18th annual Val A Browning Round Robin

2014 — UT/US

Teddy Albiniak Paradigm

Some tidbits to consider, no particular order:

I try to make decisions based on criteria established by debaters. If none are offered, I will rely on my knowledge of convention, style, and execution to guide me. What that means - I am equally likely to vote for a good thought experiment or critical intervention, as I am a traditional policy proposal. That being said, I have a higher threshold for what counts. Asserted risk calculus is as unappealing as unapplied critical jargon.

Mediocre debaters copy others. Good debaters advance arguments. Great debaters persuade.

Don’t assume I know what you are talking about

I prefer organization and development of arguments as the debate proceeds. That means: 
Details matter. Warrants matter. Cross-ex matters. History matters. 

Evidence matters when a claim is contested. "We have a card" is not a warrant for an argument. How one chooses to highlight evidence should be of relevance to you, but it is especially relevant to me.

Argument "type" is not extremely relevant to me - select the arguments that you are prepared for rather than those that you think I agree with. I obviously have preferences but am interested in seeing how you make sense of the activity, not with advancing my agenda.

I think the activity is at its best when rounds are serious and complex investigations of policy, philosophy, and politics based in literatures and discussions made relevant by and to the resolution. 

That means I am less likely to care about miniscule theory debates or certain kinds of performances until/unless their relevance is clearly explained and impacted. Then, it's awesome.

I like:

case debates

disadvantage impacts that focus on early internal link claims and less on terminal impacts

affirmatives that affirm things

consistent but tricky negative strategies

counter plans with solvency advocates and real net benefits


some relation to reality, even if contested


serious theoretical objections, including topicality

Everyone is always learning - including me and you.

Travis Cram Paradigm

Travis Cram

Director of Debate, Western Washington University

Years Judging: several

Email chain/contact: traviscram@gmail.com

NDT 2020 Update.

I have zero rounds on the space topic. I suggest you use your supplemental strikes accordingly. Otherwise, read on:

1. Seriously, I have no rounds on this topic. De-acronym things if you can.

2. I recently suffered mild hearing loss in one ear. It hasn't affected my ability to process speed, but if you act like a couple of jackwagons in CX and just talk over each other, I won't be able to understand you. It turns into garbled noise. To be fair, it was garbled noise before the hearing loss. One at a time please...

3. I'm a better than average judge. I flow, pay (too much) attention to CX, I read relevant cards (but not the speech doc in real-time). I don't care about what arguments you make or what you go for. I am committed to working hard, giving every debater a fair shake, and communicating my decision to you so you can improve, grow, and win debates later.

4. I do not see judging a debate like studying a wiring diagram. I don't think debate is about making lists, checking them off, making new lists, checking them off, etc. Every debate is different; that is why we keep having them. Tell me what I need to know. Tell me why I should believe it. Tell me why it matters and what I should do with it. Tell me why and how your opponent is failing to do those things.

5. Policy debate is really struggling right now and we are all much better at plunging knives into each other in search of blame than we are accepting some common responsibility for improving things. Please take any opportunity in front of you to make the debate you are having a better one, and less of a toxic, frustrating, draining, sludge.

Here are my top unpopular opinions about debate, to really scare you away:

1. "Having offense" is not axiomatic, or even helpful.

2. Full-bore worldview conditionality has made debate worse by nearly every measure. And yet I expect it will continue.

3. I cannot understand for the life of me why the debate community agreed to dramatically revise what it means to be affirmative, and yet not touch the burden of rejoinder.

4. I don't think a single one of you understands what an opportunity cost is.

5. Debate is not about truth seeking. The best thing about debate is that it shows you how far from the truth you are at any moment.

Here is all my old stuff:

NDT 2015

One big substantive revision: I’m a terrible judge for the “floating pic.” My voting record for them is roughly 2-6. The phrase “which means it is logically possible to vote negative” could just as easily mean “which means it is logically possible I could make an actual argument, but I am not going to.” If you like this argument, “sink” a little in the block and explain why it solves advantages and is congruent with the links that you go for in the last rebuttal.

Two slight philosophical revisions: Despite the frustration I often have with debate, I’m still fundamentally a fan of the game. I encourage anyone down on debate to try teaching. And I don’t mean “be an educator.” Get in front of a classroom and work with a group of students and realize how lucky we are to have so many students who care at all to find their voice and make an argument. However, although my perspective or method of judging hasn’t changed, two things related to “debate about debate” have been on my mind.

First, every debate I’ve judged contains a set of assumptions about what the activity we are involved in IS and what that activity is capable of accomplishing. When those assumptions are the terms of the debate, I find many arguments made to be unpersuasive. So let me foreground my own assumptions to help make your arguments more compelling. This quote from Rowland (1987) has always resonated with me: “Academic debate is a poor means of making policy or testing science, but a very good means of teaching the argument skills necessary to perform in those fields.” Of course, that statement needs updating. Academic debate is also a poor means of academic research. Our various filters and constraints distort too much and leave too much out. Our “scholarship” is oftentimes a wordy literature review. It is also a very poor means of evaluating policy or understanding risk. Cases and disadvantages say little about the collective action dilemmas, institutional cultures, resource limits, or contextual constraints that inhere in decision-making. Despite the limitations, debate is an excellent means of cultivating the faculties necessary to excel in any of these endeavors. Rowland again: “Through dialectical interchange, debate teaches students to discover, build, test, and refute arguments.” What is the upshot of all of this? I think debate matters a lot. And I think the reason it matters is because it teaches students how to argue. Thus, I prioritize “debate frameworks” that seek to teach students how to argue well.

Second, I am troubled by debate’s recent “substantialist” turn wherein the threshold for argumentative engagement is to read specific evidence against an opponent’s argument while topicality or theory arguments are dismissed as “dodging” the debate. Placing procedural arguments beyond the pale makes little sense to me. Debate is a game of arguments. Arguments consist of a claim, grounds for believing it, and the reasoning that connects those two. A well-reasoned explanation about what debate practices should be, when supported with plausible examples, makes a helluva lot more sense than “substantive engagement” with evidence that bears zero relationship to competitive debate other than at the level of basic vocabulary. Moreover, if debate is a game best left to the students, it seems fairly obvious that that should also entail giving students the freedom to argue over the game’s procedure. The upshot? Topicality makes more sense to me than framework. Debate theory matters, and it can matter a lot if done well.

My previous philosophy follows:

Big picture things:

- There’s not a ‘right way’ to debate other than to communicate or argue well. That said, in terms of that whole K/policy divide thing (if it is a thing), I think there is a major educational benefit to finding a way to affirm a topic that doesn’t devolve into just impact-turning framework. Basically, the following two statements are equally unpersuasive: “It is unethical to affirm the topic.” “Policy-making is the only relevant consideration.”

- Debate is a lot of things to me, but I privilege its communication and argumentation aspects ahead of others. That has pretty big implications depending on your interpretation of ‘I said that’...

- Specificity is my god-term in debate. The more specific at every level, the more likely I am to be persuaded by it.

