How to Spice up a Disad Part Deux

We ended part one with some questions about a specific scenario:


My main one would be time frame- since their uniqueness is long term it can’t “thump” short term links. Since the impact is theoretically the same now or in the future (more on that later given their make alliance bad claim) if you win a shorter term link you win. Short term links are generally best when about “perception”. So if we want to make a perception link how do we “size” our uniqueness? And do we need to “size” our impact as well? We will pick up there in part 2


Ok so I have to admit off the top, this is a bit of a trick hypothetical. We had all that talk about thumpers and then I gave you an example not about a thumper…. or did I?


Inevitability arguments CAN be a thumper, but they don’t have to be. Here is a simple example


1NC Spending Disad

A. The DOD budget is secure now

B. The plan costs monies

C. Less monies = no heg 😦



If the aff says “collapse of hegemony is inevitable” in the 2AC, is that a “thumper”? Well get back to our definition, a thumper is a LINK UNIQUENESS argument. It says either something has or something will trigger the link- so in this case what is the link? It’s that the plan SPENDS money, so in order for hegemonic collapse inev to be a thumper and trigger that link than it needs to be predicting something about the budget/spending. If the warrant is “public support will decline/pull the plug” that is a uniqueness argument but not a link uniqueness argument.


“But Scott, while your posts are generally pure, condensed genius I have to say this one seems a bit pedantic- why on earth does this distinction matter?””


Well, remember what we are trying to do here, we are trying to perfectly situate our link/uniqueness story for maximum value. This requires us to really get into the nitty gritty, so yes this very much matters and here is why: for the aff to win a link turn they have to resolve the uniqueness issue. So if hegemony is going to collapse because of public support than the aff needs to read a link turn that the plan increases public support. If they read that U arg but then try to link turn the spending link they DO NOT have offense- they have a nu, and a link turn, but the 2 arguments don’t connect saving money doesn’t (as argued) increase public support. This is an EXTERNAL link turn.


If the aff is going for U but not THUMPER than you are free to go hog wild with arguments like perception. Sure they can try and thump them later, but usually the 2AC is going to present their “best” arguments, so if their link turn is public support its likely they think that is their best argument. It’s only at the highest levels where you get into re-raising with deception and people start sand bagging their best arguments intentionally.


So we can start with a general rule: When the aff link turn is EXTERNAL, you want to size your uniqueness to be small/brinkish and your links to be large/perceptiony. This is because you want to definitively win your link to argue it outweighs the turn, but also because the aff isn’t employing a strategy that requires you to be careful.


Now, if the their link turn IS related directly to your link you have to be much more careful. The classic example of this is when the 1NC reads a “specific senator” politics disad that argues the bill is so close that 1 vote is all that is key. That is really good for the above reasons, but if the aff has 2 or more specific senator link turns you are in gg territory, and since the aff gets infinite prep etc this happens more than you’d think. Since your original senator disad was probably hot garb the quality of aff evidence doesn’t need to be great making it easy to put something like this together.


Lets go back to our Saudi example now. How do we construct a good story for this? Well to start with uniqueness we want to say that right now its very brinky, but we want to make this look like its a new thing- if its been brinky for a decade its easier for the aff to point to “thumper” events than if the brink was just established yesterday. So you want to say something like “XYZ recent event has put US-Saudi relations on the brink”. Here XYZ event is essentially a free link. Say the alliance was 10 units from the edge of the cliff and your link about the affirmative only moves us 4 units. Then you would want to describe some recent event as being a 6 magnitude link that just happened and pushed us up to this brink. Then when they say “thumper” you can say “those are priced in- the alliance was sustainable/resilient until XYZ happened and cracked it”. Now the aff can respond by saying your XYZ event pushed us too far, but since you get to pick this after research you should be on the right side of things/if it did really push us over the edge that is a much bigger problem as they can read that thumper regardless.  This event, or the card you use to describe the event, may be different depending on the case you are debating. If the aff is smaller than you need to go more brink, if its bigger you have more room to play it safe.


