I see a lot of debates that follow this format
1AC- says some stuff
1NC- reads around 5 off including politics, reads like 50 million impact defense arguments
Block- kicks everything but politics and case defense
This shouldn’t happen. Like, ever. At all. Lets first talk about impact defense.
Impact defense is stupid, and if you read more than 20 seconds of it in any given speech you should lose. Please re-read that sentence. Again.
“No way bra- everyone who’s good reads impact defense”
They are wrong. Here is why impact defense became so common- its easy. You don’t have to think or cut updates or even flow the 1AC. Whats that? Hegemony? Pull the impact defense frontline. Nevermind that the internal link is building an OTEC demonstration project- surely you are aware that the only reason American foreign policy has failed in the last 20 years is the lack of an OTEC demonstration project. So our number 1 reason impact defense is stupid:
1. The impact is, 99.9 percent of times, the least stupid part of an advantage. Why dedicate your whole strategy to arguing with the best part of the case? Take this years “economy” advantages- in order to focus on “global total economic decline does not result in warfare” you have to ignore
-The US economy is doing poorly
-the plan solves the US economy
-the US economy solves the global economy
At any of those 3 points with analytics or evidence you could utterly destroy the economy advantage. And yet isn’t it much easier to just dust of some Nordstrom cards from 14 years ago to say no diversionary wars? Of course its easier- you can read the same 1NC cards in every debate, read the same terrible extension “block” in all your debates. No thinking required.
I should say a good reason people read impact defense is that vs bad teams it works. Lots of bad teams aren’t prepared with 2AC blocks to defend their impacts. They are bad. You can beat bad teams on lots of things- ASPEC, Normativity, E-Prime. Yet you don’t read those in every debate- why? Well part of the impact defense industrial complex problem is that judges reward debaters for doing stupid things like this. Bad Judges. They reward them by giving them good speaker points for terrible speeches that read terrible evidence and they should not. However, that they do does not make impact defense a “good strategy”- it just means you have been allowed to slip by with the lowest common denominator. Lets look at an example- disease impacts. I have judged 10 or so debates about disease impact vs disease impact defense this year. In all but 2 of them these two cards were presented by the negative and gone for in the 2NR
Disease won’t lead to extinction
Posner, 5 – senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School (Richard A, 2005, “Catastrophe: the dozen most significant catastrophic risks and what we can do about them.” http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-130930466.html)//gingE
Yet the fact that Homo sapiens has managed to survive every disease to assail it in the 200,000 years or so of its existence is a source of genuine comfort, at least if the focus is on extinction events. There have been enormously destructive plagues, such as the Black Death, smallpox, and now AIDS, but none has come close to destroying the entire human race. There is a biological reason. Natural selection favors germs of limited lethality; they are fitter in an evolutionary sense because their genes are more likely to be spread if the germs do not kill their hosts too quickly. The AIDS virus is an example of a lethal virus, wholly natural, that by lying dormant yet infectious in its host for years maximizes its spread. Yet there is no danger that AIDS will destroy the entire human race. The likelihood of a natural pandemic that would cause the extinction of the human race is probably even less today than in the past (except in prehistoric times, when people lived in small, scattered bands, which would have limited the spread of disease), despite wider human contacts that make it more difficult to localize an infectious disease. The reason is improvements in medical science. But the comfort is a small one. Pandemics can still impose enormous losses and resist prevention and cure: the lesson of the AIDS pandemic. And there is always a lust time. That the human race has not yet been destroyed by germs created or made more lethal by modern science, as distinct from completely natural disease agents such as the flu and AIDS viruses, is even less reassuring. We haven’t had these products long enough to be able to infer survivability from our experience with them. A recent study suggests that as immunity to smallpox declines because people am no longer being vaccinated against it, monkeypox may evolve into “a successful human pathogen,” (9) yet one that vaccination against smallpox would provide at least some protection against; and even before the discovery of the smallpox vaccine, smallpox did not wipe out the human race. What is new is the possibility that science, bypassing evolution, will enable monkeypox to be “juiced up” through gene splicing into a far more lethal pathogen than smallpox ever was.
Intervening actors prevent spread
Wills 96 (Christopher, Professor of Biology at the University of California Yellow Fever, Black Goddess)
I am confident that no terrible disease will appear that slaughters us by the billion. The reason is that we can now respond very quickly to such a visible enemy. Any disease that spreads like wildfire will have to go so through the air or water and there are many steps we can take right away to prevent such a spread. If the people of fourteenth-century Europe had known what we know now, they could have halted the black death in short order.
Lets ignore for a second the following: recency, qualifications, evidence quality- which one would have to ignore in order to justify reading these cards in a debate. Lets assume the aff drops these cards to boot. What has the neg accomplished? They have proven disease will not kill EVERY SINGLE human on the the planet. How about hundreds of millions of people? Well, they don’t really go that far. They LITERALLY just say disease won’t kill everyone. What a great “defensive” argument to invest on
“uh, disease won’t like, kill everyone….” Powerful 2NR stuff.
But more than that observation these cards are just terrible. “Don’t worry about disease, ,Christopher Wills is confident they won’t kill billions” great. In order to solve global disease outbreaks the affirmative would have to
-cure every disease
-find vaccines for every potential mutation/genetic modification
-distribute them globally for free
Attacking these parts of the case are way better than attacking the disease impact- and way better without evidence. Want to improve your speaker points? Start making smart analytics instead of reading old impact defense. Want to be top speaker? Also use cross-x to set up these analytics instead of uselessly posturing.
Lets move on to the next reason
2. Impact defense arguments often rely on implicit minimization of other internal links. These arguments are undermined when you ONLY read impact defense because you aren’t minimizing the internal link. The environment is probably the easiest way to understand that. Most debates I see go something like this
-X will destroy some sort of environment (ocean forest whatever)
-Impact defense- environment resilient/ 1 species not key
The problem with this defense is that you have conceded the magnitude of the affirmatives internal link. Resilience isn’t the argument that nature is immortal/incapable of being affected by human activity, instead it points out there there is a certain amount of damage that can be absorbed naturally. Reading this against arguments like ocean acidification makes no sense because the affirmative is saying they literally stop the global composition of the ocean from changing in a way that would make it inhospitable to life. In very rare instances the aff is talking about the destruction of some small part of the environment and reading defense like this can be more acceptable- but this is the exception not the rule.
A similar premise applies to most impact defense- the affirmative will make an internal link claim that is massive,and rapid. The negative will read defense that assumes a less fast, smaller internal link. This defense is just not persuasive at all because it misunderstands the claims being made by the case. Common examples include
-reading “we can adapt” to affirmatives that say “runaway warming”
-reading “Middle east war doesn’t escalate” vs impacts like Iran strikes
-Reading generic “no root cause” cards vs K impact laundry list cards one of which is root caue
3. A lot of impact evidence that gets read is old and unqualified. Successfully deploying impact defense, if thats a thing, generally relies on winning an evidence quality distinction-i.e. that your evidence is either more recent or more qualified. Unfortunately the same bad cards just get recycled again and again through camps where students aren’t forced to do original research to squads who just copy paste wikis rather than do research. To continue with our disease discussion- what has changed since 2005 (the more recent card) in the world of disease? Quite a bit- not just bird flu and ebola but a variety of other things you may want to research. This research isn’t hard or time consuming, especially for issues that get broad public attention like disease. This doesn’t take very long, especially if you divide it up amongst a team.
Incidentally, here is a great article that slays malthus