Loose Nukes Because every debate can be improved with a little highly-enriched uranium.

2Mar/119

Über parametrics throwdown

The success of parametrics can be (at least partially) attributed to the fact that it has a really cool name. Why argue about boring stuff like "advantages" when you can argue about "resolutional parameters"? Parametrics is serious business, however; it could easily make or break a round against a counterplan, so it's important to understand how it works. In this post, I take a comprehensive look at what parametrics is, why it exists, and why it's flawed.

The problem of classic rezcentrism

Classic rezcentrism argues that, when the judge checks the Affirmative box, they're voting for the resolution – plain and simple. Likewise, when they check the Negative box, they're rejecting the resolution.

The problem comes from offtopic disadvantages. Suppose the Affirmative is running Abolish the 123 Agreement, and the Negative doesn't have any evidence. They get up and say, “Judge, voting for the resolution endorses reforming the status quo, but not all reforms to the status quo are good.” They then proceed to eloquently argue that nuking Russia (which is not the Affirmative's plan) would be a bad idea, concluding, “While the Affirmative's reform may be a good idea, there are lots of other possible reforms that are terrible ideas, so you shouldn't vote for the resolution.”

That just sounds... wrong. The Negative is supposed to argue against the Affirmative's plan. But this is an entirely legitimate argument if you endorse the classic rezcentrist framework. If you really are voting for the resolution as a whole, then the Affirmative must prove that every possible topical reform is good.

This isn't really a new idea. In LD, the Negative will often raise “counterwarrants” – general examples that demonstrate that the resolution is false, but aren't necessarily specific to the Affirmative's case. This works in LD, where the resolution is a single general idea – but it shouldn't work in TP, where the resolution encompasses a lot of specific ideas. Classic rezcentrism treats TP resolutions just like LD resolutions, leading to all kinds of abuse.

The problem of plancentrism

LD is about the resolution. TP is about plans. So why not say that voting Affirmative is simply voting for the Affirmative's plan? That's what plancentrism argues.

The problem is topicality. If voting Affirmative is simply voting for the Affirmative's plan, then there is no requirement for them to be topical - period. (If you think there is, you're not thinking of plancentrism. In plancentrism, you are not voting for the resolution, you're voting for the plan. The resolution never enters the discussion.)

The parametric solution

Obviously, neither framework is satisfactory. Parametrics (from the word “parameters”) tries to provide a workable middle ground. Parametrics says that when the Affirmative reads their plan, they narrow the resolution down to just that specific reform. All the other reforms that used to be topical are no longer part of the resolution. In other words, the judge is voting for the resolution, but since the resolution becomes the plan, they're really just voting for the plan. Functionally, parametrics is just plancentrism with a topicality requirement: the Negative can't run irrelevant disadvantages, the Affirmative has to be topical, and everyone is happy.

Okay, so we've found a framework that makes sense. Can't we all just agree that offtopic disadvantages are bad, and move on with our lives? Why do we need to understand why?

Two words: Topical Counterplans.

Conventionally, the Negative can't run counterplans that affirm the resolution. However, if the Affirmative is narrowing down the resolution to just their plan, things that used to affirm the resolution no longer do. In other words, topical counterplans are A-OK – if it isn't the Affirmative's plan, it's legit. (Assuming it's competitive – but that's a different discussion.)

Obviously, Negative teams love this idea. (“Anything I want as a counterplan? Cool!”) Chances are, if you ever see a topical counterplan, parametrics will be used to justify it. That's why it's important to realize a simple fact:

Parametrics is wrong.

Some bad responses

Before I get into the good responses, I want to briefly discuss two bad responses I often see:

First, “parametrics makes topicality useless – if the Affirmative redefines the resolution to be their plan, then they can run whatever and it's topical.” If you've read the previous few sections, it should be obvious why this is a bad argument. Parametrics is not the same thing as plancentrism. The Affirmative doesn't redefine the resolution, they narrow the resolution. Thus, if the plan never fit in the resolution in the first place, it's still not topical regardless of parametrics.

