Saturday, October 30, 2010

Having trouble researching?

I hear people very often tell me that they have trouble researching, because they can't find any arguments. Here's my answer: arguments are invented, not found. Next time, when you sit down and write a brief, follow these steps. Don't just expect Google to magically produce arguments for you.

1. Learn. Don't research.
Before you start writing a brief, or thinking of arguments, learn all you can about the case and about the issue. Your research will be hit and miss, frustrating, and ultimately useless in-round if you don't learn all you can about the issue.

2. Think. Don't research.
Before you research, THINK ABOUT THE CASE! Google is not an artificial intelligence. It doesn't know that you are researching solvency arguments against START. It will only find things for you if you are trying to find them. Think logically about the case, taking into account all the relevant facts (assuming you did step 1).

3. Dissect. Don't research.
Before you research your arguments, break them down and think about the cards you will need for them to be effective. Break the disadvantage down into its parts. Think about what you will need to construct the argument in round.

4. Research specifically. 
Research effectively by searching for specific types of articles and sources, depending on which part of the brief you are building.

The bottom line: Thinking > blind researching.
Research is a thinking person's activity. Never expect the interwebs to automatically dump amazing evidence into your word processor. Research becomes thousands of times more effective when it is done logically and rationally, and only after learning everything that you can relevant to the topic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Juggernaut # 3: Bush Style BMD!

Number 3! Ballistic Missile Defense reform. Pretty simple. Iran scares us. They have nukes. Current BMD is bad. Russia blocking better BMD. Solution? Reform European BMD, solve Iran threat and Russia relations at once. 

Disclaimer: I know Blue Book has a case to abolish BMD, but who reads that thing anyway?  This is better. Trust me. 

Juggernaut Rankings:

  • Significance: 10
  • Solvency: 9
  • Judge Appeal: 10
  • Topicality: 7
  • Researchability: 10
  • In-Round Debate: 9
  • Composite Ranking: 9.2

Iran has nukes. This is bad. As a solution, we have begun the construction of a ballistic missile defense network in Europe. Originally, this system was pretty much amazing, and consisted of a complex network of Aegis ships, radar stations, and Ground-based Mid-course Defense interceptors, or GMD. For future reference, GMD is just the scientific name for pwning Iran. Unfortunately, Russia got mad at us, and we scaled our BMD back, with some weaker technology (not GMD) and fewer interceptors. Problem is, Russia hates the new plan too, and now Iran could nuke Europe, and we couldn't do anything about. This is a good example of what would happen. Iran bites down, and Europe can only giggle and whine. Aff plan puts in the original BMD plan, so when Charlie goes in to chomp our finger, he gets shot down by GMDs. 

Umm... Iran nukes Europe. Pretty significant. Here's a couple impact ideas:
1) Millions die
2) Culture loss
3) Economic collapse
4) Collapse of international order as we know it
5) Germany never gets a chance to retake the World Cup from Spain. :'( 

Solvency Mechanisms:
Fiat isn't an issue, but you will want to grab good articles on the success of GMD. Check the Boeing and DOD tests.

Not too hard to win. BMD in Europe is inextricably linked to our Russian policy. 

The Big DA that you are all worried about (Russian Relations)
Aight. Here's the tough part. Everyone is gonna hit you with a big DA on relations with Russia. Daniel Beasley and I ran this at a few camp demo rounds, and got hit with giant DAs both times. We also had an insane ballot spread (49-7) with the following responses:

1) Non unique (NATO expansion)
Fully half of the negative evidence on "Russia hates us! OH NOES!" will be talking about NATO expansion, not BMD. It will refer to "western encroachment" and the neg will try to apply it. 

2) Non unique (Obama plan)
Hello, people! The other half of the "Russia hates" evidence is talking about the current BMD plan! We downgraded our BMDs, compromising security, and Russia STILL hates it! Why on earth would you vote neg? If Russia's gonna be mad either way, let's at least make go for a BMD that works.

3) Transparency Mandate Spike
Transparency solves Russia anger. Trust me. Do some research, and you will find that a ton of high ranking Russian officials simply want the US to be transparent in its missile defense policies. Spike it out, move on.

