Golden Desert Debate Tournament at UNLV
2017 — NV/US
Kaitlin Bradley Paradigm
Debated 4 years at Highland High School (UT) in policy. Have been judging and working with teams for the last five years.
I haven't been working with any teams prepping for this season (2018-2019), so keep in mind that I am not familiar with many of the arguments that might be run on this topic. Also this means my ears aren't primed to keep up with very fast spreading, don't speak and super sonic speed with me and be sure to annunciate your words, especially for the first few speeches. If you start your speeches slower and increase speed throughout the speech, it will help me keep up.
I tended to go for kritikal arguments when I debated, but that does not mean I'm opposed to policy args. I'm not against voting for any arguments in particular as long as they are run well. Don't run something you aren't comfortable with or can't explain because you think I would be more likely to vote on it.
Part of what makes debate a particularly useful activity is that it teaches you to alter how you present your arguments based on who you are speaking to. I am not a blank slate, and no other judge really is either. Please read as much of my paradigm as you can, ask me questions before round, etc- try to get to know your judge and learn to tailor your arguments accordingly.
I have a very high threshold on T and Theory (I explain this further below).
I prefer if you dont read args just for the sake of reading them. This is especially true for T and theory arguments. If you can't reasonably win on the argument then don't read it, all of our time is better spent on arguments that are interesting and acutally create clash.
The most important thing for any round is that you explain your arguments well. I tend to be truth over tech, meaning a well explained argument goes a lot further than anything else. This also means even if the aff drops T, for example, I'm not going to vote on T if the neg doesn't explain why the argument is important.
Some more specific stuff:
K AFFS: I'm fine with kritikal affirmatives as long as there is still some engagement with the topic. This doesn't necesarily mean the aff has to implement a policy action. However, I need to see a clear reason why the aff was run on this topic. If the aff could theoretically be run on any topic, it's a bad aff. Also make sure to explain your aff well. Don't expect me to already know what your authors are saying.
NEGATIVES GOING AGAINST K AFFS: My chances of voting on T or Theory go way up on K affs. Pay attention to the plan text, what the aff is actually doing, and if they significantly engage with the topic. If their plan could theoretically solve any harm, or their aff could be run on any topic as is, then point it out!
KRITIKS: Like I've said, I'm fine with K's. I require specific links, meaning I need to know how the aff specifically contributes to the harms of the K. As always, explain your arguments. Again, don't just assume I am familiar with any of your authors. I prefer teams leveraging K's as one argument in their neg strat rather than going one off K. This is mostly because I find teams have a hard time defending this strategy well. If you prefer/feel comfortable doing this, then do, just be aware that you should be articulating why this one issue is so important that it is the only argument you present in the debate.
DA's/CP's: I think the DA/CP strat is currently underutilized in the circuit. I prefer unique DA scenarios compared to generic DA's. Like with any argument, articulating your DA in the context of each debate round goes a long way with me. Be sure to tell me why you are running this specific DA against this specific aff.
A note on speaker points: I don't really have a specific method in determining speaker points, but I've found that I tend to consider 27 average. My method of giving points is slightly exponential- meaning it is harder to get me to move from a 28 to a 29 than it is from a 27 to a 28. So, my speaker points might skew slightly low compared to others.
Additionally, one of my pet peeves is when teams obviously almost exclusively read pre-written blocks the entire debate. This creates 0 clash, you end up not contextualizing your arguments well, you generally just look like you don't fundamentally understand what's going on, and it is overall antithetical to the entire purpose of debate. Use your blocks as a tool, not as your entire speech. If you're reading blocks the whole time, it will reflect in your speaker points.
This isnt complete. I'll update accordingly in the next few weeks.
(pls include me in any email chains)
Asheesh Chopra Paradigm
Make it clear throughout the rebuttals why you should win the debate. Make the ballot easy for me with things like well explained impact calc, etc! Easy to win T in front of me. Like arguments like T, cps, impact turns, DAs. Don't like k affs, theory, or kritiks. I'm ok with speed, but would prefer the speeches to be clear even if there are less arguments because this leads to better explanation.
Matt Conrad Paradigm
Since the judge philosophies wiki has been taken down, here's a temporary statement until I find my original Word file.
I'm a USC debate alum and have coached national circuit LD and policy at both La Reina High School and Polytechnic School in Southern California. Thus far, I've had kids in TOC policy finals and octos for Poly while we've had several nationally ranked kids at La Reina.
My basic philosophy in debate is to only intervene as minimally as possible. I do my best to keep an accurate flow and am happy to discuss rounds AFTER I upload my decision, so we don't make the tournament run late. That said, my background outside of speech and debate is in show business where you actually have to get things done. Thus, in a debate context, I want to know what it is that I'm voting for. If we're talking about solvency or some form of oppression, what does that mean in terms of dollars and lives.