Second, “this is equivocation – you can't just change the resolution partway into the round like that.” Why not? Changing definitions can be bad in other areas, but I've never seen any logical justification to define narrowing the resolution as “equivocation”.

The logical-deficiency response

Even if we accept that there are problems with the classic rezcentrist framework, that doesn't necessarily mean that parametrics (and topical counterplans) are justified, for two reasons:

1. Parametrics is unnecessary to prevent abuses

The entire debate over frameworks is based on the need to eliminate abuses. All of this ignores an important fact: Abuse is an inherent limit. The mere fact that something is abusive is enough reason not to do it; you don't need a special framework.

In the NCFCA/Stoa, you're not supposed to run morally-difficult plans like banning abortion – not because the resolution says so, but because you simply shouldn't do that. Likewise, the judge can vote against you for punching the other team in the face – not because the resolution says so, but because you simply shouldn't do that. Why do topicality and offtopic disadvantages have to be any different?

Viewed in this light, neither plancentrism nor classic rezcentrism have a problem. The Affirmative should stick to the resolution to preserve the educational value of debate, and the Negative shouldn't run offtopic disadvantages because, frankly, they're just stupid. The parametrics framework is unnecessary.

2. Logical leaps

As mentioned above, parametrics is most often used to justify topical counterplans. According to the theory, by narrowing the resolution, the Affirmative is ceding the rest of the resolution to the Negative. If it isn't Affirmative ground, so the argument goes, it must be Negative ground. There's a logical leap here that's rarely discussed:

Why does the ground have to go anywhere?

You can't just say “well, it has to be someone's,” because there are lots of things that are neither Affirmative nor Negative ground – for example, nontopical areas of discussion, morally difficult or abusive arguments, or breaking into unrelated rap songs. Why can't the ground the Affirmative loses when they narrow the resolution simply become no-man's-land? Parametrics doesn't answer that question. Put simply, the parametrics framework does not logically justify topical counterplans.

What everyone misses: The requirement of the resolution

None of this matters.

All three frameworks discussed so far have been based off of the assumption that voting for the entire resolution endorses every possible plan. The problem is: that's not what the resolution says. Let me explain.

The resolution says, generically, “resolved: that we should reform the status quo.” “Should” indicates a need; thus, by affirming the resolution, you are acknowledging that we need to reform the status quo. Affirming the resolution does not endorse every possible fulfillment of that need, because saying “we should reform the status quo” is not the same thing as saying “we should reform the status quo in every possible way.”

Let me say that again:

The resolution is not a collection of plans; it is the affirmation of a need.

This puts the entire issue in a very different light. The fact that there are bad ways to solve a need doesn't eliminate the need. To quote Jordan Bakke, saying that we shouldn't vote for the resolution because some of the possible reforms are bad is “as absurd as saying 'I shouldn't go out and rob a bank tonight; therefore, I shouldn't go out tonight.'”

Therefore, offtopic disadvantages have no influence on the round.

Therefore, we don't need to solve them.

Therefore, parametrics is completely unnecessary.

Dr. Doyle Srader, director of forensics at Northwest Christian University, illustrated this a lot better than I ever could:

"We should go to McDonald's."
"They don't have anything good there."
"The cheeseburgers are good. Last week you had a McDonald's cheeseburger, and you said it was really good."
"True, but the soft serve ice cream is really nasty. It's just lard with sugar."
"So don't get the soft serve ice cream."
"But how can you say we should go to McDonald's if the ice cream is bad? If there are bad items on the menu, then we shouldn't go."
"That makes no sense! If there's something good you could order and enjoy, then it's irrelevant whether other things on the menu are gross."
"Look, you're the one who said we should go to McDonald's. Soft serve ice cream at McDonald's is nasty, so I can't accept that I should eat at McDonald's. Someone might slip me some of that nasty ice cream, and if I said eating at McDonald's is a good idea, I would have no choice but to choke it down."
"Okay, okay, this is crazy, but here's a suggestion: pick your one good thing off the menu, and we'll put it in a McDonald's bag, and then we'll go outside and sit with our backs to the restaurant, and you can pretend that the word 'McDonald's' only means the contents of your bag. Then would you agree with me that we should eat at McDonald's?"
"At last, you're talking sense!"

