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  1. Thought y'all might be interested in a list of the most experienced judges in HS and College in the era of Tabroom. For College: Jackie Poapst - 477 Rounds Me - 470 Rounds Armands Revelins - 467 Daniel Stout - 466 Kurt Fifelski - 458 Benjamin Hagwood - 425 Lindsey Shook - 417 Becca Steiner - 414 Shae Bunas - 409 Joe Leeson-Schatz - 391 Honorable mention that 11th, 12th, and 13th are one round separated from each other. With Will Baker at 371, Matthew Moore at 370, and Andy Montee at 369. This is out of a data pull of 416 judges. The average number of rounds judged for judges at most tournaments over the past year is 121, and the Median is around 90. For High School: Valerie McIntosh - 389 Kevin Hirn - 321 David Heidt - 307 Brad Meloche - 291 Brock Hanson - 282 Scott Wheeler - 282 Wayne Tang - 266 Kevin McCaffrey - 264 Sam Haley-Hill - 248 Eric Forslund - 247 Honorable Mention to Mark A. Hernandez Sr. in 11th with 241. This is out of a pull of 646 judges who attended a wide selection of recent tournaments. This is only HS Policy, and excludes camp rounds. The mean average number of rounds judged by judges is 61. The Median is 40.
  2. RobGlass

    Baby #2: Electric Boogaloo

    Decker already traded this draft pick to JMU for two novices and a second round draft pick to be named later.
  3. RobGlass

