Answering Miscellaneous Questions

We didn’t get to record a podcast this week so I figured I would address some questions about earlier podcasts.


Spark/Wipeout Episode


“Scott said diversify your impacts, Kevin said there is no point- which is it?”


While it takes a Kevin Hirn to turn me into the “optimist” in a conversation, I think I am more optimistic about this strategy than he is because of its potential for spin. What I mean is, the aff will not have a card that says “the combination of these 6 things = extinction”, but they will have the ability to spin/defeat most neg defense to each scenario via the combination.


This is probably easiest understood via an example. The defense to “disease= extinction” is basically 2 things

  1. Burnout- the idea that a virus can’t be both super fast and super lethal,if its really lethal it kills the host before it can spread
  2. Modern medical infrastructure- quarantines, vaccines, antibiotics etc all work to contain pandemics


So what you are doing when you “sprawl” is taking advantage of the fact that nuclear war will eliminate the 2 conditions above



-doesn’t have to spread fast/kill many because there are few survivors

-radiation weakens immune systems making the kill threshold lower

-radiation causes disease mutations/enhanced lethality



-its nuked

-radiation victims/sickness overwhelm infrastructure



Hopefully you see where I am going with this. That’s just sprawling into 1 additional impact, the more the merrier.


“Explain what you meant by using conjunctive fallacy”


Ok, so most people intuitively think that if a disad looks like this

A –> B —>C—>D


There are 3 internal links (the lines), and if each one is 75% then the disad as a whole is 75%., but thats not how sequential probabilities work- you actually multiply the probabilities (which can be thought of as fractions) and that process reduces it from 75% to 42%. This is because you have to hit each of 3 75% shots, and a failure of any one takes out the whole disad.



So if you are debating spark they need to win a bunch of things in a row like

-nuclear war won’t cause extinction

-nuclear war causes a mindset shift away from XYZ (or destroys the industry or whatever)

-XYZ was coming, would be successful, and would destroy all life/the universe (how many you want to divide that up into is up to you)


You can quickly see how some of these more extreme impact turns become a bit of a bad gamble.


RE: K stuff


“I dont get why you all keep saying small affs lose to the K, small soft left affs that are true are the hardest to beat on the K imo”

<puts on pomo hat>

Well what is true depends on your point of view… Let’s take an example of a small aff that someone could be running – the Philippines. Now what this person probably means about “true” is

-bad things are happening there

-US arms sales are contributing to the bad things

-ending arms sales= end of bad things (or at least reduced bad things)


Now I assume in debates where this person is reading a K the aff is going for like “we have a short term true impact the K alt can’t solve” etc etc.


Well it turns out most K args worth a damn are in fact refuting your “truth” claims, just not in the way you think. Let’s look at just a few examples


-the arms control K- does not refute “bad things now” but does refute “ending sales= end of bad things”. Sure some of this is abstract and would be more a K of focusing on the Philippines as a distinct zone of conflict and why looking at things in that way is problematic as it obscures the overall functioning of the system that necessitates conflicts like this. But some of it is also more specific- that arms embargo solvency advocates make a set of assumptions about US power/leadership and its effectiveness that the Philippines doesn’t really respond to- see every example ever- and that therefore arms control is more about making the US look good/governmentality than helping people there. Humanitarian framing links directly question the truth value of discussing this conflict in this way is useful for mobilizing support/getting action taken, though that is arguably a “truth” claim out of bounds of framework.

-Feminist security studies would question the truth behind several of the representations involved in the 1AC- is the depiction of a violent drug war in the Philippines “objective truth” or is it informed by a series of binary assumptions like self/other, inside/outside, reason/emotion that cause us to view the drug war “over there” as somehow distinct/different from the drug war “done at home”. To some this may seem “irrelevant” or a “link of omission”, so how much these links apply will obviously be dependent on how the 1AC describes the problem/frames it. If the 1AC says “violence abroad is an extension of violence at home” and makes all their tags quite moderate than obviously this link isn’t very good in that instance. However, most affirmatives do the opposite and use rhetoric to make the conflict seem as big/unique/important as possible for strategic purposes, and that’s when these links become very effective.


“I don’t understand, you say Saudi Arabia is unbeatable but then you say the K vs small affs…”


Well to start, Saudi is not a small aff- depending on how you measure they are in the top 3 arms purchasers every year for decades. This may seem like a small quibble but its pretty significant- if you are reading the Saudi aff for example after the 1NC reads the arms control K you could read DIB links against yourself that said you kill the entire industry- you wouldn’t be able to do that with the Philippines for instance. This means that the aff is categorically different in that it has more threatening link/permutation arguments than much smaller affs because its change from the status quo is larger.


All that being said, there are obviously better and worse versions of the Saudi aff depending on what K argument we are talking about

-the Yemen war advantage- you could make it just about civilians, that would help you no link any IR k but link you more to humanitarian framing ks

-Iran- you could or could not include an escalation argument- having nuke war gives you a Bostrom 2AR but also then links you to more Ks

-The alliance/entanglement advantage has some K tricks but also relies on rationalist IR in ways the other advantages dont




So you have a lot of choices before finishing your 1AC and all of that will impact what you link to or not. The point is there are more than a few ways to skin this cat you need to pick and choose- you can pick soft left/civilian casualties as long as you are ready to defend/defeat the humanitarian framing Ks- but the stock 2AC people read in most debates of Barma, Bleiker, McCormack etc do not respond to this K very well so you’d have to make sure you had different/better arguments. Those cards are better suited to defend an Iran war/bostromy type set up.







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