Impact Calc In 5 Minutes
Nearly every judge bases their decisions off of the impacts that were presented in the round. In this video we’ll go over what an impact is, move onto the purpose of impact calc, and finally address the key elements to this great tool.
I’m Nikko and this is Debate Clash.
**Debate Clash: Impact Calculus Intro video***
An impact is simply the consequence or result of an action. For example if I made the argument that we need to increase funding to education to prevent economic collapse the impact would be preventing economic collapse. Likewise if I made the argument that increasing military presence in the Middle East would cause more civilian casualties, the impact could be innocent lives lost.
If you’re ever stuck trying to figure out what the impact of your argument is simply ask yourself, “why does this argument matter to the world, the United States, any certain group of people, or even yourself.”
Now that you know what an impact is we can go into the actual calculus part of the impact.
Impact calculus is commonly seen in the final speeches of a debate round. Instead of arguing whose claims are true or false impact calc compares the severity of the assumed results on either side. You’re essentially saying look even if you believe their argument the impact or consequences are still bigger on my side.
The sole purpose of impact calculus is to make the judge’s decision easy. Imagine you’re a judge at the end of a round. The affirmative wins the argument that they prevent economic collapse, while the negative wins the argument that the affirmative causes 1000 innocent civilians to die. You as a judge now have to make the decision, is it worth killing 1000 people to prevent the next depression? You’re forced to take your own personal bias into the decision making process because they didn’t do the work for you.
Remember, do the thinking for the judge. Tell them that in this next great depression that even more than 1000 people are going to die and that this will 100% guaranteed to happen instantly if the negative had their way. Do the thinking for the judge.
Now there are 3 main elements people use to weigh and compare their impacts. The first is Magnitude, second is probability, and third is time frame.
Magnitude is how big the consequence is. How many people are affected, how severely are they affected? If your opponents impact is environmental destruction and yours is human extinction you would definitely want to argue that you have the bigger magnitude.
Don’t be afraid to make your argument as big as it can realistically get. If the economy collapses it doesn’t just collapse and it’s over. Explain how it destroys the quality of life for everyone in the US. How people are going to starve through the abolition of food stamps and welfare. How other countries will suffer because they don’t have any humanitarian assistance. Get your numbers big and believable.
Secondly, probability or risk as some know it. Nothing is really guaranteed to happen. But your job as a debater is to make it sound like your impact will definitely happen and your opponent’s will never come about. Tell the story of how your impact comes together.
And finally time frame. Time frame is how quickly an impact happens. The reason people use it to weigh impacts is that it can change the outcome of their opponent’s arguments. For example if the topic was alternative energy and my opponent said we need to spend hundreds of billions to invest in solar panels for all the biggest cities and that after 10 years they’ll be paid off and our economy will be great. I could argue that the initial investment of hundreds of billions would collapse our economy, cause us to spiral out of control and lead to recession before the economy has ever recovered.
Because my impact comes first and changes the scenario for my opponent I would get the advantage.
Don’t be afraid to use these key terms at debate tournaments. As a judge I love to hear debaters end by saying, “This is our magnitude, this is there’s obviously ours is greater. This is their probability… and so on.”
Be sure to use impact calc to it’s fullest and best of luck at your next big tournament.
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