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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Clara Harding (Wood River High School) vs. Opposition: Ahmad Amireh (Liberty High School)

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.

  • Clara Harding
    Clara Harding

    Ahmad Amireh
    Ahmad Amireh
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    Speech Details

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    Posted at May 2, 2016 05:00:36PM EST by Clara Harding



    Cockell, Charles. "How the Search for Aliens Can Help Sustain Life on Earth." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Oct. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

    Glaser, Sarah M. "NASA Astrobiology Debates Interview." Interview. NASA ASTROBIOLOGY DEBATES. NASA, 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. Dr. Glaser earned a PhD in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and specializes in fisheries, food web ecology, and complex systems.

    Posted at May 4, 2016 02:19:48AM EST by Ahmad Amireh




    “overriding.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.


    Weinberg, Brian, and Yinghui Liu. Design and Modeling of the NU Smart Space Drilling System (SSDS).

    Simberg, Rand. Safe Is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion into Space. Jackson (Wyoming): Interglobal Media LLC, 2014. Print.


    Wolfrum, Rùˆdiger. Developments of International Law in Treaty Making. Berlin: Springer, 2005. Google Books. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

    Simic, Ivan. "Failures of International Law and The Security Council's Tyranny." NewsBlaze News. 23 Sept. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

    Posted at May 4, 2016 10:53:42PM EST by Clara Harding



    Henning, Brian. "NASA ASTROBIOLOGY DEBATES." NASA ASTROBIOLOGY DEBATES. NASA, 2015. Web. 04 May 2016. <>.

    Howell, Elizabeth. "How Would The World Change If We Found Extraterrestrial Life - Astrobiology Magazine." Astrobiology Magazine. 30 Dec. 2015. Web. 04 May 2016. <>.

    "Global Issues at the United Nations." UN News Center. UN. Web. 04 May 2016. <>.

    Koh, Harold Hongju. "Why Do Nations Obey International Law?" Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. Yale Law School, 1997. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

    Posted at May 6, 2016 03:12:30AM EST by Ahmad Amireh




    Weinberg, Brian, and Yinghui Liu. Design and Modeling of the NU Smart Space Drilling System (SSDS).

    Simberg, Rand. Safe Is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion into Space. Jackson (Wyoming): Interglobal Media LLC, 2014. Print.

    Posted at May 7, 2016 01:17:54AM EST by Clara Harding



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at May 7, 2016 11:44:55PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz

    Category Clara Harding Ahmad Amireh
    Use of evidence: 4.2 4.2
    Delivery skill: 5 4.5
    Coherence of arguments: 3.8 3.9
    Responsiveness to opponent: 5 4.2
    Identification of key points: 4.5 4.5
    Comments: I like how you start the round out with definitions and how I should approach the round as a judge. However, I don't know if further ET research is the best framework for you on the prop side since that's what the opp is most set to turn in my opinion. You do a good job an showing how protections are essential to preserve ET life for further research, which is a good pre-empt to the the opp turn to your framework to the debate. You should have more on the question of solvency in regards to how international law can solve. I also really like how you make use of the NASA interviews for your evidence.

    Great job on redefining "overriding" to answer the opp's definition. Again, I like how you use the NASA interviews for it. You should make an argument as to why I should prefer you definition though (because it's field contextual). Instead of just indicting what the opposition says defensively. Make some arguments as to why ilaw can solve in the instance of space instead of just generally because then you can make an argument to why I should prefer you. I think "protect and preserve" would be good terms to define as well.

    Good job continuing to explicitly state how you create research by protecting it. You should do some risk assessment. Ie make the argument that even a 1% risk of solvency from international law is reason enough to vote for the prop.
    I like how you define overriding since I think that's the key point to attack on the opp side. You will need to directly answer the Glasser evidence. Deep space drilling wouldn't necessarily destroy ET life given what the prop's evidence. You should structure a clearer disadvantage as to why the prop is bad by emphasizing external impacts instead of just trying to internally turn the prop's arguments. Also, you should go for international law bad, and not just international law doesn't solve. That would turn your defensive argument into an offensive argument. Indict her evidence when you get to answering her scenario. Also you need to warrant out why drilling will inherently hurt ET ecosystems. I can guess at why. But I don't think this is necessarily inherent with drilling. No solvency is defense. It can't win you the round. Always go for the offensive form of your argument.

    You need to explain why I should prefer your dictionary definition over her definition. Her definition is field contextual. Why is your definition better? Why does this make better ground for debate, etc? I also don't think concessions she makes are as fatal as your seem to in your speech since she explains that slowing down the research is essential to enabling that to take place. I like that you get specific in ilaw to the space treaty. A lot of your arguments assume you win your definition of "overriding," which I don't think you're ahead on. Also, again, you need to go for more than just ilaw fails. Go for ilaw bad since there's always at least a 1% risk of solving. You need more offense in your speech since otherwise you are banking the entire round on the argument that the prop prevents research, which I don't think you're winning. You need a different word choice than "concede" since most of the times you say it she doesn't actually concede the argument you're making. She has an answer. What you are really saying is that her argument justifies an opp ballot, which is different than conceding something.

    The decision is for the Proposition: Clara Harding

    Reason for Decision:

    At the point I buy the prop's definition of "overriding" most of the opposition's arguments go away since it allows for the ability to research and utilize ET life. Even if it might slow down the pace of research there's no reason why slowing down that pace is bad, given that it is the best way to ensure that life exists in the future to protect it. Research gives way to more and better protections. I think that the two sides could have done better at explaining why I should prefer one definition over the other in their last speeches. However, even without that analysis, I default to preferring the field contextual evidence that was provided by the prop from the NASA Astrobiology interviews, which define the terms as they pertain to this topic, over a generic dictionary definition. This is generally my default in all debates. Field contextual evidence is always better than a regular dictionary. The opp should explain to me why I should prefer a dictionary definition and/or why your definition creates better ground or fairness for the debate instead of just asserting that based upon your definition the prop's burden is something else.

    That leaves the international law argument. Ultimately, even if I grant the full weight of ilaw not working by the prop, I am unsure why this is a reason why not to try. The opp should impact this out with ilaw bad and/or that failure to successfully implement treaties leads to conflict. There's lots of evidence out there on both these questions. However, I don't grant the full weight of the ilaw fails arguments since the prop explains why her evidence is more recent and explains how ilaw is more suited to solve problems now than it was 50 years ago, which is the context that the evidence she's reading it talking about. This means I think there is a decent chance that the prop can solve for protections, which would help further research by ensuring that ET life would exist in the future for that research to take place.

    The long and short is that the opp needs more external offensive and impacts for me to vote for them. Otherwise, it's a question of whether I buy a 100% solvency take out (which is always difficult to win) or the opp's definition of "overriding." As explained above, I think the prop is enough ahead on both these questions for me to vote for them.

    It was a very good debate and I congratulate you both for making it to finals. Great job to both sides and thank you for participating in the online tournament.

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