arguments that are accessible to the public.

It bothers me when debaters don't know their case because someone else wrote it, they haven't researched the topic, or they are just using the cards that came with the briefs without trying to understand the bigger picture. This become a problem when debaters misinterpret cards or philosophers they don't understand. If your opponent calls you on your card and disputes what it means, then I will call for the card at the end of the debate and make my own judgment. I don't want to do this for a number of reasons, mainly because I don't want to do the work that you should be doing. That being said, I know a lot about many subjects, so if I think that you are misinterpreting a card, I may call for it, even if your opponent has not called you out on it. I don't like to do this, but I also don't like misinterpreted or false cards to affect a round, and I don't expect high school students to have comprehensive knowledge of the world. If I think that your card was misinterpreted, then I will drop the argument it supports.

Please do the work for me. Make it easy for me to decide who wins. Tell the story of the round. Be organized on the flow in your rebuttals.

If your opponent calls for a card, they may continue to prep while you search for it, without that time counting against their prep. This is the procedure at the TOC, which I particularly like because it doesn't add any time to the round, but encourages teams to provide their opponents with the cards they ask for in a timely manner. If you don't have the card, and the context surrounding it, then I will drop the argument that is supported by the card. If your card clearly says something other than what you say it does, I will very likely vote for the other side. Please don't misrepresent your evidence.

Regarding policy debate: Every round that I have judged in policy debate has come down to judge adaptation. Whoever adapts best to my limitations as a judge (see above) will likely win the round (or, if you prefer, my ballot). My recommendation is that policy debaters should have two cases: one that they normally run and another that they write for judge adaptation. Debaters should also practice adaptation whenever they can, making sure that their arguments are comprehensible (at a minimum) and convincing (this should be the target) to normal, educated people.

