Our argument is that reading fast or “spreading” in debate is a bad practice – Three Reasons
First, Speed reading prevents education and accessibility in debate
Zorn 2012 (Eric Zorn, who graduated from the University of Michigan and formerly worked at the Miami Herald, "Change of Subject: The affirmative case for reforming academic debate," Chicago Tribune, 3-9-2012, http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2012/03/the-affirmative-case-for-reforming-academic-debate.html.) GDI -WC
One of the first and most arresting images in Debra Tolchinsky’s documentary “Fast Talk” is of a young man literally foaming at the mouth — trying so hard to say so many words in so little time that he can’t be bothered to swallow or wipe away the saliva exceeding his lips.¶ Why? Because he’s a contestant at the highest level of intercollegiate debate, an activity that has devolved (some say evolved) into a virtually incomprehensible rapid-fire, tit-for-tat battle in which opponents hurl facts and assertions at one another at an estimated 400 words per minute.¶ The members of the Northwestern University debate team that Tolchinsky’s cameras followed for the year chronicled in “Fast Talk” are clearly brilliant — in command of thousands of scraps of data that allow them to argue either side of the given proposition — and intellectually nimble. They’re just not that much fun to watch at work.¶ It’s a credit to Tolchinsky that she’s able to get beyond the spittle-flecked jibber-jabber and interest us in the characters behind the drama as Northwestern bids to defend its national championship. “Fast Talk,” which has deservedly won a fistful of awards, is showing at 5 p.m. Sunday at the McCormick Tribune Center at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston (details at fasttalkthemovie.com).¶ Tolchinsky, who teaches film-making at Northwestern, will be on hand afterward to preside over the inevitable discussion of whether fast talking — inundating your opponents with assertions that they must, at a similar pace, refute — degrades the very idea of debating.¶ Over the years, debate judges have come to reward those most practiced at what amounts to an impressive parlor trick. But in real life, the winner of an argument or debate is not necessarily the person who makes the most points, but the person who makes the best points — whose presentation, verbal imagery and focus is most persuasive to an impartial audience.¶ In real life, a high-level argument or debate is not only fun to watch, it can also change hearts and minds while advancing public understanding.¶ College debate, which features many of the best and brightest on any campus, is missing a fabulous opportunity to become a spectator sport of sorts, one that could engage and enlighten the general public and even help us explore some of the vital issues of the day.¶ Am I right or am I right?¶ It’s not even debatable.
Second, Spreading hinders our understanding of arguments – this decreases education
Bauman 97 (Neil Bauman, Ph.D. Northgate Graduate School, CEO at The Center for Hearing Loss Help, “Speech Speed vs. Understanding What Was Said,” November 11, 1997, http://hearinglosshelp.com/blog/speech-speed-vs-understanding-what-was-said/, Accessed July 19, 2017, GDI – Harry Chu)
If we have good hearing and a person is speaking at a moderate speed, our ears will pick up and our brains will process what we are hearing in real time, AND we will still have time to think about what we have heard. In other words, we will understand and assimilate the message. However, as a person speaks faster and faster, we spend more and more of our time trying to “catch” the words spoken, and thus we have less and less time left over to try to assimilate what we have heard.This is where we begin to lose it. We know the person is talking, and often we know the general subject, but we miss the point he is making. And remember, this is in adults with both normal hearing and normal cognitive function. The truth is, not all people are adults in their prime. More and more are becoming seniors. As we get older, we slow down. That is no secret. So it should be no surprise that our brains also slow down. As a result, it now takes longer for us to process speech. It also takes longer for us to assimilate what we have heard. Therefore, seniors are at a disadvantage, even when listening to a speaker who is speaking at a normal rate. As the speech rate picks up, we seniors are at an even greater disadvantage. The result is that the faster a person speaks, the more we miss until listening to a speaker is largely a waste of time. That is why so many seniors tune out. It is all flying “over our heads” so to speak. The same holds true for children who are just learning the language and need time to figure out “hard” words. This slows down their processing speed. It also holds true for people for whom English is not their first language. They need time to “retranslate” what was said. Furthermore, some people are not as cognitively fast as others, and thus need more time to process what they hear. The above groups include a large percentage of the population. And note that so far, we haven’t even considered people with hearing loss. Numbers of people with hearing loss fit into all the above categories to be sure. However, our hearing losses just compound our difficulty in understanding others. But even if a hard of hearing person is in the prime of adulthood and everything is working normally except that they don’t hear well, they still have problems. You see, our “broken” ears miss words and parts of words (phonemes). Therefore, the information our ears send to our brains is full of holes and gaps. Think of a puzzle that has lots of pieces missing so you can’t recognize exactly what the picture is about. That is an analogy to what we hard of hearing people hear and understand. Our brains have to work overtime to try to figure out the missing parts. We use what we already know of the subject, what we know of the structure of the language, what we can speechread, what we deduce from body language, etc. to try to make sense of what we heard. All this takes time. And by the time we have this figured out, we’ve missed the next few words so there are even more gaps to try to fill in.Obviously, we need a person to speak more slowly to give our brains a chance to keep up. Speaking slowly with lots of pauses really helps us in this regard. Not only do our brains need to try to figure out what we heard, they also need to try to reconcile what our ears heard with what our eyes saw (speechread). And this gives rise to some unexpected problems. You see, in English, lip movements only correspond to speech sounds about a third of the time. The rest of the time what we see and what we hear don’t have any direct correlation. Therefore, we can hear one word, and yet at the same time “see” an entirely different word on the speaker’s mouth.
Third, Fast talking in debate promotes a privileged and aggressive culture that is exclusive
Tolchinsky, Debra. 2011. Debate documentary producer, writer for Global Debate, and is currently an associate professor of Radio-TV-Film at Northwestern University and the director of Northwestern University School of Communication's MFA in Documentary Media. “Fast-Talk Debate in an Accelerated World,” July 10, 2011,http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/new-documentary-covers-world-of-fast.html. GDI-ED
In 2005 when I walked into the Hardy House, where the Northwestern University debate team practices, I expected to see students at podiums debating issues I could understand in a clear and persuasive manner along the lines of presidential debates. But then I saw the National Debate Tournament champion Josh Branson "fast talking"—rapidly and loudly sucking in his breath, filling up his lungs, and spitting out as many words as possible before running out of air and sucking in again. Other debaters got up to the podium (actually a stack of empty banana boxes, Northwestern's trademark), all speaking so fast that I had no idea what they were saying. They gasped. They stuttered. They literally foamed at the mouth. I assumed I was observing some extreme exercise inpreparation for a debate. Then I was informed that this is how policy debaters regularly debate, the fastest supposedly speaking in excess of 400 words per minute. I was totally stupefied.¶ On the flip side, I heard that some fast talkers had trouble slowing down, talking too quickly in nondebate contexts, and experiencing insomnia and eating or drinking problems. I also discovered that some debaters didn't talk fast and claimed fast talking was a tool of the privileged that discriminated against low-income and minority students. To learn the necessary skills to fast talk entailed attending expensive summer institutes before college. Additionally, some debaters maintained that the present state of debate alienated women. High-school and novice teams are tipped toward female debaters, but by the National Debate Tournament, female participation has diminished and/or women don't excel. One female coach commented that debaters look unattractive while fast talking, and women are conditioned to be more self-conscious about the way they look. Furthermore, to do well one has to be particularly aggressive, which for women is often seen as a liability.