The resolution asks: “Is there something good at McDonald's?” Parametrics acts as if the resolution asks: “Is everything good at McDonald's?” That was never the question, so we don't need an answer.

This revised view also makes topical counterplans explicitly illegitimate, because they affirm a need for a reform, and thus uphold the resolution.

Alternate paradigm responses

Let's wrap this all up and put a bow on it. Parametrics isn't necessary, but what do we use instead? Here are three possible alternatives:

1. The Abuse-Limitation paradigm

“The judge should vote Affirmative if their plan is a good idea. If anything is abusive – the plan is nontopical, a disadvantage is abusive, etc. – just don't vote for it.”

This framework basically just throws everything into a big pile and lets the judge decide what is and isn't legitimate. This works, kind of, but it isn't very satisfactory. It's messy, and it doesn't have a nice, clear logical basis to work from. More importantly, it doesn't answer the question of whether topical counterplans are legitimate. You have to hash out the pros and cons in-round.

2. The No-Expansion paradigm

“The Affirmative narrows the resolution down to their plan, but the Negative doesn't get the rest - it's just no-man's-land.”

This is exactly as legitimate as parametrics is: there isn't really any reason for the rest of the resolution to go to the Negative, but there isn't really any reason for it not to, either. As such, this is basically an arbitrary variant of parametrics that only exists to get rid of topical counterplans. It works, but why should we prefer it to parametrics?

3. The One-Good-Reason paradigm

“The judge should vote Affirmative if one good, topical reason for reform is presented.”

I like this framework best, because it acknowledges what I said in the previous section: That the resolution merely affirms a need for reform. This paradigm logically derives from the resolution, and provides a nice, clean solution to the problems that got this whole mess started. The logical implications of this framework are threefold:

  1. The Affirmative must present a topical reason for reform (i.e. a topical plan.)
  2. The Negative can't run offtopic disadvantages (since they don't disprove the need.)
  3. The Negative can't run topical counterplans (since they affirm a need for reform, thereby affirming the resolution.)

A few naysayers may object, “but doesn't that make it impossible for the Negative? After all, there will always be some reason out there for reform if you look hard enough. Wouldn't that fact force you to always vote Affirmative?” No, not really. The reason for reform must be presented in the round – it's not enough for it to merely exist. (This restraint is a corollary to the rule that judges are only supposed to consider what is brought up in-round.)

Extend-o-tron 5000: An anti-parametrics theory block

I've covered a lot of ground in this post. To help you apply this to an actual debate round without your head exploding, I've prepared a short anti-parametrics theory block. This is designed to be read against topical counterplans, if the Negative brings up parametrics. (The text in italic brackets will change based on the year's resolution.)

This will take about a minute and a half to get through.

“We're saying that, when you check that Affirmative box on the ballot, you're voting for the resolution, so you're agreeing that, yes, we should [reform our policy towards Russia]. The problem is, the Negative counterplan is also a [reform of our policy towards Russia], so they're just giving you another reason to vote for the resolution and check that Affirmative box.

“The Negative responded to this problem by essentially asking you to vote for or against our plan, not for or against the resolution. They say that if you vote for the entire resolution, you're making a blanket statement that [reforming our policy towards Russia] is a good idea, so you're agreeing that every possible plan is good. Since that's ridiculous, checking the Affirmative box must not vote for the entire resolution, it just votes for our plan.

