The devil is in the K prep details 2

So I did a classic debate n00b mistake- I started like 40 articles and never finished any of them. On top of that I told people they would be finished on time, compounding my error. The worst part is- none of those articles panned out into anything good/useful. This happens from time to time in any endeavor, but the timing on this could have been better. So here is a poor attempt at a compromise, I am going to combine 2 premises and walk through some examples about both K prep and focusing on often ignore details.


For the first two examples we are gonna use some read questions that relate to aff K prep.


Question 1: a few judges have told me to go for the perm vs ks, but when the lat is like “do the opposite of the aff” what is the point?


In general I agree, the perm is usually silly and often times judges who vote a lot on it are sort of “policy” judges who are open to the K but have never really worked on it/don’t really get it (there is nothing wrong with this). As a result they often have weird idiosyncrasies about how they evaluate perms/competition. So in deciding whether or not to go for a perm, I would first say think about your judge/try and find out how they feel about it.


Bracketing that, how can we go more in depth/discuss details of the K perm? Well let’s begin by discussing the way perms are usually made by the aff


Method 1: perm do both


Short. That’s about all that can be said for this.


Method 2: Perm do both. If the alternative can overcome links to the SQ than it can overcome links to the permutation


This is known as the “perm doublebind”. It’s better. It’s not really an argument, but its one of those things that is like a shorthand/professional courtesy: once you say that we all know the score and we let you move on.


Both of these perms are a shoddy start for a few reasons

  1. They are incomplete arguments
  2. There is no explanation of why the perm might be good/better than the alternative (ie the net benefit)
  3. There is no discussion of the specific alternative (3rd place perm would probably be “do non mutually exclusive parts) or what you are combining
  4. This lack of explanation puts pressure on the 1AR (fine if they are a baller, but few are) to essentially start the debate in the most time pressured speech

Before going further check this out. Its the ballots from the 2000 NDT finals where Emory defeated MSU on a 3-2 decision going for a perm on the borders K. Look at what the judges say- how differently they saw things, how different arguments were important for different reasons, how Tim Mahoney voted on a K! This is the 2 best teams in the country, and yet on an important issue like a perm both sides left things open to judge interpretation/the other side by not being as thorough as they needed to be. It’s very frustrating to lose not because you got caught of guard by a new argument/card or you just weren’t fast enough to cover, its even more so to lose when you had all the tools you needed but just didn’t get over the finish line.


So let’s try and avoid that shall we? So we are aff, going for a perm against the ol cap K and the alt says “withdraw from capitalism”. Let’s say your aff is Taiwan/Swain because that is what your aff should be. Your 1AC had a US/China war advantage, and a arms sales modeling advantage about light weapons with a conflict escalation impact. How would we make this perm? Well we wan’t to convey a few things

-the general competition argument

-that the alt text is rubbish

-how perms should be evaluated

-what the net benefit to this perm is


Let’s say the 1NC just read a generic engagement link. Let’s make a 2AC that goes through those checkboxes


Permute: Do both

A. K alts should be textually and functionally competitive. Their alt text is nonsense none of their evidence discusses-its artificially competitive- if you reject the perm based on the text assign the alt no solvency. We should get to permute the claims made in their speeches and evidence as that is what the alternative really is


So what have we done here? We set up a standard for competition judges will be familiar with from counterplans, and one that is a very high bar that heavily favors the aff. We explained the text is BS/shouldn’t be the basis for comparison, and we pointed out how shady K debaters shift the alt around and we should get to perm those shifts. This alone is better than 90% of most 2ACs, but we can go deeper


B. Err aff on K perms- arbitrary texts ask judges to compare incommensurate actions by different actors. Block time disparities and late breaking debates that moot the 1AC require aff argument consolidation. Holding perms to a high standard creates perverse incentives for abuse


Here we have added some depth to the text argument, and given some reasons to err aff. Essentially we have said the problems judges usually have resolving perm debates (the alt is a different kind of action (like changing thinking) done by a different actor (people in the room), no evidence is comparative etc) are a result of shoddy neg practices and that erring aff is a good way to encourage a model of debate that is different. We are already setting up meta level comparisons as well about time disparities.


C. The net benefit is the case- war is coming now-our madeup 17 evidence says within weeks, even if the alternative addresses the root cause it isn’t fast enough-global economic transformation would take decades. US China war causes extinction- thats Exaggerated 16. Even a reduced risk of a short term extinction disad outweighs any marginal link to the permutation.


Here we have established a net benefit and done some impact calc.


This may seem a bit long, and if the 1NC is 11 off and the K took 25 seconds to read you probably don’t need or want this amount of depth. Those are rare cases, and if you are going to spend a minute or more on a K and you are going to make a perm, you may as well make one that’s winnable.


Now the neg, as most neg’s do, gets up and read their usual perm block. You may think “thats unlikely, surely they will generate a new set of unique answers for this specific perm”. Riiiiiiiiiight. They may make a few additional analytics, but for the most part they are probably saying the same thing. For the sake of brevity let’s say they get 5 answers


  1. The perm is severance- it severs out of the assumptions of the 1AC about markets and capitalism being crucial for peace. Severance is a voting issue- it makes neg time allocation impossible and they could sever out of the link to anything
  2. Mutually exclusive- the alt is to reject the affirmative, you can’t combine those two things. We don’t fiat a new epistemology, we say rejecting the affirmative opens up space for one to emerge.
  3. Still links- the aff still describes China as a hostile economic competitor of the US we have to establish dominance over. This view of china is shaped by corporate propaganda demonizing China to justify domestic protections for industry.
  4. Rejection must be absolute- we can’t compromise or work in the system (classic commie card)
  5. Links are a disad to the perm- if we win any link than the perm goes away and the alternative is better. Our links are bigger than the status quo- they are specific to the aff plan and advantage in this debate


This has a lot of problems, but is pretty representative of the kind of arguments negs like to make. So if you have a good 2AC, and then a good 1AR you can probably see how you can win on this.