Beyond that, I'm open to voting for whatever you run. The round belongs to you.
And politically, I'm a moderate/Bill Clinton Democrat.
Please include me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Fitzmorris Paradigm
Because I know how pre-round prep works for a lot of people, I know that you're about to look for a) my K/Framework stance and then b) how I feel about your specific neg argument/type of argument. I strongly urge you to read all parts of this paradigm considering there are a bunch of small sections that are really important for teams in front of me. It's to your disadvantage to not read all of the following if I'm your judge.
Who I am
I'm a freshman at Northwestern University who debated at Isidore Newman (yes, I know Kevin Qi before you ask).
Also add me to the email chain: email@example.com
- One of my favorite debates if it's done well and both sides are organized. Unfortunately this is almost never done.
- On reasonability, this is less of a preference and more objectively the only way this argument makes any sense, but at least when you're extending it contextualize it to the counter-interp.
- Good counterplans will have a solvency advocate and be specific. I'd like to say just run whatever and let the theory play out and just win it, but historically I've been more neg on conditionality and pics good. I like to think it's because they're just better arguments, but there's probably some sort of inherent bias going on there, too.
- Good args. I can be persuaded that there is no risk of a DA with some good impact calc and in-depth explanation of defensive arguments, but I find myself voting on this mostly when the negative has essentially underestimated the differences between the counterplan and plan throughout the debate. Usually if you're an aff in this position you're losing pretty badly anyway because you clearly have little to no offense on the counterplan
- If you're the 2N that loves the one-off K I'm not the best for you. Not because I hate Ks, but because I have very little experience running them in that manner and therefore a lot of the nuance can be lost on me in very close debates (which isn't likely to go well for you). I think alts should do something and be defended and that links should be specific and include at least good story about the aff. (Strategic and in depth K debating is good?)
- I definitely prefer topical, plan-based affs. T vs. K affs is pretty good in front of me, but nothing is worse than when it's executed poorly. K affs that at least have a strong grounding in the topic have a much better time convincing me than the run Nietzsche as an aff for x year because why not aff.
- Run it, if it's well-extended then I can be persuaded.
- Only "reject the team" I can think of is Conditionality, but if you have a good argument for something else then I'll listen. (Conditionality is probably good though).
- Conditionality doesn't necessarily mean judge kick - if you want me to kick something for you, make it very clear and tell me why that should be a thing a judge does. I hate recreating debates in ways they didn't actually play out - you have to tell me what the world in which I kick it for you looks like.
Closing Remarks (ballot forming/speed/flowing)
I'll pretty much listen to whatever you have to say barring language or arguments that are entirely inappropriate (like racism good or bigoted language). I will be frustrated if you don't compare your arguments and make me wade through the debate. I will default to looking for the route of least resistance; that is, the ballot that means I intervene the least. This is usually best achieved by telling me how to look the round and why, why you win within that framework, why you win even if you don't win within that framework, why you win within your opponents' framework, etc. Many teams take this as a chance to be super repetitive. On the contrary, the more concise you are on each of these points, the better. This conciseness can be achieved with smart evidence and warrant comparison, considering the implication of arguments across flows and leveraging those implications in your favor, and word economy among other important fundamental tools to this event.
Speed is arguments flowed per time unit, not words per minute.
Please flow, it makes my flow better too.
George Fowler Paradigm
Hi there, quickly about me, while I competed in PF during my time in High School; I competed in policy in college and currently am the primary CX coach for the RSHS. As a result I am primarily a flow judge and LOVE impact calcs in the underview; especially if you can blow up dropped arguments in the calc.
I personally believe that policy is a game and should be treated as such, meaning I believe that AFF is only entitled to so much FIAT and that there has to be ground for NEG FIAT. That being said, I believe PERMS should be a test of competition and whoever can prove that the most is likely to pick up that argument.
While I am a game maker judge, I am a bit opposed to Ks, i.e there better be a good reason to run it and not something that is generic, like a Cap K that can be applied to every AFF. Additionally, if you wish to run a T, again there better be good reasoning behind it and not just a standard/generic engagement T that is ran nearly every round I've judged.
Overall, keep the flow clean with good impact calc at the bottom and have some purpose in the round. Bonus speaks to those who can use Rick and Morty quotes. For an e-mail chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Gordon Paradigm
I have been judging debate for the last 10 years. I like straight up policy debate - I consider myself a "policy maker" type judge. I do NOT understand kritiks and do not recommend you run them. I do vote on topicality if there is actual abuse in the round, and I do not mind if it is run strategically by the negative. I do not mind speed through the warrants of your cards, however slow down on your tag lines because I do flow your debate and judge off of my flows. My philosophy is that constructive speeches and cross examinations are for the teams to share evidence. Rebuttal speeches are for you to make sure I understood what arguments have come through and win your side the round. Make sure you impact calc out the round for me in your final rebuttal speeches and give me voters. Most of the time I followed the round, however make sure I did not miss something you find an important voting point. I do not time flashing as long as it is reasonable - do not stall during flashing in order for your partner to prep.