“The problem with this is that voting for the resolution doesn't agree with every possible plan. The resolution says that we should [reform our policy towards Russia], not that we should [reform our policy towards Russia] in every possible way. The fact that there are bad ways to [reform our policy towards Russia] doesn't mean we shouldn't [reform it] at all.

“The framework we want you to judge this round on is this: (you can write this down)

Vote Affirmative if one good reason for reform has been presented.
(repeat this so the judge can write it down - “let me say that again…”)

The problem is, the Negative counterplan gives us a reason for reform! They agree that [reforming our policy towards Russia] is a great idea. So you should vote Affirmative.”

One final note. I'm sure this will spark a lot of discussion, so let me quickly establish the framework. Basically, in order to prove that parametrics is relevant, you have to prove that "we should reform the status quo" and "we should reform the status quo in every possible way" are fundamentally the same. If they aren't, parametrics simply isn't relevant.

Have fun!

Filed under: Parametrics, Theory 9 Comments
23Feb/117

Top 5 simple speaking tips

1. Smile!

Being friendly can make the difference between a speech that the judge understands and a speech that the judge likes. If you've never intentionally smiled in a speech, give it a try. Obviously, use discretion - you don't want to be grinning from ear to ear while talking about human trafficking - but there's rarely a reason to look like the Grim Reaper all the way through your speech. Treat your subjects with respect, but don't look like you're about to die.

2. If the judge asks you to do something, actually do it.

This seems kind of... obvious, but I see it violated almost every. single. round. Recently, one judge's entire "judging philosophy" was basically, "I like it when you repeat your taglines." Guess what? Nobody repeated their taglines.

If the judge asks you to do something, doing it should be your highest priority for the round. If the judge asks you to repeat your taglines, then by golly, you better repeat your taglines. If the judge asks you to signpost your arguments, then those arguments had better be signposted. They're the ones checking the ballot, after all.

3. Fix your tics.

Most of us have some little thing we do constantly that annoys the fuzzy furballs out of everyone else - saying "um", clicking pens, etc. Stop doing it.

Most of the time, we just don't realize we're doing it, so all we need is to have someone point it out repeatedly. Have someone watch you speak and *BANG!* on the table really loudly whenever you do it. (Alternatively, you can have a little sibling shoot rubber bands at you.) Several years back, our club president decided to stop saying "um" (which he said all. the. time) and had everyone do this whenever he talked. By the end of the meeting, the "um"s were practically gone.

If, like me, you have problems with "dancing" (moving your feet around too much), a good way to stop is to use a "magic mat". Basically, just stand on something while speaking and pretend your feet are glued to it. It sounds silly, but it's actually remarkably effective at forcing you to think about what your feet are doing.

4. Get sleep.

Caffeine is overrated. If you want to talk well, sleep well. What comes out of your mouth will make a lot more sense.

About a month ago, I inadvertently became a good illustration of this. I was attending a tournament in Fort Worth, and on the first day, I got about 5 hours of sleep. Average speaker points? 25. On the second day, I got about 8 hours of sleep. Average speaker points? 29.

Obviously, that's not statistically robust, but it's illustrative nonetheless. I felt a lot better on the second day, and apparently I spoke a lot better too.

5. If you're a fast talker, SLOW DOWN, seriously.

Think about it this way: If you make sense when you talk fast, you'll make more sense when you talk slow. The average person has difficulty producing an eloquent sentence at ordinary talking speed; if you can do it at 300 WPM, what you come up with at 160 WPM will be brilliant.

I'll use myself as an example. A few years back, I talked... really fast. I was good at it - I won rounds, the judges understood me, and I got decent speaker points. I got a lot of "SLOW DOWN" comments, however, so I decided to cut the speed a bit. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made in debate.

All of a sudden, I didn't just make sense, I was eloquent. Talking slower gave my mind more time to think about what it was saying. I still said the same things in about the same amount of time; I just said them a lot better. (I was afraid I would run out of time, but slowing down made it so much easier to be concise that I never really had problems with it.) My speaker points went through the roof.

