Judging Hypothetical

Team A is negative. They read a very complex and sophisticated kritik, that all comes from 1 author. Team B is affirmative, and in the 2AC they read 5 or 6 sort of stock K answers and then a card just tagged “Neg loses”, that goes on for about a minute.

In response to this card the neg says a lot of spin that sounds very good about why this piece of evidence is wrong and doesn’t understand what their K is about.

The 1AR goes only to this piece of evidence and says the following:
“Look, we have no idea what the neg is saying. However, we have a card that is soo good it will make you crap your pants. Not only is it directly responding to what they are saying, it specifically indicts their author and goes through point by point every argument in the 2NC overview and refutes it. I would explain the warrants, but quite frankly, I don’t get it. However, we debated this K at the last tournament and didn’t understand it then either. We spent a whole month researching answers and after reading 20+ books on the subject we found this amazing card. The neg may sound good, but ultimately every argument in the 2NC in response to this card is unevidenced, made up on the spot drivel from a high school student- it may sound good, but there is no real substance behind it. The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best- we have by far read the best arguments, in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it. This defeats the whole purpose of a research based activity and punishes us for spending time reading about the topic instead of about obscure philosophy”.

The 2NR Says (amongst other things) the following:

“Their evidence misses the boat- our K makes three key arguments, which are A, B, and C. This indict doesn’t respond to thee arguments because of …..” And then gives a long winded explanation.

Is this debate winnable for the aff at this point in your mind?

Assume the 2AR says more of the same the 1AR said.

You call for the neg cards and the 1 aff card. Upon reading the neg cards, you find that they do clearly make arguments A, B, and C and explain them well, just like the negative said.

Now you look at the aff card. You actually crap your pants. Never before in your life have you seen an on point response that is this good. The card clearly identifies A, B, and C as arguments made by the neg author, and then deconstructs them in such a devastating way that you would bet your life that they are not only false, but that the opposite is true. Assume the neg cards nor the aff card speaks to the “spin” placed on the evidence by the negative.

How do you vote and why?

66 thoughts on “Judging Hypothetical

  1. Alex Agne

    This would be a bit of a dilemma. My instinct is to vote aff, because, as they tried to explain, they technically answered all of the neg's arguments on point and their card was amazing at doing so. In this situation I would have to award a low point win, because the actual debating was done better by the negative team. But it is my belief is that evidence trumps analytics, and evidence wins debates. If the card was actually that amazing, I would vote aff…

  2. charles a

    As a judge, I vote based on what the teams tell me to evaluate. The aff definetely wins this debate because the aff is making this theoretical arguement that you shouldn't vote against us just b/c we don't understand it, the fact of the matter is our card destroys their arguement. The neg instead of saying they understand the k simply says no their card doenst attack all three points. So your job as a judge is to evaluate if the card does in fact destroy the kritik, now in seeing that it does, you must vote aff on the k.

  3. jc

    vote neg. if you can't explain your argument beyond reading the evidence, then you deserve to lose. it's an oral, not just a research activity.

    i think i know which way scott would vote.

  4. charles a

    I don't think I would give a low point win b/c the better debating was done by the aff in the way that they have told me forget about them not understanding it and vote on the card and analytically the neg messed up by not spinning the k the rite way as it pretained to the evidence indicated in the last line of the hypothetical, so not only has the neg messed up by spinning it wrong, their arguements on the aff card which makes me "crap my pants" are wea. So the aff shouldn't get low speaks in fact the neg should get lower points for not fully understanding their own arguement

  5. charles a

    Now by saying I vote neg because you have to understand the evidence is ridiculous b/c the neg doesn't fully understand it either. And the aff as I've emphasised that you should vote on the evidence, which even if you don't buy it, is conceded by the neg. So still the logical decision is voting aff

  6. Ross

    I'd vote neg.

    Debate is a research based activity, yes, but it isn't only a research based activity. We can disagree on the extent to which a judge has to understand an argument before calling for the corresponding card, but I think it's clear that the judge has to have at least SOME idea what the argument is before calling for evidence.

    Consider a few analogues:

    -The negative goes for a kritik with fantastic evidence but no explanation. The 2NC and 2NR give the same speech as the 1AR and 2AR in this debate. The judge calls for the negative's evidence and finds that it answers every affirmative argument.

    -A superfast 1AC reads a bunch of sweet pre-empts that answer every negative position. The 2AC, 1AR, and 2AR all give the same speech as the 1AR in this debate. The negative gives A+ spin on their evidence, but when the judge calls for evidence s/he finds that the cards read in the 1AC are far superior.

    -DHeidt gives Rajesh and I an unbeatable CP/DA strategy five minutes before a round against MSU LW. He doesn't have time to explain it, but he assures us that we have them dead to rights. I get up in the 2NC and tell the judge that DHeidt gave us this strategy right before the round, so I don't really understand it, but I'm pretty sure that the CP solves 100% of case and any risk of the DA outweighs. Plus the DA impact is really big – I'm pretty sure it's like extinction or something – so vote neg.

    I'd be surprised if anyone voted for evidence rather than explanation in these instances.

    You might say that the debaters here researched K answers for a month before finding their unbeatable card, and that makes this instance different. Fair, but that scenario is pretty clearly impossible. How could they spend a month researching the K and not understand what the K says? If they don't understand the K how do they know the evidence they cut is so great? And is anyone really gonna base their decision on whether me or DHeidt cut the devastating card in question?

  7. charles a

    One thing tht ross forgot to mention is tht the neg and the aff both didn't fully understand the k. The neg spinned it the wrong way. And the aff straigh out didn't know it all tht well. Either way they both messed up explanation wise. Look at the last lines of the hypothetical.. neither the neg or the aff cards speak to to the spin put by the neg. The neg didn't spin it in a way tht coincided with its own arguements and didn't answer the aff answers correctly. So the neg messed up explaining it and refuting evidence. The aff only messed up on the explanation. So you must default aff b/c they are the better debaters when it comes to a balance of research and analysis

  8. Roy Levkovitz


    people willing to vote affirmative encourage a practice(that all judges are guilty of at times) which is letting evidence decide debates that debaters have not decided for themselves. This often happens in late elims at tournaments and especially at the NDT in college. If a team is unable to articulate the response or explain their argument they have not done sufficent work to win the debate. In this instance I err negative due to the effort they've made at explaining their argument. We often vote for arguments that aren't on the side of truth when debated better, this is an instance where I feel the affirmative could be rewarded unfairly if you just default to evidence and not in round argumentation.