4) Impact Scenarios =  Russian bluff
Bears don't bark. They mostly rumble. But in this case, the bear is all bark. It shouldn't be hard to find cards saying Russia won't actually do anything. Additionally, empirics prove that bears run when threatened. 


Thursday, October 7, 2010

5 Bad arguments that every Affirmative should smush

Every year, new variations of the same bad arguments resurface. Here are 5 arguments that every affirmative should prepare for, and then eat for lunch.

Bad Arg Numero 5: Lol! We can't fiat Russia!

Why people run it: To newer debaters, it feels powerful to be able to go up and make a cogent argument about "fiat." It also feels like a head shot to point out fiat shortcomings. 

Why it's bad: The lack of fiat isn't a problem. In real life, we can't fiat Russia either. Assuming that every affirmative has cards saying that Russia might accept, has reason to accept, or even would consider accepting,  affirmative still carries risk of solvency. In real life, we offer Russia stuff because we think they will accept. No one stands up in congress and goes "WAIT! WE CAN'T DO THIS! WE DON'T HAVE FIAT OVER RUSSIA!" Please, move on negs.  

Bad Arg Number 4: HAHAHAHAH! Your plan is in congress! It'll be passed soon! 

Why people run it: I have no clue.

Why it's bad: It literally presents no reason to vote neg. First, there's no way to actually prove that congress will pass it. Its like betting on Charles Barkley to win the 100m sprints at the Olympics, while wearing a sandwich board and shackles. Its just not in the cards. Bills veeeeeerry rarely get through congress. Hundreds of bills are proposed every year, and Congress only passes a handful of them. Plus, even if the bill does clear, it hasn't yet, which means that policy should be changed. THIRD, by arguing that congress likes the plan, you are putting them out as advocacy for the aff. Fourth, the aff just comes up and goes "Great. The judge has legislative power too. Why is it better for congress to pass it?" Please. NEVER RUN THIS ARGUMENT.

Bad Arg Number 3: This won't SOLVE the problem!

Why people run it: They don't understand solvency.

Why it's bad: Basically, people come up and say "They can't solve this harm." As in, the aff has to solve the entirety of a harm. For example, last year, one of our cases had the harm "30,000 deaths from air pollution." We claimed roughly 85-90% reductions in air pollution. Negs would come up and go 'They can't solve all this!" Like its a BAD thing to vote aff because we ONLY solve 90% of the harm? What? Solvency is tied to the ability of the aff plan to generate their claimed advantages. If the aff claims to solve 75% of the harm, and they prove that they do, they win. Its not a loss if they don't solve the whole thing. Look at what the aff claims before you argue that they don't solve. 

Bad Arg #2: We don't know....

Why people run it: To sound mysterious. Like a mystery wrapped in a riddle, stuffed inside a Twinkie. 

Why it's bad: This is my pet peeve. Negs who come up and say "We don't KNOW that these people are dying from air pollution specifically." "We don't KNOW that Russia will do this." "We don't KNOW that Putin is the Russian brother of the Old Spice Man."... So what? These kind of arguments ignore logical thought and don't present a reason to vote neg. Let's take the air pollution example. Sure. We can't PROVE that people are dying solely from pollution. Let's be smart, though. Having soot floating around cannot be good. Even if its not the cause of death specifically, removing air pollution can only be beneficial, and the studies support that. Make decisions on logical thought and established fact. Don't sit around and go "Well.... we don't KNOW." 

The worst argument Ever: OH NOOOOOES! SPENDING MONEY! 

Why people run it: Because excessive government spending is bad.

Why it's bad: Because... SPENDING MONEY ON A GOOD PLAN IS.... GOOD! Take the military, or roads.We spend tons of money on the military. We don't complain, though, because the military keeps us safe. We spend money on roads. We don't complain, because roads are good. If the plan is good, then spending money on it is good. People don't hate government spending. They hate waste. If the plan is good, it isn't waste. Just that simple. Saying "This plan costs money" isn't an argument. Its an appeal to natural hatred of waste, while ignoring the fact that (hopefully) the plan isn't a waste. Any affirmative with legitimate advantages can look the judge in the eye and say: "Yes. We do spend money. But that's a good thing, because this money gets us this, this, and this." Not to mention, any good affirmative will have found a way to pay for it, mitigate cost, etc.