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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Kirk Wu (San Marino High School) vs. Opposition: Zainab Gilani (Binghamton University)

Judge: Chase Hutchinson (Wood River High School)

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

  • Kirk Wu
    Kirk Wu

    Zainab Gilani
    Zainab Gilani
    Click to begin

    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 25, 2016 11:14:50PM EST by Kirk Wu



    Berube, David [Professor of Communications at North Carolina State University]. "NASA Debate Interview Series - Dr. David Berube." Interview posted 24 Aug. 2015.

    Best, Steven. “The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education.” Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume VII, Issue 1, 2009.

    Siefert, Janet [astrobiologist at Rice University]. "2015 NASA Astrobiology Debates - Interview with Jan Siefert by The George Washington University." Interview posted 10 Feb. 2016.

    Glaser, Sarah M. [fisheries ecologist and research associate at the One-Earth Future Foundation and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver]. "2015 NASA Astrobiology Debates interview with Dr. Sarah M. Glaser." Interview posted 24 Aug. 2015.

    Eckhardt, William. “Civilizations, Empires, and Wars,” Journal of Peace Research, February 1990, p. 15-16.

    Leeson-Schatz, Joe [Lecturer of English & Evolutionary Studies and board member for the Institute for Critical Animal Studies at Binghamton University]. "2015 NASA Astrobiology Debates Interview." Interview posted 18 Sept. 2015.

    Kasper, David [Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. John’s University]. "NASA Debate Interview Series - David Kaspar." Interview posted 1 Dec. 2015.

    Pournelle, Richard [Vice-President of Business Development at NanoRacks]. "NASA 2015 Debates Interview - Richard Pournelle by The George Washington University." Interview posted 25 Aug. 2015.

    George, Marie I. [Professor of Philosophy, St. John’s University]. "NASA Debate Interview Series - Marie I. George." Interview posted 3 Feb. 2016.

    Posted at April 27, 2016 06:50:28AM EST by Zainab Gilani



    The Scientist, "The Body's Ecosystem,"

    Posted at April 28, 2016 03:15:32AM EST by Kirk Wu



    "What is a Microbe?" Microbe World n.d.

    Posted at April 29, 2016 02:08:53AM EST by Zainab Gilani



    Shipman, Matt, "Citizen Science Effort Highlights How Little We Know About Invisible Life in Our Own Homes." NC State University. ""

    Guillebaud, John. "There are not Enough Resources to Support the World's Population," ABC RadioNational.'s-population/5511900

    Steven Best Speech
    Veganism: the war we cannot lose

    Posted at April 30, 2016 12:26:19AM EST by Kirk Wu



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at May 1, 2016 08:38:21PM EST by Chase Hutchinson

    Category Kirk Wu Zainab Gilani
    Use of evidence: 3.8 2.4
    Delivery skill: 3.9 3.9
    Coherence of arguments: 3.5 2.3
    Responsiveness to opponent: 4 2.1
    Identification of key points: 4 4
    Comments: The biggest piece of feedback I can give is that you extend cards through ink (arguments) in ways that make me a little frustrated as a judge as you don't always explain their context in the round. It is not sufficient for me as a judge to hear "my opponent dropped x, so that means they are wrong etc" when you often just wave away or ignore a few arguments that are made without putting it in context. A main example of this is when your opponent discussed the different fungi and bacteria that no one had seen before which you never respond to except to discuss how there is stuff on Jupiter's moon we haven't seen before too. THIS IS NOT A RESPONSE TO THE ARGUMENT YOUR OPPONENT IS MAKING. This caps is not meant to convey yelling but rather the importance of this point. This isn't a devastating point (see below for more detail) but it is not persuasive for you to extend the same argument that we have already mapped all microbial life on earth without responding to evidence that seems to indicate we haven't. Be specific to things if you can.

    I am fine with how you use The Golden Rule, but feel you trip yourself up a little bit when you don't really respond to the idea that there seems to be microbial life on earth that we should value. You say we have already mapped it out, but ignore the argument/evidence that seems to indicate we haven't. I don't think the opposition does either, but this still was a bit of a red flag. Also, there are some arguments about why The Golden Rule could ignore the specific needs of specific groups based on how the eye of the beholder (If you see someone who is hungry and decide to feed them a peanut butter sandwich because you like those sandwiches and discover they are deathly allergic to peanut butter, that's probably bad) which could be something negative for you.

    I liked the line "treasures to the universe" but I think just a little bit more about what makes something worth treasuring on Jupiter's moon but not on Earth could have used a bit more explaining especially in the face of some decent defense by the opp.

