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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:35 am 
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As a rule, I dislike running Topicality. I always kind of thought it was an annoying argument. Whenever people explained to me how to run Topicality, they always said it should be an A Priori, off-case argument. In other words, it says "they did something bad, so they don't deserve to win." People typically run it with weird impacts too, like "education" or "research burden." The standard frame for a T argument is this:

1. Standard: Aff's plan should uphold the res.
2: Violation: Aff's plan not Topical
3: Impact: Education/Research burden/Unfair advantage for the Aff team

I dislike this structure exceedingly for three reasons: one, it's kind of whiny. Why complain about how the other team is being mean, and so you ought to ignore their whole case and vote neg? Seems kind of like an argument from outrage. Second, these are lousy impacts. If these are the impacts to Topicality, does that mean that Aff deserves to lose if they run a crazy squirrel case (since it damages eduction, etc.)? Third, these are not even the main point of why a case should be Topical anyway. A case should be Topical because otherwise the Aff case is pointless, because it has no support for the resolution they themselves claim to uphold.

Another big problem with T in general is that judges all hate it. They think it's too technical, and I really don't blame them. I always hated T. And then I thought: Why not just run T as an ON-CASE argument? The structure would be something like this:

1: Aff stated that they are trying to prove the resolution true
2: If Aff doesn't prove the res. true, they should lose (BoP)
3: Aff's case is great, but it has nothing to do with the topic, and so it does NOT prove the res. true
4: Aff should lose because they have zero arguments/evidence to support their position

This structure avoids useless arguments, is very straight-forward, and I think judges wouldn't mind it so much. It doesn't argue that that the judge should "punish" the other team, and ignore their case completely, it simply states that the Aff team does not fulfill their burden of proof, so they ought to lose. It's totally on-case. If I run T this year, I want to structure it liek this

Then I realized: this is the same way LDers run T! LDers don't ever do this whole "a priori" off-case structure for T, they just say "their value/criterion/whatever has nothing to do with the topic, so they haven't proven their side of the resolution." Why can't TPers do the same? Why do we have to use all this technical jargon?

Any thoughts? Maybe I'm way over thinking this... :ugeek:

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:46 am 
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I've always run T like this. Ultimately I argue along these lines:

1. The stated purpose of the Aff team is proving the rez true. (____ should be reformed.)
2. To prove it true, they have provided a plan that proves it to true. (____ should be reformed, and this is how.)
3. If the plan isn't within the boundaries of the rez, it doesn't prove it true. (____ should be reformed, here's how something else should be reformed.)

Ultimately that's what topicality is about. The plan is supposed to be a warrant for the claim that is the resolution. The part where everyone starts hating topicality is when people run dumb impacts that make it sound whiny as opposed to a check on the aff that keeps the debate on track. Making it sound like the aff is being unethical doesn't make sense, and is completely unnecessary when you can argue T on a purely logical level.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:54 am 
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As I understand it:

Educational, research burden, and other impacts like that exist to provide justification for the position that it is not okay for the affirmative to be outside the bounds of the resolution (i.e. they answer the question "so what if they're outside the resolution?"). I would say that most of the time these kinds of impacts are unnecessary and when we ran T we usually just went with the burden of proof thing. If you do have other impacts, though, it makes your press stronger and more complete from a theory/logic perspective.

As far as categorization goes, however, topicality presses are not on-case arguments either way. They are procedural (off-case, in the same category as kritiks) because they deal with the real world and not the hypothetical world that is constructed in the debate round.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:21 pm 
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Quote:
1: Aff stated that they are trying to prove the resolution true
2: If Aff doesn't prove the res. true, they should lose (BoP)
3: Aff's case is great, but it has nothing to do with the topic, and so it does NOT prove the res. true
4: Aff should lose because they have zero arguments/evidence to support their position


I like the spin you put on this and think it might work. I totally agree that educational impacts and the "we didn't have time to research this case" are really annoying arguments which I would never run.