    Portable Skills

    Debate can take you nearly anywhere. Places you never imagined you could go. Sometimes, places you wish you’d never found—places like media outlets dedicated to disseminating white supremacist ideologies. For the last year, my research interests, background in debate, and generally antagonistic personality have brought me deep into the world of “bloodsport debating,” a style of unstructured, polemic debate practiced by the white supremacist far-right. By arguing amongst themselves, the right has created the aesthetic of flourishing political discourse while never straying too far from their core belief that the composition of a nation must be carefully curated and maintained. A significant contingent of the left has rejected the political utility of debating those who hold such abhorrent views—a feeling I suspect is tied to an understanding of debate that is the most pedantic, elitist version possible. Such a case was recently made in an article by English feminist author Laurie Penny, who collapsed all forms of debate into “the way [she] was taught to do it at [her] posh school,” and “fundamentally an intellectual dick-smacking contest dressed up in institutional lingerie, and while there are plenty of women out there who can unzip their enormous brains and thwack them on the table with the best of them, the formula is catastrophically macho.” Yikes. That’s a link. Most of us recognize that form of debate, primarily practiced by very online avatars, but it’s far from the only kind that exists. Policy debate presents us with an argumentative training ground that isn’t just about logic, but about persuasion more broadly. In a recent piece in Current Affairs, Nathan Robinson explains that “‘debate’ is not strictly a contest of logical argumentation; it is a contest of persuasion, and the strict presentation of factual arguments and conclusions is only one of the ways in which this occurs.” The most valuable aspect of policy debate is its uncertainty and ability to accommodate diverse intellectual tactics, putting everything from the audience to the argument style to the very definition of winning and losing up for re/interpretation. Understanding debate holistically is critical for real-world advocacy. One significant reason white supremacists win the public relations war with the majority of civically-minded citizens is that they tend to the audience rather than beating someone over the head with the most correct and logical information. Any debater who has been caught with an unsympathetic judge in the back of the room knows that if your audience doesn’t have the intellectual tools or frame of mind to understand your argument, you may as well have never made it. White supremacists excel at speaking to the audience instead of the facts, tapping into the “common-sense” racism most Americans feel. Rather than allowing this to lead us to the conclusion debate is impossible, we should redouble our commitment to strategizing around the audience and truth, instead of hoping the truth will speak for itself. Some readers may now be wondering, “Why bother?” The answer is simple. At some point, you aren’t just refusing to debate—you’re also refusing to persuade. The hesitation around this kind of engagement, Robinson argues, has tangible consequences: “There’s something that sounds faintly dirty about encouraging people to think beyond purely rational forms of persuasion. But it’s that refusal to get one’s hands dirty with rhetoric that is the problem, not the willingness to use language rather than physical force as one’s chief political weapon. The choice is not necessarily between “trying to reason logically with the other side” and “engaging in violent struggle.” It could also be that for progressives, persuasion is usually best effected neither through violence nor formal deductive reasoning, but through effective messaging, telling people things that actually get them to support your politics. In other words, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it and who you are.” I have been met with my fair share of suspicion and horror for engaging white supremacists in their spaces but am no less convinced of its importance. It’s not true that, as the refrain goes, “There’s just no debating white supremacy” or “We can’t debate over people’s humanity.” Those debates are already occurring, with or without us, in well-funded spaces and highly publicized platforms all over the world. Of course, any engagement must be careful to avoid amplifying or strengthening white supremacy’s public platform, but the fight for liberation and justice requires walking into deeply immoral spaces and hijacking them with better arguments and the kind of credibility that you can only build through repeated exposure and thoughtful consideration of your audience. After all, white supremacy is not simply immoral in the abstract—it’s immoral because it’s a terrible argument whose backing falls apart with even the slightest application of scrutiny. Articulating those embarrassing gaps in white supremacy’s logic strengthens people’s convictions against it and empowers them to tackle those arguments in their daily life. Debate certainly can’t save us on its own (and we should not all run out to debate every random racist on the internet), but it is one important tool in the Big Box of Tactics because you lose 100% of the flows you drop. When persuading people to turn away from the alt-right, I rely on four main lessons from my time in policy debate. While other forms of debate are wonderful for teaching public speaking skills or introducing someone to a civil or traditional method of argumentation, there’s nothing quite like this activity. Lesson 1: “Framework Makes the Game Work” Anyone who has debated in the Southeast in the last decade has heard Erik Mathis repeat this phrase, though I was far less appreciative of it as a competitor. The process of moving through a debate round teaches us that, no matter what you choose to do with your life, you will have far too little time to do it. The further you get into a career or a doctoral program, the more you have to make difficult choices about where to spend your time building depth at the exclusion of something else. Given these temporal constraints, framework provides an argument about what information the audience should dedicate their time to evaluating. In other words, framework controls the rubric for what it means to win. When it comes to debating white supremacists, the stakes can feel exceptionally high if “losing” means more people walk away believing in the elevated humanity of whiteness. Reworking a debate to be about something else—like the ethics of even allowing white supremacists to advocate for their position when it is not cogent enough to meet even a basic burden of proof—sets the bar higher and changes how people are approaching the question as they evaluate the arguments. Lesson 2: Know Your Opponents Argument Better Than They Do If there’s one thing that sets policy debate apart from every other activity, it’s the depth of research. From deep, two-sided research emerges “round vision,” or the ability to predict an opponent’s available strategic options in their last speech before the debate even begins. Those new to debate will often get caught up in the logical minutia of something that can be easily conceded in favor of ten new, late-breaking examples that can’t all be adequately examined. A deep understanding of what your opponent believes is the single best predictor of how persuasively you can preempt their positions. For example, many on the right have begun to cite a recent academic “hoax” wherein people spent a year attempting (and mostly failing) to publish outrageous fake articles in feminist studies journals. There are a host of reasons why this hoax is not a sufficient indictment of entire academic departments, but anyone that invested in delegitimizing research that undermines power will quickly turn to hyperbolic examples about professors or graduate students that spoke too candidly about whiteness, or masculinity, or colonialism on Twitter. It’s far more powerful to indict evidence in the broader context of your opponent’s worldview—especially if you can explain their arguments and ridiculous examples before they do. Lesson 3: Truth and Tech Matter Differently Hillary Clinton may have won the flow in every presidential debate against Donald Trump, but a disproportionately powerful minority of people saw her as a loser. As she prattled off policy details and encouraged people to seek out live fact-checking websites, Trump accused her of starting ISIS and paraded in women who had accused her husband of sexual misconduct. The audience, with no idea how to compare those two things, defaulted to whoever and whatever they trusted before the debates began. Knowing your opposition’s content is important, but so is knowing their form. A bombastic persuasion style must be met with something equally invested in emotional connection while also seeking the upper hand in credibility. A highly technical, civility-minded opponent requires a more controlled style that tackles precision with more accessible, but still truthful, explanations. Advocates find ourselves faced with every kind of interlocuter, and nothing teaches you to adapt your explanations to the setting quite like approaching the same topic 50 different ways with different opponents and audiences each time. Lesson 4: Research, Test, Clash As Wisconsin’s own Assistant Director Jordan Foley always reminds me, “You can’t beat the game in one night.” Debate is an iterative process of persuasion that can’t be reduced to even the most impressively and thoroughly researched files. Creating a persuasive message requires taking research and testing it by clashing against those who hold other perspectives. Things that seem obviously persuasive in your own head or friend group may have no resonance whatsoever with those outside of it. There’s no better way to figure out what is convincing than to try to convince people, failing, and reworking your arguments until you break through. Clash also provides the opportunity to attack weak arguments—I truly cannot overstate the impact of the phrase “Can you point to a line in the study that says that?” in front an audience who has never seen their intellectual icons pushed to prove they are characterizing evidence fairly. Debate will take you to places you never imagined, and to some you’ve surely been eyeing since you began your educational lives. No matter where you wind up, debate will have taught you a core set of lessons about how to persuade people, and what they can (and can’t) be persuaded of in any given context. By the end of your career, you will have spent years training yourself in a particular style of argumentation. You will take what you've learned out of the often-cruel world of competitive debate and into a much crueler world that you will find yourself desperate to change. Along the way, persuasion will be a critical part of asking for help, building a base, and making real forward movement. Growing into an advocate is a lifelong process of honing and sharpening and adjusting our tactics. As debaters, we have something necessary (but not sufficient) to spur change—good or bad. With those skills in mind, where will debate take you? CV is the Director of Debate at the University of Wisconsin--Madison and a doctoral candidate in the department of Communication Arts. They study institutional use of genetic data and human taxonomies in political discourse. View full article
  4. RobGlass

    Who would win in a debate, ColinD or LNRD?