Abe Griffiths Paradigm
Highland High School 2012-2016
University of Utah '20
Please add me to your email chain: email@example.com
I debated competitively in policy debate on the national circuit for four years in highschool. I am equipped to judge your debates fairly with knowledge of the structure of policy debate, but without any explicit knowledge on the education topic.
I was primarily a K debater and read kritikal arguments on the aff and on the neg. That being said, I debated in a circuit that was primarily policy-oriented and have experience with both 'types' of argumentation and can educate you on how to execute them well.
You should feel comfortable reading whatever you want in front of me, and I will make flow-oriented decisions about how to evaluate those arguments.
Here are some plagiarized details on how I view debate and my role as the judge:
Do what you do best. I’m comfortable with all arguments. Practice what you preach and debate how you would teach. Strive to make it the best debate possible.
General broader preferences:
I think CX is very important.
I reward self-awareness, clash, good research, humor, and bold decisions.
I stop prep time when you eject your jump drive or when the email is sent.
Elaine Harrington Paradigm
Coms Judge! I don't have a problem with speed as long as you are understandable. what you are saying is as important as how you are saying it. I am not a fan of the ridiculous or unrealistic. You can't Fiat your whole case! I have been judging CX for 3 years.
William Johnson Paradigm
I am an old-school debater (circa 2009) and 3rd year law student. I appreciate legal and economic arguments that are reasonable and accurate -and greek philosophy. I don't know when LD became policy, but I was trained in "traditional" LD. It pains me to call it "traditional" because the value debate is the essence of LD, which has been thoroughly obscured and adulterated by the vast majority of students I have watched this year thus far. Abraham Lincoln would be rolling in his grave. That being said, I do understand a good portion of the policy lingo. However, I do NOT tolderate policy paced speed. LD fast is okay. If your mother would have to ask, "What on earth did you just say? Should I call the priest?" then it is too fast. If you go policy fast, you do so at your own risk - I may not hear the entirety of your argument. I will entertain critical arguments if you EXPLAIN them and they have strong LINKS. On a critical aff, links must be so strong that I don't mind ignoring the resolution because I am utterly entranced by your links. Further, they must have IMPACTS. Also, don't ask me to "look inside myself" or "change my perspective" in your K. I do not buy T if the Aff is topical using a reasonable person standard. I will buy T if Aff runs a K.
-Mr. W. Hayes Johnson
Taylor Layton Paradigm
Mark Little Paradigm
Updated for TOC 2019 and early tournaments of 2019-2020
Email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current: OES (Oregon Episcopal School) 6 years
- Cornell assistant coach (pre-merger)
- UW debater (pre-merger)
- Interlake debater (long time ago)
1. Open to any argument. There are comments below about three substantive positions: T, PoMo Ks, and Identity Ks.
2. Debate is a game. You get to set the rules, except for speech times, speech order, and prep time.
3. Tech > truth. I am deeply suspicious of truth claims in debate. I endeavor to be flow centric in my judging.
4. Don't steal prep.
5. Debate is a scholarly activity. Sharp use of excellent ev is compelling to me.
6. If I seem grumpy, it just means I'm engaged and interested.
The general rule is that T is great, subject to the exceptions below in the "Substantive arguments" section. Innovative interps or well carded args on T are refreshing.
Theory other than T
Vote for and against theory args.
- Condo / dispo: make no assumptions about the number of neg positions a team gets. Default to dispo (its ok to kick). Need justification for condo (its ok to contradict). Willing to change these defaults.
- Framework / T USFG: sure, but you will be more successful if you also engage substantively with the aff even if you don't ultimately go for those args in the 2NR.
- ASPEC, OSPEC, etc: if they are meaningful arguments, no problem voting for them.
- Novel or resurrected theory: explain it, win it, and the ballot is yours.
Straight forward. A couple of pet peeves:
- "Perm do both" is not an argument. Perms need an explanation of how they function and why they disprove competition.
- "Perms are severance and VI" is not an argument. As a default, perms are a test of competition and not an advocacy, barring an actual shift by the aff.
Mild preference for Ks grounded in the topic or with meaningful links to the aff. Links of omission are usually not persuasive.
Substantive arguments: T, PoMo Ks, and Identity Ks
Normally, I don't have opinions on substantive arguments, but I have noticed two patterns in my judging which you might care about:
1. POMO positions with some relation to the topic win my ballot much more frequently than POMO with no relation to the topic.
2. Identity politics positions are challenging under two conditions:
(a) if the team running identity politics position cannot answer the question "How can the other team reasonably win the ballot?", then I will probably vote against the position, and
(b) arguments predicated on the other team's identity will get ignored. You are welcome to argue about your own identity or social position.