- Debaters make arguments using evidence; evidence does not make arguments. The claims or verbiage of a card are less important to me than the reasons provided by you or the author for believing it.

- I don’t have a formula or an algorithm; last rebuttals should articulate the world they are going for. Saying something is 'logically possible' is not the same as defending the status quo as a policy, or actually making a floating pic.

- The affirmative has the Burden of Proof to overcome presumption. The team advancing an individual argument has the burden of proof to advance a complete argument. If the significance of that distinction is unclear to you, ask and I can happily explain.

- High speaker points: demonstrating specific knowledge, identifying crux questions, dynamic warrant comparisons (even if, because), explanatory clarity (esp. in 2nr/2ar), humor and civility, clarity, and proficiency at line-by-line execution. I also have soft-spots for teams that are risk-takers, scrappy, or willing to impact turn some stuff.


- All interpretations must be reasonable. Negatives need to win a real impact to T, not just that debate could be better or simply go for ‘our violation is more precise’. Affirmatives need to have a real impact to excluding their plan that doesn’t rely on impact turning T as genocidal or calculative.

Theory & Counterplan competition:

- Theory arguments are best when the link and impact are both things the negative did, not necessarily what they justified. Elaboration and pen-time can make these arguments very viable.

- I am generally suspicious of any CP that either: logically allows for the entire aff’s mandate to occur in some world; doesn’t compete off of an explicit stance taken in the plan or 1ac; does not contain a solvency advocate that assumes every level of fiat/mandate the CP engages in.

- I am highly unlikely to reject any counterplan that has ALL of the following: a comprehensive solvency advocate; excludes part of the affimative’s explicit mandate; uses the same actor as the plan.

- Conditionality as it concerns counterplans that don’t do the plan in anyway is good. Conditionality as it concerns the negative doing any and everything under the sun is very questionable.


- I love them. I love them even more when the cards are good and the link is strong. Still not signing up for the cult of uniqueness. The phrase ‘uniqueness determines the direction of the link’ is at best nonsense and at worse an excuse for having a crappy disadvantage.

- This is the area where evidence quality and specificity are often the most important. This is also the area where these questions are often the least debated.

- Most 'turns the case' arguments are not turns but are solvency take-outs or mitigators. If you have all of the components of a turn, by all means argue it like a turn. If you don't, I think you'd be better off arguing that it is a solvency take-out, which should prompt you to find some external offense or the aff will likely win a classic try or die frame to their advantage.


- I find sanctimonious indignation annoying, no matter who it comes from. Yes, they read a K. Get over it. Yes, they impact turned your K. Get over it.

- The following two statements are equally absurd: “the ethical/methodological underpinnings of the aff are irrelevant.” “the consequences/outcomes of enacting the aff are irrelevant.”

- I think that a specific critique of the affirmative is a negative response that has its place in debate. Topicality creates bigger barriers to whether philosophical approaches have their place on the aff side of the topic.

- ‘Method/ontology/ethics first’ type arguments only raise the level of play to encompass those considerations as relevant variables; it still invites another set of debating by both sides to either defend or indict specific methodologies as broken or valuable. Thus, ‘they concede method first’ doesn’t create a side constraint on my flow like it may for other judges.

- I find assertions about what the role of the ballot is or should be to be pretty silly and arbitrary, frankly. I think instead you should interpret what DEBATE is (what type of activity is it and what is its function) in an empirical sense as a way of framing arguments.

- Critical debate is where the likelihood that I will not vote on an argument simply because I don’t understand it is the highest.

Miscellaneous- here’s some random crap you may or may not find interesting:

- Negotiated impact turn debates are awesome. Try it sometime.

- Have a timer and don’t steal prep.

- Levity is a virtue. At the end of the day, debate is absurd and it makes little sense to let its pressures rule your emotions or behavior. Be willing and able to laugh at yourself above all else and keep a healthy dose of perspective even when the round gets heated. Let me underscore that. Don’t be a jerk. Being good at debate doesn’t excuse you from being a terrible human being.

Izak Dunn Paradigm

I feel that a new tabbing website calls for a new judge philosophy.  That, and my other one was about to start kindergarten, so...  

Some things have changed, some things have stayed the same.  Looking back on my old philosophy, I could tell that it was the scribbles of youth and over-exuberance.  There were many foundations that I would have liked to shake with that little document, but it is a rare occurance that anything written changes anything acted.  And such a poorly written little document at that! 

Some things you should know about me: I'm a philosophy guy.  I've done all of my formal academic training in philosophy and the history of philosophy, and debate plus a few classes on the side are all I have in communications studies training.  I tend to think that fact-value and fact-theory distinctions are bogus in practice but conceptually useful.  So, for example, against an "ontology comes first" argument, I would much rather hear a defense of your ontology rather than an argument about why ontological questioning should subside in the face of mass death.  Despite all this, I am a believer in the incommensurability of theories (paradigms?), so make your comparisons relevant--I'm a big sucker for elegance on this front.

I'm not big on offense-defense, especially on debate theory arguments.  Thus I'm not particularly happy when someone banks a debate on "any risk of a _____" impact calculi.  I'll vote on we-meets, too.  Even worse than this quirk in the way I evaluate the logos of your claims is the fact that I'll let the ethos and pathos of your speeches play into my decision.  I will let myself be "persuaded" by arguments, and though this sounds unfair, I think it is better that I am up-front about it rather than in denial.  As much as anyone tries to exclude them, these factors play a role in every decision.

I no longer default to flowing you in paragraphs in Word.  I used to do this because I thought that it would help me see through the way that the line-by-line obfuscates larger narratives and commitments in the debate round.  Not a lot of people do the line by line effectively anymore, and I feel that this obscures larger issues in a debate round in a more fundamental way (bad line by line outweighs dangers of line by line-centrism).  So now I'm out to help you figure out how to make the line by line work for you.

I will time your prep until the flash drive is out of your computer.

I will not disclose my decision until you update your wiki.

Without getting into too many specifics, I think that this pretty much covers what might make me different from the majority image of a policy debate critic.  I would much rather discuss concerns or questions you have about the way I'll evaluate debates with you in person, so please feel free to approach me or email me questions.



New Pet Peeve (10/14/2012)

2ac says various things about the alternative throughout their speech.  In the block, you say "Now onto the Alternative debate" and just say a bunch of stuff about the alternative.  "Embedding" clash is not an excuse to forego comparison between arguments, and not going to the line by line is not license to not talk about your opponent's arguments.  If this is your style of debate, you'd better make sure you are EXTENDING arguments (i.e., comparing them, arguing for them, deploying and employing them) as opposed to REPEATING the constructive that happened before you spoke.

If you do this in front of me, I'm going to set a very high bar for your speaker points.  If you do not actually embed clash, you will not receive more than 27 points from me.

Not all of you are ready to "do" embedded clash.  In fact, you've got to be pretty good at making discriminations about the line by line before you can decide on what does and does not count as a responsible or responive argument--in a way, it's a prerequisite to doing competent embedded clash.

