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If you missed PHC Debate Camp this year, you missed some self exploration. We found the 15-year-old-dude in all of us. There is one. That 15-year-old-dude isn’t gender specific… it’s a composite personality that shows its face now and then.

In debate, “now and then” doesn’t come close.

I asked the Ethos Coaches to list out some of their favorite things a “15-year-old-dude” (composite personality…) would say. Some of us are guilty of these in times past, and many of us see these often.

Do you have a little itty of bitty 15-year-old-dude in you? Resist these examples from real debates, where he has made an appearance.

  1. I Have 13 Responses” – The volume of content available was valued over its alacrity

  2. NO PREP TIME NEEDED” – The world needs to know that you don’t think you need to think. Even though the opener was boring, there was no conclusion, and disorganized doesn’t even begin to describe…

  3. Do you have evidence for that?” – Let’s try and remember why support is needed and what evidence really means, and start saying “what supports that notion?” or “that notion wasn’t supported” or even “oh wait… they supported it with three historical examples of genocides that happened as a result of a plan like mine… perhaps they don’t need quotations”

  4. Do you have evidence for that?” Part 2 – Aha! Found the weakness! My opponent forgot to bring a pocket constitution and cannot PROVE that there are three branches of Government. For all intents and purposes, therefore, there aren’t any!

  5. They DROPPED the Argument. Silence is CONCESSION.” – Okay? Perhaps the importance of the argument should be analyzed too.

  6. You can’t have a plan without a timeline… it’s in the rules” – There are, in fact, extremely few rules in debate. And the “what you have to do” with the substance of your argument isn’t one of them. We need to deduce any burdens

  7. That’s not a comparative advantage case! You said HARMS!” – The label we put on our cases does not mean the content within the cases is no longer relevant. It’s the other way around. We may not share the same understanding of the label, but we can listen to the opponent’s substance and have a little think for ourselves.

  8. They didn’t definitions. I win topicality! TOPICALITAAHHH!” – Definitions are not topicality.

  9. If you didn’t allocate your funding from the topical funding source, you can’t FIAT it!” – Because all policy changes only can use the budgets already allocated…

  10. Presumption means, if there’s a shadow of a doubt – JUST A SHADOW – you have an obligation to vote for the negative team in this debate round” – Good use of guilt. Will you follow the judge to the room and make sure they fulfill their obligations? Sounds like it.

  11. You can’t say “No Funding” – WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE PENS AND PAPER THEY SIGN THE BILL WITH? There’s no such thing as a free lunch, OR a free plan” – Because I really have nothing.

  12. Your plan is like a penguin. It has wings, but it just can’t fly. / Even Eagles sometimes get sucked into jet engines.” – I heard someone tell me I need a hook once. So I used one I heard someone else use.

  13. This plan HURTS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. It’s like when my older sister wouldn’t share her toys” – I have zero real world experience, so I put childhood memories into foreign policy “relations.”

  14. I’ve got a lot to cover, so I’m going to be going really fast, so let’s just jump right in… so…” – I’m trying to prove how smart I am by how many arguments I thought of… this speech time constraint (that EVERYONE has) is such a booger!

  15. It’s a yes or no question!” – No… it wasn’t.

  16. I don’t answer hypothetical questions” – Because that requires thinking? Because it tests principles? Or because they hurt your hypothetical conscience?

  17. You may be able to show that people WISH they could act on your plan, but you can’t PROVE that they’ll take advantage of all the free stuff you’re giving away. You just. can’t. prove. it.” – Because we only do things that have been done before, not things we expect will work. Are we going to have to call Eritrea and say “now you can trade without paying taxes to our Government?”

  18. You can’t use the Bible in a debate round, because it’s not fair” – Because doing things for the reason that they’re the right thing to do is not an acceptable reason… nor is it debateable that this plan may not actually demonstrate that Biblical principle?

  19. Their advantages don’t claim to completely solve their harms, so they lose!” —because, of course, in the real world plans get thrown out the window unless they make the world perfect

  20. They can’t mandate the President, because free will #arminian” — nuff said

  21. We don’t reeeally have to worry about Iran, or Russia, or North Korea, or anyone because we have more nukes than them.” – not to mention that if we ever actually used a substantial part of our nuclear arsenal we would actually be committing national suicide by frying the planet of it’s national resources——literally.

  22. It’s unfair to have a case that upholds morality, because that gives us nothing to argue” – Well… nothing to argue except that the case doesn’t actually solve that moral principle, there’s a higher moral principle, it’s not FIAT-able, it’s not a legal case, there aren’t the resources to do it, there’s a bigger moral disadvantage, or it’s off-topic.

  23. My value is better because it’s more intrinsically valuable than theirs” – Aaaaaaaand?

  24. I won the value so I win the round!” – winning the value actually does nothing for you unless you effectively use it to show that X is greater than Y.

  25. They can’t have a value! This is Team Policy not LD!” — Values are at the core of every policy decision. What you value influences how you react and attempt to solve a problem.Engage on values and show why your side’s value should be the basis of the decision. Plus LD is a format not a type of resolution.

  26. They brought up a value of [Justice, Equality, Freedom, etc.], but that is too narrow. We propose the Counter-Value of Net Benefits.” — Net benefits isn’t really a counter-value because net benefits says let’s look at all the impacts. Yet, how does net benefits determine which impacts are more important than others? It doesn’t, which is why a value is needed…

  27. this plan is backed by democrats!!! You don’t want to support a LIBERAL POLICY DO YOU!?!!?!??!?!?!!?!?!”

28. “Judge, they missed what we said in our 1AC evidence!” – No they just responded to it, and you weren’t listening. Respond not repeat.

  1. in c-x: So that means your plan raises taxes right? (answered with a yes) So then your plan is stupid right?” – To be charitable, this is simply asking one question to far 😉

30. “Judge… they’re plan spends a million dollars! (proceeds to rant about the debt crisis)” – American Debt arguments always win debate rounds. Said no one ever.

31. “Judge…(this)…Judge…(that)…Judge…(please)….Judgejudgejudgejudgejudgejudge.” – If you took out all the times 15 year old dude says “judge” in the speech, they could have another 20–30 seconds at least. lol.

If all you want to say right now is “that was thirty-one, and you said thirty!” it’s time to go through the list again.

The antidotes to 15-year-old dudeness are the intellectual virtues:

  • Charity – Seeing the best in what the other speaker meant, versus the exact words that came out of the mouth
  • Intellectual Honesty – Realizing that what one says requires in-depth research
  • Critical Reflection – Looking at the person in the mirror before finding the specks in other people’s eyes

And if you think 15-year-old dudeness is only found in children, watch the next Presidential debates. Or spend your time with an Ethos coach learning to debate with credibility and skills that will last a lifetime 🙂



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