Zane Miller Paradigm
I debated for 4 years at Centennial High School in Idaho. I qualified to the NSDA tournament 3 times and been in multiple bid rounds (six my senior year). Won the Whitman tournament my senior year. I debated policy locally my senior year and am now doing policy at UNLV.
NOTE: The long version of the paradigm is mostly a digression about my feelings about debate. It is probably helpful to read if you have the time, but if all you’re interested in is what not to do, read the short versions. It’s what they’re there for.
If you’re passing evidence via email chain (best method, tbh) include me email@example.com . If you’re flashing, don’t; it’s slow as hell.
Pre-round Rush Version
I went for basically anything when I was in high school, so do whatever you like. Primarily read tricks (polls), K affs and kritiks my senior year.
DAs/Case: Yay. Go for it, they're fun and easy. Link stories and specific links are great, but not required.
Counterplans: I give more leeway for counterplans than most people. I like fun counterplans.
Neg Kritiks: Favorite argument in high school. Most of my experience was in Marxism, neoliberalism, anarchism, fem IR and biopolitical stuff, but don't be afraid to read other arguments, as long as you can give the 15-second Wikipedia version confidently. If you can't, I would advise against the position for strategic reasons more than anything else.
Aff Kritiks: Like these too. Be very careful about execution, internal link stories tend to be a problem with these. I hold non-topical versions of K Affs to a very high standard.
Framework-y Positions: Go for it. I read tricks in high school and thought they were interesting, so I'm more receptive to those styles than the majority of judges. Straight-up framework is fine too. Please take the time to slow down on shotgun analytics.
Theory: Probably my least favorite position, though I'm perfectly fine with evaluating it. Please slow down or do a ridiculously good job crystalizing. I'm fine voting on justified, warranted RVIs. The one exception to this is I will not vote on the negative must defend the converse of the resolution, under any circumstances besides a straight up concession.
I like sass, humor and confidence. I also like civility and politeness. Try to favor the latter if you can't decide which to go with. I give speaks based mostly off of presentation: technical skill, control of CX, ability to execute a strategy confidently. Subjective considerations like the above happen after that. An exception is if you do incredibly gutsy things like going all in on a straight turn in the NR or a linguistic a priori in the 1AR, those tend to push speaks pretty high. I say clear.
Things that will tank your speaks: being an asshole, advocating any bigoted position (this means being blatantly heteronormative, sexist, racist, etc.), being so unclear I have to back-flow most of the debate. Nothing else will result in less than a 26.5.
The thing about defaults is I only use them when literally nothing on the topic has been said in the round. As long as there is some undead resemblance of a warrant for the argument, I'll go either way on it.
Competing interps before reasonability. Condo good. Truth-testing before comparative worlds/offense-defense/policymaking. Magnitude before anything else. Util before anything else (I only use this if no one read a framework. There literally needs to be a complete void of anything resembling a normative or evaluative theory in the AC and NC for me to default here). Presume aff (though without an explicit trigger I don't think there's a scenario in which I would do so). No RVI. Theory and epistemological/ontological Ks are on the same level, then practical Ks/framework, then post-fiat substance. Terminal defense/0% risk is a thing.
Please number/letter/symbolize/sub-point/somehow designate the different sections of your framework. It's a pet peeve of mine that people just have a mess of philosophy without any way to organize it.
Consequentialism: I'm a policy debater now, so I suppose technically I should be "predisposed" or something towards consequentialism. Probably not the case. I like these debates though, so if ya'll want to have a throw-down with 3 DAs, 2 counterplans, and case, I'll love it.
Deontology: Go for it. It’s interesting
Technical Framework: I am perfectly happy with evaluating triggers, NIBs, skepticism, presumption, conditional statements, linguistic justifications, a priori arguments, etc. I like tricks. I think they sponsor critical thinking, force a close reading of positions, allow the affirmative to balance out time disparities, and are legitimately interesting and under-discussed arguments. All of that said you can still definitely lose those theory debates, so don't assume my interest means you get to undercover it.
DAs in LD are under-loved. A strong DA is often better than reading an NC, don't be afraid to go all on them. That said, you better be damn sure, otherwise you're not going to be in a fun place.
Counterplan debate in LD is odd because you're more often going to get into a theory debate than a counterplan debate. Ergo, read cheatier counterplans. You're going to have to put up with it anyway. Might as well get the offense out of it they say you're already trying to get. That said, real counterplans debates are a lot of fun, with good discussions of solvency and net benefits, so don’t be afraid to have those either.
I think util cases in LD need to be more obvious about leveraging the academic primacy lent to them. The vast majority of academia presumes some version of your framework is in place. There is a reason that is the case, you should probably determine what that is. Furthermore, literally any policy framework file offers reams of evidence about why simulating policymakers is good, that’s probably real offense in the framework debate I think people are bad about leveraging.