Point Inflation Adjustment (11/8/2013)

After reading a lot about speaker points this year, I realize that I am way behind the times regarding point inflation.  When I was a debater, "competent and winning" was a fast way to get a 27.5, which wasn't bad (wasn't great, but wasn't bad either).  If I were "competent and losing", I usually got a 27 or a 27.5.  Speaker points describing incompetence lived around 27 and below.

My scale to date has pegged "competent and winning" at a 28.  This, of course, is just a baseline--I've definitely given points higher than a 28 to all four debaters in a round.  But, as long as you aren't vomiting on yourself during your speeches and are making good enough strategic decisions to win the debate, I'll give you a 28.  

It seems like I need to bump my points about half a point overall considering 5-3 teams are averaging about a 28.5.  I'm going to try and give "competent and winning" a 28.5 starting at Wake, if only to prevent teams from preffing me in all of my educational glory from being unfairly penalized by my miserly nature.

Point Inflation Update (11/12/2013)

Two edits: (1) For Wake, I'll use their speaker point scale.  It already seems pretty close to my inflation adjustment.  (2) After Wake, I'm going to try and give "competent and winning" a 28.3.  Seems to capture what teams that are winning just over half of their debates are averaging in 2013.  Also, I used to have to work hard for my 28.5's and am besieged on all sides by a burning and childish need to feel better than all of you.

Scott Elliott Paradigm

Scott Elliott, Ph.D. J.D.

Asst Director of Forensics, KCKCC

Years Judging: 30+

Judging Philosophy:

What you need to know 10 minutes before your round starts:

I will most definitely vote on topicality. Win the interpretation and violation, and I will vote negative. You are either topical or you are not. If you are not, you lose. See below for more detail.

That argument you always wanted to run, but were afraid to run it….this may be your day to throw the Hail Mary. I prefer impact turns and arguments that most judges dislike.

Affirmatives still have to win basic stock issues. I prefer counterplans and disads. But I also believe that the affirmative has a burden to defend the ontological, epistemological, pedagogical and ethical assumptions of the affirmative arguments they have chosen.

I have probably written, cut cards for and against, and coached teams about, the “cutting edge” argument you are thinking of running. I have also voted for it and against it depending upon how that argument is deployed in the round.

I am not intimidated nor persuaded by team reputation, verbal abuse, physical assaults or threats. If you won, I am willing to take the heat and I do not care about the community’s reaction. I have friends outside the debate community and I have my dogs. I don’t need to be your buddy and I certainly do not care about my social standing within this so-called “community.”

Engage in overly abusive discourse in the round, threats, intimidation, or actual assaults of an opponent, another judge, or audience members and you will not only lose the round, but you can pretty much write off my ballot for the rest of your career. These organizations won’t do much about it, but I will I do what I can to stop the downward spiral of this activity.

More Information:

Why such a hard ass about topicality?

Argumentation theory 101 says that in order to engage in argumentation, people need to be able first agree on the subject to be debated and to agree that they could be wrong. Academic debate is a voluntary activity in which a community of educators and students gather to engage in competitive argumentation. The community chooses the subject to be debated. There are various organizations and formats to choose from. If you don’t like what was chosen, find another organization, or go to a local bar and pick a fight with someone.

I feel like I have an obligation to this activity that transcends the students in the actual round. When CEDA first merged with NDT, there were over 300 programs in CEDA. Now I estimate there are less than 50 active programs. CEDA used to have as many as 300 teams debate at Nationals. Now we are lucky to get 100. The 2016 NDT could barely find 68 varsity teams that could meet the criteria for entry. Why? Unlike some people, I do not believe it has to do with the research burdens of debate. I think it comes down to the fact that we as judges have allowed policy debate to become a shitshow. It really has become worse than I have ever seen in 36 years. Audience members have been assaulted. Judges have been intimidated and physical confrontations have occurred. The organizations don’t do anything substantial to stop it. Frankly, such behavior would never be tolerated in other organizations. The atmosphere in CEDA/NDT has become so toxic that few people want to play the game anymore. If it continues, both organizations will cease to be viable. Worse, these bad practices are spilling over into the other organizations as refugees from CEDA become settler-colonialists in Parliamentary debate and NFA-LD debate. The excesses of CEDA are spreading like a cancer in high school debate, LD, and Parli. I find it shameful.

I really, honestly, believe that Topicality is one major check on these abusive practices for a lot of reasons. If you are negative, and the Affirmative is not topical, do not get sucked into the rabbit hole of their 2AC “impact turns to T” blocks. Your smartest move would be to ignore those arguments and stick me to my judging philosophy. Some smart teams are already doing it to the chagrin of 2ACs. If your AFF is not topical, do not place me on your pref sheets. Here are some of the big reasons that I believe trump your personal identity, ontology, epistemology, social warrior activism, and pedagogy:

1. Limits have to exist to prevent the affirmative from strategically choosing negative’s ground. The function of an affirmative “case” is to critique the status quo. Imagine a world in which we allow the first team to speak the unlimited and unchecked ability to choose not only their own ground, but also the negative’s ground. (Hint, it exists in D3 and it sucks.) The burden of rejoinder requires the negative to answer in some fashion the affirmative. When the affirmative gets to choose all the terms of debate, what they will and will not defend, only an idiot would choose to give their opponent fair ground to debate.

2. Cherry picking. Twenty years ago, I drunkenly joked that if I were allowed to argue anything I wanted, I would run “Rape Bad” and “Slavery Bad” every round. Well it is not a joke anymore. The function of an agreed resolution is to provide negative teams with predictable, stable, and DEFENDABLE ground for a debate. Teams strategically choose to create arguments to win debates. No check literally allows the affirmative to pick the best argumentative ground and avoid any negative ground for debate. I find, ‘competing methodologies” and “the case list gives you notice” debates to be unpersuasive. Disclosure does not create ground. The impact is that people literally quit debate, never join debate, or programs flat out leave the organization that tolerates this bullshit and they join organizations that enforce topicality by rule.

3. The topic is not about you. And the topic should NOT be about you. A lot of the rhetorical violence, threats, hurt feelings, intimidation, and out and out physical violence stems from people arguing about their personal identity. Contrary to your blocks, it really isn’t all about you. And, frankly, if you are using debate as a method of affirming yourself, your culture, your identity, etc., you need to have an intervention. Debate is a horrible and pathological place for you to place your sense of self. Just say no. If people would debate the topic, they would probably not get so personally involved in an argument that they literally hurt other people. What the hell is wrong with you people? You really think threatening some undergrad, hitting some elderly person, assaulting a judge accomplishes anything positive? Maybe topicality should be a voting issue if it means that people not take this activity---and themselves--so seriously.

