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Argument topic


            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 passage assumes that there was no contact between Lithos and Palea due to the lack of transportation on the Palean behalf. The evidence to this claim was supported by the fact that there was an absences of boats found near Palea. This lead to the conclusion that the Paleans could not have traveled across the river and subsequently left behind a remnant of such a basket signatured uniquely to their culture. This logic is faulty in that the village of Lithos, across the Brim River, could have had made efforts to travel to Palea to engage in trading. Therefore, to strengthen this argument there must be evidence supporting a lack of naval transportational resources characteristic of both the Lithos and Palean villages. To further weaken the claim against the baskets Palean origination, it is worthy to note that a naval vessal is the not primary requirement for such an item to appear in a neighboring village. The “Palean” basket could have simply washed ashore the Lithoanian side of the river carried by current. This is plausible and more common place explaination of how such a basket could have reached the village of Lithos.   


Issue topic

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.


            Technology takes away the need to worry about lower level cognitive tasks by offloading information in order to facilite more important and complex coginitive reasoning. A simple example of this is encapsulated by the use of a common calculator. The cognitive load required of computing forumulaic expressions by hand requires more time and cognitive resources than by when using a calculator to achieve the same result. An operator can plug in a few simple entries to achieve a desired result with certainty and accuracy within seconds. Assume that the calculation used in this example is one required for a complex task such as formulating the design specifications to the cockpit of an airplane. The use of a calculator frees up cognitive resources and the amount of time required to perform this task so that the designer is able to use the calculation in which ever manner desired. Here it is evident that a human operator, assisted by technology, is able to eliminate the nucance of a lower order task in order to perform a more complex and cognitively significant task. The calculator streamlined the elementary task and allowed a human to think independently in a heightened way. Thus, in this contex one can see how a human might be empowered to think efficiently on a more advanced and significant level by relying on technology to solve a problem.


Argument topic

            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.


            The proposed explanations are incomplete and neglect to account for confounding variables. The logic behind the proposed idea stemming from the observation that first born monkeys have higher cortisol levels, in comparison to their younger siblings, when facing a stimulating situation; an effect that has also been found in humans. These increased levels of cortisol were also observed in first time mothers, compared to those who had several offspring, when facing similar stimulating situations. The variables that may disrupt this claim would be in consideration as to the stages of brain development and a more in depth look at the effects of cortisol.

To counter the first explanation it is necessary to consider the degree of brain development that a first born and more mature monkey may have when compared to their younger siblings. The younger siblings in this scenario may not have as complete of an understanding as to the assumed threat that an unfamiliar monkey may pose. The first born monkey’s brain is more advanced and able to comprehend that an unfamiliar monkey could be dangerous therefore a stronger cortisol response would be invoked as well as required. The first born monkey and the first time mother both are more prone to recognizing the necessity to protect it’s younger less cognitively aware and defensless family members. 

The heightened levels of cortisol observed in both more senior members of the afformentioned experiement can also be explained by a more elaborate explanation as to the mechanisms of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol not only prepares the body for increased activity levels but is also a hormone associated with stress. When one is more cognitively aware of a stressor it is understandable to experience higher levels of stress than one less aware. A first time mother is an appropriate example of this as the mother has just gone through the novel and significant experience of giving birth and caring for it’s offspring. This mother is likely under a higher level stress than a more veteran mother who has been through the process and knows what to expect.            

The prior explanations to the responses seen in the subjects of the previously discussed experiement are parochial at best. These explanations were limited to birth order as the cause of the heightened cortisol response observed in the more senior members of the experiment. A more complete picture is seen when considering brain development and a complete understanding of the mechanisms of cortisol. Such considerations are confounding variables and offer a compareable yet rival explanation.

Issue topic

To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities.

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.


I agree with the statement that to understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities. A city is a central location where one can find rich cultural knowledge, economic understanding, and large scale innovative and educational perspectives. These three components are important to fully understanding a society.

Cities are an amalgamation of culture. For example, any major city in the united states fosters a diverse religious and cultural heritage. One can find any type of church or place of worship that might accommodate a vast range of religious beliefs. There are also often designated areas of cities that hold predominant cultural identities and histories. Take Boston’s South End for example, this area of the city has a long standing irish heritage and as a result has many catholic and protestant churches. Further more, Brookline is a neighborhood that is predominantly Jewish and subsequently has many kosher grocery stores and synogogues. Take a stroll through any neighborhood of a city and you will likely find differing cultural accomodations and perspectives.

Like the variety of diverse culture and religious outlets that a city may hold, there is also a breadth of economic diversity. Sections of cities hold differing socio-economic varities. Any one city may hold divisions of low income subsidized housing efforts, homeless shelters, middle class suburban communities residing on the outskirts of the city, and even high rise luxury apartments located downtown or in bustling central business districts. One does not have to travel far to experience the full range of socio-economic understanding that any given city might hold.

The sheer population density of a city is a major reason why it may be a good place to gain an understanding of a society as a whole. It takes a lot of human collaboration to develop a city. Cities are where innovation generally stems from and where many different people congregate to work together either in businesses or educational settings. There are more jobs in a city as compared to rural and less population dense locations. Therefore people drive in, sometimes from long distances, to go to work. Often people relocate from different areas of the country to settle down in or around a city to be closer to a job opportunity. Cities are also where large university and educational institutions are found and where large numbers of people come together to share knowledge. Smaller more rural communities often lack all of these resources and therefore do not benefit from the large human collaboration and diversity of a large city.

