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[Tips] New feedback during Blue Bonnet

Hello all, I've been involved in lots of debating lately thanks to the coronavirus and Blue Bonnet. Consequently, I've also been receiving lots of feedback from various judges; I organized some of my thoughts and feedbacks that would definitely be worth recording and sharing.

1. What should a whip do?

A direct answer to the question that I can give is to complement the other speakers’ speeches. When there is a winning idea or an unrefuted point in the debate, it is the role of a whip speaker to explain why the idea or point is no longer valid or important.

Therefore, the three key aspects that a whip speaker must focus on are characterization, mechanism, and impact. While the first two are relatively easier to reach a decent level, the latter is harder because it requires to look at the bigger picture—what many whips lack when they focus on individual points only. Impact, in this context, refers to why a point matters in the debate. A successful whip speaker, without necessarily contending the opponent’s logic, could explicate why their arguments do not matter.

For instance, in the motion “THW ban the use of facial recognition technology,” prop would run an argument about the chances of abuse by authoritarian regimes, while opp could claim that it leads to better safety. But note here, that the whip speaker could explain the impact of their argument as that if they prove that states have a high chance of abusing the technology, the point about safety becomes irrelevant. In other words, by characterizing the state, which is the actor that will use the technology to improve safety, as an entity prone to abuse the technology, the whip can nullify the opposition’s argument about safety.

My thought about explaining impacts is that one has a thorough understanding of both side’s cases. To see the big picture, it is pivotal that one knows the clear reasons why a point is in place.

2. How to identify big clashes?

While this question seems like the basic of all whip speeches, as the idiom goes, the basics become what matters the most in advanced level debates. While identifying clashes are quite easy, setting priority among those big clashes are quite hard as debates become increasingly complex.

The way to identify the priorities is to think about what would happen when your team lost that clash. If the debate is very parallel or close until your speech, your role is very clear: to break the deadlocks by extensions and details, or say why this debate has been parallel and engage with their side’s positive matter. But if there are many deadlocks, it would be important to place value on the biggest deadlocks first. There are some talented people that can do this instinctively in any debate. If you are one of them, great. But for the many of us who are not debating prodigies, I recommend experience would let us be better at it. After all, it would be the tortoise that wins the hare.

3. Strategy

This point hasn’t been given during feedback, but this is what I felt during reflections. (Which means that you shouldn't 100% trust this part) After debating on the same motion ‘THW ban facial recognition technology” thrice on prop, I noticed that our team always wins until opp 2, and opp spends most time engaging with our positive matter instead of emphasizing their positive matter. So as a whip, until now, I’ve been restating and highlighting our arguments and the points that they haven’t responded to; yet, every time, I notice that opp 3 comes out with so many new matter and extensions.

So I think what prop whip should do when the debate is apparently leaning towards their side is this: (1) to explain the impacts and (2) to preempt some materials that opp whip might point out.

Overall, these are official, essential skills (except 3) that a good whip should have. I will try 3 tonight and tell you how effective it was in the fourth round on “THW ban facial recognition technology.”


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