4. Not everybody is a privileged as you, or your program, or your coaching staff. Not everyone is as stupidly obsessed with winning a tournament, or justifying your own existence through debate as you are. More importantly, some people want to engage in academic policy debate and have another life. They want to go for a walk or run. They want to be able to go out on a date. They want to see their family. They want to pet their dogs. They want to make “A’s” in biochem so they can become doctors that actually save lives. A stable topic, as badly written as this horrible one is, gives these students an opportunity to balance debate with a healthy life. This outweighs all of your tears, your self-affirmation through my ballot (kinda sick that you require that type of external validation from some white dude pressing a button on a computer), or your ontology. I wish to god a debater would just say, “You are not topical; here is the violation; it’s a voter because I should not have to research this shit and to do so would mean I don’t get to spend time with my friends; vote for friendship.” I will gladly vote for your friendship impacts over social death, and every other impact I have ever seen used to justify why affirmatives get to cheat.

Other Stuff:

Aff. Win a topical plan, or defend the entire resolution. I will still vote negative on presumption. Prove your basic elements first. Inherency, (uniqueness for an advantage over the status quo) is still a voter. Solvency is still a voter. Win an advantage that outweighs the disadvantages by the end of the debate. Be prepared to defend your ontological, epistemological, ethical, and pedagogical assumptions. In other words, I will definitely vote for a “Kritik.” Impact framing is an issue for me. Feel free to use the critical portions to shift standard assumption about how I should weigh impacts. Example: if you win that individual species survival is more important than the lives of individuals within a specific species, I will have no problem voting for a team that saves the snail darter at the expense of a few billion humans starving to death or a regional nuclear war. It is up to the debaters to argue how impacts are evaluated…human util, deep ecology util, deonotological, etc. are open to debate. Regarding Kritik alternatives—most of them are horribly vague, do not solve for anything, and are virtually worthless. But, people never argue against them. Read disads to their alt. Permutations are good ideas to test competition. The idea that you cannot perm methodologies is a joke---you know and I know it. Test whether the arguments are really mutually exclusive---i.e. a real reason to reject the affirmative. Point out double turns and performative contradictions…then impact them out.

I prefer explanations how disads outweigh or turn case. If you can impact turn, that is fine with me. If you can internal link turn a position, that’s fine too.

My personal tastes in debate. I am open to a lot of arguments my colleagues have already written off. I prefer to test almost all assumptions. Please deny warming occurs. Fine with me. Run Ice Age. Please run Malthus (I actually believe a lot of these arguments in my personal life). Please read Rights Malthus (I really am an unapologetic eco-fascist in my personal life). Please read nihilism. Please read human extinction good, wipeout, etc. Read E-prime, I do not care. Read veganism, I do not care. Please impact out advantages, disads or Kritiks by explaining how it will impact my dogs. I really, truly do not care for the majority of people in this activity nor do I care for the vast majority of humanity. But I do care about my dogs.

Memorable examples of ways teams have unexpectedly picked up my ballot:
1) Voted for Baylor one time because Emory misspelled their plan text;
2) Voted for Emporia once because their plan wiped-out the universe, destroying all life (you had to be there);
3) Voted numerous times on anthro kritiks, De-Dev, Cap K's, anarchy, malthus, space, aliens A-Life, etc.;
4) voted for a counter-performance because it made me feel more emotional than the 1AC narrative;
5) voted for porn good turns;
6) voted for genocide reduces overpopulation turns;
7) did not vote, but the team won, because they took my ballot filled it out, gave themselves the win and double 30's;
8) voted once on a triple turn--link turned, impact turned, and turned back the impact turn (had to be there);
9) voted on inherency;
10) voted on foul language in a round--both ways--foul language bad and "yeah, we said F***, but that's good" turns;
11) voted for veganism K while eating a cheeseburger.

One last point: All of you need to flow the round. The speech document they flash over to you is not the debater's actual speech. Look. Listen. You may be surprised what the other team is actually saying.

Ignacio Evans Paradigm

I have been involved with debate for a min now. All debates are performances . I believe education should be what debates are about . I read the topic paper every year( or when it stop being Throw backs). Topical education is something i consider but can be impact turned. Topicality is a method of the objective game. I will vote on conversations of community norms like predictability good , switch side , or even static notions of politics. Framework is how we frame our work. Method debates I welcome. We are intellectuals so we should be responsible for such i.e you can be voted down if the debaters or their positions/in round performance are racist, sexist, classist, or ableist . If not voted down,I still reserve the discretion to give the debater(s) responsible a 3.5 in speaker points . Do what you do and do it well.

Juan Garcia-Lugo Paradigm

Juan Garcia-Lugo

UT-San Antonio



Yes, I want to be on the email chain. I don't follow along with speech documents, but I will usually read most of the cards (I'm curious!).

If an argument is complete, I will evaluate it. While my judging and coaching experience heavily leans towards the critical side of debate, I prefer you read something that you are passionate about and are prepared to debate. Tech and Truth both matter. A conceded argument is a true argument but the significance of that argument is still up for debate. There are many ways to do debate, and when two different styles are present, framing arguments are important for establishing argument priorities. I default to the framing arguments presented and won by the debaters. Otherwise, look below for some of the ways I think about arguments.


I understand most K theory through the use of examples, please provide and debate them. I find presumption strategies against K aff's unpersuasive if the affirmative can articulate and defend a form of action. I find them more persuasive against K aff's that are describing a theory of power. K's that don't defend an alternative are fine, but often necessitate strong framework arguments or decisively won offense against the affirmative.


I'm usually concerned with "what makes debate a valuable activity?". The idea of a fair game for its own sake is less persuasive to me than the idea of a fair game being necessary for producing valuable education. Quality evidence on framework goes a very long way for me. I don't like evidence that comes from debate textbooks and manuals, but will vote on them.


Have an interpretation and defend it. I prefer that interpretation not be arbitrary (we get 2 conditional arguments v 3 conditional arguments). When it comes to offense, less is more. Winning 2 big arguments for why process counterplans are good is better than your 8th argument about "best policy option". This is also the only part of debate I strongly stress slowing down on. The impact to most theory arguments is to reject the argument not the team (conditionality is exceptional).

Omar Guevara Paradigm

Not Submitted

Ben Hagwood Paradigm

Benjamin Hagwood, Assistant Coach, Liberty University


About me:

I debated for five years at Liberty University. This will be my third year judging. Since trading places (debater to judge) my view of debate has matured and my perspective has become more open to views that I currently did not have. To begin I will say that I understand that debate is a game, with that being said I realize that some people use it as a place to protest, advocate and discuss their political, social, religious and individual ideas. I used my time as a debater to stretch the rules and practices of an activity that I viewed as net –beneficial to the growth of academics and potentially policy-makers. As a critic I enter a round with my predispositions just like everyone else but I don’t want to limit the discussion that can take place in any round.


The stuff you need to read: (do you pref me or not)


1. I think everything in debate is debate-able. I tend to enter the debate believing that I will vote for the team that persuades me that their argument is the superior to their opponents. I will say that I am not amused by offensive language or jokes (you should call people out on what they do though). So if someone does something that I think is offensive and you don’t call them out on it they could potentially still win the round if you don’t say something they will just also have a 0.


2. Not reading a plan text doesn’t necessarily equal a loss in my book. I think great discussions can emerge from different ideas or strategies. This however does not mean that there is no way I would vote against you. If you are reading an argument that magically seems to shift out of every link in the debate that’s probably bad (again that is up for debate, also I think there is a large difference between not having a link and only having bad links).