  9. Nick Khatri

    I'd vote neg. If the aff really couldn't provide any explanation beyond "this card is super sweet" then I wouldn't even call for it.

  10. Parth Khatri

    I would vote neg. Quite frankly, the aff should understand the K if they read 20+ books on the subject matter, but I digress. Voting aff in this scenario disincentivises actual research and incentivizes cutting a bunch of cards, reading them all and seeing what sticks. Of course, I'm just a junior, so most of what the people above say are probably better justifications.

  11. Herndon

    1. When a team doesn't explain an argument, and just extends a card that card shouldn't be read. I agree with Roy *gasp* that it is a problem.

    2. That is NOT what happens here. The aff says explicitly, [lengthy quotation here] "The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best- we have by far read the best arguments, in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it. This defeats the whole purpose of a research based activity and punishes us for spending time reading about the topic instead of about obscure philosophy."

    In other words, they make a warranted argument why this should be my policy in this particular debate. That, plus an admission of an inability to explain it is solid. Saying, "I don't know it but I know it answers their K", is an argument people. It's much different than Ross's example, which is applying a more generic strategy to a debate – not applying an answer to a specific argument.

    But, unanswered arguments about why I should call for that particular card. I'm sold.

    AFF win.

    2 caveats:
    a. neg answers the "read this ev it's your job as a judge" argument – I might flip.

    b. neg "spin" could win the debate for the neg, but I'd have to hear it.

  12. Lulu

    Vote Neg, no question.

    If the aff can't explain their evidence, that means they can't articulate why their advocacy is better. Evidence helps strengthen your argument and gives you the credibility to say what you're saying. However, if you don't say anything about the argument outside of "Dood, our ev is sweet", there's no reason why your evidence helps your advocacy. If the neg answered it in the 2NR, and the aff didn't really address the merits of the argument in the 2AR, vote neg.

  13. Richard

    I agree with Charles a and herndon. If you had read carefully, the aff actually said a lot more than "Our ev is sweet.". They even go as far as to ask you not to intervene. Quote "in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it. This defeats the whole purpose of a research based activity and punishes us for spending time reading about the topic instead of about obscure philosophy” I don't see any argument from the neg that even comes close to responding to that. Unless you admit you'd prefer to intervene against an un-answered aff argument, this debate was won by the aff; no question.

  14. Josh Gonzalez

    Argumentation Theory 101: Arguments are arguments. Evidence is evidence…for an argument. If the aff took the warrants out of their arguments and explained them, I would vote aff. As I understand the hypothetical, they have not. Hence, I vote negative, ten times out of ten.

    I don't really much care if the aff has the best cards ever, the situation at hand sounds to me largely similar to a debate where two utterly unskilled debaters read a bunch of cards put in their hands by their coach and repeatedly say: "we have no idea why we're right, but our coach said that this stuff answers what the neg said" with no other explanation. We'd all vote neg in a heartbeat in that situation (at least I hope we would).

    This is also why I give bad points to 2As who debate case arguments by saying "this is answered by our XXXX '09 ev in the 1AC" – I figure that the evidence probably deserves some of the 2A's speaker points. Even though the ballot lacks a line where I assign points to the ev, I still don't feel right giving them to the aff.

    Arguments are arguments. Evidence only provides confirmation of the validity of arguments made by debaters. Debating itself still has to count for something.

  15. anon

    @Josh Gonzalez

    how do you deal with the role of the ballot argument coming out of the 1ar? It seems to me like your explanation is the best view of debate, but given an alternate and uncontested paradigm that is presented by the aff, it seems unreasonable to simply ignore it because it doesn't jive with what you'd like to see in a debate round

  16. Ross

    In response to the role of the ballot arguments –

    The 1AR basically says five things:

    1. We have an awesome card.
    2. We spent a lot of time doing research.
    3. Their negative's arguments are spin and are not supported by evidence.
    4. The judge should vote for the best argument.
    5. The negative's argument is not the best argument.

    The aff's role of the ballot argument is not "you should read all the evidence after the round and vote for the best card regardless of what either team says in the debate." It's "you should vote for the best argument" and then some vague rhetoric (e.g. "debate is a research-based activity") which obliquely suggests that one might do that primarily by reading evidence.

    The 2NR doesn't respond to this role of the ballot argument directly, granted. What the 2NR DOES do, however, is acknowledge the indict and then proceed to explain why the negative does in fact have the "best argument."

    The judge then has to decide which team has the best argument. What that means is unclear. The affirmative certainly IMPLIES that evidence is the critical standard, just as the negative IMPLIES that argumentation is the critical standard, but there's never a point where the standard for good argumentation is clearly defined. Since neither team has clearly articulated meta-level criteria for a good argument, I would use my own criteria, which requires that teams make arguments before I read cards which support those arguments. Under these criteria the negative makes the best argument, so I vote negative.

    @Charles – my concern isn't that the affirmative doesn't understand their evidence, it's that the affirmative fails to make an argument. The negative does make an argument, even if that argument isn't supported by evidence.

  17. Layne


    everything ross said, plus i feel like if u've read 20 books on the arg and u can't explain it/understand it you suck enough to deserve to lose

  18. Bill Batterman

    This is interesting, but I keep getting hung up with this: How does the aff know that they've got a sweet card if they don't know what it says? They might not be able to completely explain the argument(s), but I feel like in the process of admitting that they don't fully understand it they will probably be doing some basic explanation.

    For example, let's say the aff has a warming advantage and the neg reads a few "warming not anthropogenic" cards. In the 2AC, the aff reads answers to the neg authors. In the block, the neg extends their card and explains what they say and why they're right. In the 1AR, the aff extends their answers and explains that their evidence is more qualified and finds several methodological faults in the neg's studies/assumptions. Admitting in the 1AR that you don't really understand the climatology being debated but that your qualified evidence disputes the scientific credibility of the neg cards for a few reasons seems like a good move… but only if you reference the reasons (i.e. uses the wrong temperature data, relies on too small of a sample size, etc.). You might not be able to explain exactly why their temperature data is wrong, but you at least know that your authors are making that argument.

    In my hypothetical, I think the aff has advanced an argument while admitting ignorance of some of the grounding for their position. That's okay; depending on what the 2NR and 2AR said, I could definitely vote aff.

