[eDebate] Brian Smith judge philosophy
Wed Oct 25 19:31:32 CDT 2006
I'm judging at the Harvard tournament this weekend. Given the recent
debateresults.com difficulties, here's my judge philosophy.
Brian Smith - Dartmouth College
Debate however you want. When faced with a choice, be smart instead of
being technically proficient or reading more cards.
General/What you should say:
I love debate. If there is anything you can do to get me to enjoy
judging you, it is to demonstrate in the debate that you similarly enjoy
the process of debate. Be funny. Have fun. Don't take yourself too
I'm open to pretty much any argument. You should not change your
strategy because of things you think that I think about debates. While
I can't say that I can eliminate all my biases in judging debates, there
is nearly no situation in which things that I think going into the
debate will decide the debate. Please note however, craziness alone
will not win. The other team also has to not answer it. If you are
crazy and get embarrassed you will have a hard time getting me to vote
for you. I can't believe I have to say this, but both kritiks and policy
arguments are totally fine. You should, however, have a robust defense
of why you get to do what you're doing, especially on the aff. (Special
note to the above: If you use puppets in your speeches, be warned, I
reserve the right to use them in my decision.)
I have judged ZERO debates on this topic. Do with that what you will.
I think it means that I don't know very much about the technical issues
involved in most of the affs, but are your arguments really that
complicated and are you really that bad at explaining them?
Proving you're right:
A well-reasoned analytical argument will defeat a card with no warrant
everytime. If there is no explanation why something is true, you may as
well not say it. As you might imagine, I think cross-ex is one of the
most important parts of the debate. If you are asked in cross-ex about
an argument you made, be prepared to explain it (not look at the card
and quote it). Do not respond to a logical objection to your arguments
with "if you make that argument we'll answer it."
I prefer evidence quality to evidence quantity. Just because the same
sentence appears in the Bulletin's Frontrunner, the Wall Street Journal,
Reuters, and Scotland on Sunday does not mean that it is worth your time
to read more than one of those cards. One good card that is well
warranted and well explained can defeat any number of cards which merely
state the opposite. That said, I would prefer to not read the evidence
at all and instead have you explain why it's better.
Deciding the debate:
Debates are easier to decide when debaters make arguments about why they
should win. To win the debate on an argument, you must tell me why said
argument wins you the debate. When one team says we win cuz our case
is a systemic impact, and the other team says we win cuz the magnitude
to our DA impact is bigger, the team that compares the importance of
those two things is the one that is more likely to win.
I have a fairly high threshold for cheapshots. A team that expects to
get me to vote on a cheapshot must demonstrate in a way that is clear
early in the debate (i.e. when this argument is made for the first time)
that this argument is a voting issue. There also must be a warrant for
that argument. The words competitive equity are not a warrant, an
explanation of why what the other team did harms competitive equity is a
I don't really like the whole "offense/defense" framework (in most
situations, a good no link argument is way better than 3 stupid turn
arguments), although given its rabid acceptance, I imagine most of you
will attempt to utilize it. That's fine with me, but like anything
else, just say why it's good.
You must be clear. I am very expressive when I judge about whether I
can flow what you are saying. You should be able to look up for 2
seconds and figure it out. I might even shout clear. Either way, I
will not expect the other team to answer an argument if I had no idea
what the hell you were saying. I'm serious about this.
I am militantly against the practice of cross-reading or clipping cards.
I pay attention to this and if I suspect that you are not reading all of
the evidence that you say you are it is likely that I will start writing
down how long it took you to read cards and/or the last word you read.
Despite my militant attitude, I do not ever want to make this an issue
in deciding a debate (that is, you lose simply because you cross-read).
I do, however, think you should only get credit for what you read, and
if you make it in any way difficult for me or the other team to assess
what it is that you have read, do not expect me to show my appreciation
in your speaker points or in the weight given to the arguments therein.
Wouldn't be a judge philosophy without:
I like good debates
Be respectful to the other team
CPs and DAs are fine
Nobody debates the case anymore and I wish they would
I work for a hedge fund. If you speak intelligently about the economy I
will understand you.
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