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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Sarina Craig (National Louis University) vs. Opposition: Nicholas Holmes (University of Michigan-Flint )

Judge: Joe Leeson-Schatz (Binghamton University)

Resolution: THBT: An overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law.

  • Sarina Craig
    Sarina Craig

    Nicholas Holmes
    Nicholas Holmes
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    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 19, 2016 02:36:10AM EST by Sarina Craig



    “How Would The World Change If We Found Extraterrestrial Life?” Astrobiology Magazine. January 29, 2015. Elizabeth Howell. <>

    “Protecting the Planet”. Science News. November 3, 2012. Tina Hesman Saey. Page 32. <>

    “Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis”. Acta Astronautica. April 22, 2011. Seth D. Baum, Jacob D. Haqq-Misra, & Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman. Page 3. <>

    Posted at April 19, 2016 02:47:01PM EST by Nicholas Holmes



    George, Marie 2/3/2016 (Professor of Philosophy, St. John's University, NASA Debate Interview Series, "NASA Debate Interview Series- Marie I. George":

    Hirshfield, Irvin 2/3/16 (Microbiologist at St. John’s University, NASA Debate Interview Series, “NASA Debate Interview Series- Irvin N. Hirshfield.”:

    Kaspar, David 12/1/2015 (Professor of Ethics, St. John's University, author of “Intuitionism,” NASA Debate Interview Series, " NASA Debate Interview Series - David Kaspar":

    Siefert, Jannet 2/10/2016 (president of the International Astrobiology Society, astrobiologist at Rice University, researches understanding origins of life through microbial biology, NASA Debate Interview Series, " 2015 NASA Astrobiology Debates - Interview with Jan Siefert by The George Washington University":

    Williamson, Mark 2003 (Space Technology Consultant of Glebe House, Elsevier Science, "Space Ethics and the Protection of Space Environment":

    Posted at April 21, 2016 02:31:25AM EST by Sarina Craig



    “Mars One Mission”. MarsOne. Accessed April 21, 2016. <>

    “Protecting the Planet”. Science News. November 3, 2012. Tina Hesman Saey. Page 32. <>

    “Understanding International Law”. United Nations. 2011. <>

    “If we discover extraterrestrial life, what happens next?” The Guardian. July 23, 2015. Roger Pielke. <>

    “The Drake Equation”. SETI Institute. Accessed April 21, 2016. <>

    “Fermi’s Paradox”. The University of Oregon. Accessed April 21, 2016. <>

    Posted at April 21, 2016 09:25:28PM EST by Nicholas Holmes



    Council on Foreign Relations, 2016 ("Global Conflict Tracker":!/p32137).

    Gancman, Lee, 2/4/16 (Times of Israel, "Iran Plans to Upgrade Missiles, Untroubled by Sanctions Threat":

    George, Marie, 2/3/2016 (Professor of Philosophy, St. John's University, NASA Debate Interview Series, "NASA Debate Interview Series- Marie I. George":

    Koh, Harold, 6/1997 (The Yale Law Journal, "Why Do Nations Obey International Law?":

    Posted at April 23, 2016 07:53:11PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 24, 2016 04:25:36PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz

    Category Sarina Craig Nicholas Holmes
    Use of evidence: 5 5.2
    Delivery skill: 4.6 4.6
    Coherence of arguments: 4.3 4.2
    Responsiveness to opponent: 5.1 5.3
    Identification of key points: 3.3 3.3
    Comments: I like how you define the key points in the resolution from the onset. I would define "overriding ethical obligation" in relation to how you define "protect and preserve" since there can be tension between those two terms. You also have a good collection of qualified sources that I appreciate you citing. You also do a good job at fully impacting out your contention and arguments.

    You do a good job going line by line versus your opponent. This allows you to do a great job at defending your proposition. To make your rebuttal speech better I would suggest spending more time framing the ballot and how the opp offers no alternative.

    I like your long-term response to your solvency press. I think you need more than a no link to militarism argument... perhaps a scientific-diplomacy argument.
    I like the quality of the citations you provide. I also think that you spend a lot of time on your defense instead of focusing on your offense argument, ie what sort of science would we lose out due to the prop. What are the "far more immediate and critical concerns?" Emphasizing that is key to your impact claims. You should turn your international law fails arguments into international is bad and causes more conflict so it can have a bigger impact.

    You also do a good job going line by line. But you also need to do a better job framing the ballot and what it means to vote for the opp. You do this better in your first speech then in your last. Again, your argument on solvency should be made more offensive. It would make it way easier to understand why to vote for you if you did that. A counter-plan that redirected funding for space initiatives to address poverty, etc.

    The decision is for the Opposition: Nicholas Holmes

    Reason for Decision:

    This is a really tough debate to judge since neither side does a particularly good job at framing the ballot even though both debaters do a great job at responding to their opponent. In the end the opposition has a conceded trade-off argument about how that money can be spent on more pressing terrestrial concerns. Outside of that there's a lot of defense for the why the prop might not work that I think she does a very good job answering. There is at least a risk of solvency for the prop (which is why I think the opp needs more offense in his arguments) versus the risk of trade-off. Neither do a great job at weighing these two things in relation to each other. I wish the prop made the studying ET life would solve the dangers cited by the opp. Or a direct comparison of short-term thinking being about the terrestrial dangers like climate change the opp mentions. A specific counter-plan by the opp would also make it much easier for me to vote versus it just being the status-quo. In the end I vote for the opposition on the risk of trade-off since I don't have a direct answer to it in the final speech.--even though there are many moments where answers can be provided through framing and comparison. A rebuttal redo focused on framing the ballot that weighed impacts as a way to respond would be useful, especially when the opp doesn't have a counter advocacy. Great research, line by line, and responsiveness on both sides. Impact comparison and framing is what you both need to improve upon.

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