    In the original hypothetical, I don't think the aff has advanced an argument and am leaning neg for the reasons that Ross has outlined. With some more explanation—even if coupled with an admittance of ignorance—that could change. But I fundamentally agree with Josh: evidence is used to support arguments but does not constitute an argument by itself.

  19. Herndon

    I love Bill. He's the classic, "I refuse to play because that hypothetical isn't possible," guy. If the aff has a card I imagine they'd be able to say more than, "uhhh, we don't know why, but this is a good answer."

    I just disagree with ross that the aff says, "vote for the best argument." They say, "we have a card that answers all their stuff." AND, "you should read this card for us, even if we can't explain it, because it's more educational, and is the purpose of debate."

    This is not the classic, "aff said nothing/just extended ev by author" scenario. If I thought that was accurate I would agree with Gonzo.

  20. travis

    I'm voting aff. Everyone is right that the aff doesn't do a good job extending the argument. But if the extent of the negative's argument is "they don't answer 1,2, and 3" and then repeats what 1,2 and 3 are, then that does not dispute the argument made in the evidence (assuming that is what is meant by "You actually crap your pants.")

    Yes, debating ought to count for something, but I fail to see how the negative has done a superior job. And…good evidence also ought to count for something.

    The confusion, Gonzo's post clearly shows this, is the slippage of the term 'evidence.' Argumentation 101: evidence is the data which must then be symbolized and categorized to make the larger argument. But that's not what we are reading when we read evidence in rounds. We are not reading data, rather we are reading arguments and unless the highlighting is atrocious we are reading complete arguments. We read the evidence because 1. a professional can probably say it more efficiently than the debater can 2. reading it as opposed to waxing poetic is more efficient in the speech and 3. most importantly, the professional has more credibility.

    Just because the debater read the argument does not mean the argument was not made. Those of you who contend an argument is not made unless it is in the debater's voice (voice here is in the literary sense of 'own words' and not the actual utterance) have too strict an interpretation of what 'evidence' is. Too strict for my ideal debate, anyways.

    If in the back of the room as a coach of the aff I probably ask the negative-voting critic a question or two. But, I acknowledge most ballots come back negative and I reserve my frustration for the aff team for admitting they did not know what the negative's argument was. Clearly, a bone-headed move.

  21. Scott Phillips

    Some issues I wanted to highlight with this hypothetical, some have been addressed, some have not.

    1. the level of emphasis/reward placed on research
    2. The amount "spin" is accepted regardless of it's truth value
    3. How a "framework" can be applied in instances we don't traditionally think of it (as in the 1AR's framing of how to evaluate evidence)

    Since it seems the majority is saying neg, some devils advocate-

    The distinction Gonzales draws between evidence and argument seems untennable to me. As Kirshon pointed out in an IM, what if the 1AR had just re-read portions of the evidence that did explain the warrants? That would apparently meet the standard Gonzo et al. outline for what a legitimate "argument" is, but that is obviously not improving the quality of this debate in anyway- in fact, I think it is quite clear that would make the 1AR substantially worse because of its repetitive nature.

    I think it is very possible for someone to spend a lot of time researching an issue, and not understand what a good card says, but be able to identify it as a good card. The easiest example is probably that a 15 year old high school student could read The Ticklish Subject, The Parralax View, Violence, Defense of Lost Causes, Welcome to the…. etc, i.e. 20 zizek books, and not have covered 1/10th of Zizek's writing. They could, after having read all of those, have no idea what the K said in a debate.

    However, if they happened to read the "Deadly Jester" article, they might not get exactly what it was saying, but they could easily see it is a polemic against Zizek.

    Similarly, they could read every word written by Richard Ashley and RBJ Walker and be mystified, but still recognize DSL Jarvis as an amazing answer.

    One other "flip side"- I think a legitimate POV could be that the neg has "dropped" this card because their only response is to re-articulate thier original argument. They did say some packaging to make it look as if they answered it, but in essence they just repeated things they had already said. One could easily say that to reward this is to encourage debates to become worse. (As I was writing this Travis scooped me and explained both of my points better than I did…)

    Other random points

    This seems clearly different from most of Ross's hypotheticals where D-heidt swoops down from on high and hands over the strat. These kids put in their time, shouldn't that be rewarded? I think many judges implicitly do chose to reward teams who do good research by giving their evidence mroe weight when they debated poorly in round. It's interesting to see how many people would not do that though when the argument is explicitly made.

  22. Ross

    On rereading the evidence in the 1AR and 2AR –

    I think this is fine if A. It's read at a flowable speed and B. It actually responds to every negative argument and spin. The reason people don't reread evidence in actual debates (and why this practice would make debates much worse) is that there are time constraints and the evidence doesn't respond to the other team's spin. I understand the gut reaction that says "whoa, you can't just reread evidence," but if the evidence is literally a line by line response to everything in the previous speech (which it obviously never would be, but this is a hypothetical) then it's a different situation.

    That said, it still needs to be flowable for the same reason that judges don't call for pre-written but unflowable 2NC/2NR overviews.

    On not knowing what evidence says after reading 20 books –

    Most debaters can competently respond to a Zizek K without having read a single Zizek book. After reading twenty Zizek books you should definitely be able to BS something better than "I don't know what this evidence says."

    On rewarding debaters for cutting their own evidence –

    I would absolutely not sign my ballot based on whether a team cut their own evidence, even if that were somehow knowable or verifiable. Are you actually defending this?

  23. Scott Phillips


    I'm not saying I vote aff or neg, merely responding to what seems to be the majority opinion.

    Re-reading the evidence
    If you think, under any circumstances, it could conceivably be better to re-read a card then say what the 1AR said in the above, that is nuts. Whether or not it is "flowable" is a totally irrelevant point- when they read the card in the 2AC it should have been flowable, whatever they say in the 1AR should be flowable. The point is that they could easily "feign" understanding by re-reading parts of the card, or by writing a block where they paraphrase the card adding no increased explanation. It seems many people would prefer this to an honest explanation, which seems odd/indefensible. Obviously this is a special case where the card actually does the talking for them, but I'm sure you can easily think of similar examples from the real world.

    That it doesn't respond to spin- well this is the entire point isn't it. How much weight should we give to "spin". Someone reads a card that says Y and spins it to say X. Whats the point of even reading a card at that point? If card A is substantially worse then response card B, but we ignore B because of "spin", what are we really saying/endorsing?