There are some situations where being able to go fast is still useful - like when you have 50 arguments to tackle in your 1AR and you can't clump any of them - but as a general rule, talking at a normal rate is far superior. Seriously - slow down. You'll be glad you did.

How? 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will. (Mostly concentrated power of will, though.) Unfortunately, as with most habits, the only real way to stop talking fast is to force yourself not to. It may also help to intentionally breath at the end of every sentence, or intentionally pause now and again to "reset" your speed.

Filed under: Speaking, Speed 7 Comments
16Feb/117

The Epic Flow Post

I cannot overemphasize the importance of good flowing. Last year, there were over 50,000 flowing-related injuries worldwide, outstripping shark attacks, homicides, and teletubbies.

Okay, I'm kidding. But I'm entirely serious when I saw that good flowing is one of the most important keys to winning rounds. In this post, I'll be explaining how I flow. I don't expect everyone to like this system or adopt it completely; I'm just trying to give you a range of ideas and tips that you can adapt to your own styles. First, though, an overview.

There is no such thing as a "right" or "wrong" flowing style

The "right" way to flow is "whatever works best for you" - no more, no less. That said, some flowing styles work better than others. Any good flow system needs to include all of the following characteristics:

  1. Contain a complete, readable record of every major point raised in the round.
  2. Easily track the flow of arguments across speeches. You should be able to easily tell what every rebuttal is responding to, and how it was refuted.
  3. Allow you to easily construct the outline of your next speech.
  4. Be easy to set up, execute, and shut down (no super-complicated diagrams to draw, long phrases to write, or tons of pages to gather up at the end.)

My basic setup

(Note: If you ever have trouble visualizing what I'm talking about, scroll down to the bottom and take a look at the interactive flow scan - it'll make things clearer.)

I flow on a standard 8½-by-11 pad of paper, across two facing pages. I fold each page into quarters, so there are creases that demarcate four speeches on each page. (You can also draw lines, but I usually don't bother.) It looks like this:


Unlike many people, I don't usually put the speech names (1AC, 1NC, etc.) at the top of each column; you're not likely to forget which column is the 2AC halfway through the round.

If you find yourself needing more space, you can also use a legal-size pad (for wider columns) or flip up the page and write on the one underneath. The latter option messes up my argument tracking (coming later), and the former option wouldn't fit into my spiffy brown flowpad folder, so I usually just write smaller. About a minute into a speech, you can usually guesstimate about how much content is going to be in it, and use your space accordingly.

I flow in pencil so I can erase mistakes; others prefer pen. A single pad of paper is preferable to several loose sheets, since it's easier to keep track of it at the table.

Flowing arguments

I flow chronologically; i.e. I write down everything they say, in the order they say it. This contrasts to a number of other systems that flow responses side-by-side or on different sheets of paper. Both methods have their downsides; I've managed to solve most of the shortcomings of the chronological method with my argument-tracking system (below), but organizing your speeches can take a little practice. In my opinion, however, this is less of a problem than some of the downsides of argument-based systems.

I leave small gaps between each argument to distinguish them visually. This works better than lines, which would be confusing (since I use lines for other things.) Consistency is the key; you want arguments to have a unique visual style, so you can pick them out instantly without having to wade through lots of text.

Sections

I obsessively break things up into sections. If it feels like my opponents are moving on to a new topic (for example, a new stock issue), I make a new section heading for it. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. It increases the visual "texture" of the flow, so it's easier for your eyes to find things. Section headers give your eyes a sort of landmark to work off of, like grid lines on a map, or paragraph breaks in a newspaper.
  2. It improves your organization and refutation by helping you think of arguments as part of general topics. ("Solvency point three" as opposed to "argument number 14", for example.) This helps you make connections and recognize underlying themes, so you don't have to respond to every single point directly.

