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Argumentative and Issue Task Essay - Please critique


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As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

There is no doubt that in the last few centuries that technological advances have been made in an exponential manner. Just in the last 50 years, we have gone from computers that would occupy entire rooms and were accessed only by a few, to modern day now, where the average citizen holds a computer in the palm of their hand far more capable than its early predecessors. The advancement of technology is one of the main factors that allow humans to enjoy better qualities of life as well as longer life expectancies and this is because as we further make technological advances the ability for humans to have independent and complex thought will only increase, which will only feeds back into novel technological inventions.

 

Although technology has been able to do many tasks for us that eliminate certain thinking processes it is important to notice that these tasks are usually trivial with respect to complex thinking. For example, yes the invention of calculators may lead to the deterioration of mental math abilities, however it is this very same invention that has been utilized in putting a man on the moon. These technological advances free people from dealing with juvenile processes to allow them to have more time for more complex thought. Furthermore, technology has not only freed more time for people by taking over the duties of performing simple mechanical problems, it has streamlined many activities in daily life which also allows for more time, such as the invention of the car which has drastically reduced commute times, time which can now be used by humans to tackle more complex issues.

 

Not only has technological advances made the opportunity for more complex thought more attainable through its efficiencies, it has also made higher thought more accessible to a wide portion of the population. The internet, has allowed for the sharing of innovative ideas which have and will go on to change the world such as the invention of cryptocurrencies, which may eventually lead to decentralization of banks. Technology has provided a platform for individuals to exchange and collaborate on ideas to further unravel issues of a wide variety including those of science and social justice like the arab spring with the removal of dictators, or academics collaborating on groundbreaking medical journals dealing with terminal illnesses.

 

In conclusion, although technology does remove the need for us to think about many things by the use of automation, this is something that should not be resisted. This is because it removes the need to worry about less important matters and allows us much more time to deal with more nuanced issues that can not readily be solved with the use of technology.  

Woven baskets characterized by a particular distinctive pattern have previously been found only in the immediate vicinity of the prehistoric village of Palea and therefore were believed to have been made only by the Palean people. Recently, however, archaeologists discovered such a "Palean" basket in Lithos, an ancient village across the Brim River from Palea. The Brim River is very deep and broad, and so the ancient Paleans could have crossed it only by boat, and no Palean boats have been found. Thus it follows that the so-called Palean baskets were not uniquely Palean.

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

The following argument is flawed for a variety of reasons. Mainly, because it assumes that the “Palean” basket is not uniquely “Palean” simply because it was found in another geographical area. This assumption is based on the idea that it was found in Lithos which is separated from Palea by a deep and broad river, as well as the lack of discovery of boats which is stated to be the only method of transport across the river.

 

The discovery of “Palean” baskets in Lithos does not prove that the baskets are not uniquely palean, there are several reasons why this is true. First, this statement assumed that the only method to reach Lithos at the time was across the Brim river, which was too broad and deep to cross without boats, suggesting that the two populations were otherwise and essentially isolated. However, this might not be the case as during the time contemporary of these peoples, the river may not have been as broad and deep as it is now, or seasonal patterns may have been different where the river was more accessible during certain annual periods of time. Therefore, the Palean people may have been able to cross the river and trade their distinct baskets for other goods that were unique to the citizens of Lithos.

 

Even if, the Brim river during ancient times was too broad and deep the statement contends that the Palean people could not have cross with out boats which were never discovered, and therefore they never crossed. This statement is plagued by a fallacy where it essentially states that if it has not been discovered it, it must have never existed. We know this to be incredibly wrong as scientists concede there are millions of species that have gone extinct that are yet to be found, or that only a small sliver of the worlds oceans have been explored and therefore it is likely countless species there as well are waiting to be discovered. Following this logic, just because the boats were never found does not necessarily mean they never existed, they could have existed and been used to trade the baskets, but simply over time been prone to decay, and destruction.

 

This argument continues to be invalid as it states that simply because the baskets were found in Lithos that it could not be unique to Palea. As stated above there are several reasons on how the baskets could have been shared. The author’s conjecture would have been strengthened if the “Palean” basket was found in other parts of the world that at the time were certainly inaccessible to Paleans, such as on another continent. However they were only found in Lithos at this point which in relative terms must be close to Palea as it is across the Brim river.

 

All in all, the authors argument is riddled with assumptions that are not proven and therefore it can not be soundly concluded that the “Palean” baskets are not unique to Palea.


Educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

Educational Institutions have long been seen as the gateway to a better more successful life in terms of career positions and financial stability. There are many responsibilities that these institutions should be expected to assume such as training the best professionals possible or providing the most up to date evidence based knowledge. However one of these responsibilities is not discouraging students from pursuing fields of study in which they are not likely to attain success.