    The point that "most" (which is ridiculous, just look at the track record) can respond to zizek having read none of it, in no way disproves that someone could read a lot of zizek and still not get it.

    As for rewarding people for cutting good evidence, if you truly think judges don't reward teams for that you are being pretty naive. Teams win with better evidence despite the fact that the other team explained their arguments better all the time. My point, which you missed entirely, is that they will do this implicitly, but like you, shy away from explicitly acknowledging it. They also implicitly punish teams they perceive to be lazy or "bad card cutters", but often (though people more readily own up to this) explicitly deny it.

  24. Indian Debater

    Neg. I agree with Ross and Layne.

    It is up to the debaters to tell me what the evidence says. I'll break this down into two points.

    Firstly, when the judge calls for evidence, it is because the judge typically is checking whether or not the card really says what the aff/neg says is says. Remember some judges don't even call for evidence after the round, because their decision has been made based off of the debaters themselves. Moreover, evidence is all about interpretation. There is no card that literally says: "This is a disadvantage to the kritik about realism." and then goes on to describe negative aspects of criticizing realism. Therefore, the interpretation is up to the debaters to label their cards "DA to perm" or "DA to Alt" or "Turn – realism good", thereby making the judges flow easier to follow and making their decision easier for them. Most of the time, the team that makes their flow easier to follow and has organized their argument is the one that wins.

    Secondly, judge intervention has already happened if the judge is calling for this extremely awesome card. 1) the judge has been told that it just refutes A, B, and C, but has not been told about why it does any of those things. Its like saying: "our alt solves the world." and then after being asked why, saying: "Because our coach cut it for us and we think it does, so it does." Which, I believe is not an argument.

    Lastly, Layne makes a great point. After reading through 20 books and most likely consulting with coaches and such, you should know what a kritik is criticizing. If nothing else, you've had 4 CX sessions for 3 minutes each and you couldn't get a "what are you criticizing?" question? That seems like laziness or trying to get a cheap win, which means that the debaters are letting the evidence do things for them.

  25. Ross

    I understand that you're playing devil's advocate.

    Re-reading evidence –

    My default judging criteria is rather simple: I will vote on arguments that are made, which I can understand, and which I can flow. I don't think this is odd or indefensible. I think it is internally consistent, repeatable, and in line with the expectations of the debate community at large. It also makes for better debate rounds – yes, the team in question should ABSOLUTELY "feign" understanding by writing a block that paraphrases the card, because then they might actually learn to understand it.

    Based on your position here (whether this is your actual position or only a hypothetical position, I'm not sure), it seems that your judging criteria is some combination of how hard the debater tries (because evidence that debaters cut is preferred), how honest s/he is (because it's better to admit ignorance than reread a card), and how well s/he understands their evidence.

    My problem with these criteria is not that they aren't important. I certainly have more respect for debaters who do a lot of work, understand their evidence, and are willing to admit ignorance when appropriate. But these criteria are inherently subjective. They do not provide a consistent or repeatable paradigm to adjudicate debate rounds.

    Can I think of similar examples from the real world? Yes. I don't think it's a secret that some debaters are block dependent, or dependent on cards cut by their coaches. That's unfortunate, but there's a ceiling to how well those debaters will do, and I'm certainly not going to vote against them because I suspect they're reading blocks from a file they bought on cross-x.

    Spin –

    The point of reading a card (among other things) is to provide a basis for spin. I don't understand spin as "making stuff up," although maybe we disagree on that point. I understand spin as using ambiguities in a card to your advantage. For example, the Khalilzad card doesn't say that hegemony solves an Iran-Israel war impact. But it does say that hegemony solves "threats of regional hegemony by renegade states" and gives reasons (let's assume we're talking about Big Khalilzad) why that would be true which could conceivably arguably apply to Iran-Israel war.

    If card A is substantially worse then response card B, but we ignore B because of "spin," then we are rewarding debaters for thinking and making arguments.

    Zizek –

    Regardless of whether you personally believe most debaters can competently answer Zizek, my point is that they can offer better responses than "I don't understand." I skimmed the Deadly Jester article for fifteen seconds. I can tell you it says that Zizek endorses violence and that taking him seriously could lead to "totalitarianism, revolutionary terror, utopian violence, and anti-Semitism." We shouldn't encourage debaters to read this article and say "well, this looks like a polemic against Zizek, I'll just read it in a round and let the judge sort it out." We should encourage debaters to read the article, understand it, and if necessary, yes, PARAPHRASE IT so that they internalize the arguments and so that the arguments are expressed clearly to the judge and to the other team. And if they do read it in a round and claim not to understand what it says, judges should not be in the business of deciding whether they're telling the truth or just being lazy.

    Rewarding people for cutting good evidence –

    I interpreted this argument as being about whether we should reward teams for cutting their own evidence, regardless of whether that evidence is good or bad. Otherwise I don't know how this is "pretty clearly different" from the DHeidt example. Of course teams should be rewarded for good evidence. They just have to make an argument first.

  26. Scott Phillips


    Yes or no

    You are saying it is better to repeat phrases from a card you already read, then to make an argument about why evidence should trump debater spin, because parroting what you already read is "an argument", whereas saying "privilege evidence" is not "an argument"?

  27. Ross

    It is better to repeat phrases from a card you already read if that card also happens to explicitly and clearly answer every single argument made in the prior speech.

    It may also be a winning argument (though not the best argument, and likely not an argument that would survive a competent negative response) to tell the judge to consider evidence and not argumentation. As I explained earlier, however, this is not the argument the affirmative makes in this hypothetical.

  28. malgor

    note to strike all judges who would go aff.

    how does the aff know it answers the K? they don't know what the K is. The concept that you can not know anything about the argument you are debating, yet somehow identify a brutal answer, and then win the debate despite your inability to actually explain what the brutal answer is, means that those who say the aff wins could quite possibly be the worst judges in the country.

    once again, the aff doesn't understand the argument they are answering, or how/why their evidence answers it. they have just stumbled on a card they have a feeling is awesome. the neg takes the time to explain the argument away, then you go ahead and ignore that and vote aff.

    if this is how you judge, why don't you cancel rounds from now on. Just have the 1ac and 1nc go, then they can hand you all the cards they would read the remainder of the round. you can stack them up, and see who you like.

    finally, the notion that the aff did a good enough job by saying

    "The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best- we have by far read the best arguments, in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it"

    is insulting to anyone that values argumentation. "we have by far the best arguments". Really? because you just told me before that that you didn't know what arguments your evidence made or what arguments your opponent made.