What Jared and I did last year was we said that the Resolution gives you the power to act within a certain spectrum (i.e. federal election laws). Those federal election laws were the only things you were given the authority to change. If you operated outside of that spectrum (by, say, reforming the way that congress passes laws) then you are not empowered to do that in the resolution and therefore no solvency. We could go further and make this into disadvantages if we wanted such as Governmental over-reach of authority. Usually any more argumentation on Topicality would deal with case specifics.

I went to the SC Ethos debate camp and the instructors introduced us to a topicality argument that is supposedly run in California called "Reverse-Osmosis." I think the argument goes something like "The resolution is what you should base your case on and it should be reflected throughout your case. If you look at an Affirmative case therefore, you should be able to surmise (without looking at the resolution) that the resolution should be enacted."
Thus, if someone runs a case saying that we should abolish the 17th Amendment, then the resolution can be derived from that. However, if I run a case that says that Unions should be barred from giving money to politics because they are corrupt and they steal, then the judge would probably derive a resolution saying "Unions should be significantly reformed" rather than election laws (Yes, I am admitting that the case we ran last year was borderline non-topical).
If the judge can't come to that realization through reverse-osmosis that the Resolution is true, then the Affirmative team hasn't proven that their case is topical.
I want to run this argument some time.

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Last edited by Voice of Reason on Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:22 pm 
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JohnMarkPorter1 wrote:
I went to the SC Ethos debate camp and the instructors introduced us to a topicality argument that is supposedly run in California called "Reverse-Osmosis." I think the argument goes something like "The resolution is what you should base your case on and it should be reflected throughout your case. If you look at an Affirmative case therefore, you should be able to surmise (without looking at the resolution) that the resolution should be enacted."
Thus, if someone runs a case saying that we should abolish the 17th Amendment, then the resolution can be derived from that. However, if I run a case that says that Unions should be barred from giving money to politics because they are corrupt and they steal, then the judge would probably derive a resolution saying "Unions should be significantly reformed" rather than election laws (Yes, I am admitting that the case we ran last year was borderline non-topical).
If the judge can't come to that realization through reverse-osmosis that the Resolution is true, then the Affirmative team hasn't proven that their case is topical.
I want to run this argument some time.


Yes, Cali seems to run reverse-osmosis all the time. :) Sometimes it's called the "common man" interpretation. I like it, but be aware that reverse-osmosis is subjective. For example, when I read the summary of your case, I immediately thought "oh, that's a reform of federal election law regarding contributions." So despite all the advantages of using a reverse-osmosis form of what Cyberknight and TakenUsername said, the main disadvantage is that judges may more easily vote against a topical case or vote for an untopical case because they mentally brush aside your point with "that sounds pretty untopical/topical to me."

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:28 pm 
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Evan wrote:
JohnMarkPorter1 wrote:
I went to the SC Ethos debate camp and the instructors introduced us to a topicality argument that is supposedly run in California called "Reverse-Osmosis." I think the argument goes something like "The resolution is what you should base your case on and it should be reflected throughout your case. If you look at an Affirmative case therefore, you should be able to surmise (without looking at the resolution) that the resolution should be enacted."
Thus, if someone runs a case saying that we should abolish the 17th Amendment, then the resolution can be derived from that. However, if I run a case that says that Unions should be barred from giving money to politics because they are corrupt and they steal, then the judge would probably derive a resolution saying "Unions should be significantly reformed" rather than election laws (Yes, I am admitting that the case we ran last year was borderline non-topical).
If the judge can't come to that realization through reverse-osmosis that the Resolution is true, then the Affirmative team hasn't proven that their case is topical.
I want to run this argument some time.


Yes, Cali seems to run reverse-osmosis all the time. :) Sometimes it's called the "common man" interpretation. I like it, but be aware that reverse-osmosis is subjective. For example, when I read the summary of your case, I immediately thought "oh, that's a reform of federal election law regarding contributions." So despite all the advantages of using a reverse-osmosis form of what Cyberknight and TakenUsername said, the main disadvantage is that judges may more easily vote against a topical case or vote for an untopical case because they mentally brush aside your point with "that sounds pretty untopical/topical to me."


That's a potential issue, but can be averted if you remember to clearly explain how the plan acts as a warrant for proving the resolution true.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Sorry I'm jumping in a bit late here, but I couldn't help but notice Gabe's point.