    I'm a little skeptical on root cause arguments and often find them to be oversimplifying of complex issues, but I think you do enough to avoid this. Still, be careful with how you use Leeson-Schatz (cheeky using the tournament director by the way discussing this almost exact topic I believe) because I think you take what was said in the card and begin to rewrite some of the arguments to make it seem like you solve for colonialism and other such evils, which I'm skeptical you do, which leads me to my final point.

    Oh my lord you better be ready for arguments that show why the UN and the "sanctioning" you would advocate would probably replicate the same harms you say are bad. It was never brought up, but you are walking on thin ice here with this argument. There are many arguments about the UN being an oppressive force especially with how it leverages sanctions. If you are going to use this in your arguments (I went back to watch it again because I was so surprised and you definitely mention sanctions) be ready for some arguments about why sanctions are the worst. I don't know if this is a good way to explain how you would solve because I do think countries might disobey such a law.

    Also, the irreversibly standard seems bad. That seems like it could justify committing a genocide on an entire group by saying "eventually they could make a comeback or have it be reversed" which seems messed up. I think you need a justification for because it really could be a devastating performative contradiction.

    Also, I think the opp is right in saying that anarchy from laws people oppose is a risk and you shouldn't wave it away off hand. This could be bad especially when you say sanctions could be imposed (Iran is a pretty good example of this risk).

    Feel free to message me if you have any more questions.
    What serves as your counterplan (CP) to divert funding into researching ways to better extract resources is never really explained which makes it hard for me to vote on this as a counter advocacy. How does one use this funding specifically? Green tech? Research into ecological impacts of drilling? I never know the amount or method of how you would do this. Even if I were to grant you all the offense in the world for this, the proposition says they wouldn't stop resource extraction as long as it wouldn't cause irreversible damage. I think you could take a different tactic on this and say that even reversible damage could be quite painful/bad for living creatures which would make me more open to hear how your framing might be better.

    I think the proposition is right, some of your hypotheticals are a little tough to weigh in the debate, especially the aliens and asteroid ones. The argument about unmapped microbial life on Earth was definitely your best and could have been extended more.

    I think you could attack their root cause arguments by saying that prevention of resource extraction (something done by the UN to "developing" nations) often replicates the same bad settler and violent impacts they discuss especially when they bring up sanctions which I think you could attack a lot more. I would suggest you try to leverage the humans should come first argument along with this and say why voting prop would damage humans in x,y and z ways.

    If you are going to make a "get off the rock argument" (translation: colonize space at some point) I really need it to come out of your first speech and with a lot more detail. You begin making all these arguments about how there is a growing amount of need that needs to be met that convey a lot of urgency but is something I think they probably could solve for since they are not opposed to resource extraction. That urgency paired with an argument about how there is still a risk that the Prop plan could slow us down coming sooner in the debate would have made you a lot more competitive.

    I didn't know what to do with your aliens example, especially when you sort of skip it and say an asteroid coming towards earth is a risk too. I guess these were meant to provide exceptions to when we should protect microbial life, but they don't really get impacted out in comparison to what seem like a lot more proximal impacts talked about the prop.

    Your discussion of what is pragmatic seems to be sufficiently answered by your opponent saying effectively what is doesn't always have to be, and you don't answer this as to why you being "practical" is the most ethical/moral approach to the debate especially when I get more of a step by step plan from the prop's plan than your CP.

    Also, the point that one of the prop's author was suspected of terrorism felt really random and didn't really get you anything. Not sure if it's the best strategic choice to have. Saying that people could break the laws and create anarchy is a good argument though, make it sooner (there are examples like when Iran didn't want to give up their nukes and their people suffered because the UN imposed sanctions just like the prop would).

    Feel free to message me if you have any more questions.

    The decision is for the Proposition: Kirk Wu

    Reason for Decision:

    I vote prop because I have a more clear impacted out discussion of the value of microbial life that seems to justify protecting them even through the lens that human life should come first (since humans were microbes once) especially when supported by The Golden Rule articulation. This framing seems to be be a good one that was supported by that was consistently extended research throughout the debate. In the face of a risk of replicating negative impacts associated with colonialism, slavery, and war/violence, even if this may be somewhat tenuous use of buzz words to sound more damaging than it actually is, without a strong enough reason that the counterplan would be able to mitigate these impacts I am compelled to vote prop as being the best chance to solve these problems. Feel free to message me if you have any more questions.

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