3. I absolutely love DA and case debates. I tend to believe that people don’t have good defenses of their case anymore because they just believe that no one argues inherency or solvency anymore, just CP’s and K’s. I think a formidable strategy is to completely deconstruct a case and go with a simple DA.


4. I think critical theory is interesting. I have to admit graduate school stretched the theory that I would generally read but it has introduced me to new arguments and helped me grow. But my base knowledge is still critical race theory. This is generally my area of interest but I am definitely interested and reading other forms of critical theory. I will admit Baudrillard is still collecting dust on my “electronic” bookshelf. I intend to start reading more of if soon but so far I have only dabbled in his theories.


5. I think that a well-placed theory violation can change the entire direction of a debate. I think that you can do whatever you want but you probably should be able to justify doing it. Being negative is not enough to be able to run four conditional positions that contradict each other. Those worlds are not hermeneutically sealed…sorry. Actually I am not sorry just don’t run bad strategies.


6. Performance debate is growing and here to stay. That is not to say that you are not making important points, it’s just that generally (and most people won’t admit this) judging a team that executes a good performance is tough because you generally want to watch and enjoy and then remember that you also have to evaluate. Needless to say I am a fan of performance, but only if you do it well. Bad performances…please don’t do it in front of me.


7. Clash of civilization – I haven’t actually judged many of these. I don’t know if I will or not in the future. I will say that if done well I think that framework can be a great strategy against a lot of teams. My particular opinion is that there is probably a better option to run against most teams (that don’t defend tradition notions of debate) but if that’s what you want to roll with then that’s what you should roll with. 


8. CP’s do it.


9. Speaker Points: (ways to gain and lose them janks)

 a. A tasteful bowtie will definitely increase your overall speaker points. (Max .5 increase)

 b. A joke that is actually funny will also increase your speaker points. (Max .5 increase)

 c. Bad jokes (Max 1.0 decrease)

 d. Offensive language or actions (Max 30.0 decrease)

 I am rather easy to talk to if you have any questions. Have fun and be smart when you think of your strategy. Do what you do and I shall tell you if I love it or not.



Amber Kelsie Paradigm

I am a graduate student of Communication at Pitt, currently coaching Towson, debated at Dartmouth

Paradigm writing is the worst.  It's also a farce. 


I see debate as a performance, and I vote for the better performance.  That performance can include any number of kinds of arguments.  A performance has stakes for an audience both immediate and abstracted elsewhere.  That performance should involve the endorsement (or no) of a certain politic.

I tend to evaluate debates based on comparative advantage, unless told to evaluate competing methodologies, or unless (in the context of performance debate usually) the debaters seem to think we all agreed that they are debating "competing methodologies."

Debate how you can, the best you can. 

Swag is good.  Complexity. Concretization.  Examples. Comparison. 

I don't tend to call for evidence, since it often overdetermines how I then piece together the debate.

I'm probably understanding your kritik, but it means I also probably have a higher threshold for what you must articulate.

For the time being, I will not be using my AA speaker point policy.

Jillian Marty Paradigm

Debate is good. I judge debates. Pref me if you want... or don't. Got questions? Ask.


Gabe Murillo Paradigm

I have experience judging a wide range of arguments. I have found the following qualities more important than any of the particular content of arguments: 

- completeness of argument 

- meaningul engagment with opponents arguments and questions and responses in cross-examination 

- clarity 

- creativity 

- knowledge about the issues being debated 

- organization 

Those qualities provide the major criteria for my speaker points. I also find myself rewarding/considering: 

- degree of difficulty 

- general affect

I consider myself an active participant in the debates. I listen and flow intently and think thoroughly about whats happening in the debate. I take post rounds pretty seriously and view my role as a temporary coach, so please don't be hesitant with questions (whether you agree or disagree with the decision) I only ask that I am given time to fully explain my decision before interjecting. 



Martin Osborn Paradigm


My judging paradigm has evolved a great deal over time. These days, I have very few set opinions about args. I used to think I had a flawless flow and a magnet mind but now I can't follow each little detail and/or extremely nuanced or shrouded arguments with 101% accuracy like once upon a time. Still pretty good tho lol. And that said, I believe I've come to prioritize debaters' decisions more than ever and try harder than ever to base my decision on what debaters are trying to make happen in the round, and how well they do it, as opposed to how I logically add up what occurred. No judge can totally eliminate their process of sorting things out or their lived personal experience but I try to judge rounds as the debaters tell me to judge them, and with the tools they make available to me. I do think debate is about debaters, so I try to limit my overall judge agency to an extent. But sometimes my experience with traditional policy debate matters and favors a team. Sometimes my lived experience as a brown dude effects my encounter of an argument. These things happen and they are happening with all of your judges whether they admit it or you know it or not. I competed with "traditional policy arguments" (which, frankly, I am unsure still exist #old) but by now I have voted for and coached stupidly-traditional, traditional, mildly-traditional, non-traditional, and anti-traditional arguments in high-stakes rounds for a ton of programs in high school, college, internationally, in different eras, dimensions, all kinds of shit. If you think your reputation matters, don't pref me. If you or your coaches are used to attacking in the post-round, you're gonna play yourself because I'll either be 101% and crush you or I won't be and I'll mock you. Debate's a game but we are people so we should treat each other with respect. Self-control is one of the hallmarks of critical thinking and a disciplined intellect; if you cannot make peace with results in a subjective activity, you are simply not an elite debater, imho. Take it or leave it. Good luck to all debaters, seriously, it's a hell of a thing.

James Taylor Paradigm

Taylor, W. James “JT” Kansas State University, ADOD
# of years coaching/judging: 20+
Voting record: Aff: 12 Neg: 21

Most succinctly, I begin the round as a critic of argument. Depending on how the debaters posit my decision, I go from there...

-ENGAGE THE 1AC: I think teams should always engage the 1AC. Even if you are a one-off K team or you mostly take a more performative approach, there is no reason you can’t address the issues, logic, and general claims of the 1AC. Even if you don’t have evidence, you should still make smart arguments. Some of this could be approaches like contextualizing your one-off K to the specific claims made. Be smart and make logical arguments against the Aff. I think being educated on the issues of the topic is the true "education" we get out of "topic education". In the end, there should probably be a detailed engagement in the link debate.


-SPEECH DOCS: Debating speech docs instead of paying attention to speeches is unacceptable. So is the excessive inclusion of extra cards in a speech doc and/or not noting which cards you skip. I realize the value & utility of the docs but they should not be a substitute for flowing or paying attention to the other team. If you ask about things that would have been apparent if you had been flowing, you'll lose points. You debate the other team, not their speech docs! Otherwise, I would prefer to judge this debate via Skype from my house. Beyond this, just debating off of speech docs is disrespectful to your competitors and antithetical to productive communication. I will collect the docs and open them only as needed.

-EVIDENCE: I think a lot of teams read bad evidence. Debate the EVIDENCE! Studies? Quals? History/Empirics? I do not tend to read a ton of evidence unless contested or otherwise sparks my interest.