Cyberknight wrote:
I dislike this structure exceedingly for three reasons: one, it's kind of whiny. Why complain about how the other team is being mean, and so you ought to ignore their whole case and vote neg?

In a way I definitely agree with you. Topicality can seem and often is used as a whiny argument that is nothing but complaining. But If you want to get rid of the whiny A-priori issue, you can easily do just as well, all while sounding more professional by running these four impacts.

1. No fiat power. The Affirmative team has no power to pass anything outside of the resolution, thus, there plan won't work.
2. Education. (you already covered this one) :)
3. Fairness. (there is a way to do this without sounding whiny) We came here today to debate about the Middle East, the affirmative team is talking about Polar Bear extinction in the arctic, this isn't overly fair to the negative team or even the judge for that matter because we all came here prepared for talking about the Middle East, not Polar Bears.
4. Tradition. Debate has always been regarded as a gentleman's sport. A sport with no clear rules, but where over the past fifty years certain premises and examples have always been followed. Topicality is one of these.

Another really fun way to run topicality without using the whole A-priori thing, is if only one mandate is non-topical. I've had many fun rounds where we simply argue topicality saying that the one mandate should be axed from the affirmative's plan, but other than that, the round can continue as normal, simply without that mandate. Judges will often buy that and won't see as whining providing that you have proper impacts.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:01 pm 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
Quote:
1. No fiat power. The Affirmative team has no power to pass anything outside of the resolution, thus, there plan won't work.
I want to echo this. I think it's definitely the best T impact; I'd tag it as foregoing 'Jurisdictional Solvency' though. :)

Well I'd tag it as something like 'Power Fail' because the judge can spell that. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:36 pm 
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Judges can't spell words of three syllables? Really? Be careful of the general assumptions you make about judges. Going into a round assuming that you are more competent than your judge often leads to a very palpable feeling of patronization. I've judged many rounds and when I sense that, it is quite annoying to me. Some debaters look at me, make a snap judgment as to my abilities and comprehension level, then proceed to speak as to a young child.

The primary goal of these speech and debate leagues (although admittedly not all) is to give students the opportunity to develop real-world communication skills. When you speak to anyone from a "higher than thou" perspective, it is a barrier to actual communication. Your conversational counterpart will either become defensive, angry, offended, or at least dismissive of your and your point-of-view.

By the way, even young children sense patronization and don't appreciate it. You may, admittedly, have more knowledge about a particular topic (ie the resolution) than the judge you are trying to persuade. However, that is a reflection of acquired information and not of cognitive competence or ability to understand an argumentative process.

It is a good idea to choose simple words to reduce the need for definitions or even the length of time it takes to say the words and for the judge to write the words. The difference is in the mindset behind the choice; and that mindset may seem silent to you, but it screams quite loudly to your listener.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:27 pm 
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debateohana wrote:
Judges can't spell words of three syllables? Really? Be careful of the general assumptions you make about judges. Going into a round assuming that you are more competent than your judge often leads to a very palpable feeling of patronization. I've judged many rounds and when I sense that, it is quite annoying to me. Some debaters look at me, make a snap judgment as to my abilities and comprehension level, then proceed to speak as to a young child.

The primary goal of these speech and debate leagues (although admittedly not all) is to give students the opportunity to develop real-world communication skills. When you speak to anyone from a "higher than thou" perspective, it is a barrier to actual communication. Your conversational counterpart will either become defensive, angry, offended, or at least dismissive of your and your point-of-view.


Hammy is not trying to ridicule the judges and actually it's the other way around. You hit the nail on the head with "real-world communication skills." He's not "dumbing down" his speech, he's trying to make it more understandable.

Also, if your concern is that Josh's "mindset" is that debaters are smarter then the parent and community judges, than I would refer you to his earlier comments concerning similar subjects.