  29. malgor

    obviously i take this to the extreme. I have not identified anyone in the comments thread that would actually make my list of worst judges ever.

  30. Scott Phillips

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-10052">
    malgor :
    <div class="edit-comment" id="edit-comment10052" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">obviously i take this to the extreme. I have not identified anyone in the comments thread that would actually make my list of worst judges ever.
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    Not even roy?

  31. malgor

    i never thought i would agree with Roy. I assume that is a sign the seventh seal has broken and the apocalypse is upon us.

  32. Josh Gonzalez


    The role of the ballot argument that starts with "The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best" pretty much answers itself – the aff has not made an argument, in my book. Their evidence may have made an argument, indeed, but they have not.

    With regard to the aff's claim that my voting neg gets away from the "researched based activity," I call shenanigans. If they did ALL that research and couldn't understand the neg's arg, yet somehow, both the neg and I do, then the failure of their appeal to research is self-evident.

    I think that a number of reasonable judges can and do vote aff in good conscience. I just don't think that it does much to advance good debating. My shift over time as a judge has been fairly consistently toward emphasizing argument over evidence (even though I do probably call for more cards than the average judge). I just think that really great debaters demonstrate more than just well placed evidence – evidence will always be a means, not an end. When that is no longer true, I think that the case for debate as a live, orally performed educational activity begins to fall apart.

  33. travis

    The aff has a devastating evidenced internal link answer to the negative argument. And the 2NR's defense is an asserted No Link. The 2AR should, granted, do a better job, but given the weakness of the 2NR position a reading of the evidence to measure the validity and magnitude of the No Links seems warranted.

    This discussion seems to have completely lef the hypothetical behind, wandering into the terrain of evidence vs persuasion. What's at hand is the threshold of extension needed versus lack of answers for devastating evidence to be THE deciding factor.

    I suspect part of the hesitation of commentators is because it is critical literature. Most judges would have no problem unilaterally dismissing "No Link: the sky is blue" as an answer to politics. Why then does this Negative get credit for saying "No Link: blah blah blah", in the midst of a sophisticated critical literature? Maybe I'm out of it and some judges would require the other team to say, "the sky is green", but I doubt it. To say this intervention doesn't advance good debating is ludicrous.

    The negative does not do enough for me to not call for the evidence. In most debates the negative probably does do enough to still win the ballot, but we are talking about a card that makes me crap my pants.

  34. Old Coach

    Learning is great. Research without learning is good, but not as great.

    I've always thought debaters should have to demonstrate they've learned the substance of their arguments, at least enough to explain them, if challenged. That's a non-negotiable framework in the way I judge.

    In this example, the affirmative hasn't demonstrated they've learned or explained why their sweet evidence answers the K.

    Imagining how this plays out in a hypothetical C-X makes it even clearer:

    Neg: You say your evidence answers our K. How does it answer argument A?
    Aff: I don't know, but it does.
    Neg: How does it answer argument B?
    Aff: I don't know, but I'm absolutely positive it does.
    Neg: How does it answer argument C?
    Aff: I can't explain it, but it makes me quiver when I read it.

    The standard for what represents an adequate explanation is trickier than I'm letting on here. It's sometimes complicated and unsatisfying. But in this case, the way it is laid out in the hypothetical, with the affirmative debater basically admitting they haven't learned it, that's pretty cut and dried for me.


  35. Indian Debater

    I actually think if the aff has done so much research to read 20 books and such, they could at least BS an answer to the K. Most of the time, K's make zero sense, so if your answer is somewhat sensical in nature, your in the right ballpark.

    I still go negative. The aff needs to at least warrant a BS answer rather than just saying the completely don't know.

  36. Agree

    I definitely vote neg, because there's no way to grant the affirmative an argument that they don't understand and can't explain when the negative is making logical (when seen through the lens of the K) arguments in response.

  37. Negative

    The ballot says "The better debating was done by _______" not "The better research was done by _______". If the affirmative cannot articulate what their arguments are, they should lose.

  38. miles

    @ negative

    the neg didn't do the better debatign .. they dropped a framing arg about what constitutes who did the beter debating

  39. anon

    yea, it makes alot more sense to vote neg, but i would vote aff and then chew them out about how they should never do that again. i give them the conceded framing argument on why not knowing the argument is legitimate. i agree with everyone who votes neg's post as a good debate philosphy, if not a ridiculouslu obvious debate paradigm, but all the arguments about how debate rounds be evaluated is judge intervention in abscence of a counter framework argument by the neg.

  40. Bill Batterman


    In order to vote affirmative, the judge must interpret the affirmative's evidence as a (good) argument against the negative's critique. This is obviously 'intervention' — the neg has argued that the affirmative's evidence does not defeat their argument ("Their evidence misses the boat- our K makes three key arguments, which are A, B, and C. This indict doesn’t respond to thee arguments because of …..” And then gives a long winded explanation.), so determining that it does requires the judge to make sense of what the affirmative debaters cannot.

    This does not by itself constitute a reason to vote negative, but I don't think the Judge Intervention DA links—and if it does, it links to both voting negative and voting affirmative.

    I get that "evaluate the evidence, not anything we've said about it" is the aff's argument… and so I get that some of you think not doing this is judge intervention. But isn't it kind of ironic to consider following the strict instructions of the debaters 'non-intervention' when their instructions are to disregard everything they've said in favor of evaluating their cards?

    I'm still really uncomfortable with voting aff… I understand why some people would, but I'm not there yet.

    What about this hypothetical?

    The 1AR and 2AR extend a piece of evidence against the neg's critique and argue that it's super sick awesome and makes several arguments, two of which are "A" and "B". The 2NR answers "A" and "B" and explains why their critique beats these arguments.

    But the 1AR and 2AR also included an instruction to the judge: "you should read our evidence because it's so good and give us credit for all of the arguments it makes, not just the ones we have specifically identified in our speeches. The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best and we have read the best arguments; in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument." The 2NR doesn't answer this sentence.

    The judge reads the evidence and thinks that in addition to "A" and "B" that it also makes argument "C". The negative never answered argument "C" because it was never raised in the debate (although the judge thinks that the evidence the aff extended included it, so depending on your perspective it WAS raised in the debate). The judge decides that "C" beats the K but that the K beats "A" and "B".