Ya’ll framework debaters need to do a better job explaining why the judge cares about being ‘right’, since there isn’t much persuasive reason to listen to a deontological theory otherwise. I recommend truth testing. It’s a great way to justify the education you’re presenting at a meta level, and it leaves util debaters trying to impact justify their framework in a sticky situation. I think role of the ballot level framework arguments are underused in LD, and thus reading them will probably bump your speaks.
On a more substantive level, I am completely comfortable flowing and evaluating an intricate and intensive framework debate. I will probably be slow making my decision, however, because debates about normative ethics rely a lot more on base principles and what has been determined to be capital-T True. That means I’m a lot more careful about evaluating individual arguments over large-scale crystallization than I am in a util debate where one evaluates relative risks. So, don’t worry! Unless I have my head in my hands and seem actively distressed, I’m taking a while so I don’t f**k up, not necessarily because you’ve done a horrible job.
In a similar vein, please be very explicit about what each card you read does and how it interacts in the debate. This is true always, but especially true in framework debates because they rely so much on intricate link chains that determine what is True. Number your cards. Subpoint them. Organize them in such a way that I can understand exactly what is going on with your framework and your opponent’s. This can change a hard decision into an easy one and shorten a 20 minute decision into 5 minutes.
To clarify: kritikical, or critical, debate focuses on philosophies or normative standards that either A. address directly the epistemological, ontological, or social position of a debater, debate or a position or B. impact-justify their frameworks in such a way that relies upon the above type of critique. This normally relies on the category of philosophy referred to as continental philosophy, with such authors as Zizek, Foucault, Nietzsche, Marx and Wilderson.
I like critiques. I think they allow you to discuss the social position of yourself and debate in a way that simply isn’t possible otherwise. I think critical debate offers unique strategic advantages aren’t available to other strategies. That said, there are definitely a lot of pseudo-arguments made in the context of ‘K’ debates. As such, I feel like some things need to be qualified.
I think Ks that link to the topic instead of the advocacy of the affirmative have a serious uniqueness problem to overcome. Admittedly, in LD there are often instances where the affirmative and the topic are functionally inseparable; but there is a difference between indicting the language of the topic and indicting the rhetoric of the affirmative. Similarly, the weakest part of the K, if it isn’t the links, is the alternative; yet in LD the strategy more often seems to be to reach for theory backfiles instead of answering the K substantively. Don’t do that if you can help it. We’ve been substantively answering critiques for decades. I promise it’s a better method of answering the position, especially when your opponent has probably had way too much practice responding to theory.
Also in this vein is affirmative critiques and performative debate. I think affirmative critiques in LD are much less unusual than they are in policy. They probably don’t even need a unique mention, because they’re functionally what any framework does; present an exclusive evaluative framework and try to win under it. That they go into the meta-level of addressing social position isn’t a reason they’re special to me. Performative debate, on the other hand, deserves a special discussion.
Performative debate causes a number of changes to the way I interpret the round. First of all, method framing becomes very important; I am honestly not an artist, so I don’t have a single clue how to evaluate your rap/dance/narrative/poetry, and if you don’t tell me otherwise I’ll just evaluate the content of the performance (the actual words being said). I’ve done method debate, so I’m aware that isn’t the greatest, so don’t let me do it! Speaker points during a mutual performance debate will be primarily determined by my personal opinion of your performance. I think that the format of debate has evolved in such a way that speaker points can be allocated in a non-arbitrary way, and if you’re going to try to change that method, it becomes your responsibility to present in an appealing way (or convince me why being appealing/aesthetically pleasing is bad).
To begin with a definition: I use the term technical debate to refer to the type of case that many people in LD refer to as ‘tricks’. This can be individual arguments in a wider strategy that could be grouped under another category, such as including a skepticism trigger in a deontological affirmative, or a case devoted to these technical ‘gimmicks’, such as the oft-loathed polls affirmative.
Frankly, I liked these debates. I differ strongly from the dominant opinion of them in that way. I think technical debates advance education and information about things that are rarely, if ever, otherwise discussed in debate, such as linguistics, truth testing theory, conditional logic, intensive definition debates, epistemological and normative skepticism, determinism, and others. I think they sponsor critical thinking and awareness in ways that no other variety of position can do. I think they are perfectly real world in the policymaking sense, in which political goals are frequently achieved by playing with and working around the tunnels and loopholes of the law (look up ‘riders’ in the context of legislation for a perfect example of what a mean, and it’s also a good idea to cut those articles as theory evidence for why this type of education if real-world relevant. Other real-world things in a similar vein are legal loopholes, conditional logic in programming, and filibusters). I am very open to these arguments, and if there was any argument I prefer over others, it is technical debate, perhaps displaced by very specific and well-written critical affirmatives. I think it is arbitrary and exclusive for a judge to decide that these types of arguments are illegitimate because they are ‘cheap’ and ‘gimmicky’, but still be willing to vote on small concessions and debate intricacies such as 0% risk or theory or a NIB, especially when technical positions, when written well, are founded in legitimate and academic literature.