Evan wrote:
Yes, Cali seems to run reverse-osmosis all the time. Sometimes it's called the "common man" interpretation. I like it, but be aware that reverse-osmosis is subjective. For example, when I read the summary of your case, I immediately thought "oh, that's a reform of federal election law regarding contributions." So despite all the advantages of using a reverse-osmosis form of what Cyberknight and TakenUsername said, the main disadvantage is that judges may more easily vote against a topical case or vote for an untopical case because they mentally brush aside your point with "that sounds pretty untopical/topical to me."


True. But you wouldn't leave up all of the thought to the judge. You'd be adding your own analysis on how the case concerned one thing more than another. The case mostly dealt with a structural deficiency that was inherent to unions.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:38 am 
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debateohana wrote:
It is a good idea to choose simple words to reduce the need for definitions or even the length of time it takes to say the words and for the judge to write the words.

This is pretty much my reasoning. :) I'm sorry if I offended you, spelling is only a small part of the reason, because let's face it, some judges can't spell. It's rare, but it does happen. And when that happens they waste time trying to figure out the word and can lose track of what you're saying.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:40 am 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
I've also never had a judge complain about that phrasing though -- in my personal experience.

Because in that case a judge would admit to not having the best flowing or spelling? ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:58 pm 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
Quote:
1. No fiat power. The Affirmative team has no power to pass anything outside of the resolution, thus, there plan won't work.
I want to echo this. I think it's definitely the best T impact; I'd tag it as foregoing 'Jurisdictional Solvency' though. :)

That really mixes burdens unnecessarily. It ties solvency the topicality, which just muddles the flow. The easier and more understandable/acceptable voter is just jurisdiction. The judge is being asked if the resolution is true. The aff didn't present a case that meets the res. We don't know if the res is true, b/c no one is trying it. Vote neg.

PS:
I will write a very snarky comment on your ballot if you try "jurisdictional solvency" with me in the back :) (under NFA rules I can judge you)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:33 pm 
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Question: Why is it necessary to bring up fiat at all? Fiat is a very abstract concept that complicates the very simple argument of topicality. Topicality is as simple as saying that the Aff is failing to provide a warrant for the most fundamental claim in the round. Without a warrant, there's no reason to believe a claim. The resolution is a claim, the plan is the warrant. An untopical plan fails to act as a warrant for the resolution, therefore failing the entire purpose we have plans in Policy debate at all.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:52 am 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
Bryan, I was referring to NCFCA's style more predominantly. If we tell an NCFCA parent that they don't have the 'authority' to do something, it can come across...as not intended.

I've had judges who practically said on the ballot, "Don't tell me what I can't do." And voted against the other team on that.

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08-09 | Half-Timer | Verdict | R8
09-10 | Timer | Verdict | R8
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11-12 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
12-13 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
13-14 | Folkert/Light | Verdict | R8
14-15 | Folkert/Porter | Arx Axiom | R8
15-16 | Doto/Folkert | Verdict | R8


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:25 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
Masked Midnight wrote:
Bryan, I was referring to NCFCA's style more predominantly. If we tell an NCFCA parent that they don't have the 'authority' to do something, it can come across...as not intended.

I've had judges who practically said on the ballot, "Don't tell me what I can't do." And voted against the other team on that.

I've had the same reaction in the NCFCA. That why you phrase it as more "this is what good debate is, you should vote to support good debate." One thing that often gets missed is that a good argument in front of a flow judge is often a good argument in front of a lay judge. Most people intuitively understand what good debate it, its just that a flow judge understands *why* its good debate. So phrasing might be slightly different, but the essence of the argument is the same. That's what I'm more getting at, Razi, that you should make the same argument in front of every kind of judge (with some exceptions, extinction and Ks for example), but know how to phrase them differently.

Mixing burdens in front of any kind of judge is bad. Even a lay judge can tell that, even if they don't know why.

EDIT: One of my coaches' favorite things to talk about was a study analyzing the judging decisions of lay versus flow judges. They found that, assuming the round was at a pace everyone could understand, lay and flow judges agreed something like 85-90% of the time. People know what good debate looks like, but phrasing may have to change for different judges. Arguments themselves don't.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:25 am 
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Late to the party as usual, and this is an almost three year old idea, but here's a way you could impact topicality without seeming "whiny".


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