I differentiate sections, arguments, and subpoints of arguments by indentation level. For example:

Solvency
Inherent barriers
a - corruption
b - national sovereignty
ev: Russia will refuse

For those of you wondering "don't you sometimes get squished up really close to the right side of the column?", the answer is yes. Fortunately, having more than two levels of indentation is rare, so it's not much of a problem.

Abbreviations and symbols

Having a good set of abbreviations and symbols is probably the biggest secret to flowing. Everyone will gradually evolve their own set, but here are some ones I use frequently, to give you some ideas:

Adv -  advantage
c/app -  cross-apply (as in, "c/app 1AC ev" - cross-apply the evidence from the 1AC)
crit -  criterion
DA -  disadvantage
dep -  dependent (as in, "rel dep on JV" - relations are dependent on Jackson-Vanik.)
ev: -  indicates that evidence was read for a point (for example, "ev: will improve relations with Russia".) I've seen a circled "e" used for this, but I try to avoid circles since it looks too much like my argument tracking system (see below.)
fx -  effects
inh -  inherency
sol -  solvency
n/spec (or n-spec)  -  indicates that evidence was not specific to the policy or country being discussed (for example, solvency evidence for the 123 agreement that says "nuclear cooperation improves relations with the recipient country" but doesn't specifically mention Russia.)
R -  Russia
ref -  refutation or reform ("no ref" could mean "they haven't refuted this" OR "this is not a reform", depending on the context)
rel -  relations
sig -  significance (the stock issue) or significant (the word).
src -  source (as of evidence)
T -  topicality
w/ -  with (for example, w/R would be "with Russia")
w/out -  without

I also invent a ton of abbreviations on the fly - usually for important issues in the round, like the name of the law they're passing. (For example, JV for Jackson-Vanik, EMD for European Missile Defense, NS for New START, etc.)

A super-useful symbol: The "splorple" (redirect symbol)

If you don't try anything else, try this - it's incredibly useful. Basically, the splorple (redirect symbol) tells you to insert something from somewhere else on the flow. You draw the splorple, and then draw a curvy line to the text you want to insert. When you're giving your speech, the symbol tells you to insert whatever it points to there. It's hard to miss. (Later, when you hit the text that you already inserted, the line coming out of it tells you not to say it.) Here's what it looks like:

This is immensely useful, because it allows you to quickly change the order of your speech. If you need to move an argument around after you've already written things down, you don't have to erase anything; just quickly draw the symbol. It saves a ton of time and helps make your speeches more organized.

Argument tracking/bubble flowing

One of the key problems with chronological flowing is that it's hard to track the flow of arguments throughout the round. To help solve this, I use a version of something called "bubble flowing." Here's how it works:

  1. When an argument is responded to, circle it,
  2. And draw a straight line from the circle to the response.

That's pretty much it. Now, you can easily trace an argument throughout the round, and tell what's been dropped just by look at what isn't circled. There are a couple of particulars worth mentioning:

  1. Use straight lines, not curvy lines. Your eyes can jump to the end of a straight line a lot faster than they can follow a curve. It doesn't matter if the line crosses text; you'll still be able to read it (unless you're flowing with a really thick pen, which you shouldn't be.)
  2. This isn't inflexible - if the argument was several speeches back, don't bother with the line; it's more trouble than it's worth. The most common instances of this are new 1AC responses in the 2NC. (They're basically new arguments anyway, so it's not really important to show what they're responding to.)
  3. Don't overdo it. You don't need to link every solvency argument back to the Solvency section in the 1AC - just direct responses.

For examples, see below.

Extend-o-tron 5000: An interactive flow

For your study, I've put together an interactive visual scan of one of my flows, from quarterfinals at the last tournament. (I picked this flow because it's very detailed and illustrates a lot of my techniques; in-round flows tend to be a lot messier.) Click on the image below and hover your mouse over any text to see what it says, and what I mean by it.