In the case of “timing” differentials like alliance collapse inevitable vs short term link you want to try and say that we are currently in some kind of crisis that makes the alliance uniquely vulnerable BUT that if its left alone the SQ will recover and therefore not be thumped in the future. You need to be careful though, this all has to make sense within the story of your disad. This is the way many people wrote a version of the alliance disad


A. Khashoggi murder puts US-Saudi relations on the brink

B. The plan= KSA sadface

C. Alliance filters!


Makes sense right? Wrong, here the story doesn’t check out. The Khashoggi murder did negatively impact the alliance, but in the other direction- it got America angry at KSA. If the plan happens and we end arms sales that angers saudi arabia, but this is essentially “external” to khashoggi. Think about this in interpersonal terms if you are mad at someone and then you do something they get mad at you, but since each of your anger is being measured on a different 1-10 scale you are now both at 5 rather than one of you being at 10 which is the link threshold.


This came up a lot at camp where the neg would answer aff nu cards by just reading any old random card instead of trying to read a card that addressed the specific warrant (or at least the right side). So for example these all require different responses


-Khashoggi thumper- you need to read “us still supports saudi”

-cutoff of PGS and aerial refueling- you need to read “saudi still supports US”

-resale of weapons to AQAP- you need to read didn’t anger US

-Iran nuclear deal- you need to read didn’t anger KSA


It  might be easier to think about this in the context of US economy disads because it comes up there probably the most. A debate about warming right now could look like this



-Climate change = extinction

-failure to act now causes draconian action in future which is worse



Biz con DA

-econ now 🙂

-plan = 😦



-NU- future regs worse for economy

-doing plan now stops future regs= 🙂


Here there are a lot of things the neg can do to spice up their disad

-1NC CP out of future regs to rob 2AC of link turn strategy and force dedev

-2NC CP out to force bad theory team to go for theory or lose

-impact turn future regs better- wait and see good

-argue doing plan doesn’t stop future regs

-read defense that future regs don’t harm economy


But for the sake of simplicity let’s bracket all of that. How would you handle this if you can’t do any of those things and ONLY get to size your link/uniqueness? You would want to try and make it as detailed/specific as possible, something like this


A. The Economy is on the brink- jobs low, stocks low, only consumer spending is keeping it afloat

B. Carbon tax is regressive/hurts consumer spending the most

C. Trump uniquely prone to diversionary war when economy declines


This should require more than 3 cards but for the sake of simplicity lets say it can get it in 3. What have you done here?


-Timing – now key- your uniqueness has a built in argument for why the economy is especially vulnerable now, in this case its made better by the fact that it also connects directly to your link

-link magnitude- here instead of saying the plan has a big effect on the economy, you are saying the plan effects the key internal link- a subtle distinction but one that lets you get out of some aff link defense like generic cards about why carbon tax doesn’t hurt the economy

-you’ve also picked a link that is hard to turn. Did you see what I did there with uniqueness? A common aff link turn will be “green jobs”, and it may seem like saying “jobs low” is a bad idea because the aff then has U for their turn. But here if jobs are low and the economy is fine then their i/l is either emp denied or thumped. Furthermore this sets up a nasty 2NC option where you can respond to their jobs turn with an inflation argument that since the economy is fine with low jobs now, there is only a risk a tightening labor market might cause the economy to overheat due to wage inflation.

-Another trick- we never really discussed the impact in any of this, but with a link turn like timing than the fact that trump is only going to be president for a short time frame compared to like greening the entire US economy than you can say future economic collapse isn’t as bad/doesn’t turn the disad.


You would then want to combine all the above arguments with a lot of weighing/argument resolution explaining all this to the judge/writing their ballot for them. And it’s only after you’ve put in that amount of work and refined your argument to such a high level that you get to say “we got screwed”. If you were reading camp cards and not thinking it through/strategizing your sizing then it may be the case you still actually won the debate but its unlikely.


In closing, the debate meta right now is really out of wack in favor of quantity of nonsense. Many aff teams try and compete in this arms race but are structurally incapable of doing so due to speed/tech differentials and the nature of the block. This is wrong. You need to change your strategy, and when you can’t keep up in terms of argument QUANTITY then you need to go towards QUALITY. “Um, thats stupid- if that were true people would be doing it”. People are doing it, they’re called K teams. As much as the PRL crowd doesn’t want to admit any thing brought to you by the letter K could have any value to it, K teams essentially do all the things talked about in this post. They come up with specific explanations/twists on their arguments for different affirmatives that take advantage of different sets of weaknesses and they beat you, so if they can do that with what you think are bad arguments imagine what you could do with your impeachment politics disad??? THE SKY IS THE LIMIT





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