Saturday, June 27, 2009

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Eight

1a: Secret Agent 2a: Jesslyn Mitchell 1N: McKenzie 2N: Madhu

I’ll take this one backwards. I thought this was great for an early round, and I think that some of the technical issues are easy to fix. You’re working hard on impact comparison and evidence comparison and big picture issues, and that’s conceptually tougher, so filling in some technical aspects should be a relatively easy fix!


I normally think that rebuttals should be fast. I think this is an exception. Some technical problems in the 2NR mean that you should be brisk, but go relatively slow and emphasize simple arguments.

It’s uncomplicated. They dropped the case. The disad doesn’t solve the case. It’s 100% risk, which is rare in debate. Aff should be the only route to survivability. If you vote neg, everything will perish in nuclear hellfire.

In such a situation, it seems that you could lose only if: you failed on the risk comparison debate, bigtime, or if the judge fails to comprehend your fairly simple picture of the round. So compare risk thoroughly and explicitly, and safeguard against any chance of confusion.

Treating this as a bigger round with more arguments just makes it seem like a more complicated judging calculus than it really is.

Also, I don't think you ever really say that you outweigh. It’s worthwhile to have distinct risk comparisons for each unanswered advantage here – they can last about a minute, be conversational, and still leave you plenty of time to cover the DA.

Your internal link turn evidence is comparative, which bears mention.


Don’t be bummed! You are doing tons of things right. The things you are doing wrong are much easier to teach than your natural intellectual prowess, so be of good cheer.

Kick out of disad by conceding specific defensive answers. Even if you’re fairly sure there’s no offense, select the best link and impact defense just in case you missed something; the time difference for the failsafe is negligible.

Good risk comparison, but you never want to be in this place in a 2NR. You are comparing to an absolute risk of case. That rarely works. You have to defend a counterplan or some impact defense or some world where the status quo is not teetering on the brink of extinction.

Almost every 2NR seeks to neutralize the case in some way. Simply outweighing it can work, but I think it’s a relatively low percentage.

"More evidence" is rarely, by itself, a winning evidence comparison. Should 3 bad cards ever beat 1 good one? Probably not. Numerically superior evidence might prove a consensus or, if you’re really unsure of a judges’ evaluative criteria, might hedge your bets. That’s generally implicit, though, and you should articulate different comparisons.

1AR: good job! Great use of embedded clash, for the most part. You clearly warrant without excessive signposting, while being easy to follow and flow.

Don't self-deprecate by whatever-ing certain arguments. You should never downplay one of your arguments or scratch it or shrug it off. I’ve never really understood the dynamic that drives this process, but I know that it’s a virulent anti-win virus.
You have extra time. You should never have extra time. Read more cards. You said you didn’t have more cards. Solution – cut more cards. It’s CTBT – you should be reading 4-5 additional pieces of evidence minimum.

1NR: Good job, and clean focus. Two major pieces of advice:

1. You have a great effort to compare impacts; you’re way ahead of the curve. Don’t totally fall back, though, on “nuke war causes your impact.” I mean, you are correct. A nuclear war would likely trigger most smaller impact, causing bad health and loss of biodiversity and probably an antidemocratic ethos. I think you need to make that claim quickly – almost self-evident claims don’t need a lot of explanation or repetition – and move onto some arguments about why your INTERNAL LINKS cause their impact, instead of banking on your terminal impact triggering theirs. For example, CTBT might trigger enough international goodwill to uniquely solve their human rights leadership advantage; it’s probably far more important to our sort power than some restrictions on immigrant health care. Since both teams generally access some terminal global war impact, it’s important to do some comparison. Yup, nuke war definitely ends everything, everyone agrees…now what?

2. Practice flowing. You rely on their stacks of evidence. Good shortcut, but a dangerous one – you can’t trust your opponents to order it correctly.


1. Offense, offense, offense. You should be spending at least 5:30 on your major offensive argument. You spend too much time on case defense, which you abandon in the 2NR. You need a reason that the aff is BAD, not just “not quite so good.” Winning your offense, then comparing it, is more important than direct refutation. Of course, some refutation is necessary – the @NR goes too far in the other direction. I’d spend 2:30 on some of your best case arguments in this speech. Choose fewer case argument to extend to make sure only your best ones consume your time.

2. Read the 1NR comment on “make turns case args other than ‘nuke war causes your impact’”.

3. Read the Hardy paperless manual which I sent to you all. I know it seems weird, but it seems to work, and your new coach has a fantastic sense of the real mechanics of debates; he’ll walk you through this.


CX: Ask more offensive questions. In other words, MAKE ARGUMENTS.

For each "act" of the cross-x, there should be a point. You should be able to grade each 30-second segment as Win, Draw or Lose – and if the aff spends that time just clarifying their args, you’re losing the cross-x.

Jess, try to maximize your speech time - I would take this whole speech and run with it when your opponent is being tentative. This is ideal, because everyone is somewhat relieved and you win. I don’t believe in talking over your cross-examiner – I just think she’ll let you keep going if you’re polite but firm about it.

2AC: Pretty good.

You just read evidence on the case – and you read a lot of new cards. These are defensive arguments – I think you should be able to a. apply, b. compare, then c. move on. If you can’t, your 1AC is built wrong because that’s a large part of what it’s there for. Save the bulk of your card reading for answering their offense and diversifying advantages, not reinforcing your original claims.

Straight internal link turn inflation. Productivity growth is the only way to achieve non-inflationary growth.

1NC: Very good speaking – it’s coming along nicely! Don’t put the case defense on top, though. I’d put the offcase observations first.

1AC: Well spoken. Apply my substantive 1AC comments from other ballots!

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