-TOPICALITY: I really like smart T debates with good contextual evidence. “Good” does not mean some random use from a totally unrelated case, unless you can prove that usage necessarily sets the standard. I am receptive to critiques of T/Framework, especially if external to the Aff, but there needs to be a clear argument for why it should stay if they kick out.

-FRAMEWORK: Although I think most framework arguments are a little silly—I vote on them often due to execution problems by the other team. I think the Aff. Should get to “weigh” the case as offense, unless it begs the question(s) of epistemology/methodology. In that case, the epistemology/methodology should be directly applied to the case debate. If it is a reps debate, then 1AC reps vs. Neg reps OR advantages vs. disads. But if Aff. should always get to weigh the case, then they should have to defend it…all of it. Neanderthal frameworks such as “absolutely nothing but a literal defense of USFG and only the utilitarian consequences matter” should be easy to beat. There are a lot of nuanced framework arguments that can be effective. Also, this type of strategy does nothing to engage the Aff. I think there can be real value in policy debate, but not necessarily through its imposition. What rarely gets discussed are the "portable skills" that are fostered through non-policy debates...

“KRITIKS”: Although I would say I am a fan of “the K”, I'm kind of a snob when it comes to these issues. Here are a few tips:
1. Engage the case. “Specific” links are a must—at least specific application of generic links with developed and warranted explanations.

2. Not really a fan of: Spanos, Baudrillard, Lacan, Bataille, Heidegger, D&G, Ayn Rand. If you're in a constant state of becoming then call me when your illusions are shattered. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with Foucault, Zizek (cap/film), Nuclear Ks, Giroux/Pedagogy, race/racism Ks, various & random gender & Environment Ks, etc.

3. Role of the Ballot – The vast majority of these claims are self-referential and add nothing to debate: “Whoever best does what we said.” Just like policy framework claims, these function with the same intent to exclude. However, some truly act not as a veiled framework but as truly instructional in terms of judging and the meaning of the ballot and the function of my decision. I do not think the ballot inherently means anything beyond a recording of data. Humans infuse meaning to things like the ballot and that should be a subject of debate and discussion. It just depends on how the debaters construct that value. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT I KNOW WHAT STANDARD OR MEANS OF EVALUATING YOUR ARGUMENTS!

4. Perm Sloppiness: I think a lot of block debates get sloppy/lazy on the perm. I think the Aff. should have to explain how the perm resolves the links. I also think the Neg. should have to explain why the perm does not resolve those links. Sometimes its just that the K links to the plan and the perm includes the plan...OK, so that's obvious. This largely becomes an issue in K debates.

5. Method Debates: You need to actually do your method, not just prove it WOULD/COULD be a good idea. Historical Materialism comes to mind...Very few teams actually advance that alternate version of history. Instead, teams usually just read links to how the Aff doesn't fit in their paradigm or somehow masks or trades-off with HM. The same dynamic happens in many other debates.

CASE, CPs, & DISADS: Although I strongly believe that policy debate has developed at the exclusion of other styles, arguments, and peoples, I see genuine value in policy debates. This value collapses in on itself with the strict imposition of policy debate. I love a deep case debate or a smart CP. I think the detailed research skills are the truely valuable part of policy debate, yet not exclusive to policy debate. If both teams want to have a policy throwdown, then let's roll! Above all, I do not think any one style should dominate debate, nor be excluded. I do a decent amount of policy research for HS and college on a regular basis, but get labelled a "K/performance judge" because I've coached and voted for a lot of K & "performance" teams. However, I am a fan of all styles of debate, including policy. Engage the 1AC!

Jacob Thompson Paradigm

Jacob Thompson, Director of Debate, University of Nevada, Las Vegas—19 years NDT/CEDA coaching. Yes, I want to be on the email chain: jacob.thompson@unlv.edu

I see my role in the round as that of an adjudicator and critic of argument. Debate is a game that we play that is facilitated by fiat: the mutual agreement that we will discuss whether or not the plan should be done. Fiat is concerned with the merits of the affirmative plan. Playing this game is an ideal forum for us to educate ourselves, train the opinion leaders and policy makers of the future, and to have fun.

Negative Strategy--I prefer, ideally, to listen to large well researched-case specific debates with specific disadvantages and a strategic CP. I believe in preserving maximum strategic flexibility for negative teams. Contradictions aren’t always a bad thing early in the debate, as long as the block boils it down and the 2NR is consistent.

Topicality—Generally, I don’t like judging T debates… I’d much rather listen to other things, although I understand that it is important to get rid of patently ridiculous affirmatives. I believe that topicality is a question of competing interpretations and of competing evidence. I am not persuaded by T is not a voter, or “reverse voting issue” arguments. The best way to win a T debate in front of me is to prove actual abuse, although evaluating T as a question of competing interpretations means that I necessarily must consider potential abuse. I will vote on Extra-T (see plan flaw arguments).

Affirmative Strategy—As a debater, I typically ran huge middle of the road cases with big impacts. The best advantages typically have strong internal links and impacts that leverage both timeframe and magnitude. I think plan wording is VERY important; it’s sacred for negative pre-round prep and strategy. A miswritten plan typically means that the affirmative team will lose (as long as the negative team argues the importance of correct and precise plan wording). I will vote on plan flaw arguments and 1 word PICS.

A good 1AR should try to bury the 2NR by reading plenty of evidence, covering, and always using offense. For the 1AR and 2AR (and obviously the 2NR too), it is important to extend warrants inside your evidence, doing more than just saying “extend the Smith in ’17 evidence.” You should explain the importance/relevance/implications of the evidence as well. A good 1AR will give the judge some pen time to flow analytics (especially theory).

I am not pre-disposed to vote for “non-traditional affs” that have only a tangential (or personal) relationship to the topic. Because of this I do not often judge teams that typically read these types of affirmative arguments. However, I have seen a few teams read non-traditional affirmatives, which I thought were very persuasive. These affs often have explicit relationships to the topic and can demonstrate their predictability, negatability, etc in relationship to the resolution. Framework/Topicality is a viable negative strategy against non-traditional types of affirmatives, but additional arguments that are directly related to the aff advocacy often make framework arguments even more persuasive.

Disadvantages—The specificity of the link is important for negative teams, and I generally believe that winning a specific link means that you’re likely to win most of the rest of a disadvantage. I generally default to link determining the direction of the DA.

More affs should straight turn disads in the 2AC--it's a great strategy to mess up the neg's pre-planned 2NC/1NR strategy, and generally makes it more difficult to deliver an effective block. Defensive answers can go a long way to minimize (or defeat) a DA, and depending on the quality of neg argumentation on a DA, I would potentially be willing to assign zero (or near-zero) risk to a DA. Common sense indicts of a DAs internal link chain, can potentially accomplish the same thing, especially if the Aff answers these arguments poorly.