Furthermore, there is a reason I call this type of debate technical debate. It is very precise and, despite the dominant view, difficult to execute properly. It requires an intimate understanding of your evaluative meta-framework for the round – and I don’t mean Kantian maxims or utilitarianism, I mean truth-testing, conditional logic or policymaking. You have to understand why presenting definitions that make the resolution tautologically true warrants a ballot, or why the particular parts of the resolution are the antecedent or the consequent, and why proving the antecedent false is sufficient reason for you to win even though it seems like you haven’t proven anything of substance. It also requires a very skilled debater in order to have all the correct pre-empts in the AC, the wording of which can mean the difference between being able to straight drop the inevitable theory shells coming in the NC and being spread out by them. Tricks do not offer free wins. Tricks are an intricate strategy, formed out of many small arguments. Don’t misinterpret the seeming ease of extension for ease of execution.
…this ultimately leads me to the theory debate surrounding ‘tricks’. I do not err one way or the other on theory debates surrounding arguments such as a prioris, cross-ex checks, AFC, etc. Go ahead and read them, though I do personally think it’s lazy to do so; there are definitely instances when it is the most strategic option. I think there is a lot of unexplored offense to be found in these theory debates for the affirmative, and I also think there’s a lot of neutralizing to be done making reciprocity arguments (the neg is perfectly capable of reading these too, don’t blame me for bad NC strategy). There are also strong uniqueness debates to be had, about how the ‘preemptive’ and ‘undebatable’ nature of technical debate happens just as often in framework, theory and K debates (especially theory debates – there’s even a lot of carded evidence on this question. Think Rebecca Kuang’s The Desolation of Theory, if you’ve seen it. It has since been taken down). I personally think the best way to beat a technical debater is to not read theory at all. They spent way too much time preparing for it, and most of their practice is answering it; why give them that advantage?
This probably doesn't deserve its own section, from a philosophical standpoint, but practically it needs one. I'll borrow my standpoint on this from Christian Tarsney: "It self-evidently should not be the case that 70 percent of high-level debate rounds are decided by debates about the rules of debate." That said, I disagree about the reason that that is the case; I believe that debate is ultimately a game of who cheats better, so I think that it is the case not because it's silly, but because people should be better at leveraging their own cheating.
It's probably good to describe what I mean by cheating here; 'cheating' in this context means changing the rules or standards of the round in such a way that you come out ahead. This includes but is not limited to twisting impact calculus, 'spinning' evidence, taking strategic time trade-offs, etc. I think you are playing a game, and a game to which you get to write the rules, and as such you should try to push them in a direction that is advantageous to you. What that translates to is that I have a high threshold on voting for theory, but a fairly normal threshold for dropping the argument. I also tend to give fairly significant weight to arguments like “hard debate is good debate” and “critical thinking outweighs fairness” which a lot of people would consider silly (DO NOT think that justifies making these arguments without warrant; warrant your theory arguments).
Meta-theory I think is a little silly. All theory (and most critical, for that matter) positions in some way indict the method in which a debater has presented themselves or their arguments; you should be able to weigh substantive skews against any theoretical skews. For reference, meta-theory refers to theoretical arguments that refer to other theoretical arguments, i.e. multiple theory shells bad, negatively worded interpretations bad, etc. I have no a priori issue with these arguments, even if I think they are often used in ways that are rather asinine, just don’t think that just because it’s about theory you get to ignore their shell(s). Theory isn’t a gateway issue because it indicts the legitimacy of X argument(s), theory is a gateway issue because it appeals to higher levels of a judge’s obligation than a substantive argument.
Also, something a lot of people do is assume that theory is a trump card for everything. This is not the case. Theory appeals to principles that define how we would like an ideal debate forum to look like. You know what else does that? Any kritik that functions at a level above substantive policy action (hint: most, if not all of them). Your critique of gendered language? Probably speaks to the education being given in the round. Your race K? Probably has something to say about the way that fairness in debate is structured. So, leverage your impacts at the level they operate on; just because they said that ‘theory is a gateway issue’ does not make them right. In the current state of LD debate, I believe that a strong K debater should be able to beat an arguably better theory debater at the voter level.
In a similar vein, one thing that happens a lot in policy but almost never in LD is the framing of what theory is trying to achieve; that is, defining the voters beyond buzzwords. What the f**k does fairness mean? What about education? Can we be educated about the mythology of Adventure Time? Is that equivalent to learning about tensions in the South China Sea or the ethical position of passive bystanders? Probably not. It probably makes sense to give more leeway in fairness to affirmatives from the core of the topic literature. It also probably makes sense to allow slightly more contradictory negative positions when those positions come from deep in the opposition. But we as LDers don’t ever flesh out these issues, so we lose on arguments like the neg must defend the converse of the resolution. Make better arguments, beat theory more often.
