[eDebate] gen eng as topic if leaning domestic

David Glass gacggc
Mon Apr 21 11:45:28 CDT 2008

the word "restrict" makes a lot more sense than the word "ban", which was
in at least one email from Scott.  There are many restrictions that might
be at least debatable.  A ban is a non-starter - because there are so many
instances where it can be shown that genetic engineering is critical.

a genetic engineer,

On 4/21/08, V I Keenan <vikeenan at gmail.com> wrote:
> If you're really set on a domestic topic, go back and reread the Gen
> Eng paper.  I'll probably put more cohesive comments on the blog, but
> I will say that I think it would be an excellent topic of debate for
> the year.
> I just finished running a year long scholarship competition that
> occurs in a debate format.  Our topic was adapted from Scott's old
> paper because we were told to 1) be domestic and 2) explore an area of
> public debate related to science.  Overall, it was probably the best
> topic we've had and the entire participant AND judge pool were excited
> and interested in the debates.
> The resolution was: "The United States should substantially restrict
> the use of genetic engineering."  Despite being narrower that Scott's
> potential wordings (and clocking in at only 11 words), there was still
> a lot of affirmative flexibility in what to discuss (cloning, gmo's,
> stem cells, etc), but the uni-directional nature gave neg's sufficient
> predictability.  There are a finite number of federal laws that
> specifically address biotechnical advances and applications, so it's
> possible to have very in-depth debates.  Given the first semester
> focus on elections scenarios and the emergence of new scientific
> discoveries over the course of the year (we got to deal with stem
> cells from skin cells), the debates will be able to evolve (we won't
> run out of stuff by the NDT).
> The real reason that I like this topic area is that I think teams can
> make a choice - you can still go the "traditional" debate route with
> apocolyptic advantage scenarios (yay bioterrorism), international
> actor CP's, politics and econ trade off da's, your precautionary
> principle backfile, or standard K's of ethics, cap, and tech OR I
> think you can honestly develop more specific strategies that return to
> the case debate that half of the judging philosophies I read say would
> be desirable.
> Also, I think few other topic possibilities clearly prioritize ethical
> and philosophical questions so clearly with the more traditional
> policy areas of cost/benefit analysis and economics.  It makes the
> critical ground intrinsic to the "policymaking" questions . . .
> perhaps giving debaters on both sides of the divide an opening to
> become familiar with different kinds of arguments.
> If you REALLY want an agricultural debate, I also think you can
> reasonably extrapolate parts of that into the GMO debate.  If you
> REALLY want another international topic, international trade and
> potential treaties are also inherent to the research.
> I also think this is a great topic for recruitment.  Even if the
> science isn't always immediately graspable (but it can be pretty easy
> to understand it when needed) to the humanities major, the issues out
> in the public debate make this discussable by the casual observer.
> One of the first "events" I did this year was with a campus group
> during their weekly "rap session" - a loosely organized discussion on
> topics of current relevance.  I made a three page article available to
> them if they wanted, and after 90 minutes, they were still heatedly
> debating the potential harms and benefits of biotech applications.  I
> think for folks who are tired of having the "same" debates this gives
> them an option, without making all of the backfiles a smaller program
> may rely on irrelevant.
> Finally, the Lit major in me likes that for folks who don't
> immediately get what all of the issues are out there, there are lots
> of cultural touchstones to begin with for debaters.  Yes, I heard a
> lot of Gattica references in the past year, but Brave New World and
> Frankestein have enough popular mythology to work as analogies when
> you get bored with early Jude Law.  Also, Jodi Picoult (My Sister's
> Keeper -soon to be a movie, Second Glance, and Perfect Match) has
> multiple contemporary works that address some of these issues
> thematically and with scientific detail in her writing.
> And if argumentation journal articles are more your speed that novels,
> the Winter 2006 edition of Argumentation and Advocacy had an article
> called "Making Room for Stem Cells" by John Lynch.  Even if Gen Eng
> isn't the topic, you should read it for the real world T debate it
> examines and the implications.
> Just some thoughts . . .
> [off to clone some Binghamton debaters]
> -VIK
> --
> Vik Keenan
> Director - Baruch Debate, CUNY
> Assoc. Director - New York Coalition of Colleges
> 212/992-9641 or 347/683-6894
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