Regardless of aptitude, one should be able to explore any scholarly avenue they express an interest for, it is this agency that markedly separates us from autocratic societies. The freedom of choosing your own field of study is also what has made it possible for the exponential growth of innovations and ideas especially found in western societies. Imagine a world where Einstein was dissuaded by his University to not further study astrophysics as he was admittedly, not good at math. This would lead to a travesty in the field of physics, it was his very findings that made it possible for thing such as the GPS system. Furthermore, educational institutions should tread very lightly when considering making these possible detrimental recommendations as there have been several documented cases of children born with autism, for who medical professionals predict significantly reduced intelligence, going on to be savants who have made tremendous contributions to music or even things as complex as string theory. If these same children were dissuaded by their parents due to the seemingly infallible advice of medical professionals and educational institutions alike, we may have essentially been not only robbing  these children of brighter futures but robbing society of their contributions.

If these educational institutions were given free reign to practise the discouragement of students from certain fields, we would run into another major issue. By which criteria would these decisions be made? One might be mislead into expecting standardized tests to be a good predictor of a students future success, however this is not usually the case. For instance, the SAT which is a widely administered assessment of a high school seniors’ intelligence and indicator of future success in college, has seen to be more strongly correlated with a students financial outcome situation. This poses a dangerous possibility, in a country where the income gap is further widening, it would not be totally unwarranted to imagine that the discouraging students based on these assessments may further lead to inequity.

The notion of Educational institutions using their best judgement to advise students against pursuing certain careers is not one that is without merit. Many students do seek advice from advisors who are trained to guide students on a path to attain success. If an advisor recognizes a student is noticeably very weak in the sciences but these student is adamant on becoming a doctor,  it is not totally evil for the advisor to suggest another career to the student, one that plays to their strengths. Nonetheless, this is simple advice that should be given, it should not be overbearing and ultimately the student should have the last decision in what they decide to pursue.

All in all, despite having a few possible positive intentions, educational institutions should not be responsible for dissuading students from pursuing a career simply because they assume the student will not be successful in that field. This practise should be strongly avoided as it can further perpetuate social inequalities as well as snuff out the possibility of innovation.

The following appeared as part of a letter to the editor of a scientific journal.

"A recent study of eighteen rhesus monkeys provides clues as to the effects of birth order on an individual's levels of stimulation. The study showed that in stimulating situations (such as an encounter with an unfamiliar monkey), firstborn infant monkeys produce up to twice as much of the hormone cortisol, which primes the body for increased activity levels, as do their younger siblings. Firstborn humans also produce relatively high levels of cortisol in stimulating situations (such as the return of a parent after an absence). The study also found that during pregnancy, first-time mother monkeys had higher levels of cortisol than did those who had had several offspring."

Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.

Although this argument alludes to a possible link between birth order and stimulation level (cortisol levels), it is important to realize that this may not indeed be the actual explanation or may just be one of several factors related to stimulations levels.

First off, this argument attempts to strengthen its claim by linking the idea that first born rhesus monkeys display higher levels of cortisol in stimulating situations and therefore being born first leads to elevated stimulation levels. Although this may be plausible it ignores another very strong confounding explanation, it could be just as likely that first borns display a heightened level of stimulation in response to unfamiliar monkeys because they were reared in a relatively isolated environment, with just the mother. Later born offspring may not display such high levels of stimulation in these same situations because they were reared in the presence of multiple monkeys and therefore being exposed to an unfamiliar monkey is not as novel a situation, logically not eliciting as noticeable of a response. This experiment could of more conclusively linked birth order to stimulation level if all subsequent offspring were immediately separated from their siblings and reared only by the mother.

This explanation can be further extended to account for the higher levels of cortisol displayed by first born human infants on the return of their parents after an absence. It could just be as likely that latter offspring are reared in a more populated environment and therefore will not display the same stark deviations in cortisol levels when exposed to a stimulating environment as they have already had that affect attenuated. This explanation continues to contend that stimulation levels (cortisol)  is strongly linked to birth order as the mother herself displays higher levels of cortisol during pregnancy with the first offspring. This contention makes a glaring mistake in ignoring the simple and more plausible idea that because this is the mother's first pregnancy, she will be incredibly unfamiliar with the process, the sensations and accompanying symptoms that follow pregnancy. It is also relatively commonly known that cortisol is linked to stress and is produced in higher amounts during stressful situations. Therefore it is more likely that the mother displays these higher levels due to the stress of a novel and major experience rather than simply being the birth order of the offspring. It is more likely that she is more learned by the time of the second and third offspring and therefore not as stressed leading to less cortisol production.  

Lastly, this explanations falls short and it’s validity has to be questioned due to the size of the sample that was tested. It specifies that 18 rhesus monkeys were involved in the experiment. This is a relatively small sample, also it does not discern how these monkeys were chose, whether they were randomly sampled from a larger population or if they were all a part of the same family. This leaves open the possibility of the sample not being representative and therefore it would be fallacious to extend these findings onto the general population. We also run into this same issue when the argument speaks about human infants as it does not specify any of the above outline parameters.

In conclusion, although this explanation elucidates a respectable link between birth order and stimulation level, it is evident that further and more sophisticated measures need to be taken before this link can unequivocally be established. There are several other contending and more likely explanations regarding this phenomenon and the experiment parameters it self displays inherent issues.

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