    Who wins? Why?

  41. Josh Gonzalez

    @Bill Batterman
    Probably still voting neg, especially in a high school debate. I'm not particularly afraid of the label of "intervention" anymore (or any other label, for that matter).

    I still think most people are missing the boat on this entire hypothetical, or at least my solution to it – there is a gap in the aff's understandings of evidence and argument. In Bill's revised hypothetical the aff seems to believe that they are closing this gap, but they're merely demanding that the judge close that gap for them. This is really quite relevant to the intervention question from above – what you are deciding between in this instance is on which you side you choose to intervene. I choose to intervene to reward the arguments made by debaters, rather than evidence. Same as before.

  42. Kenny McCaffrey

    I know I'm jumping into this a little late, but I'm hoping I can bring a fresh perspective. I agree with Josh's framing of the situation – both the choice to ignore the aff's a priori appeal to evaluate evidence over explanation, and the choice to prioritize the evidence by ignoring the successful answers made by the negative (since Bill specifies that the neg's answers to A and B are apparently superior) are interventions. In one case an intervention is made to teach the debaters the importance of explaining their warrants, which I think most of us would agree is pretty important; in the other, an intervention is made to teach the debaters the importance of making explicit framework arguments about the role of the judge, which I also think most of us agree is pretty important. This is where I disagree with Josh – I don't see voting neg as a matter of agreeing with the notion that evidence is paramount, but merely valuing the making of meta-arguments. Which you choose, I think, merely reflects which you see as more important (or less prevalent, more pressing) to teach. That's why I don't believe in hypothetical situations, Mr. Donaghy – that's like lying to your brain.

    I think the argument lost in the mess is Ross' point about re-reading evidence. Obviously, none of us would recommend that our debaters re-read cards, and explicitly discourage such a practice. But I think he is right in asserting that the reasons we do so are primarily because of the objective time pressure of a rebuttal, and the subjective unpersuasiveness of such an argumentative tactic. In the case of both hypotheticals, if the card in question is really that good, wouldn't merely re-reading it have been a more successful tactic? Specifically in the second hypothetical, re-reading solves the problems with argument C not being extended from the speech when the card was read through to the 2AR.

    I want to reiterate that I am not about to defend re-reading evidence as a generally applicable debating tactic, but I think the situation raises a larger question about how people have been using the term "extend" and treating evidence in a speech. I agree with Scotty to the extent that cards should be flowed. But I don't see much difference between the part of a speech that is in your own words and the part of a speech that is in someone else's words – in both cases, the sentences have been uttered and enter the record of the round. If a card makes three arguments, I should write all three, even if the tag only mentions one or two, or even if it is tagged something absolutely retarded like "You missed the boat – 3 warrants" or "This card will win us the debate." I think the problems that are raised by reading evidence after the round could be better dealt with if we remembered that cards aren't extended in rebuttals, arguments are, and cards are merely referenced to support those arguments. I think all of us have been impressed by debaters who have a sufficient command of their evidence that they can incorporate relevant quotes from a great piece of evidence into their extensions, sometimes from memory; if your author can make an argument better than you can, and by that I mean maybe they just have a better command of the language, why not draw upon that persuasive power? So I think the most interesting issue raised by these hypotheticals is not really whether voting for a debater who doesn't understand his/her argument is PC or not (to be frank, I doubt that most high school debaters, even the good ones, actually understand the arguments they're making in the context in which they were created, although I can't speak much outside the realm of IR theory – as a side note, I'm also hoping this year's topic will change that a little), but what tactical practices are best employed to overcome the problems that the hypotheticals raise.

    Sorry, I'm not trying to "keep it real," but these hypotheticals tend to turn into a pissing contest between people who want to justify their personal approach to judging, which is subjective, in place of a forum to discuss best practices (although such a project is useful for fleshing out pref sheets, a la Malgor). I just wanted to highlight some of the issues that were raised that I thought were pretty interesting.

  43. miles

    @ josh gonzalez

    '' I choose to intervene to reward the arguments made by debaters, rather than evidence''

    Voting neg does not reward the arguments. The aff made a framing argument that the neg drops – that means that the neg agrees that the lens through which you should view the round is evidence – dropping a framing question probably proves that the neg has probably not done the better debating. The judges voting aff aren't intervening – they are only complying with the framework for decision making that the aff has set.

  44. Josh Gonzalez


    Guilty as charged, Miles. I will add that the framing "argument" to which you refer is:

    A. Lazy, at best, and not particularly deserving of reward.

    B. A cop out. What, in your judging paradigm, prevents a team from making "framing arguments" such as "the lens through which you should view the round is pokemon" or "the lens through which you should view the round is the number of tubs being carried by the teams?" Both of these, along with the claim that the proper lens is evidence, are vacuous arguments. They beg the question of the purpose and ends of the activity itself.



  45. miles

    nothing stops the teams from making those args – all the other team has to do is point out that those make no sense — a stupid ptx da w/ bad internal link ev still has to be answered no matter how bad it is, just like this fw arg

  46. Rob

    I have attempted to break the decision down into two frameworks- Tab and interventionist (Gonzo's position)
    -Tab: I look to framework first, and the 1AR makes the claim that
    "The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best- we have by far read the best arguments, in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it. This defeats the whole purpose of a research based activity and punishes us for spending time reading about the topic instead of about obscure philosophy"
    The simple truth is that the negative doesn't answer this argument. In response to gonzo's claim that you have to have an argument, I think this qualifies. When the aff says I have to look at research first and to evaluate the arguments made within that research, that is what I do as a tab judge. Aff ballot.

    -Interventionist: When Gonzo says that you have to have a coherent argument, and evidence to back up that claim, I think this is flawed. Just as when a card is tagged "multiple impacts", you flow and evaluate the various impacts specified in the evidence. The tag/analysis is not the only thing a judge should evaluate in the round, due to the fact that evidence in and of itself makes an argument. The aff makes the claim that the card answers argument A, B, and C. That is an argument. Given its not well warranted, but that is what calling for evidence is for. Just as when one reads an impact card that says "Prolif results in extinction", there is no clear warrant behind it, but the evidence backs up the claim. In this debate the claim is "A, B, and C are wrong", and the evidence clearly backs that up. Aff ballot again.