Critical arguments—I am more likely to vote for a middle of the road K that is debated like a disad with a CP (the alt) tacked on the end. I strongly prefer criticisms related to the resolution/topic area with links that are specific to the aff, and an impact/implication that is explained in relation to the aff harms/advantages. They should also have an external impact. Specificity of the link to a critique is just as important as it is for a DA. I generally dislike certain critical arguments such as death isn’t bad (even though some teams have made that argument successfully and well), silence is good, poetry-related stuff, and anyone who says performativity and can’t explain what that means in terms of what I said above in relation to fiat. Affirmatives should always permute critical arguments, and making framework-related arguments against the critique can be effective. However if the critique is an intrinsic cost related to the affirmative, then your framework arguments are probably less likely to help you win. Negative alternatives/advocacies should have some discernible text (either one that you have written or a line or 2 in your evidence). I have recently become more exposed to critical arguments related to ableism, and have found certain aspects of those arguments persuasive.

CPs—No 1NC is complete without a CP (or 2 or 3…run lots of them if you want). I am not opposed to consult CPs, the states CP, or CPs that may result in the implementation of the aff--especially when they have a specific solvency advocate. It's pretty difficult, if not almost impossible for the aff to win "conditionality bad" in front of me. The text of the CP (and all perms) should be written out, and I hold them to as high a standard as I do the affirmative plan. Negative team should not be afraid to CP in the 2NC (it is a constructive, aff gets a CX, and the risk of a straight turn in the 1AR should check any abuse). These 2NC counter plans could be used to make external impact turns or uniqueness takeouts go away. I will judge kick a CP for you if you tell me that I can. I will not do so if you don't explicitly say (during your speech) it's an option that I have, but am unlikely to exercise.

Other Things—

1)FLOW--seriously, I feel silly telling anyone that they should flow, but your REALLY should, even if you have the speech doc in front of you. Answering an argument in your speech that did not appear in your oppositions speech makes you look bad and means you weren't paying attention.

2) If I can’t understand you I will say “clearer” please just slow down a notch or speak more clearly. Start your speeches out slowly and build up to top speed. If I have to tell you “clearer” more than 3 times I’m likely to stop trying to flow arguments that I can’t understand.

3) Debate should be fun, be nice and respectful to everyone involved.

4) Answer CX questions, don’t be evasive.

5) I have worked recently to make sure that my points are in the main-stream. Fighting against point inflation seems like a losing battle, and it's less important in the world of tenth point increments without ties.

6) I will read cards after a debate, especially if the debaters don’t explain them. If a card doesn’t in my opinion pass the “laugh test” I am unlikely to buy that particular argument, even if the other team does not talk about it (although they should).

7) I keep a semi-running clock—if it’s not speech time it’s CX or prep (excluding road maps, time to find lost flows or evidence, or bathroom/water breaks). Don’t steal prep. You do not have to take/count prep for sending your speech doc as an email. If your team is a tech train-wreck, I may audible during the debate and give you a warning. If the train-wreck continues, I will start deducting prep time...

8) "I will not give up my ballot to anyone else. I will not evaluate arguments about the actions of debaters that took place when I was not in the room or that occurred in previous rounds. I will not vote for arguments about debaters as people. I will always evaluate the debate based on the arguments made during the round and which team did the better debating. Teams asking me not to flow, wanting me to play video games, asking me to adjudicate a discussion or a board or card game, or to do any other thing that is not debate are advised to strike me, as this is all a waste of my very precious time." Borrowed (with slight edits) from Matt Gomez.

9) Analytic arguments that make sense are a good way to spend your time. Saying things that make sense and do not require evidence to prove generally create a good time tradeoff for you.

10) I will accept re-highlighted evidence "inserted into the record of the debate" if you explain argument's utility/function OR read the re-highlighting of each piece of evidence that you're inserting.

11) The best debaters consistently do the following things:

a. Make evidentiary comparisons—“our evidence on X argument is better than theirs for the following 3 reasons.” These reasons may include, but are not limited to qualifications, recency, history is on our side, more complete/better warrants, etc.

b. Understand that they are not winning every argument and hedge against the arguments that the other team may be ahead on. Saying things like, “even if you don’t believe that we are winning argument X, we still win the debate, because…”

c. Engage heavily in impact analysis, making sure to compare your impacts to the other teams.

d. Remember that defensive arguments are still important, and that other teams often don’t give them the credence that they deserve. Dropping arguments like “economic declines don’t lead to war,” or “Russian military is a disaster can’t project any power now” may lead me to assign little to no risk to your argument.

e. Be deep on offensive arguments. A few well-developed arguments in the block are typically better than 7 or 8 shallowly developed arguments.

f. Are unafraid to make logical arguments forcefully, without necessarily using “cards” as evidence.

g. Sound like they believe the arguments they are making; a good debater with a strong sense of advocacy is truly persuasive, and will get good speaker points.

h. Stand up in their speeches and CX, use their ethos effectively, and have a bit of swagger without going over the top.

Lindsay Van Luvanee Paradigm

I debated throughout high school and then at Idaho State University for 5 years. I then coached at Idaho State University for 2 years, Weber for 1, and USC for 1. I've been out of the game this season, fair warning.

I am a firm believer that debate is for debaters. I've had my time to make others listen to whatever (and I mean absolutely whatever) I wanted to say, and it's my turn to listen to and evaluate your arguments, whatever they may be. While I'm sure I have my limitations, make me adapt to you instead of the other way around.

I try my damnedest to line up all the arguments on my flow. I am, however, open to alternate flowing styles. I really do prefer when debaters make specific reference of which argument(s) they are answering at a given time regardless of flowing style. I also flow the text of cards.

I prefer not to call for evidence (although I would like to be on your email chain... misslindsayv@gmail.com). This means explain, explain, explain! Tell me what the card says; tell me why I should care and how I should apply it. That being said, I do not think that cards are always better than analytics.

Be prepared to defend all aspects of your argument.

Everything is open to (re)interpretation. For example, some questions that may be relevant to my ballot include: What is the purpose of debate? How does this affect the way that impacts are evaluated? These kinds of top-level framing issues are the most important to me.

This means things like framework and T (fun little-known fact: I've always found topicality in general super interesting--I love the nit-picky semantics of language) can be viable options against K affs. However, you are better off if you have a substantive response to the aff included as well.

I'm still kind of deciding how I feel about how competition functions in method debates. I think the most accurate depiction of what I think about it now is this (and it all obviously depends on what's happening in the debate/on the flow, but in general): I'll probably err that the affirmative on-face gets a permutation to determine if the methods are mutually exclusive, and so that means the best strategy for the negative in this world is to generate their links to the aff's method itself to prove that mutual exclusivity.

I'd really appreciate it if you could warn me in advance if there will be graphic descriptions of sexual violence.

Ryan Wash Paradigm

Do not attempt to appease me. I do not want you to debate to me but rather persuade me to believe you. Stay true to your argument set and do what got you here. That being said, who cares what I personally believe, this is your activity. Below is my process for making a decision in a debate:

Who should I be when evaluating the debate?

What is the main question/issue of the debate?

Who best answered/addressed that question/issue? Note: The characteristics of best should be determined by you and not me.

Are their reasons why their approach is dangerous or insufficient that overwhelms its positive potential.