    Quick @LNRD, now's our chance!
  5. RobGlass

    Who would win in a debate, ColinD or LNRD?

    The wings contest? We've got a plan in the works. For the record, I will be crushing the both of them.
  6. RobGlass


    Watch grand-cross in PF and he'll seem a bastion of dainty civility in comparison.
  7. Hi, I’m the new Editor-in-Chief of PolicyDb8, and I just wanted to introduce you to our forthcoming content. Starting this week and running for the foreseeable future we will be posting two to three articles a week about Policy Debate. Some will be about its culture, both for good and ill, and how we can improve it. Some about the power of debate outside the round and the potential of our activity. And some will be advice for students, and coaches, both for how to improve as students and competitors and also to give perspective for what debate offers for those of us who want to venture out beyond the cloister and into the so-called “real world.” The goal of this project is to offer a place for both long-form content about debate and also to be a site for dialogue and discussion absent the polarizing and destructive tendencies of social media. As time goes on we’re hope to branch out to offer new, and more innovative, forms of engagement and to increase the kinds of content that we have on offer, and we hope that you’ll join us for that journey. If you’re interested in contributing please feel free to reach out to me directly, all offers and forms of feedback are welcome. Thank you, Rob Glass Editor-in-Chief Policydb8
  8. RobGlass

    What was the worst topic of all time?

    Worst topic I've ever heard about from coaches and debaters who were active was the Social Services topic in the early 90s. It was, apparently, a complete disaster in every possible way. College Europe is generally up there in the disasters list, and I think this year will be remembered the same way. That said, I haven't talked to anyone who debated/coached on the topic(s) but some of the value CEDA resolutions from before the merger strike me as being just the worst to debate for more than a tournament. For instance: " Resolved: That the national news media in the United States impair the public's understanding of political issues."
  9. Three rounds in and I feel compelled to ask.
  10. RobGlass

    What's your debate music?

    Basically, what it says on the tin. What music do you listen to when you're prepping to debate or doing debate work? When I was a debater my two favorite things to listen to pre-round were: The Conan the Barbarian Soundtrack which, y'know... And the music from Philip Glass's Akhnaten, particularly one piece (about five minutes into the linked song) which always got me into the "Crush them" but mind-cleared and focused mindset. As a card-cutter these days I'm a huge fan of anything Ulrich Schnauss, I'd recommend this album as being almost perfect for keeping the mind alert while skimming through massive amounts of text. As a judge I'm really into Solar Fields, and at national tournaments I can often burn through an entire album during the times before my RFDs.
  11. There's a fundamental difference between "Author has written in defence of two ideas in tension with each other" and "Author believed X and now believes Y, but I'm going to ignore that progression and use their defence of X. uncritically" If the Author has made a clean break from the position they held and you know it then why cite them? If the arg is good surely it's made elsewhere, and if the arg really is obscure enough that this is the only author whose cards are worth using and they've moved on from the argument then perhaps there's a reason they have. Recast a bit, this logic of "the author defended it once so I'm free to use it now" wouldn't fly in serious academic writing, so why should we let it (uncritically) into debate?
  12. But that's the point. If the warrant is "X Qualified Source Believes this" then to cite this person as believing the argument now when they, in fact, _do not_ seems ethically dubious. And if the argument is actually warranted then it seems like making that argument yourself without a card should solve the problem.
  13. So, if you haven't listened to the latest episode of the debatercast you totally should. It's a really fascinating interview and Jeffrey Lewis is just the best. But I've been thinking about a part of the interview a lot since then. In the discussion Jeffrey Lewis is broadly negative towards politics disads and then discusses the winners win Norm Ornstein card, and mentions that Ornstein no longer believes that argument to be true. If that's correct, is it okay to keep reading the Ornstein card? My original thought was "of course" and that what the debater is defending is the argument (claim-warrant-impact) in the card and not the author. BUT that begs the question as to why read the card then? If the argument in it is good on its own merits the structure of the card is unnecessary _except_ if the debater is trying to add extra weight to the argument by using the authority of an expert's opinion. If that's true, and it's also known that the author now no longer believes in that argument, then reading for card from that author seems disingenuous at best and outright dishonest at worst. I think this would be an interesting discussion, and I'm curious what the rest of the community thinks about this.
  14. I’m joined by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis for this Episode. Dr. Lewis is the Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, the founding editor of the Arms Control Wonk blog, and a former Policy Debater in High School and College. He talks with me about his debate career, how debate influenced his decision to go into Nuclear Policy, and shares some thoughts on this year’s college topic. Promised links: Arms Control Wonk Podcast: https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/author/podcast/ 2020 Commission by Jeffrey Lewis: https://amzn.to/2COL3xi This was recorded on 9/11/2018. Music by Ben Sound.
  15. RobGlass

    Debatercast! Episode 03: Featuring Gary Larson

    The next episode just got released via my feed, and should be up here by tomorrow morning. If you liked Gary Larson I'm willing to bet you'll like this one.

Personal Information

  • Name
    Rob Glass
  • High School
    Fordham Prep
  • College
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