    *other thoughts*
    -Its definitely a low-point win. Its clear that the neg knows the argument, and is much more persuasive
    -the 20 books thing: 1. If you read 20 books and don't understand the kritik, you should go to public forum. 2. If the kritik is really that hard to understand, that substantiates the aff's claims for leniency


  47. James


    The problem there is the argument is tautological. Essentially it's "we made an argument to not look at arguments, so don't look at arguments, but look at this argument."

    Consider a situation where a team read a card about why argumentation was bad (a la West George/Mao). The argument is self-referential and theoretically impossible to argue against without presuming its logic is inherently flawed.

    Framing arguments are still arguments; if said argument frames the debate away from arguments made by debaters, it reaches some weird paradoxical state which probably isn't good for debate and is worth intervening against.

  48. travis

    The chaff –

    It's offensiveness like, "if you don't understand, you should go to public forum" that chills conversations. Reading 20 books in no way guarantees that someone understands the complexities and minutia of these issues. After all, that's why we are debating these issues.

    The wheat –

    Miles does not engage in a tautology. See where you inserted "not"s into your description of his argument? The absence of "not"s makes it a consistent, if overly reduced, chain.

    Here's my question. In order to evaluate the truth claim of a "No Link" doesn't one need to also evaluate the argument that is supposedly non-germaine? I am not sure how so much deference, as to not even consider the argument's relevance, can be given to a purely defensive argument. If I am correct, then the reasonable critic calls for the evidence, for the aff says that is where to look for the argument's presence. Assuming the evidence makes you crap your pants, then it speaks to the relevance question. Again, how important now is a purely defensive argument that is evaluated to be inaccurate?

    I am all for bracketing that truth claim and disallowing it based on some standards of fairness, i.e. the debating in the round. This is often the dilemma of judging the new correct 2AR argument. You acknowledge the devastation of the argument and then disallow it based on a notion of fairness. But you must first evaluate the content of the argument.

  49. dylan

    let me begin by saying i also think this hypothetical is impossible; if you've done that much research, you'll understand the card.

    why is noone willing to say the neg's spin in response to the card is the "best" argument? they were the only debaters in the round that made an argument that attempted to contextualize the claims in the evidence to the round and apply that contextualization. perhaps this just gets back to the impossibility of the hypothetical, because your answer will certainly be that the card predicted the future and answered the entirety of the neg's spin. but the hypothetical trails off at a critical point, the point at which the negative spin explains why the aff evidence is wrong about its supposed refutation of the neg's arguments (This indict doesn’t respond to thee arguments because of …..” And then gives a long winded explanation.) we are told, though, that the card does NOT address this interpretation/spin by the negative. so it seems like even under the aff framework, they're wrong about them having the "best" argument. (unless you believe that "every argument in the 2NC in response to this card is unevidenced, made up on the spot drivel from a high school student- it may sound good, but there is no real substance behind it." overcomes the negative's "long-winded" explanation, which seems absurd to me. if that's the case, why don't debaters just say that line every round and use it as a means to completely eliminate non-evidence analysis from debate?)

    more importantly though, i think a vote for the aff encourages more of the same (as this hypothetical round). it tells teams that when they encounter an argument that is difficult for them to grasp, that they don't need to get to the point of understanding it because as long as they suspect they have a good answer, that's good enough. it directly discourages understanding. would you all still feel the same if it were a politics DA that the aff claimed it "couldn't understand"? if that makes you more uncomfortable, perhaps that tells you something. would you accept research papers that included ONLY quotations and a one paragraph attempt to justify the lack of applied analysis? likely not, because again, it discourages understanding things.

    (yes, i understand they did a bunch of research. but research is a pretty useless skill if it doesn't garner knowledge)

  50. CJ Clevenger

    I have read most of these responses and seem to have an assumed overal theme about what is being said by the AFF framework argument. The origional:

    "The purpose of the judge is to decide what arguments were the best- we have by far read the best arguments, in order to vote negative you have to decide that we should lose even though we made the best argument, simply because we didn’t understand it. This defeats the whole purpose of a research based activity and punishes us for spending time reading about the topic instead of about obscure philosophy"

    The question as a judge that I look at, is that they have said I should evaluate the best "argument" but have failed to define what an argument is. This discussion is never evaluated anywhere in this discussion (if I missed it my appoligies, but if it is there it has been glossed over) which is almost a little disturbing. At the most basic level, what is an argument. This framework argument fails to define what an argument is. For instance, if you read my judging philosophy I tell people what I consider to be defined as an argument. If I am the judge, I look at thier framework argument and vote negative.

    Reasoning: For me, evidence does not make an argument. An argument is comprised of three parts, Claim, Warrant, and Data. There are many ways to interperate what these individual parts refer to both in the macro and micro sense. I know this could be a whole discussion, but for the sake of my and everyones sanity I will keep it in my head. In this instance, the affirmative has failed to make a coherent argument. The reality of it for me is that they have made a claim (the overall tag if you will) and provided data (the card in this instance) but even by thier own standards have not given the warrants as they admit. The affirmative on the other hand has done all 3 instances. I still accept that research is important to the activity but only in the sense that it is 1/3 of making an argument.

    But who knows maybe I am off my rocker…

  51. anon

    i think i agree with what cj and dylan have said (amongst others). The only problem I have (and i think the only thing that separates this round from a clear negative ballot) is that the neg never made some sort of a response to the (albeit terrible) framing argument made by the aff. Any sort of a response would likely have put the aff pretty far behind on that debate, thus assuring a negative ballot.

  52. kevin sanchez

    the fact that there might be a debate about this hypothetical, that there are judges who would actually vote affirmative, is evidence of the extent 'card fetishism' is entrenched in the activity. debate occurs during timed speeches, not between two sets of cards read after the round. personally, i believe a judge should only refer to evidence in order to resolve directly conflicting accounts of what that evidence claims, as in: 'debater from team A: "it says X"; debater from team B: "it does not say X". even if it's routine practice to read cards while deciding, a card is not a substitute for a 2ar. i flowed no specific responses to arguments A, B, and C made by the negative – so they carry the day. this is an activity that values research, but if it doesn't also value *understanding* that research, then what's the point?

  53. Scott Phillips


    Sanchez is only the most recent of a trend of people saying the neg should win because they "understand".

    In fact, they do not "understand" either their own argument or the aff card.