I went for basically anything when I was in high school, so do whatever you like. Primarily a K debater my senior year.
DAs/Case: Yay. Go for it, they're fun and easy. Link stories and specific links are great, but not required.
Counterplans: I give more leeway for counterplans than most people. I like fun counterplans. I'm also perfectly content with generic counterplans; though I'm sure by halfway through a tournament I'll be less excited about it.
Neg Kritiks: Favorite argument in high school. Most of my experience was in Marxism, neoliberalism, anarchism, fem IR and biopolitical stuff (Foucault, Agamben), but don't be afraid to read other arguments, as long as you can give the 15-second Wikipedia version confidently. If you can't, I would advise against the position for strategic reasons more than anything else.
Aff Kritiks: Like these too. Be very careful about execution, internal link stories tend to be a problem with these. I hold non-topical versions of K Affs to a very high standard. Performance is fine, though providing a way to evaluate it is wonderful (as an advocacy, solvency mechanism, etc).
Theory/T: Go for it. I err neg on condo, aff on topicality. I think people don't go for these positions enough, but most people are not fabulous at going for it, so if you think you fall into that camp, don't go for it.
I like sass, humor and confidence. I also like civility and politeness. Try to favor the latter if you can't decide which to go with. I give speaks based mostly off of presentation: technical skill, control of CX, ability to execute a strategy confidently. Subjective considerations like the above happen after that. I say clear.
Things that will tank your speaks: being an asshole, advocating any bigoted position (this means being blatantly heteronormative, sexist, racist, etc.), being so unclear I have to back-flow most of the debate. Nothing else will result in less than a 26.5 (or a 27 if the tournament doesn't like fractions). An exception is if you do incredibly gutsy things like kick the 1AC or go all in on a DA in the block, which will push your speaks pretty high.
Rose. Nordberg Paradigm
Debated policy in highschool for 2 years, and competed in the college circuit for one year at UNLV.
While find straight up arguments to be more persuasive, i'm willing to listen and vote on the K as well, as long as there is a clear, thoroughly explained alt. Having a net ben to your K works wonders. I will not flow through arguments for you, please extend and clearly sign post, it will benefit you greatly with me.
I tend to vote on:
I will not be offended if you want to spend some time in your rebuttal writing my ballot for me. Please tell me why you win the debate, make it obnoxiously clear to me who i'm going to vote for.
Let's have fun! :>
Henry Olson Paradigm
I debated policy for West High school and went on to coach for them, as well as becoming the dedicated policy coach at East High school. When I was in high school I was a k, framework, and theory debater. As long as an argument follows the proper structure, I don't care how crazy it is, go for it. Explain it well, however, I like to know what I'm getting when I sign a ballot. As for speed, if you sound like a garbage disposal chewing up a glass, I will just stop flowing.
If you have any specific questions feel more than free to ask them for the round, but I am lazy and don't feel like writing 20 paragraphs on what arguments I like.
Brian Warren Paradigm
Assistant debate coach @ Damien HS in La Verne, California. Debated 3 1/2 years of policy debate at UNLV. Had some accomplishments.
Three updates after Greenhill 2019
1. Impact out your T arguments. Tell me why fairness/education etc. matters, otherwise it would be very hard for me to vote on framework. Having a TVA that actually solves some portion of the aff is very effective in neutralizing aff offense, but it needs to have a line or two as to why it actually solves/accesses their lit base. Don't be afraid to go all in on fairness.
2. I am an expressive judge. I will nod my head if I think what your saying is reasonable and make sense. I might wince if I hear a response that sucks. I am sorry if this offends you.
3. Please, I want a policy v policy round.
*Tech > Truth. Its the only way for bad 2AC add-ons to survive. I give 1ARs leeway, but not too much. If an argument is obviously asinine, then you should be able to refute it even without cards. Favorite debates are Impact Turn debates and Soft Left Affs v Disad/CP debates.
*I like a good policy v policy debate where each side goes in-depth on certain arguments, however I dislike when teams throw a thousand cards around but don't explain any of them. I also like K v policy debates, they are some of the most interesting debates. K v K debates are a toss up, sometimes they are cool, other times they're not. I don't like it when teams say buzzwords and don't explain them. I have knowledge about the Set Col/Security/Marx lit, but other than that, I am aware that the lit exists but never read it myself (i.e. DnG)
*Have fun. A joyous debate is 10x better than a boring one. A spicy debate is 100x than any debate :)
Detailed (more or less) View of Debate:
DA: Enjoy them. A well thought out story is awesome! Generics are fine, but please contextualize or I will be more likely to discount your evidence. Impact calc is important, especially turns case that make sense.
