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Latest posts

What “In Conflict” Really Means For LD

Let’s admit it: Value debaters have it rough. You see, policy debates have very tangible consequences. This makes their idea of conflict much more defined and understandable. But for value debaters, conflict can be a very tricky idea. Entire debates can revolve around... read more

Community Judges #3 – Persuade Them

Be Orators, Not Debaters “All right,” you may be thinking, “Community judges may be a necessity. I recognize they approach debate with a mindset of hesitancy and self-doubt. And I may very well be able to mitigate this mindset by somewhat adapting to this mindset. But... read more

Never Lose The Same Way Twice

“I will never lose the same way twice.” Earlier in my career, when I would receive that horrible fifth and below circle on my speech ballots or when I’d lose a round, I would blame it on some judge being ridiculous or my opponent sliming me in a rebuttal. My loss was... read more

Witch Doctor Theory

“Of course we know we shouldn’t touch those vines, Reverend Smith; every village child is told the story of the evil spirits that are forced to live in them, and how touching them allows the evil spirits to escape into your skin.” “Evil spirits? No, you’re... read more

A GIANT list of Reasons to Prefer a Definition

Two years ago, Stoa Value debaters dedicated themselves to debating the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law.  As you might expect, definitions were central to the understanding of the resolution.  As with any generally ambiguous topic, certain debaters took... read more

Partnering with a Novice: The How and Why

“Here,” I hissed, “This is what to say in response to their argument about the evidence.” My partner nodded, frantically taking notes, grabbing for evidence, and jotting arguments as our prep time dwindled. “They say that it doesn’t apply because it’s talking about... read more

The Most Important Study of Rehabilitation: Debunked!

“With few and isolated exceptions, the rehabilitative efforts that have been reported so far have had no appreciable effect on recidivism.” (GASP!) If those words are true, the negative speaker of every NCFCA LD round this year could disprove every affirmative... read more

Less is More: Debating with Fewer Claims Brings Focus

Running fewer arguments in round helps you in two critical areas of speaking: in your content and in your delivery. Content Running fewer arguments leads to better or higher quality arguments that are more likely to persuade the audience, for the following reasons.... read more

Community Judges #2 – Adapt To Their Mindset

As expected, the transition from competitor to alumnus was a bit jarring. I managed to control the overpowering nostalgia, to overcome the sensation that I was trespassing into unauthorized areas (such as the much-vaunted judges’ hospitality), and to quell the... read more

Puppies and Children: Arguing Against Emotional Appeals

“When I was told last year that I would be the lead prosecutor on a murder case involving an 8-year-old child witness, I knew a very important member of my team would be Rikki the therapy dog…The child barely noticed us; his attention was 100 percent focused on this... read more

Community Judges #1 – The Necessity of Community Judges

You didn’t break. Or you were eliminated in a crucial outround. Or you barely lost in finals. You charge to ballot retrieval, seize your manila envelope, and frantically rifle through until you find the ballot you were dreading. The speaker points appear randomly... read more

Biases in the NCFCA LD Resolution – A Tainted Judge Pool

Last year, Stoa’s value debate resolution was “In developing countries, economic growth ought to be prioritized over environmental protection.”  Of course, this was a conservative homeschool league, making it very hard to make a case for environmental protection that... read more

How to Make Briefs for LD Value Debate

To be honest, I did not want to use briefs for LD until last year.  Last year, I collected a lot of evidence so that I would be able to discuss applications, but I would always attempt to refocus the debate on the terms I wanted to discuss; I would try to make... read more

What skills do you learn from debate? Here’s a HUGE list

Debate, the Ultimate 21st Century Skill (if you pursue it as such) Ask ten different people, get ten different answers. Kind of like when people find out my wife and I met in a debate, they assume we argue a whole lot… and I politely remind them that “nobody is... read more