Competitive policy debaters speak very quickly; critics have complained about it for more than 100 years. But how quickly do the fastest debaters actually speak?
In the past, I’ve estimated that “fast” debaters speak at between 280 and 340 words per minute (WPM). This estimate was based on my experiences over many years working with high school debaters to improve their speaking, often including formal tracking of their WPM rates over time. It was also based on anecdotal reviews of debaters’ speech documents. When calculating WPMs, nearly all elimination round-caliber debaters seemed to speak somewhere in that 280-340 range.
While I was confident that my estimate was relatively accurate, I decided to attempt a more authoritative investigation into debaters’ speaking speeds. My goal was to answer two questions: (1) How quickly do “fast” debaters speak?, and (2) Have “fast” debaters slowed down for online debate?
For better or worse, Biden’s presidency is likely to revitalize the agenda politics DA, a type of generic negative disadvantage that emerged during the 1970s and became ubiquitous at the dawn of the electronic research age in the mid-1990s.
The “golden age” of the politics DA lasted from the late 1990s to the early 2010s, but it fell out of favor during the latter half of the Obama administration and was rarely a staple of negative strategies during the Trump administration. While it is unlikely to return its previous level of ubiquity, the politics DA seems poised for a post-Trump renaissance.
The current cohort of high school and college debaters is too young to have experienced the politics DA’s “golden age” first hand. That’s also true for many judges, a reflection of just how long it’s been since the politics DA was the dominant negative strategy in high school debate.
As a new generation of debaters begins to learn the politics DA for the first time, there are many resources from earlier eras that can help them get up to speed. In this post, I’ll provide some historical context for the politics DA and share some recommended resources.
One of the most common negative positions on this year’s criminal justice reform topic is the abolition kritik, an argument that rejects the legitimacy of the carceral state writ large. In these debates, the negative does not defend the status quo; they defend more radical change than the plan proposed by the affirmative.
This form of negation can be confusing. Most beginning debaters are taught that an important difference between the affirmative and negative is their relationship to the status quo: the affirmative rejects it by proposing a change in policy, and the negative either defends it or proposes a different (but competitive) policy change.
I added a new five-part video series to my YouTube channel about debating the case in the 2AC. The videos cover strategy, signposting, argumentation, efficiency, and how to practice. Students of all experience levels should find them useful, but some of the content might initially be too advanced for beginning and intermediate debaters. The total runtime for all five videos is approximately one hour.
I’ll embed the playlist below the fold.
Adam Rawnsley broke a story today at The Daily Beast that should prompt serious reflection by debaters and debate coaches. It highlights a disturbing trend in the information ecosystems we depend on for the evidence that shapes our debates. In light of these revelations, it’s important for debate teachers and coaches to individually and collectively revisit our norms about what constitutes “credible evidence.”
So, what’s going on? Titled “Right-Wing Media Outlets Duped by a Middle East Propaganda Campaign,” Rawnsley’s article reveals a sophisticated conspiracy by an unknown actor that included “a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon.”
The type of articles that this network publishes are exactly what debaters are often looking for: relatively short, direct, strongly-worded works of political advocacy from apparently-qualified expert commentators. The authors seem real: they have photos, Twitter accounts, and bios, and most have been published in legitimate (sometimes even well-respected) news sources. If you were to come across one of these articles while doing debate research, you would have no qualms about cutting it. I know, because I unwittingly cut at least one article from this network. I’m sure others have, too.
In the first part of this two-part series, I shared five podcasts that are entirely about criminal justice reform and related issues. In this article, I will suggest individual episodes from other podcasts that are relevant to the criminal justice reform topic.
Some of the recommended episodes are from podcasts that regularly cover these issues; others are “one-off” episodes from podcasts that don’t normally cover them. Either way, all of these recommended podcast episodes are potentially useful resources for students preparing to debate the criminal justice reform topic.
This is not a comprehensive list; there are many more episodes from many other podcasts that students might find helpful when researching criminal justice reform-related topics. When curating this list, I focused heavily on episodes about prison and police abolition and on episodes from the last few weeks.
In “Using Podcasts To Become A Better Debater,” I argued that podcasts are an underutilized resource that can help debaters enhance their content knowledge and practice their listening and flowing skills. In the five years since that article was published, the podcast boom has continued to grow. In 2019, “at least 90 million U.S. consumers (27% of the population) listen[ed] to podcasts monthly.”
More new podcasts are being produced than ever before, and many are related to the issues that debaters will be researching for the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic. In this two-part series, I will recommend some of the podcasts that I think will be most useful for students as they study and prepare to debate criminal justice reform.
In this article — part one — I will suggest five podcasts that are entirely about criminal justice reform and related issues. All or nearly all of the episodes from these podcasts will be useful for debaters researching criminal justice reform.
In part two, I will suggest individual episodes from other podcasts that are relevant to the criminal justice reform topic. Some of these are one-off episodes from podcasts that normally do not cover criminal justice reform issues; others are from podcasts that cover those issues often but not exclusively.
I’ve recently posted three new videos that will be helpful for students preparing to debate the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic:
The third video (“Lesson Plans…”) includes four “plug-and-play” lesson plans to help you organize small group discussions about criminal justice reform-related documentary films: The Thin Blue Line, The Central Park Five, 13th, and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.
These three videos and the accompanying lesson plan documents are embedded below.
Over the last few days, I’ve published several more videos in my Speaking Practice For Debaters series. All of the videos in the series have been compiled into a YouTube playlist.
I suggest starting with “An Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking (And How To Practice It)” before moving on to the videos about specific drills: The Two Color Highlighting Drill, The Auctioneering Drill, The Dynamic Highlighting Drill, and The Blackalicious Drill.
The playlist also includes “How Eric Arceneaux Can Help Debaters Improve Their Speaking Deliveries” and two versions of my “The Art of Speaking Efficiently” lecture (from 2014 and 2013).
Additional videos will continue to be added to this playlist; if you want to be notified when new videos are posted, subscribe to my YouTube channel.
I’m working on a series of videos that attempt to help debaters train to improve their speaking deliveries. In addition to the previously-mentioned “How Eric Arceneaux Can Help Debaters Improve Their Speaking Deliveries,” I recently published “An Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking (And How To Practice It)” and “The Two Color Highlighting Drill (Speaking Practice For Debaters).” My goal is to produce several more videos that explain additional types of speaking exercises; look for them on my YouTube channel over the next few weeks.
For your convenience, the “Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking…” and “The Two Color Highlighting Drill…” videos are also embedded below.