  54. kevin sanchez

    well i don't think i said exactly that, scott. perhaps genuine understanding is too high a bar, depending on what you consider genuine understanding; but all i said was that we should incentivize understanding as opposed to mere citation. the reason the negative should win is because they explain a winning argument to which i flow no responses. i'll grant that debate might be much less time-consuming if final rebuttal speeches comprised nothing more than injunctions to read one 'awesome' card. but in this regard, i've never been a taylorist.

  55. JHines

    @Scott Phillips
    I think this misses Sanchez argument. He is criticizing a trend which I also find troubling: 'card fetishism'. I would not say the Negative should win simply because they 'understand', but the Affirmative cannot win if they fail to make a cogent argument. Saying "I have no idea what this card actually means but once you read it you can figure it out for yourself" is a poor shadow of argument. If we accept these kinds of "arguments" why should any debater be required to explain their evidence? Why don't teams just see who can collect all the best cards and read them in the correct order faster than the other team can respond? Who cares if the debaters understand what they're reading? Who cares if they have the ability to explain the warrants of their evidence and contextualize them in relation to their opponents arguments?

    As a judge it is not my job to decide who read the better evidence but instead to decide "who did the better debating". The essence of the question posed by the ballot requires the judge to vote based upon argumentation on the flow rather than piecing the round back together by re-reading every card after the debate. The longer the community accepts this trend the less relevant in-round performance becomes.

    Ultimately, I find the notion that a team can win while saying they have no idea what argument they are actually making very disconcerting.

  56. JHines

    @Scott Phillips
    Cute rhetorical trick but non-responsive and non-sequitur to the thrust of my argument.
    I don't know where I said 'spin', I said "argument". CJ attempts to explain this so I won't repeat Toulmin's model here, but the way I read the hypothetical, the AFF forgoes any attempt to make an argument other than essentially saying "we'll insert this evidence into the record of the debate and let you decide". How is that not an explicit request for judge intervention?

  57. Scott Phillips

    I don't think that is what "non-sequitar" means. No one voting aff said "i am a card fetishist", that is a label applied to them. Similarly, I applied a label to your position. The aff certainly did not "forgo any attempt to make an argument".

  58. JHines

    "Non-sequitur" means "does not follow" which some argumentation theorists clarify as a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it. My claim is that debate is a game of argument and the evidence read in a debate is simply a sub-set of the essential elements of logical argument but not logical argument per se. To label me a spin fetishist does not follow since it is not relevant to my essential claim.

    I offered no defense of "spin". I define spin as an act of interpretation, that is something quite different than offering logical argument. Perhaps at best spin could be a claim. Perhaps I am not answering the specific nuance of the hypothetical you set up, but it offers the opportunity to comment on a larger trend of over reliance on cards at the expense of actual in round performance. Logical argument includes a claim (statement of opinion or belief which one wishes to prove true), data (evidence generally accepted as fact by the audience) and a warrant (logical reasoning which connects the data to the evidence in such a fashion as to support the initial claim). In order to win by "doing the better debating" a team must offer all three and refute the other team's attempt to make an argument. The AFF most certainly forgoes any attempt to offer logical argument when all they say is "we don't know what we're talking about but here's some really sweet evidence". At that point they have asked the judge to perform the work of identifying what the proper claim should be, and what logical reasoning (warrant) connects the evidence offered to the non-existent claim.

    Any judging paradigm which relies upon the judge simply re-reading everyone's evidence after the debate to determine who's cards are better reduces the argument game down to simply a question of who read the better evidence and does not head the mandate of the ballot.

  59. Scott Phillips


    You said "too much emphasis on evidence", I said "too much emphasis on spin". If you can't see the relevance of that response I got nothing.

    The aff is not saying "debate should be just judges reading cards". They have said in this particular instance the judge should prefer their card over BS analytics made up by the negative.

  60. JHines

    It appears to me your example has shifted and you still ignore my larger criticism. You are ignoring my distinction between spin (which I define as claim), evidence and argument. Spin and evidence are sub-sets of argument. If you still don't see the distinction I guess I can't help you either.

    I say focus on argument is the essence of the judge's responsibility and therefore requires the judge to expect debaters to make complete arguments. Spin itself is not an argument and neither is evidence. I am saying any debate where teams revert to we don't know what's going on but just read our evidence has shifted from being an argument game to a contest over who has better evidence and is therefore no longer debate. Conversely, any debate which is simply a question of who did better "spin" (read just competing claims) is also not desirable.

  61. Scott Phillips


    The neg has "spin", not a complete argument. The aff has "evidence", not a complete argument.

    I see the distinction just fine. The hypothetical is about which a judge defaults to preferring as argument pieces. Nothing shifted.

  62. kevin sanchez

    for me the problem with that one-liner (“spin fetishism … card fetishism”) is that cards include “spin” as well – which is a term i’ve always thought synonymous with ‘bullshit’, not sound analytical explications. i call it ‘card fetishism’ not because cards are emphasized, even privileged, but because, in the marxist sense, magic powers are being attributed to something which it does not possess. another way of saying this is simply: not all cards are evidence; some are just educated conjecture, which can be undone by counter-arguments, even if proffered by those lacking the best of credentials. (zizek has an anecdote that fits here: he says he’s old enough to remember when the term ‘expert opinion’ would’ve been laughed at – reason being, an expert tells you how it is; it’s us non-experts who have ‘opinions’. well, restated in these terms, most cards in policy debate are examples of expert opinion, not brute facts. to interpret both types of claims within the same model is what i find fetishistic {like pretending there are real gods behind the worshiped idols}.)

    rather than ‘understanding’, i think the word that best fits my position is *application*. for instance, you can fail to ‘understand’ how there are tens of thousands of nukes in the u.s. arsenal (perhaps you have a brain disorder that prevents you from counting higher than 50), but if you have a credible piece of evidence which claims it, you still have to say, “our evidence says X; the other team said Y; X beats Y because its author is more credible”. you have to specifically apply the card. i’m not someone who thinks ‘arguments from authority’ are necessarily dumb. there’s much non-experts can’t be expected to know. but judges should not be relied on to do the legwork of applying cards to opponents’ arguments. simply saying, ‘our evidence answers all their arguments’ and then sitting down, does exactly that. and my guess as to why some on this comment page even consider voting affirmative isn’t because they emphasize research, but because they attribute illegitimate power to quotations. cards don’t make arguments, debaters do, sometimes with the assistance of cards, and sometimes not. to increase my vulnerability i’d even argue that no judge should read the card cited by the affirmative. that’s intervention at its worst – finding reasons to vote the other way that were never explained in-round.

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