CP: Enjoy them too. Unique CP's are awesome! CPs with a billion planks are cool too (but honestly might lean Aff on theory for some atrocious CP's)
T: Ok. Not the best judge honestly, but understand it enough to adjudicate fairly. T is about a vision of the topic, so even if your interp is limiting, could it be universally assumed by other teams i.e. if I saw the topic, is this a definition that would produce fruitful debates?
FW: Solid. These debates get boring, but I have been in tons of them so I understand what you need to win and how you are going to lose. Choose either fairness or education/advocacy/whatever flavor in the 2NR. I am solid either way. The cold debaters who say debate is a game and nothing matters will win just as much as the debaters who say debate is a training ground and policy education is good. HOWEVER, even though I understand FW, it doesn't mean I will auto vote for you. I actually very much dislike teams that are trash at FW. It frustrating.
K: Enjoy them, either side of the debate. They can sometimes be the most cool arguments in debate, but also can be the worst arguments. You do you. Links need to not be generic. You have to clearly articulate the story and why the K matters. I will vote on extinction outweighs, but I also know what the policy teams needs to win to beat the k and if they don't I'll easily vote on the K. K aff's are cool too.
C-X: You can be aggressive but don't be mean. Answer questions, I will give you low speaks if you are dodgy; However, not every question has a yes or no answer, and your opponent is perfectly within their rights to say they need to give an explanation. SERIOUSLY C-X gets you high speaker points, use it to defeat your opponent.
Theory: Boo! Not the best judge for this, lean Aff on a lot of things. Yes I will vote on Condo. BUT PLEASE DON'T MAKE THE DEBATE ABOUT THEORY. I understand if its your only way out, but for the love of god, don't please.
Any questions, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org Please include me on the email chain.
amber jones Paradigm
University of Nevada, Las Vegas | Foothill High School
I have been on UNLV's policy debate team for two years.
I have four years of experience in public forum from high school.
Please include me on the email chain
I am willing to evaluate any arguments that you make, as long as you explain and execute it well. There is no need to change your arguments to something you think I like or will vote on, just give me the best debate you can, using your best arguments, and you will be fine. This is my first year judging policy so my paradigm is still a work in progress.
I will attempt to be as neutral as possible and evaluate the arguments presented in the debate independent of my own opinions. Keep in mind that debate is facilitated by fiat, the mutual agreement that we will discuss whether or not the plan should be done.
Negative strategy – I believe in preserving maximum strategic and theoretical flexibility for negative teams. Contradicting arguments early on in the debate are fine as long as it is narrowed down in the negative block and the 2NR is consistent. Though too many contradicting arguments (3+) will make me more sympathetic to the affirmative.
Affirmative strategy - A good 1AR should attempt to make the 2NR's job difficult by reading plenty of evidence, covering, and always using offense. For the 1AR and 2AR I think it is important to EXTEND WARRANTS inside your evidence. You should explain the importance/relevance/ implications of the evidence as well. Just saying “extend our Johnson ’12 card,” does not count as extending the evidence!
Aff- I am open to critical affirmatives that have a relationship to the topic. I have a difficult time voting on an affirmative without a relationship to the topic (as articulated in the round). I will not vote on T/FW just because it was read, it is the burden of the negative to prove to me why that affirmative is not topical or why it shouldn't be run in debate.
Negative critical arguments: I am willing to vote on critical arguments, as long as it is well explained and has specific links to the aff. Your Kritik should have an alt and impact that is explained by the negative, I am highly unlikely to vote negative if you do not extend the alt. I am not familiar with all critical arguments, but I have had experience with a wide variety. Good alt explanation can resolve any lack of knowledge I have. The affirmative should always permutate critical arguments, and explain how the permutation functions.
CPs— I am fine with counterplans, but prefer they have some sort of solvency advocate as well as a net benefit. 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.
Disadvantages- Needs to be as specific as possible to the aff and the link story should make sense. Make sure to explain how the aff links to the disad and how it triggers the impact.
Topicality- All for it, I feel that it is a very strategic argument to be made in debate. Needs to be well articulated with both sides submitting competing interpretations. T arguments should be extremely structured and organized to make it easier for me to see why this is a voting issue.
Speaker Points- You should be clear and able to explain your arguments well. I enjoy jokes and clever analogies that are relevant to the round and arguments being made.
Few other things-
- Do not steal prep!!!! I do not take time for sending out the document, but when the team that took prep calls time, everyone else should pause until the speech is handed over and begins.
- Only one person should be speaking per speech, unless it is a performative necessity or an accessibility issue in which case that should be made clear during the debate.
- Flow! If you are not flowing I notice and it probably reflects in the quality of your speeches, in particular the line by line debate.
- Debate should be fun; it is a game so be nice and courteous to everyone involved.
If you would like something explained further, please feel free to ask me some questions before the round.