Speaker Points: I give points based on how clear, efficient and engaging you are. What happened to debaters being able to be serious, funny, personable and entertaining simultaneously? You will be awarded of quality speaking even if you do not win the debate.


Mike "Shooter" Weitz Paradigm

Mike “Shooter” Weitz

***************************Updated 2014-15********************

A guy walks into the Buddha’s bar. Plopping on the stool, his dejected look was plain for all to see. “How can I help with what’s ailing you?” the Buddha asked, sliding the man a drink.

The man said, “I did everything I was supposed to, and nothing happened. I spend hours meditating under a tree every day, and I still haven’t reached enlightenment. I do my mantras, mandalas and sutras without forgetting a word. What am I doing wrong? I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I walk perfectly along the path.”

Giggling at the seriousness of the upset man, the Buddha exclaimed, “Well, there’s your problem right there! If your path is the trampled dirt of others’ footsteps, you’ve already lost your way.”

“But without that path, how will I know where I’m going?” the man asked earnestly.

“Exactly,” the Buddha smiled.

Not satisfied with the response, the man demanded, “If I don’t know where I am going, how will I know when I get there?”

“Exactly,” the Buddha quipped.

The man’s temper got the better of him, “That tells me nothing. Why don’t you just tell me what I need to know?”

“Exactly,” the Buddha chimed with glee.


“The Silent Flute”

I wish neither to posses,

Nor to be possessed.

I no longer covet paradise,

More important, I no longer fear hell.


The medicine for my suffering,

I had within me from the very beginning,

But I did not take it.

My ailment came from within myself,

But I did not observe it

Until this moment.


Now I see that I will never find the light

Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel,

Consuming myself.

-Bruce Lee


“Once More I Hold You In My Arms”

Once more I hold you in my arms;

And once more I lost myself in

A paradise of my own.


Right now you and I are in

A golden boat drifting freely on a sunny sea

Far, far away from the human world.

I am happy as the waves dancing around us.


Too much analysis kills spontaneity,

As too much light dazzles my eyes.

Too much truct astonishes me.

Despite all obstacles,

Love still exists between us.


It is useless to try and stir the dirt

Out of the muddy water,

As it will become murkier.

But leave it alone,

And if it should be cleared

It will become clear by itself.

-Bruce Lee


“Sharing a Mountain Hut with a Cloud”

A lonely hut on the mountain-peak towering above a thousand others;

One half is occupied by an old monk and the other by a cloud:

Last night it was stormy and the cloud was blown away;

After all a cloud could not equal the old man's quiet way.

-Kuei-tsung Chih-chih,


“Being as Is”

Food and clothes sustain

Body and life;

I advise you to learn

Being as is.

When it's time,

I move my hermitage and go,

And there's nothing

To be left behind.

-P'ang Yün


Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.

The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.

Although its light is wide and great,

The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.

The whole moon and the entire sky

Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.




Look for Buddha outside your own mind,

and Buddha becomes the devil.




The wind traverses the vast sky,

clouds emerge from the mountains;

Feelings of enlightenment and things of the world

are of no concern at all.

-Keizan Jõkin


Where beauty is, then there is ugliness;

where right is, also there is wrong.

Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent;

delusion and enlightenment condition each other.

Since olden times it has been so.

How could it be otherwise now?

Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other

is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.

Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,

how do you deal with each thing changing?



“In science we have finally come back to the pre-Socratic philosopher Hercalitus, who said that everything is flow, flux, process. We in the West think of nothingness as a void, an emptiness, a nonexistence. In Eastern philosophy and modern physical science, nothingness—no-thingness—is a form of process, ever moving. In science we try to find the ultimate matter, but the more we split up matter, the more we find other matter. We find movement, and movement equals energy: movement, impact, energy, but no things.”

–Bruce Lee




To be honest, I am not sure what it means to have a ‘philosophy of judging.’ I can tell you what I do: I evaluate arguments in relation to other arguments. I like good argument more than I like bad arguments. I like good cards more than I like bad cards. But, other than that, I’m not sure what I am supposed to tell you. Am I, through some unknown process of self-evaluation, to disclose how I decide which arguments that I’m yet to hear, and how they will win out versus other arguments? Should I provide you a list of the arguments I like and dislike, the things I have pre-determined to be true, as avenues of persuasion to receive my ballot? Such a list doesn’t exist. However, i can tell you some things:

If it is about my personal philosophy, then I’m not sure how telling you that I am a Buddhist and like to study Eastern Philosophy explains my approach to judging debate rounds, except to say that i evaluate arguments as i understand them at their moment of utterance, i evaluate them by the interdependent relationship to other arguments in the round, and i do my best to remain present and attentive during the course of the round. I think that truth tends to be a little grey (and technically ungraspable by language and set, intellectual patterns of thinking). I very much believe in paradoxes, which means that sometimes even 'incompatable' truth claims can both be true and untrue. This can be frustrating for debaters sometimes, because it puts a higher argumentative standard on you to make sure that you not only make arguments, but make sure that your arguments answer your oppenents arguments. Finally, it's not a requirement, but i do tend to prefer the nice and humble debater, even while debating with a passion. I will also do my best to judge with humility; we are all human and all make mistakes. I definately will.

I like arguments to be clear. I don't like to have to do a bunch of extra work to read your cards after the round because I should be able to hear them when you read them if you're clear. I only like to call for cards if their meaning is contested, and arguments are made against them. This is usually a sign of a good debate, but i don't want to have to call for cards because i don't know what they say because you weren't clear the first time.

An argument is a claim and a warrant. Missing one makes an incomplete argument, especially in the warrant department. And just because you made a claim and a warrant, does not necessarily make them persuasive, which is why the more warrants the better, usually. Always answer the "why" question. Why is what you say true?

The same standard applies to evidence, if your evidence does not contain warrants, then it is a bunch of warrantless assertions, and, hence, a waste of your time. You don't have to read seven-page-long cards, but the more warrants the better. Highlight your cards down to one sentence at your own risk and peril.

You would be surprised how often teams will win portion of an argument, and lose because of their failure to properly 'impact' it in the debate round. This is a critical part of the debate that should not be skimped on just because it happens in the latter speeches. Again, answer the "why" question.

Finally, while I'm not quite ready to go "full Dallas," I do attempt to generally communicate my thoughts, feelings, how I'm receiving stuff, and might even pipe in a "that don't make sense." My point is that I'm a source for information that you should use.

As always, have fun!


Jake Ziering Paradigm

All arguments are fine. I've been in debate for ten years and heard most of them. Don't make the debate round a hostile space for me, yourselves, or the other team, unless that's your argument and you're prepared to defend it. Basically just be nice.

nicholas brady Paradigm

I am a doctoral candidate at University of California, Irvine


Performance is inevitable, debate is a performative activity. I do not try to determine the boundaries of the language game ya'll are playing. So run run whatever you want, I am there as a critic to listen and evaluate the debate. The impact calculation necessary to evaluate who did the better debating is determined and argued over by the debaters themselves. This is a bit of what I would mean by "write my ballot..."