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I was recently asked several questions about disadvantages via emails. There will be more to come on types of disadvantages and fleshing out each of the points below, but I figure it is best to start with an overview of disadvantages and what you can say against them.

Why run a disadvantage? Because it shows that an idea is BAD, for issues that weren’t even mentioned by the 1AC. If you are saying their advantage doesn’t happen or is actually a disadvantage against the affirmative, please make this argument on the flow in response to the 1AC’s point. You bring up a disadvantage (an “off case” argument) in a blank area of the flowpad when you are showing an unintended consequence of their plan that was nowhere mentioned in the 1AC. Disadvantages are offense in debate. Whereas a burden of proof argument (“they didn’t properly show you X under harm 1”) merely mitigates points, a disadvantage (“therefore, on the whole their case causes more harm than good”) means their entire case should be rejected.

What stock issue? Disadvantages fall under “significance” (the why or why not to vote for a change). At the end of the day all the harms and advantages are pitted against the disadvantages and whichever results in greater good determines whether or not a new plan is adopted. (click here for an explanation of which stock issues correspond to what arguments)

Number 1 key to winning a disadvantage: Weighing. Just “having” a disadvantage doesn’t make a winning argument. If the aff saves babies and your disadvantage is that we lose 10 bucks, yeah, you’re right, it’s a disadvantage, but the cost is worth the benefits of the plan. You need to show how your disadvantage OUTWEIGHS on the issue of significance. Here are some tips weighing. And how weighing might actually look in rebuttals.

Here are the basics

1. Think of Disads as “harms” to the “new status quo”. What’s your plan when you are neg? Either the status quo (which “solves” these harms by avoiding the disads) or a counterplan. <<<though complex, I have found that this “clicks” with people because they start to think of neg just like being aff. You need harms (disads), a plan (status quo), and advantages.
2. To set up a disadvantage:ย – Basic form: Cause and effect. Aff case is the cause, you argue what the effect is. You are always predicting, so unlike harms 100% certainty is never guaranteed.
– Basic form in DA lingo: Link and Impact. Finding this in a single card is best.
– Basic form in “aff” lingo: Inherency and Harm.
– Uniqueness is implied, but sometimes worth bringing out. Uniqueness means that the plan actually causes the DA. If your DA is already happening, then the plan isn’t a unique cause and therefore shouldn’t be voted against b/c of the DA.
– Add internal links: new information may show that the DA is for sure, for sure happening OR that there are multiple steps to getting there. i.e. START causes anger, anger causes domestic troubles, and domestic troubles = starving babies. Inherently weaker than a single author saying link and impact in a single paragraph, which is the BEST CASE.
– Add brinks: these are simply “inherency”. They show how close we are/could be to this impact. Example: Russia is already about to invade Poland.


1. Turn the impact — what seems bad is good (often requires a new link). i.e. weakening the economy causes us to be less materialist and improves our morals… ๐Ÿ˜›

2. Turn the link — our plan actually causes the reverse ACTION, therefore this impact is an advantage. Example: You increased H1Bs. Neg says “more workers in the U.S. weakens economy and quality of life”. Aff link turns: Every H1B in equals two undocumented immigrants out, so we have fewer immigrants. Since you impacted this for us, thanks for the advantage–our plan strengthens the economy and quality of life.

NEVER DOUBLE-TURN: If you turn both the link and the impact then you are saying your plan is not doing more of a good thing. This is a disadvantage. ๐Ÿ˜›

3. Non-unique — already happening. Not a reason to vote against my case.

4. Outweigh it — my impacts are bigger, more likely, or more important

5. Bite it — Yeah… so what? (basically outweighing, without the time)

6. Not enough brinks — Would require more factors to actually happen

7. Equivocation — You used too many authors who didn’t refer to “economy” in the same way to the same degree, so the impact won’t really happen

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