The 1AR on the perm should have a short “overview” where you recap the key aff arguments in maybe 10 seconds, and then you need to line by line the neg args in let’s say 50 seconds. 1 minute on a perm is a decent amount of aff time assuming the K was at least the 2NC, which it would have to be if they are 5 pointing things on the line by line. Obviously if they spend less, you spend less.


Now, some of you may be thinking “wait, we can’t do this practice exercise of line by lining that perm because we don’t have enough information! Things they said in other places might be relevant here.”


And yes, that is correct. They may have made more links in a different place, they may have said things about the alternative you can use to support your point- lots of things could have happened. Assuming that none did though, could you talk about that perm for a minute? It requires a lot of depth to fill that amount of time, and it isn’t easy at first. Let’s try


So we have an overview

Perm- K’s should be textually and functionally competitive. Their BS isn’t functionally competitive-their evidence endorses an alternative epistemology we can combine with the affirmative. Doing so resolves the links- many are about omission, leaving economics out, and others are about monocausal explanations- the perm solves both


That’s like 45 words, and hits a lot of notes. But this is the 1AR (time pressure) and we are writing a block, so naturally we rework this to make it better

K’s should compete textually and functionally. BS isn’t functionally -their evi endorses an epistemology we can combine to resolves the links- many are about leaving economics out, others monocausal explanations- the perm solves both


11 words less, almost 25%. Now to the line by line


No severance- perm includes the whole 1AC, but the neg doesn’t get to determine what our assumptions are. Their link arguments are all backwards- they don’t understand the case. Severance is legitimate vs nonsense K alts- their advocacy will shift, its reciprocal.


Again you could refine/rework. Assuming you didn’t, this includes both no link/severance good, and an argument about who gets to interpret what the 1AC is/does- another thing people often neglect. Just because the neg asserts you are environmental management or realist or colorblind doesn’t mean you have to agree –often contesting their characterization of your case is the most important thing you can do.


Don’t limit perms to the text of the alt- they read links to other parts of our affirmative, perms are a test of the link which is reciprocal. Their evidence advocates a different epistemology, not rejecting the 1AC. If they don’t fiat it there is no chance it happens-vote aff on risk of case


No link- we de-escalate US/China competition by restricting US military activity. Chinese hostility doesn’t emerge from a vacuum- it’s a product of US hardline policy. The plan screws US industry- they lobby massively for arms sales. Even if these links were true there is no internal link-these representations aren’t necessary for global capitalism


Rejection can’t be absolute-there is no outside the capitalist system. Rejection must be effective- failure to do the plan means war short circuits any transition.


Perm shields the link- the 1AC isn’t a static artefact and its not what the judge votes for, even if it omitted things the permutation resolves that link. If any residual link kills the alt then it will fail now due to SQ links


The impact isn’t linear- every little bit doesn’t matter. Voting on .001 % risk encourages a run to the margins, require the neg to win a substantial net benefit to vote on an argument that moots the 1AC and doesn’t engage the topic.




Again, all those could def be reworked and improved, but so, sooooooooo much better than average. And not at all hard to do, it just takes a little effort.


Example 2: Spin Minutia


Debate are won in different ways, but when two teams of equal skill meet and debate a topic both sides are equally prepared for one thing that often decides the debate is spin.


Spin is basically anything a debater adds to a piece of evidence to further its argument or control how it is interpreted. For example, you have a card from 2014 that says presidents need political capital to advance their agenda and you say “trump is the president, so he needs pc”. That is very, very basic spin- you have a card that isn’t about Trump but you gave a rationale for why it COULD be about trump. That NDT final round mentioned above included a card where quite a bit of spin was needed. This often happens in K rounds where team are arguing over how a piece of evidence should be interpreted.


You saw some of this above, for example on the specific link arguments where there was an argument back and forth about how the affirmative described the world. In many debates the aff cedes the spin and generally lets the neg characterize their aff/the arguments however they want- that is bad . Don’t let the neg say for you what your ontology, epistemology etc are. Contest that!


Here are some examples of this I have seen recently


“Environmental management”

Is limiting GHG emissions “managing” the “environment” or is it limiting human management/interference in the environment? This is a question that should be contested. If I am punching someone in the face and I start doing less of it and someone read a K link that said “punch management is bad” you would probably question it. Similarly, “management” is a broad term that encompasses a lot of things. Furthermore, the same action could probably be done in different ways “we should end FF use because it exploits indigenous land” vs “we should adjust the thermostat a bit by cutting oil use” – one clearly is more “managey” than the other.


The same thing applies on security/IR about international conflict management/hegemony. The US can obviously do things more or less hegemonically so as the affirmative you should be arguing these distinctions matter.




This is the big one where affs let the neg control the debate by defining it for them. So many parts of this can be objected to

-is there only 1 ontology like a highlander?

-does a few things you said in the 1AC amount to enough evidence to diagnose your ontology?

-what if you read multiple affs?


We could go on. The point being because of its inherently mystical nature ontology is something that should be debated by the affirmative- contest their characterization of you/your case. Selling arms to Taiwan and not selling them are different policies, if they have the “same” ontology than maybe their conception of ontology isn’t that good/useful.






One response to “The devil is in the K prep details 2

  1. When the last TOC prep article comes out 12 hours before the tournament begins 🤔🤔🤔 Just kidding i love you scotty p keep it up great article

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