Full Judging Record

Tournament Lv Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result
Arizona District Tournament HS 2021-03-18 PF R7 525 514 Pro Pro 3-0
Arizona District Tournament HS 2021-03-18 PF R3 527 533 Con
Arizona District Tournament HS 2021-03-18 PF R2 532 504 Pro
Arizona District Tournament HS 2021-03-18 PF R1 503 528 Pro
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 HS 2021-02-25 PF-MSO Quarte Potomac MK Bergen County OK Pro Pro 2-1
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 MS 2021-02-25 PF-MSN R6 Winston Churchill MV American Debate League YL Pro
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 MS 2021-02-25 PF-MSN R5 Young Genius, Bay Area CH LRMS Debaters PG Pro
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 HS 2021-02-25 PF-MSO R4 Potomac LT Kugnus ACTS BS Pro
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 MS 2021-02-25 PF-MSN R3 American Debate League MZ Winston Churchill DM Pro
Lakeland Westchester Classic 2021 HS 2021-02-25 PF-MSO R1 Kugnus ACTS GB Potomac GW Pro
Mesa High School Jackrabbit Jamboree HS 2021-02-04 NPF R4 44 Madullapalli & Houle 29 Patibandla & Pandit Con
Mesa High School Jackrabbit Jamboree HS 2021-02-04 VPF R3 57 Nguyen & St. Louis 01 Zhang & Sinha Pro
Mesa High School Jackrabbit Jamboree HS 2021-02-04 VPF R2 41 Parau & Yousuf 07 Patel & Bauer Pro
Mesa High School Jackrabbit Jamboree HS 2021-02-04 VPF R1 41 Kanyal & Ramisetty 24 Rumsey & Berg Pro
Villiger 41 HS 2020-11-19 NPF Semis Regis PS Cary XJ Pro Pro 2-1
Villiger 41 HS 2020-11-19 BT Test Ballot Test NE Ballot Test TT Neg Aff 82-50
Mtn View Toro Country Classic TOC Congress NIETOC Qualifier HS 2020-11-13 VPF Quarte CH Nagasubramanian & Tallapragada BY Korzay & Marks Con
Mtn View Toro Country Classic TOC Congress NIETOC Qualifier HS 2020-11-13 NPF R3 BH Choudhury & Vo CS Nakai & Ebbert Pro
Mtn View Toro Country Classic TOC Congress NIETOC Qualifier HS 2020-11-13 NPD R3 AS Mohapatra & Verma AE Nona Dinamoni & Shams Aff
Mtn View Toro Country Classic TOC Congress NIETOC Qualifier HS 2020-11-13 NPF R1 AZ Jeon & Gandikota AT Vakkalanka & Kannappan Con
Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2020-10-30 VPF R2 Mississippi School For Mathematics and Science WY Hunter KG Pro
Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2020-10-30 VPF R1 Lexington HC Cary Acad ZN Con
Beyond Resolved National Classic HS 2020-06-10 OPF Prelim Ardrey Kell RS Bonita Vista DR Aff Aff 2-0
Beyond Resolved National Classic MS 2020-06-10 OPF Prelim Blake EX Portsmouth SP Aff Aff 2-0
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2020-01-10 NPF QF Hamilton CD Durham WS Con Con 3-0
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2020-01-10 VPF 2x Riverside STEM SG Clark SA Con Pro 2-1
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2020-01-10 VPF 2x Gunn Sr BK Valley International Prep GT Con Con 3-0
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 BQ R14 Q105 Q164 Neg Aff 5-2
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R8 N322 N155 Con Pro 2-1
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R8 N344 N349 Con Con 2-1
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R2 N148 N260 Pro Pro 2-0
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R2 N318 N123 Pro Pro 2-0
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R1 N173 N193 Pro Pro 2-0
National Speech and Debate Tournament HS 2019-06-17 PF R1 N297 N245 Pro Pro 2-0
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS Runoff Bronx Science KS Westlake YL Pro Pro 2-1
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R7 New Horizons SG Dublin Jerome KT Con
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R6 Flintridge Prep NH Research Triangle KH Con
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R5 Nueva TR William P Clements CH Con
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R4 Westridge WO Saratoga SS Pro
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R3 Fairmont Prep AP Mission San Jose MC Con
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R2 Coral Academy DO Dipont TC Pro
Tournament of Champions HS 2019-04-27 PFS R1 Highland NS Strake Jesuit DC Con
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF Semi BASIS Peoria RP BASIS Phoenix MK Aff Aff 3-0
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF Octo Fremont Christian NW Phoenix Country Day PM Aff
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF R6 Hamilton VS BASIS Peoria PK Aff
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF R5 Tucson LL Brophy NO Neg
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF R4 BASIS Peoria LG Corona Del Sol HM Aff
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 NPF R2 Desert Vista SW Hamilton RB Con
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 NPF R2 Hamilton TM River Valley AH Pro
SWSDASU Invitational HS 2019-03-01 VPF R1 BASIS Phoenix MK Brophy RH Aff
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2018-01-05 NPF 2x Westridge OdMu BASIS Chandler SI Con Con 2-1
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2018-01-05 NPF 2x Grantsville SW Hamilton AG Pro Pro 2-1
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2018-01-05 VLD R2 Palo Alto AH Tucson SS Aff
Arizona State HDSHC Invitational HS 2018-01-05 VLD R2 Mission San Jose MS Park City HS TS Neg
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R6 St. Francis GD Hawken DK Con
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R6 Leland LT Catalina Foothills CA Pro
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R5 Grantsville SC Bronx HS Of Science CK Pro
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R5 Albuquerque NV Nueva TC Pro
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R4 Davis BZ Leland HW Pro
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R4 St. Francis VG South Anchorage AS Pro
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R3 Riverside STEM Ge Carlsbad TH Con
Arizona St Hugh Downs School of Human Comm Invitational HS 2017-01-05 VPF R3 La Cueva LL Dougherty Valley LN Pro
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2016-01-07 VLD Double El Cerrito CD Layton ZB Neg Aff 2-1
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF Qtr Durham DY Walt Whitman AA Pro Con 2-1
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF Oct St. Francis VD Pine View BS Pro Con 2-1
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF R7 St. Francis VD Horace Mann HS Pro
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF R4 Stow-Munroe Falls GK Mission San Jose WS Pro
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF R2 Princeton MO Lake Highland Prep SB Pro
Tournament of Champions HS 2015-04-25 PF R1 Myers Park AT University GB Pro
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD Finals Los Alamos KD Perry MB Neg Aff 2-1
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD Qrtrs Los Alamos KD Cleveland TH Aff Aff 3-0
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD 2x Catalina Foothills JC Hamilton NG Neg Aff 2-1
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD 2x Catalina Foothills MQ Hamilton FK Neg Neg 2-1
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R6 Palo Verde HT Foothill JK Aff
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R6 South Anchorage ZM Salpointe Catholic AG Aff
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 PFD R5 Chaparral WM Los Alamos MD Con
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 PFD R5 Fairmont Preparatory DI Catalina Foothills BN Pro
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R3 Chandler ZS Hamilton RC Neg
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R3 Catalina Foothills MQ Scottsdale Preparatory CB Neg
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R1 Perry SL South Anchorage FN Aff
Southwest Championship at Arizona State HS 2015-01-08 NLD R1 Gilbert Classical JC Horizon GB Aff
Tournament of Champions HS 2014-04-26 PF R4 Milpitas Pa Presentation AS Neg
Tournament of Champions HS 2014-04-26 PF R1 Harker DM American Heritage Delray TT Aff