To get a full breadth of understanding of one society it is sensible to turn to the study of a major city. A city is a centralized location where one can study culture, socio-economic diversity, and large numbers of people. It would be foolish to try to accomplish the same task when considering a small rural community. 

Issue Topic

The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.

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.


I disagree with the statement, “the best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones. I feel that the best way to teach is to praise positive actions and address negative ones. My reasons are supported by three concepts such as classical conditioning, boundary setting, and the thoughtful design of a social environment.

The idea of praising positive action is sensible and relates to psychological theory. This makes sense according to the psychological concept of classical conditioning. Rewarding a student provides positive reinforcement ad encourages further positive actions of students. Anything that can encourage positive actions in any social environment is of benefit to anyone involved. This benefit can provide a classroom to be a happy and healthy learning environment where positive action is promoted.

Ignoring negative actions does not set clear boundaries and therefore does not discourage negative behavior. The logic of ignoring a bully by withdrawing any reaction to a negative behavior gives validity to the statement which asserts that negative actions are best ignored. However, this logic does not generalize to an educational environment that includes teaching. There is a social norm that provides an authoritative relationship between students and teachers. Studemts are meant to follow the direction of a teacher. This authoritative norm needs clearly defined boundaries in which students are socially are expected to follow. The lack of addressing a negative action does not provide these boundaries. In the absence of such boundaries students will not be accountable to behaving in a negative manner and leaves the possibility of negative action to be open and available. A classroom that holds negative and positive actions is less than ideal.

A thoughtfully designed social environment expands upon the idea of defining boundaries and includes direct attention to a negative action. After boundaries have been set in such an environment there must be repercussions to defying such boundaries. Therefore a thoughtfully designed social environment would include a protocol such as addressing negative action rather than the traditional response such as punishing a negative action. When a negative action is addressed directly, vocally, and publicly has been proven in research to have a stronger effect at discouraging the initial negative behavior. This concept is rooted in the psychological theory of cogntivie dissonance. In a simple sense a student facing a punishment due to a negative action is not forced to think about their behavior as there is an external regulator present. A student facing a socially derived, non-punishment variety of consequence, such as a stern talking to or a verbally expressed disappointment from the authoritative figure does not provide a harsh external regulator as in the first example. This then forces the negative actor to internally consider and reason with oneself as to why they do not want to engage in the initial negative behavior. Applything theoretical psychological principles to a social environment such as a classroom with a student teacher social dynamic is how one can achieve a thoughtfully designed social environment in which a negative behavior can effectively be dealt with.  

All in all I believe that the best way to teach is to praise positive actions and to address negative ones. The reasons why I believe this approach is more effective is due to the psychological theory such as classical conditioning, the effect of setting clear boundaries, and the psychological concepts such a cognitive dissoncance as it would be applied to designing a thoughtful social environment. For these three reasons an approach to teaching that includes praising positive action and addressing negative action will make for a happy and healthy teaching environment.

Argument topic

Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia. Using an observation-centered approach to studying Tertian culture, he concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. Recently another anthropologist, Dr. Karp, visited the group of islands that includes Tertia and used the interview-centered method to study child-rearing practices. In the interviews that Dr. Karp conducted with children living in this group of islands, the children spent much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. Dr. Karp decided that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture must be invalid. Some anthropologists recommend that to obtain accurate information on Tertian child-rearing practices, future research on the subject should be conducted via the interview-centered method.

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


Dr. Karp and Dr. Fields statements lack sufficient evidence to support either claim. To give validty to each statement more improved investigative techniques are required. To determine which statement holds the most validity there must be an assessment and comparison of the research methods used. Once these two pieces of evidence are considered then a more informed decision can be made as to if Dr. Karp or Dr. Fields statements and assumptions are accurate.

Evidence is required to validate if the logic that follows this statement, “children spend much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village.” Dr. Karp considers this observation to disprove Dr. Fields original assumptions. Dr. Fields original assumption maintains the children of Tertia are reared by the collective effort of the community rather than their own biological parents. Each statement is faulty in that they are assumptions. Each assumption lacks a concise way to measure each variable. Therefore there must be a metric that can accurately measure if the children of Tertia were raised as a group effort or on an individual basis by each childs respective biological parent. One suggestion on how to achieve this would be by asking not only each child but also each member of the community about the child rearing practices of the community. Doing so will provide an unbiased and accurate depiction of how each child is raised in the community. With this information in hand then it would be possible to determine the validity of Dr. Fields and Dr. Karps statements.

The statement that involves describing how these discrepant findings discredits Dr. Fields conclusion about Tertian village culture and the entire observation-centered approach to studying culture. The ‘counter’ findings were derived from interviews with children living in the Tertian islands. The interview approach is an empiraclly based investigative technique similar to the empirically based observational research model. Since both investigative techniques are empirical in nature there must be a way to determine which technique holds the most validity and efficacy. Therefore an examination of the scientific literature concerning the validity of each investive approach must be considered and then compared. The investigative technique yielding higher validity would determine which statements contains the most accuracy.

In conclusion to more accurately asses the information there is a necessity to acquire more information. The necessary information includes a critical review and comparison of the validity between each researchers investigative measures. The other necessary piece of evidence is

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