Click to go to the interactive flow

Filed under: Flowing 7 Comments
9Feb/119

CONFESS, HERETIC!!!

You've just finished a fantastic speech, and your opponent is getting up to cross-examine you. Renowned for his brilliant, probing questions, his reputation alone would make any self-respective debater quake in fear. Not you. Over the course of your career you've become a master at eloquently avoiding questions, not conceding points, and generally wasting the other team's time. You have nothing to fear. You're great at taking CX.

Wrong.

I argue that you should do two things:

  1. Answer every question directly and accurately.
  2. Intentionally make your answers as concise as possible. Say only what is neccessary to make your point, and then stop talking.

This is a radical proposition. Not only am I telling you to answer all the questions, I'm essentially telling you to give the other team as much time as possible. "But wait," you may say. "Am I just supposed to lay down and let them walk all over me?" Not at all. If anything, responding directly increases your ability to defend yourself in cross-examination.

Answers are power

Evasive CXes are, simply put, tactical attempts to avoid arguments. This is entirely the wrong approach: the point of debate is to beat arguments, not sneak around them. The other team is handing you an opportunity to respond on a silver platter. Use it, and just crush the argument. Seriously. A concise, clear rebuttal is infinitely more powerful than a jumble of slippery weasel eggs. If your arguments are sound, you have nothing to fear from answering questions frankly; if they aren't, you need to change your arguments, not give tricky answers.

Brevity is wit

Basically, don't try to waste the other team's time. There are several good reasons to keep your answers as concise as possible:

  1. Your judges will like you. Judges love clear, simple rhetoric, and will consider you more articulate and professional. I've seen this theme consistently across innumerable ballots and conversations with parent, alumni, and community judges.
  2. Your opponents will like you. There are few things more annoying than a longwinded answerer. If they don't constantly have to cut you off, CX will be less aggressive. If nothing else, this will help keep your blood pressure down.
  3. It's good practice. In contrast to CX, brevity is at premium during speeches. Learning how to concisely respond in CX is excellent practice for concisely responding in rebuttals. In contrast, getting used to rambling can form bad habits.

Note that by "brevity" I don't mean "leaving out information" (unless the information is unnecessary, of course.) I merely mean "not rambling on endlessly when you could make your point in a few words" - cutting out the fluff and getting straight to the point. ("No, our second mandate says the program will be canceled if that happens." Quick and neat.)

A final note

One final issue I'd like to address: what about the other team trapping you into saying something that they later turn against you? This is a legitimate concern, but avoiding questions isn't the solution. You will still say things that your opponents can use against you. Learning to give powerful, straightforward answers has helped me avoid slipping up much more than avoiding questions ever did.

Done right, answering CX questions can be just as powerful as asking them. You'll come away with your arguments clearer and your credibility enhanced. Use your answers to answer, and your ballots will thank you.

Extend-o-tron 5000: A video example

Bonus: Here's an quick example to illustrate what this looks like (national champion Patrick Shipsey being cross-examined at NCFCA Nationals in 2010.) While a few of his answers could be a bit more concise, it's an excellent example of the general concept I'm talking about. Notice how the Affirmative spends more time asking the questions than he spends answering them - and how she completely fails to get any useful concessions out of him.

5Feb/110

A farewell, and a hello

A farewell...

I've debated in NCFCA/Stoa for six years now. Unfortunately, for geographic reasons, my final season will be cut a bit short. I'll still be active in debate, but I won't be active in debate.

Right. That made perfect sense.

...and a hello

You accumulate a lot of random junk in your head after debating for six years. If you don't let it out, it builds up pressure until your head explodes. (Or something like that. I'm guessing this is why so many alumni come back to coach.) Starting this Wednesday, I'll be posting a series of random articles about... stuff. I'll be focusing mostly on practical tips, but if you want me to write about anything else (cases, theory arguments, whatever), just leave a comment!

First up: Responding in cross-examination. See you Wednesday.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments