WRITING UNLEASHED: ARGUMENT
Table of Contents INTRODUCTION TO ARGUMENT
THE STRUCTURE OF AN ARGUMENT
ARGUMENT EXAMPLE #1:
ARGUMENT EXAMPLE #2
ETHOS, PATHOS, AND LOGOS
STRENGTHENING YOUR ARGUMENT
CATEGORIES OF ARGUMENT
EVALUATING AND CITING SOURCES
CITATIONS: WHY, WHEN, HOW?
READING: DEVELOPING A UNIVERSAL RELIGION
READING: GAME ADDICTIONS
READING: DETERMINING MORAL BEHAVIOR – PERSONAL FREEDOM
READING: DETERMINING MORAL BEHAVIORS – KILLING
READING: PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE
READING: INTRO TO GENDER
READING: GLOBAL ISSUES IN AUSTRIA & CZECH REPUBLIC WITH MIGRATION
READING: GOVERNMENT POLICIES TO REDUCE INCOME INEQUALITY
OER TEXTBOOK LICENSE
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Because writing is never just about writing.
Introduction to Argument1
“Man Assaults Wife With Waffle.” Image by studio tdes. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/thedailyenglishshow/17337882771
WHY ARGUE?2 We don’t always argue to win. Yes, you read that correctly. Argumentation isn’t always about being “right.” We argue to express opinions and explore new ideas. When writing an argument, your goal is to convince an audience that your opinions and ideas are worth consideration and discussion. When instructors use the word "argument," they're talking about defending a certain point of view through writing or speech. Usually called a "claim" or a "thesis," this point of view is concerned with an issue that doesn't have a clear right or wrong answer (e.g., four and two make six). Also, this argument should not only be concerned with personal opinion (e.g., I really like carrots). Instead, an argument might tackle issues like abortion, capital punishment, stem cell research, or gun control. However, what distinguishes an argument from a 1 This chapter’s contents come from the original chapter on Argument in the first edition of Writing Unleashed. 2 “What is an Argument?” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Last edited 27 Nov 14. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Argument Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
descriptive essay or "report" is that the argument must take a stance; if you're merely summarizing "both sides" of an issue or pointing out the "pros and cons," you're not really writing an argument. "Stricter gun control laws will likely result in a decrease in gun-related violence" is an argument. Note that people can and will disagree with this argument, which is precisely why so many instructors find this type of assignment so useful – these assignments make you think! Academic arguments usually "articulate an opinion." This opinion is always carefully defended with good reasoning and supported by plenty of research. Research? Yes, research! Indeed, part of learning to write effective arguments is finding reliable sources (or other documents) that lend credibility to your position. It's not enough to say "capital punishment is wrong because that's the way I feel." Instead, you need to adequately support your claim by finding: ● facts ● statistics ● quotations from recognized authorities, and ● other types of evidence You won't always win, and that's fine. The goal of an argument is simply to: ● make a claim ● support your claim with the most credible reasoning and evidence you can muster ● hope that the reader will at least understand your position ● hope that your claim is taken seriously WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT? Billboards, television advertisements, documentaries, political campaign messages, and even bumper stickers are often arguments – these are messages trying to convince an audience to do something. But an academic argument is different. An academic argument requires a clear structure and use of outside evidence. KEY FEATURES OF AN ARGUMENT: ● Clear Structure: Includes a claim, reasons/evidence, counterargument, and conclusion. ● Claim: Your arguable point (most often presented as your thesis statement). ● Reasons & Evidence: Strong reasons and materials that support your claim. ● Consideration of other Positions: Acknowledge and refute possible counterarguments. ● Persuasive Appeals: Use of appeals to emotion, character, and logic. ● Organizing an Argument The great thing about the argument structure is its amazingly versatility. Once you become familiar with this basic structure of the argumentative essay, you will be able to clearly argue about almost anything! Next up is information all about the basic structure… 5
The Structure of an Argument3 If you are asked to write an argument, there is a basic argument structure. Use this outline to help create an organized argument: ● Introduction: Begin with an attention-getting introduction. Establish the need to explore this topic. Thesis Statement: What’s your claim? ● Brief background on issue (optional). ● Reasons & Evidence: First reason for your position (with supporting evidence) ● Second reason for your position (with supporting evidence) ● Additional reasons (optional) ● Counterargument: What’s the other side of the issue? Explain why your view is better than others. ● Conclusion: Summarize the argument. Make clear what you want the audience to think or do.
Image used in previous OER textbook, Writing Unleashed, the non-argumentative one.
INTRODUCTION The first paragraph of your argument is used to introduce your topic and the issues surrounding it. This needs to be in clear, easily understandable language. Your readers need to know what you're writing about before they can decide if they believe you or not. 3 “What is an Argument?” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Last edited 27 Nov 14. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Argument. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Once you have introduced your general subject, it's time to state your claim. Your claim will serve as the thesis for your essay. Make sure that you use clear and precise language. Your reader needs to understand exactly where you stand on the issue. The clarity of your claim affects your readers' understanding of your views. Also, it's a good idea to highlight what you plan to cover. Highlights allow your reader to know what direction you will be taking with your argument. You can also mention the points or arguments in support of your claim, which you will be further discussing in the body. This part comes at the end of the thesis and can be named as the guide. The guide is a useful tool for you as well as the readers. It is useful for you, because this way you will be more organized. In addition, your audience will have a clear-cut idea as to what will be discussed in the body. BODY PARAGRAPHS â€“ BACKGROUND INFORMATION Once your position is stated you should establish your credibility. There are two sides to every argument. This means not everyone will agree with your viewpoint. So, try to form a common ground with the audience. Think about who may be undecided or opposed to your viewpoint. Take the audience's age, education, values, gender, culture, ethnicity, and all other variables into consideration as you introduce your topic. These variables will affect your word choice, and your audience may be more likely to listen to your argument with an open mind if you do. DEVELOPING YOUR ARGUMENT Back up your thesis with logical and persuasive arguments. During your pre-writing phase, outline the main points you might use to support your claim, and decide which are the strongest and most logical. Eliminate those which are based on emotion rather than fact. Your corroborating evidence should be well-researched, such as statistics, examples, and expert opinions. You can also reference personal experience. It's a good idea to have a mixture. However, you should avoid leaning too heavily on personal experience, as you want to present an argument that appears objective as you are using it to persuade your reader.
Argument Example #1: Student Name ENGL 110 Dana Anderson September 29, 2015 Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art? Graffiti is not simply acts of vandalism, but a true artistic form because of personal expression, aesthetic qualities, and movements of style. Graffiti, like traditional artistic forms such as sculpture, is art because it allows artists to express ideas through an outside medium. Graffiti must be considered an art form based on judgement of aesthetic qualities. Art professor George C. Stowers argues that “larger pieces require planning and imagination and contain artistic elements like color and composition” (“Graffiti”). Like all artistic forms, Graffiti has evolved, experiencing significant movements or periods. Often, graffiti is seen as only criminal vandalism, but this is not always the case. The artistic merits of graffiti–expression, aesthetics, and movements–can not be denied; Graffiti is art. Works Cited “Graffiti: Art through Vandalism.” Graffiti: Art through Vandalism. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015. Example used in previous OER textbook, Writing Unleashed.
Argument Example #2 Student P. Stuff 06 Sept 08 The Single Lady Advantage Who would really want to take a 50/50 bet on something? “The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that ‘Probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue’” (divorcerate.org). So, why get married? The 50/50 statistic is only the top of the pile of reasons why people should stay single. Not only should everyone rethink marriage, but my argument focuses mainly on why singlehood is an advantage for women, and not to men. I wasn’t so opposed to marriage until I realized a few key social issues that are connected to marriage. First of all, when the couple is united in a ceremony, typically the pastor or priest or whoever will say, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” This is just the start of things to come for the female in the relationship. Carol L. Rhodes and Norman S. Goldner write in their book, Why Women & Men Don’t Get Along, about how things don’t change for a man when he gets married. He still works and pretty much does what he did when he was single. For a woman in a marriage, she suddenly acquires the “keeping of the house” and the “rearing of the children.” Her single-gal habits are supposed to be deleted. Now, I argue these generalizations because on average, most people would agree with me. If one goes to someone’s house and it’s messy, the gossip will conclude that it’s the woman’s fault the house wasn’t clean. Right? (Rhodes) Secondly, marriage benefits men, not women, when it comes to the death rate. Married men live longer than single men; on the other side of that coin, single women live longer than married women. One could assume from that general knowledge that single women aren’t as stressed as married women. Also, married men have it better health-wise than single men (due to being pampered?)! My last piece looks into the future, to the possibility that divorce may occur and that there are children involved. Single mothers are typically frowned upon more so than single fathers. Just thinking of the dating scene alone, it’s not a deal-breaker if a man has a child. Women will look past that; men will not. Again, I know these are generalizations, but they are true for the most part. Finally, based on my own experiences, I don’t have many friends who are married who seem truly happy. And the ones who are, are the ones who keep to themselves. The ones who aren’t are the ones asking me when I will tie the knot – misery loves company? Works Cited: Divorcerate.org. www.divorcerate.org. 11 Aug 08. Rhodes, Carol L & Norman S. Goldner. Why Women & Men Don’t Get Along. Somerset Publishing: Troy, M.I., 1992. 9
Ethos, Pathos, and Logos4 HOW TO BE PERSUASIVE? Building an argument isn’t easy, and building a convincing argument is even more difficult. You may have a clear claim, solid reasons and evidence, and even refute the main counterargument, but your audience may not be convinced. Maybe they don’t care about the topic. Maybe they don’t find you credible. Or, maybe they find your evidence weak. What can you do to convince them? How can you persuade your audience? Greek philosopher Aristotle asked similar questions and he concluded that arguments needed to be persuasive. In The Art of Rhetoric, he identified three means of persuasion: ● Logos: Use of evidence and reason to support the claim. ● Pathos: Appeals to the audience’s emotions and values. ● Ethos: An author leverages trustworthiness and character.
Image used in previous OER textbook, Writing Unleashed.
4 “What is Rhetoric?” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Edited 27 Nov 14. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/What_is_Rhetoric. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. 5 Blankenship, Chris, and Justin Jory. “On Rhetoric.” Open English at Salt Lake Community College. 01 Aug 2016. https://openenglishatslcc.pressbooks.com/chapter/on-rhetoric/. Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
Rhetoric is a discipline built on the notion that language matters. Itâ€™s a discipline thatâ€™s been around for over 2,500 years, and at different times, people who have studied it have been interested in different things. While their interests have led them to focus on different aspects of rhetoric, there are several common characteristics of rhetoric that we value. Rhetoric fits into three distinct categories: Ethos is the Credibility behind the persuasion; it makes an ethical appeal to readers. Pathos is the Emotion behind the persuasion; therefore, it makes an emotional appeal. Logos is the Logic in the persuasion; therefore, it makes a logical appeal to readers. Here are the in-depth explanations: ETHOS Ethos is a means of convincing an audience of the reliable character or credibility of the speaker/writer, or the credibility of the argument. It is an important tool of persuasion because if you can get your audience to see you (or your argument) as credible and trustworthy, it will be much easier to persuade them. Ethos encompasses a large number of different things which can include what a person wears, says, the words they use, their tone of voice, their credentials, their experience, their charge over the audience, verbal and nonverbal behavior, criminal records, etc. At times, it can be as important to know who the person presenting the material is, as what they are saying about a topic. Many companies, especially those big enough to afford famous spokespersons, will use celebrities in their ad campaigns in attempts to sell their products. Certain soft drink companies have used the likes of Ray Charles, Madonna, and Britney Spears to sell their products, and been successful in doing so. The thing you need to ask yourself is: what do these celebrities add to the product other than their fame? Often times ads for medical products or even chewing gums might say that four out of five doctors/dentists recommend a certain product. Some commercials may even show a doctor in a white lab coat approving whatever is for sale. Now, provided that the person you are viewing is an actual doctor, this might be an example of a good ethos argument. On the other hand, if an automotive company uses a famous sports figure to endorse a product, we might wonder what that person knows about this product. The campaign and celebrity are not being used to inform the consumer, but rather catch their attention with what is actually a faulty example of ethos. Similarly, one can imagine that you would not use a bald person to promote a product claiming to regrow hair, or a male to sell feminine hygiene products. 11
PATHOS Pathos can best be described as the use of emotional appeal to sway another's opinion in a rhetorical argument. Emotion itself should require no definition, but it should be noted that effective pathetic appeal (the use of pathos) is often used in ways that cause anger or sorrow in the minds and hearts of the audience. Pathos is often the rhetorical vehicle of public service announcements. A number of antismoking and second-hand smoking related commercials use pathos heavily. These commercials use powerful words (like "love") and images to get at the emotions of the viewer, encouraging them to quit smoking. The goal is for the audience to become so "enlightened" and emotionally moved that the smoking viewers never touch another cigarette. LOGOS It is used to persuade an audience by logical thought, fact and rationality. Logos can be a useful tool of persuasion because if you can ‘prove’ an argument through logical and sound reasoning, your audience is more likely to be persuaded. The Brief Versions, with Examples6: ETHOS = Ethos is an argument based on trust. You want to establish trust with your reader. You want to make logical arguments that make sense, and you want to make the person reading your argument feel a certain way. I'm an expert on the death penalty, I have a PhD. in economics from Stanford, and after studying the topic for many years we have found that by abolishing the death penalty we could save 14 million a year due to fewer legal costs. PATHOS = Pathos the term for an argument based on emotion. We should have the death penalty because of the evil acts people have committed, or my husband was brutally killed and wouldn't you want justice for someone if they murdered your spouse? LOGOS = Logos is the logical aspects to an argument. We should abolish the death penalty because it will save money and lives. THE ETHOS, PATHOS, AND LOGOS EXERCISE:
6 This piece was edited from this page = “How to Write an Essay/Five Point Essay." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 18 Apr 2018, 10:48 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 15:56 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=How_to_Write_an_Essay/Five_Point_Essay&oldid=3413876>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
In each of the situations below, create a persuasive statement using Ethos, Pathos, and/or Logos. Situation 1: You are trying to persuade your grandma to join Facebook. Situation 2: The president of the college cancelled an LGBTQ+ rally because she has security concerns. Persuade her to reconsider. Situation 3: A teacher is requiring students to read something published by the Ku Klux Klan. Persuade that teacher to ditch the reading. Situation 4: Your mother is on a strict diet, but you want her to try your freshly baked rhubarb raisin pie. Situation 5: You are trying to persuade your partner to allow you to foster two dogs who were abandoned. Situation 6: A classmate of yours wants to write their research paper on abortion; you think it’s too controversial of a topic – convince them to write about something else. Situation 7: A close friend of yours wants to drop out of college; persuade them to reconsider. THE ETHOS, PATHOS, AND LOGOS CHALLENGE: Take one topic and write an ethos, pathos, and logos persuasive statement for each. Let’s try the example topic of abortion. An ethos statement might sound like this: A famous gynecologist asks in her interview about what we would do in cases of miscarriage, or when women naturally flush a fertilized egg out of their systems; a pathos statement might sound like: Do you want to go through what a woman might have to endure if in her third trimester she discovers the fetus will be born without functioning lungs? Lastly, a logos statement might go like this: If life ends with the brain stopping, shouldn’t live begin with a fully-formed brain?
Logical Fallacies 7 Logical fallacies are also known as "verbal fallacies." In establishing a grounded argument, one needs to have a claim supported by evidence. Reasoning is used to make relevant and valid claims. But sometimes due to faulty reasoning, arguments become weak. Here are some of the most common examples of fallacies: POST HOC Latin for "after this, therefore because of this." Arguing that because one thing follows another, the first caused the second. But sequence is not cause. It assumes sequence of events for a causal relationship, holding that the chain of events is closely linked to one another where the first event caused the second and so on. Example: "Construction workers are dumb." FALSE ANALOGIES Analogies always compare two or more situations that reflect some degree of resemblance. In this case two situations are wrongly made to resemble each other leading to false analogies. Example: "Japan quit fighting in 1945 when we dropped nuclear bombs on them. We should use nuclear bombs against other countries." BANDWAGON APPEAL This stems from the wrong reasoning that everyone is doing it, so why shouldn't you? But in reality, everyone is not actually involved in the act and it holds wrong reasons to do it. Example: It doesn't matter if I do not cite the sources of my reference; no one else cares to do it. EITHER – OR / FALSE DICOTOMY It suggests that there are only two choices in binary opposition for a given complex situation. This is rarely the case in actual situation. Example: "Either we eliminate the regulation of business or else profits will suffer." (It ignores hosts of other possibilities for incurring losses.) AD HOMINEM Literally means "to the person." This form of faulty reasoning aims toward personal attacks against an individual as opposed to rational reasoning. Example: My opponent is against the supporting the bill; I think he probably has some vested interest for not supporting it. Latin meaning "against the man." In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas. AD POPULUM
7 “Logical Fallacies.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Edited 20 July 09. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Logical_Fallacies. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Literally means "to the people." It is based on using readers' prejudices and biases instead of sound reasoning. Example: We cannot allow to open Indian restaurants in this suburb which is predominantly white based. Indian cuisine is very hot and spicy, and therefore, unhealthy for our diet. BEGGING THE QUESTION It occurs when the claim is passed off as an evidence by assuming as stated in fact what is supposed to be proved. Example: "People should be able to say anything they want to because free speech is an individual right." SLIPPERY SLOPE It follows that certain chain of events will happen anyways and will lead to another. Example: "If we grant citizenship to illegal immigrants, no one will bother to enter the country legally." STRAWMAN Setting up the counterarguments as weak so that they can be easily rejected. Example: "Environmentalist won't be satisfied until not a single human being is allowed to enter a national park." Misrepresenting and exaggerating one part of the opponent’s argument in order to dismiss it and the entire argument. Changing or exaggerating an opponent's position or argument to make it easier to refute. RED HERRING It is a tactic that introduces a false or irrelevant claim to distract the readers from the main argument. Example: Personal income taxes should be reduced because there are too many essential bills that need to be paid. POLARIZATION It resorts to exaggerations of positions or groups by situating their claims as extreme or irrational. Example: "Feminists are man-haters." HERE ARE MORE FLAWS IN ARGUMENTS8… APPEAL TO TRADITION "We've always done it this way." Arguing that because something has always been done in one way in the past, it should continue to be done that way. APPEAL TO HISTORY "If something has happened before, it will happen again." Arguing that what has happened in the past is always a guide to the future and/or the past will repeat itself.
8 “Critical Thinking.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/A-level_Critical_Thinking. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
APPEAL TO EMOTION "These poor puppies have been abandoned and you could give them the loving home they so desperately need." Arguing through tugging at people’s emotions rather than through logical reasoning/argument. APPEAL TO AUTHORITY Trying to persuade a reader to accept an argument based on the respect for authority rather than logic. RESTRICTING THE OPTIONS “We blindfold him, or we knock him out.... or you just let your fiancée your wedding dress." Presents a limited picture of choices available in a situation in order to support one particular option. CONFUSING NECESSARY AND SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS "I have done everything necessary, registered and trained for the race. But is it sufficient/enough for me to win the race?" Necessary conditions are conditions which must be fulfilled in order for an event to happen. Sufficient conditions are conditions which, if fulfilled, guarantee that an event will happen. Some people confuse necessary and sufficient conditions. HASTY GENERALIZATION Drawing a general conclusion from insufficient evidence/limited examples. CONFLATION Putting two or more things together that aren't related. Treating two things as the same when in fact they aren't. Example: Obesity often conflated with lack of fitness. FALSE CAUSE Wrongly assumes a cause-and-effect relationship ('A' causes 'B' without proof that a relationship actually exists). CIRCULAR ARGUMENT "People like dogs because dogs are kind pets which people like." Where a reason is the same as the conclusion, so the argument doesn't go anywhere as it just restates the argument rather than actually proving it. NON SEQUITOR Latin for "it does not follow." An inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises, evidence or reasoning given prior. *SIDENOTES ON OTHER WAYS TO ARGUE: a) DIRECT AND PERIPHERAL ROUTES AND 16
b) DEDUCTIVE AND INDUCTIVE LOGIC A) DIRECT AND PERIPHERAL ROUTES. • The direct route uses concrete ideas. That is: X is true because of A, B, and C. A, B, and C should be logical and convincing. You should cite A, B, and C. • The peripheral route relies on cues outside of one's conscious awareness to make an argument. The peripheral route relies on emotion to get the point across. B) DEDUCTIVE AND INDUCTIVE LOGIC. • Deductive Logic9 - A deductive logical argument is one that works from the top to the bottom. It begins with what is known as a "major premise," adds a "minor premise," and attempts to reach a conclusion. A major premise is a statement that names something about a large group, a minor premise takes a single member, and the conclusion attempts to prove that because this single member is a part of the larger group, they must also have the trait named in the original statement. i. For Example: MEN ARE TALL - a major premise as it works with a large group of people BOB IS A MAN - a minor premise as we hear about only one individual of that group BOB IS TALL - we attempt to make a conclusion based upon what we have already been told
Now, if it is true that men are tall, and that Bob is a man, then we can safely infer that Bob must be tall. However, beware the logical fallacy! Though it may be true that in certain cultures men are, on average, taller than women, certainly this is not always the case. Being that our major premise is not altogether true, we can now say that this argument is flawed. Furthermore, we might ask what our definition of "tall" is. Tall is different if we are talking about the average population, or basketball players. Also, what is a man? Do individuals who are transgender count? We see that the problem becomes far more complex the more we look into it. Inductive Logic10 - Inductive reasoning is a logical argument which does not definitely prove a statement, but rather assumes it. Inductive reasoning is used often in life. Polling is an example of the use of inductive reasoning. If one were
9 “What is Rhetoric?” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Edited 27 Nov 14. Accessed 10 may 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/What_is_Rhetoric. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. 10 “Inductive and Deductive Reasoning.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Edited 22 Nov 16. Accessed 02 Feb 2018. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Geometry/Inductive_and_Deductive_Reasoning . Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
to poll one thousand people, and 300 of those people selected choice A, then one would infer that 30% of any population might also select choice A. This would be using inductive logic, because it does not definitively prove that 30% of any population would select choice A.
Strengthening Your Argument11 PHRASING It is important to clearly state and support your position. However, it is just as important to present all of the information that you've gathered in an objective manner. Using language that is demeaning or non-objective will undermine the strength of your argument. This destroys your credibility and will reduce your audience on the spot. For example, a student writing an argument about why a particular football team has a good chance of "going all the way" is making a strategic error by stating that "anyone who doesn't think that the Minnesota Vikings deserve to win the Super Bowl is a total idiot." Not only has the writer risked alienating any number of her readers, she has also made her argument seem shallow and poorly researched. In addition, she has committed a third mistake: making a sweeping generalization that cannot be supported. OBJECTIVE LANGUAGE You should avoid using "I" and "My" (subjective) statements in your argument. You should only use "I" or "My" if you are an expert in your field (on a given topic). Instead choose more objective language to get your point across. Consider the following: I believe that the United States Government is failing to meet the needs of today's average college student through the under-funding of need-based grants, increasingly restrictive financial aid eligibility requirements, and a lack of flexible student loan options. "Great," your reader thinks, "Everyone's entitled to their opinion." Now let’s look at this sentence again, but without the "I" at the beginning. Does the same sentence become a strong statement of fact without your "I" tacked to the front? The United States Government is failing to meet the needs of today's average college student through the underfunding of need-based grants, increasingly restrictive financial aid eligibility requirements, and a lack of flexible student loan options.
11 “What is an Argument?” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Last edited 27 Nov 14. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Argument. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
"Wow," your reader thinks, "that really sounds like a problem." A small change like the removal of your "I"s and "my"s can make all the difference in how a reader perceives your argument â€“ as such, it's always good to proofread your rough draft and look for places where you could use objective rather than subjective language. ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Many topics that are written about in college are very controversial. When approaching a topic it is critical that you think about all of the implications that your argument makes. If, for example, you are writing a paper on abortion, you need to think about your audience. There will certainly be people in each of your classes that have some sort of relationship to this topic that may be different than yours. While you shouldn't let others' feelings sway your argument, you should approach each topic with a neutral mind and stay away from personal attacks. Keep your mind open to the implications of the opposition and formulate a logical stance considering the binaries equally. People may be offended by something you say, but if you have taken the time to think about the ideas that go into your paper, you should have no problem defending it.
Counterargument12 Counterargument / Dealing with the Opposition by Jim Beatty INTRODUCTION In public, argumentative writing situations, it is important to display an awareness of the fact that there is more than one legitimate way to approach serious social issues. Writers do this by employing “counterargument,” sometimes referred to as “anticipating objections.” This allows writers to acknowledge the complexity of their topic while still maintaining a strong perspective of their own. This strengthens readers’ sense of the writer’s ethos (credibility/reliability) and provides key support for the writer’s thesis. Counterargument should occur early in a paper. In shorter college essays, it should ideally come in the first or second body paragraph. Doing its job of “anticipating objections,” a counterargument that occurs right after the thesis statement addresses common objections to the writer’s perspective before they are fully formed in the reader’s mind. For topics that need more explanation and context than others, counterargument can be effective placed after that background information. If counterargument occurs late in the paper—especially in the last paragraph or two, it has the effect of saying, “I just made all these great points, but I could be wrong.” Never end an argument with the notion that it might not be valid. DEFINITIONS There are three main strategies for addressing counterargument: • Acknowledgement: This acknowledges the importance of a particular alternative perspective but argues that it is irrelevant to the writer’s thesis/topic. When using this strategy, the writer agrees that the alternative perspective is important, but shows how it is outside of their focus. •
Accommodation: This acknowledges the validity of a potential objection to the writer’s thesis and how on the surface the objection and and thesis might seem contradictory. When using this strategy, the writer goes on to argue that, however, the ideal expressed in the objection is actually consistent with the writer’s own goals if one digs deeper into the issue.
12 Beatty, Jim. “Counterargument.” Open English at Salt Lake Community College. 01 Aug 2016. https://openenglishatslcc.pressbooks.com/chapter/counterargument/ Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
Refutation: This acknowledges that a contrary perspective is reasonable and understandable. It does not attack differing points of view. When using this strategy, the writer responds with strong, research-based evidence showing how that other perspective is incorrect or unfounded.
Note that all three methods involve acknowledging the existence and reasonableness of contrary perspectives on the writer’s topics. EXAMPLES Let’s see how these three strategies could work in practice by considering the thesis statement “Utah public schools need to invest more money in arts education.” •
Acknowledgement: One possible objection to the thesis could be: “Athletics are also an important part of students’ educational experience.” The writer could acknowledge that athletics are indeed important, but no more important than the arts. A responsible school budget should be able to include both.
Accommodation: Another possible objection to this thesis could be: “Students need a strong foundation in STEM subjects in order to get into college and get a good career.” The writer could acknowledge that STEM education is indeed crucial to students’ education. They could go on to argue, however, that arts education helps students be stronger in STEM classes through teaching creative problem solving. So, if someone values STEM education, they need to value the arts as well.
Refutation: The most common objection to education budget proposals is that there is simply not enough money. Given limited resources, schools have to prioritize where money is spent. In terms of research required, refutation takes the most work of these three methods. To argue that schools do have enough resources to support arts education, the writer would need to look at current budget allocations. They could Google “Salt Lake City school district budget” to find a current budget report. In this report, they would find that the total budget for administrative roles in the 2014–15 school year totaled $10,443,596 (Roberts and Kearsley). Then they could argue that through administrative reforms, a small portion of this money could be freed up to make a big difference in funding arts education.
CONCLUSION Too often, writers employ counterargument in a way that makes them sound contradictory or unsure of themselves. Employing one of these three strategies to address possible objections, however, makes counterargument serve as powerful evidence that helps prove the thesis statement. When used correctly, counterargument strengthens both the writer’s logos (logic) as well as ethos (credibility/reliability). Effective use of counterargument leaves readers with the impression that the writer is a fair-minded, thoughtful participant in public, argumentative writing—one who readers are likely to trust. 21
Works Cited Roberts, Janet M. and Alan T. Kearsley. “Annual Budget Fiscal Year 2014-2015.” Salt Lake City School District. http://www.slcschools.org/departments/budgeting/documents/1415Budget.pdf. Accessed 3 December 2017.
Audience A Word About Audience13 By Justin Jory Audience is a rhetorical concept that refers to the individuals and groups that writers attempt to move, inciting them to action or inspiring shifts in attitudes and beliefs. Thinking about audience can help us understand who texts are intended for, or who they are ideally suited for, and how writers use writing to respond to and move those people. While it may not be possible to ever fully “know” one’s audience, writers who are good rhetorical thinkers know how to access and use information about their audiences to make educated guesses about their needs, values, and expectations—hopefully engaging in rhetorically fitting writing practices and crafting and delivering use texts. In short, to think about audience is to consider how people influence, encounter, and use any given text. WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT AUDIENCE Audience can refer to the actual and imagined people who experience and respond to a text. In their essay, “Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked,” Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford explain the difference between actual and imagined audiences, what they call addressed and invoked audiences. Addressed audiences are the “actual or intended readers of a text” and they “exist outside the text” (167). These audiences are comprised of actual people who have values, needs, and expectations that the writer must anticipate and respond to in the text. People can identify
13 Jory, Justin. “A Word About Audience.” Open English at Salt Lake Community College. 01 Aug 2016. https://openenglishatslcc.pressbooks.com/chapter/audience/ Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
actual audiences by thinking about where and when a text is delivered, how and where it circulates, and who would or could encounter the text. On the other hand, invoked audiences are created, perhaps shaped, by a writer. The writer uses language to signal to audiences the kinds of positions and values they are expected to identify with and relate to when reading the text. In this sense, invoked audiences are imagined by the writer and, to some degree, are ideal readers that may or may not share the same positions or values as the actual audience.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHEN THINKING ABOUT AUDIENCE ● Who is the actual audience for this text and how do you know? ● Who is the invoked audience for the text and where do you see evidence for this in the text? ● What knowledge, beliefs, and positions does the audience bring to the subject-athand? ● What does the audience know or not know about the subject? ● What does the audience need or expect from the writer and text? ● When, where, and how will the audience encounter the text and how has the text—and its content—responded to this? ● What roles or personas (e.g., insider/outsider or expert/novice) does the writer create for the audience? Where are these personas presented in the text and why? ● How should/has the audience influenced the development of the text? MORE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER ● How would your relatives react to the argument? Would they understand the terminology you are using? Does that matter? ● How would your friends react to the argument? Would they understand the terminology you are using? Does that matter? ● How would you explain your argument or research to a teenager vs someone who is in their 70s? Is there a difference? ● If you are aware that your classmates are more liberal or more conservative in their political standing, does that determine how you will argue your topic? Or does that even matter? ● If you are aware that your instructor is more liberal or conservative than you are, does that determine how you will argue your topic? Or does that even matter? ● If you were to people-watch at a mall or other space where many people gather, who in the crowd would be your ideal audience and why? Who is not your ideal audience member? Why?
Peer Review What is Peer Review?14 by Jim Beatty
“IMG_5517.” Image by a deppe. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/142136378@N03/27531495783
Peer review is a daunting prospect for many students. It can be nerve-wracking to let other people see a draft that is far from perfect. It can also be uncomfortable to critique drafts written by people you hardly know. Peer review is essential for effective public writing, however. Professors often publish in “peer-reviewed” journals, which means their drafts are sent to several experts around the world. The professor/author must then address these people’s concerns before the journal will publish the article. This process is done because, overall, the best ideas come out of conversations with other people about your writing. You should always be supportive of your peers, but you should also not pull any punches regarding things you think could really hurt their grade or the efficacy of their paper. HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK
14 Beatty, Jim. “About Peer Review.” Open English at Salt Lake Community College. 01 Aug 2016. https://openenglishatslcc.pressbooks.com/chapter/peer-review// Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
The least helpful thing you can do when peer reviewing is correct grammar and typos. While these issues are important, they are commonly the least important thing English professors consider when grading. Poor grammar usually only greatly impacts your grade if it gets in the way of clarity (if the professor cannot decode what you are trying to say) or your authority (it would affect how much readers would trust you as a writer). And, with a careful editing process, a writer can catch these errors on their own. If they are convinced they have a good thesis statement and they don’t, however, then you can help them by identifying that. Your professor may give you specific things to evaluate during peer review. If so, those criteria are your clue to what your professor values in the paper. If your professor doesn’t give you things to evaluate, make sure to have the assignment sheet in front of you when peer reviewing. If your professor provides a rubric, focus on those issues when giving advice to your peers. Again, don’t just look for things to “fix.” Pose questions to your classmate; let them know where they need to give you more to clarify and convince you. HOW TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK Resist the powerful urge to get defensive over your writing. Try your best not to respond until your reviewer is finished giving and explaining their feedback. Keep in mind that your peers do not have all the information about your paper that you do. If they misunderstand something, take it as an opportunity to be clearer in your writing rather than simply blaming them for not getting it. Once you give a paper to another person, you cannot provide additional commentary or explanations. They can only evaluate what’s on the page. Perhaps the biggest challenge in peer review is deciding what advice to use and what to ignore. When in doubt, always ask your professor. They know how they will grade, so they can give you a more definitive answer than anyone else. This holds true for the advice you get from a writing tutor too. MAKE PEER REVIEW A PART OF YOUR LIFE Don’t think of peer review as an isolated activity you do because it is required in class. Make friends in the class that can help you outside of it. Call on people outside the class whom you trust to give you feedback, including writing tutors. Integrate peer review into every step of your writing process, not just when you have a complete draft. Classmates, writing tutors, and your friends can be an invaluable resource as you brainstorm your ideas. Conversations with them can give you a safe, informal opportunity to work things out before you stare at a blank screen wondering what to write. A writing tutor can help you talk out your ideas and maybe produce an outline by the end of your appointment. A friend can offer another perspective or additional information of which you are initially unaware. Again, you can get the most direct advice by visiting your professor during office hours to go over ideas and drafts. CONCLUSION Far from being scary or annoying, peer review is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal in the life-long process of becoming a more effective public writer. No good writing exists in isolation. The best writing comes out of a communal effort. 26
Categories of Argument •
Arguments to Inform o What is a street sign arguing in its basic informative form?
Arguments to Convince o Is human activity causing global warming?
Arguments to Explore o Can money be saved when a school or campus goes to 4-day workweeks? If so, how much?
Arguments to Make Decisions o What college should I transfer to?
Arguments to Meditate or Pray o What arguments are made when one is meditating or praying?
Arguments of the Past o Would World War II still have occurred if Hitler would’ve never been born?
Arguments about the Future o Will teachers turn into holograms as education evolves with technology?
Arguments of Fact o Did ___ really happen?
Arguments of Definition o What is the definition of an “American made vehicle”?
Arguments of Evaluation o What sports car - made before 2017 – is the best?
Proposal Arguments o What actions should be taken?
Definition Argument Example asking the question: How can one define a “Lady”? Ladies Do Not Exist “Ladies cross their legs.” “You can’t say that to ME; I’m a LADY!” “Sybil, that burp was highly un-ladylike.” Once, when someone was trying to take a picture of my lil’ sister, she kept sitting on the sofa with her legs spread. I think she was doing it to be a turd – a typical 4-year-old who didn’t want to take stupid pictures - but my mom insisted the first piece of dialogue above. And, I think she would’ve been correct … if I didn’t meet sluts later on in life who, in fact, did cross their legs. Then, I recall being in a pub. My sister was arguing with someone, and he swore at her as they argued. She said the second line above, but it wasn’t effective. I mean, she swears like a trucker, so taking her statement into account, a lady can swear but not be sworn at? That’s ridiculous. Lastly, humans have digestive system, right? Well, Sometimes, Diet Coke makes me belch. Thus, the third line listed above. Apparently, I’m not supposed to let these things out; I’m supposedly a “lady” after all. However, I think that holding in burps could lead to issues later, but I’m no medical student. Ladies appear to be everywhere. From the outside, they have perfect nail polish, unsmudged eyeliner, and boots without scuff marks. I stereotype them as much as the next person. I think, “She’s got a huge black SUV, $10k in credit card debt, and weekly manicure appointments.” I could be wrong. And if I was outside of myself, maybe I would think that about me too. But that’s the thing – I just look like a lady. Sometimes, when I’m adjusting my annoying undergarments, I drop an f-bomb or a less-harmful “son of a…” Occasionally, I do this in front of my mother. She typically gasps. I know, deep down, she wants me to be a lady. And I’m not. But she’s not either. A lady is someone who, in addition to what I mentioned above – the perfect nail polish, un-scuffed boots and heels, doesn’t swear – is not rough around the edges. She is someone who speaks well of others, doesn’t gossip, and volunteers for every social issue out there. In a nutshell, according to my definition, ladies don’t exist. A “lady” is, according to Dictionary.com, “a woman who is refined, polite, and wellspoken.” The word “lady” has a lot more to it than one would think. Who knew it was so freakin’ complex? I didn’t. So, let’s break down that short definition – “refined” means “having or showing well-bred feeling, taste, etc.” (“Refined.”) Okay, so one definition leads to another: “well-bred” means “properly trained and educated” as well as “showing good breeding, as in behaviors or manners” (“Well-bred.”). There could potentially be some overlapping here since “polite” means “showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.” (“Polite.”). 29
I see a pattern here regarding manners: “well-spoken” means “speaking well, fittingly, or pleasingly” or “polite in speech” (“Well-spoken.). The combination of lady-hood seems relatively boring to me: well-spoken language habits + proper education + good taste + pleasing behavior. I don’t know ONE woman who fits this definition, so my definition WINS. First off, I know people will read this and say, “Whoa, now, my Grandma is totally a lady.” I can say this to that: Does she speak well of others? Yes? Does she volunteer for everything? Yes? Wonderful. Awesome. BUT, grandma on the planet gossips. Every one of them. Secondly, other people will whisper a name. Helen Mirren. Sure, sure, sure. But she’s too busy to volunteer, and I highly doubt she has spoken well of everyone she’s ever worked with. Just think of the amount of people she’s come in contact with, and those people are Hollywood people! If I am subjected to 150 students each fall, and about 10% of them drive me bonkers, then we have to figure that she meets double or triple that. Even if she is more laid-back than I am, that leaves her tolerance level at like 5%... so she’s STILL talking about someone behind his back! Duh! Lastly, yes, I will return to what I said about my mother before my own definition. She’s not a lady. She definitely appears to be one; she always has un-chipped nail polish and rarely drops f-bombs. Unlike me, she keeps her house fairly clean, volunteers for events that would make my eyes roll, and attends church regularly. But, as I mentioned about grandmothers, she gossips. She’s even been known to gossip about people FROM church right AFTER church! That’s not lady-like to me. To sum up, given the survey I conducted below, one could say, “Sybil, you fit a lot of the categories the students came up with. You wear heels, dresses, and put on makeup,” but is it all about what people see on the surface? No. Underneath my curled hair and nylons is a 15year-old boy who just wants to watch Super Troopers and shoot Nerf balls at cats.
Maybe an English teacher is supposed to argue that she is a lady. Maybe students are supposed to argue that they aren’t “the typical college student” and state that they don’t bitch about teachers at “social gatherings” while eyeing a bag of Cheetos. But maybe that’s not how 30
the world functions. There isn’t a “typical college student,” it isn’t a “social gathering” without liquor, and if a woman thinks she fits my definition of “lady,” she’s lying to herself. Works Cited “Lady.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lady 7 Dec 2010. “Lady Survey Results.” Chart. Survey of Students. Conducted Spring 2010: When you hear the word “ladylike” what three images or things pop into your head? “Polite.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/polite 7 Dec 2010. “Refined.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/refined 7 Dec 2010. “Well-bred.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/well-bred 7 Dec 2010. “Well-spoken.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/well-spoken 7 Dec 2010.
Example asking the question: How can one define a “Geek”? The Geeky Perspective on Things It’s really not hard to determine personally whether a person, yourself for example, is a geek or not. A person just KNOWS. Maybe it’s inborn, it’s genetic, but no matter what, it’s THERE. How it got into a person doesn’t really matter. What does matter is how to tell a “geek” apart from its usually synonyms, how to tell if one particular person is a specific type of “geek,” and how to deal with this type of person. The following covers those matters and then some while arguing that the definition has changed in a positive manner and, also, that there are some valuable differences within the word’s synonyms. What I’m saying is, to be a geek is the coolest thing; everyone should be one. Duh. First and foremost, one needs to look at the basic definition of a “geek.” Apparently, the word was originally meant for carnival folk. If one was a “geek” at a carnival, this meant “a guy who does really gross and disgusting things in the side show at a carnival.” In fact, “the classic act for the carnival geek was to bite the head off of a chicken.” The history of “geek” travelled from that definition, then, to “anyone who was gross or undesirable, be it through lack of hygiene, lack of social skills, or some other repulsiveness” which is what the Dictionary.com definition seems to connect to. Beyond some background to the word, Dictionary.com also lists two of the more shortened definitions of this word that I don’t quite agree with: “a person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy” and “a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.” Since I do consider myself to be a “geek,” those aren’t the definitions I would use. I conclude with the fact that: The definition has changed. The definition I found at the High Definition Dictionary (at Rox.com), along with their background to the word, takes into account this change I’ve determined. The definition I aim to dissect is this: “Recently it’s come to imply a certain bookishness or braininess as well, in keeping with the American anti-intellectual tradition. Opinions vary as to whether the braininess causes the repulsiveness or vice versa.” The High Definition Dictionary further states that: “In the 90s the repulsive connotation has receded, and the brainy factor has come to the fore. One often hears the word “geek” used in ironic and even complimentary fashion to connote knowledge-ability and expertise.” Even the question they pose connects to my aforementioned change in the definition, which may lead to a change in society’s connotation of intelligence altogether: “Does this signal the reversal of the aforementioned anti-intellectual strain in American culture?” It most certainly does; it’s getting to the point where geeks can... roam the world with the rest of us. Yet... what about being a “nerd” or “dork”? What’s the difference? With the coolness definition laid in concrete, I jump to my first matter: How to tell a “geek” apart from a “nerd” and “dork,” its closely-related synonyms, since comparisons help one to decipher one thing from another (we can only know “good” by knowing “bad” for example). The following basically shows us that geeks are the positive, socially-acceptable form of intelligent people. 32
In an amateur webpage (“Definition of Geek”) ranting on about the different parts, this person’s most interesting difference was social consciousness. “Dorks tend to be totally oblivious to the concept of social acceptability,” “Nerds” don’t care, and “Geeks tend to be much more socially aware than either ‘Nerds’ or ‘Dorks.’” As far as actual examples go, “geeks” are obsessed with elements such as sci-fi and computers but they take an “artistic” approach to them. “Geeks” can laugh at themselves and see the world as “more than just the point of view given by their interests.” “Nerds” tend to ignore people at parties, “dorks,” if they go to a party, will “most likely become defensive” when called a “dork,” and “geeks,” again, are more selfassured than their counterparts. In everyday situations, I easily refer to myself as a “geek,” and I do think I fit these examples spoken of. In one moment, I could be tripping over my own feet (Dork), talking about a teaching book with another teacher (Nerd), and laughing at how silly it is that I am talking to them about it at the bar (Geek). The importance of this word and the differences between it and its synonyms take president over how to deal with a “geek.” My argument doesn’t include how to deal with “geeks” simply because there is no one perfect way that that would work. With “computer geeks,” like my brother, sometimes they just need time to do things. Then again, if one is alone with their computer for too long, they could turn into a “nerd.” With myself as an example, some days I want to be left alone to fill up on my “geekiness,” but there are those days when I need to get away, and I need someone to unglue me from my books. And there are those days, too, when I need to vent at someone in order to get the overfilling of “geek” out of me, so I don’t become a “nerd.” While there is no one way to deal with “geeks,” I’d easily argue that there are specific elements that help those who are not geeky to see them coming. Usually, they know too much about one thing, yet they aren’t complete ‘know-it-alls’ – one has to get a geek talking about a subject to gather any knowledge from them since, as stated by the amateur webpage, geeks are much more socially aware than the typical “nerd” or “dork.” And, if one does meet a “geek,” please realize that the definition has changed. They aren’t “gross” or “repulsive,” just really involved within certain parts of their lives. Perhaps there’s a geek brewing inside of YOU? Let it out! Works Cited “Geek.” Dictionary.com. Accessed 10 Jan 05. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/geek “Geek.” High Definition Dictionary at Rox.com. Updated 13 Nov 03. Accessed 10 Jan 05. http://www.rox.com/vocab/geek/ Wilde, Zillah. “Definition of Geek.” RedPill. Accessed 10 Jan 05. www.angelfire.com/de/redpill/geek.html
Evaluation Argument What is Evaluative Writing?15 Evaluative writing is a type of writing intended to judge something according to a set of criteria. For instance, your health might be evaluated by an insurance company before issuing a policy. The purpose of this evaluation would be to determine your overall health and to check for existing medical conditions. The better your evaluation, the less the insurance company might charge you for coverage. CRITERIA The key to effective evaluative writing is starting off with a clear and precise argument. Your main argument is what you will use to perform the evaluation. You may want to argue that a Chevy Tahoe is better than a Ford Expedition based on its horsepower, gas mileage, capacity, warranty, etc. Other evaluators might argue the difference between their towing capability. Whatever the main argument may be for your evaluative essay, make sure that your argument is clear. HOW TO EVALUATE A big question you might have is: how do I evaluate my subject? That depends on what your subject is. If you are evaluating a piece of writing, then you are going to need to read the work thoroughly. While you read the work, keep in mind the criteria you are using to evaluate. The evaluative aspects may be: grammar, sentence structure, spelling, content, usage of sources, style, or many other things. Another thing to consider when evaluating a piece of writing is whether the writing appeals to its target audience. Is there an emotional appeal? Does the author engage the audience, or is the piece lacking something? If you can, make notes directly on your work itself so that you remember what you want to write about in your essay. If you are evaluating anything else, use your head. You need to try, use, or test whatever thing you are evaluating. That means you should not evaluate a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette unless you have the $45,000 (or more) to buy one, or the money to rent one. You also need the know-how of driving a car of that power and a base of knowledge of other cars that you have tested to make a fair comparison.
15 â€œEvaluation.â€? Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Evaluation. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
On the note of comparisons, only compare things that are reasonably alike. People don't care to know how an apple compares to a backpack; that is for a different type of essay. Compare different types of apples to each other and different types of backpacks against each other. That is what people are looking for when reading comparisons in an evaluation essay. Whatever you are evaluating, make sure to do so thoroughly. Take plenty of notes during the testing phase so that your thoughts stay fresh in your mind. You do not want to forget about a part of the subject that you did not test. Here is a possible structure to follow: INTRODUCTION In the introduction of your evaluative essay, you should clearly state the following: 1) what you are evaluating (the subject -- like a 2009 Toyota Prius) 2) the purpose of your evaluation 3) what criteria you are evaluating your subject on (mileage, price, performance, etc.) For example, you should not just write that you are judging the taste of an apple. You should explain that you are judging the sweetness, bitterness, and crispness of the apple. BODY Unlike some types of essays, the introduction is not the most important part of an evaluative essay. Most readers already want to read about the subject that you are writing on, so you don't need to draw them in with a fancy intro. Your audience just wants the information! Be sure to be very descriptive and thorough when evaluating your subject. The more you leave out of the essay, the more unanswered questions your readers are left with. Your goal should be to cover all aspects of the subject and to tell the audience how good or bad it is. Consider, for example, not only what quality the subject possesses, but what is missing. Good evaluations measure the quality or value of a subject by considering what it has and what it lacks. CONCLUSION The conclusion for an evaluative essay is pretty straightforward. Simply go over the main points from the body of your essay. After that, make an overall evaluation of the subject. Tell the audience if they should buy it, eat it, use it, wear it, etc. and why. After that is done, your essay is over. Good job! SAMPLE Here is a sample idea to get your brain pumping: Evaluate your backpack. Test its durability, comfort level, ease-of-use, storage capacity, fabric quality, manufacturing quality, etc. Compare it with one or more of your former backpacks and/or one of your friend's backpacks. Also, compare it to a different type of backpack (example: duffle bag VS. two-strap backpack). Take notes on each backpack and rate them against each other. Is your backpack the better one? 35
Example asking the question: How can we evaluate the process of peer review? What role should peer evaluation play in grading and course work?16 In 2002 Kristja J. Falvo, a mother of three, sued the Owasso Independent School District in Oklahoma claiming that peer grading embarrasses her children as well as violates the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) after learning that some teachers were allowing the students to grade each others’ work and call the grades out loud. FERPA is a twenty-six-year old law that prohibits schools from disclosing a student’s educational record to any third party without parental consent. Falvo considered allowing the students to know the grades of others a violation of the privacy act. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the common practice of peer evaluation does not violate the federal law. However, school districts may still decide to ban peer grading from their schools. (Simpson) Each school district would probably want to evaluate the pros and cons of peer grading before coming to a final decision. Pros Regarding Peer Evaluation There are many arguments supporting peer grading, not only for the student, but for the teacher as well. Many studies have been done to draw the following conclusions. Student Advantages Peer evaluation helps student in a variety of ways. It helps to sharpen their critical skills as well as their social responsibility. They are able to gain insight into some of the difficulties teachers come across when grading. Realizing what goes into the grading and evaluating process will help many students to understand and appreciate the grades that they have received as well as the people that gave them those grades. (Wilson) Also, the practice of peer evaluation supports involvement of both right and left brains through personal application of knowledge. Not only do student get to exercise their own knowledge on a certain topic but as they review another person’s work or performance, they are forced to look at certain material through the eyes of another person as well. (McLeod) According to Hoyt Wilson, peer ratings have been found to be valid evaluators of student performance. This is an advantage to both the student doing evaluating and the student being evaluated. After children observe peer responses, whether to an assignment or to their
"Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Feedback/Peer Evaluation." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 27 Mar 2010, 00:48 UTC. 26 Nov 2018, 21:35 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Social_and_Cultural_Foundations_of_American_Education/Feedback /Peer_Evaluation&oldid=1744640>.
behavior in class, there is a natural tendency for them to determine why such reactions occur. In some cases, this could help student be able to realize their weak points and work on fixing them. Teacher Advantages Peer evaluation promotes a feeling of team learning between teachers and students. As the teacher is able to connect with the students on this level, it gives him or her a chance to 1. encourage students to contribute openly, 2. encourage sharing materials and resources, 3. promote expressing acceptance and support during interactions, and 4. point out rejecting and non-supportive behaviors that hinder peer evaluation. (Ornstein) All of these lessons in peer evaluation go beyond the classroom and can help the students in group situations for the rest of their lives. Without the atmosphere that peer evaluation creates, the students would not be as receptive to these concepts. Cons Regarding Peer Evaluation Although many of the arguments in support of peer evaluation make it seem like a great addition to class work, there are still many people who believe that it is negative in the classroom for both students and teachers. Student Disadvantages “I think organization if better if the teacher tells me what to do. I think I do not like my neighbor to read my composition. I have many mistakes…my class friend will laugh.” — Student involved in peer revising study in Hong Kong For the student being evaluated there is, according to some, obvious disadvantages. For example, studies show that even if the peer evaluation is planned and controlled by the teacher, social relations will play a part. (Sengupta) Basically, students are more likely to give their friends a better grade than they deserve or give a worse grade to someone that they don’t like. Also, many students have complained about tough grading and unfair scores. Some also argue that the whole peer evaluation process is a waste of time. Many students are busier figuring out easy ways to complete the evaluation sheet than evaluating the text. Also, even if an evaluator thoroughly read or evaluated a student’s performance, the person being evaluated will be selective when considering suggestions from peers. They usually rely on their own knowledge instead. (Sengupta) This defeats the purpose of the evaluation because the student is not going to notice the same things wrong with his or her assignment that a second party will notice; such as misspellings and grammar errors. Teacher Disadvantages In the past, by allowing students to grade one another’s assignments, there have been cases of plagiarism and copying. (McLeod) This is more concerned with grading assignments than evaluating performance, but it is still an issue for many teachers.
Also, students are not always trustworthy of their peers. If a suggestion is given by a fellow student, it will probably be disregarded. However, if the same suggestion is given by the teacher, the student will take it into account. (Sengupta) This causes a problem for the teacher because it makes it that much harder to push the behaviors that make the peer evaluation process successful. Bias Bias both occurs with the student and the teacher however it is particularly crucial when it comes time to peer evaluation and grading. First off evaluation and grading are two different things. A bias is much more damaging when grading is occurring. It is hard enough for teachers who have been trained for years to avoid bias, teaching students to put aside their own bias and differences when grading is much more difficult. A student could not like a fellow classmate and grade them poorly. A teacher must closely supervise peer editing to make sure it is a fair experience. Conclusion Looking at both the pros and cons of peer evaluation and grading in the classroom makes it easy to understand why there are people both supporting and rejecting it. However, just reading through the data will not help anyone come to a certain conclusion. The age and maturity of the children, the experience of the teacher, as well as the subject matter are all to be taken into consideration. Peer evaluation is a process in which trial and error is the only way to determine if it will work in a particular school district, or even a particular classroom.
Proposal Argument What is a Proposal?17 Proposal writing can seem a daunting task. This is partly because the term is loaded with negative baggage. Consider the following common beliefs about proposal writing: ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪
Writing proposals is scary and difficult. Writing a proposal is putting your soul on the line. The presentation must be perfect. A proposal must be written at the last minute under extreme stress.
These beliefs are common, no matter how large the proposal project is. Do your best to let go of these beliefs and replace them with more productive ones. In addition to limiting beliefs, another common barrier to proposal writing is procrastination. If you procrastinate, you will not produce your best work. To avoid this, set a series of short-term goals and give yourself a concrete deadline. Be realistic in setting your goals and leave time for unexpected barriers to arise along the way. Begin writing the proposal early. During the process of writing a proposal, it is important to keep an attitude that is open to change. Like most writing, a proposal evolves and changes because it is a process. If you are too rigid in your thinking processes and goals, you will likely get stuck. Openness to change and a willingness to communicate are key, especially when you are working with an individual or organization to which you’re directing your proposal. Writing a proposal often involves continuous dialogue with a program officer. This dialogue will include you asking questions of the program officer to guide your research, and filling them in with your progress, using their feedback as a guide. Keeping this cycle of communication going will ensure that your proposal stays in line with the mission of the organization and keeps you by wasting time and energy from getting off track. DEFINING THE PROBLEM A proposal is essentially a solution to ta problem. Proposals often stem from an individual’s heartfelt wish to address this problem. Although personal conviction and passion can give meaning and drive towards the completion of the proposal, these are not enough. In order to come up with a viable solution, you need to build a solid foundation of research on the problem. You can use online, print and empirical sources to research the problem (e.g., interviews, field observation, etc.). Gathering this research helps you identify possible solutions and eliminate solutions that will not work. You can also include your research in your
17 “Proposals.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Rhetoric_and_Composition/Proposals. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
proposal to show that you have a working knowledge of the issue, strengthening your credibility. WRITING WITH READER IN MIND As you write your proposal, it is helpful to imagine your real audience. Doing this acts as an anchor because it reminds you that your goal is to explain your ideas to a real person. Once you have your audience in mind, you can begin analyzing what they want by asking a series of questions. Kitta Reeds describes this in terms of the “buyer” and demonstrates the importance of moving from vague, general questions to specific questions: • • • • •
Change the question of “Is my idea any good, anyway?” to “Who will want to buy this idea?” Change “What do I want to say?” to “What does the buyer want to hear?” Change “Can I actually write this?” to “How can I target my idea to this specific buyer?” Change “What’s the best way for me to say it?” to “How will that buyer understand it best?” Change “How can I convince anyone to buy this idea?” to “What logic of persuasion or entertainment will attract the buyer?”
Then continue on with these questions: • What will this buyer want to know first? • What will the buyer want to know next? • What does this buyer need to hear at this point to be convinced? By shifting to questions about a real audience, the proposal writer simultaneously reduces their anxiety through depersonalization while producing specific answers that will guide the writing process. Although the above chart targets a specific buyer, this kind of analysis can extend to proposals that are not asking for money (although in a sense, anyone who reads your proposal is a “buyer” of your ideas). OUTLINING In the process of building and organizing ideas, it’s helpful to use a variety of techniques to help you visualize and play with the structure. Mind-maps, sticky notes, and list making are all good ways of generating and organizing ideas (you can search Google for free mind-mapping software). A mind-map uses symbols organized spatially and it focuses on relationships between ideas, usually using arrows. Sticky notes can be made into a mind-map and are convenient because they allow you to easily move ideas around. In addition to using the tools to organize your ideas, you can also do more research to grow your solution. Find similar projects and determine which aspects make them successful or unsuccessful. Once you have a basic outline of your solution, make a chart of its cost and benefits.
When writing a proposal, keep the following structure in mind: INTRODUCTION A strong introduction is concise and direct. If you choose to give background information, keep it to a minimum. According to Johnson-Sheehand, an introduction should contain the following points in some order or another: topic, purpose, background information, importance of the topic to the readers and the main point. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM Following your introduction is a description of the problem. This should begin by emphasizing why this problem is important and relevant to the reader, followed by its causes and consequences. This section should end with a sense of exigency (creating an urgent need that demands action). Tell the reader what will happen if the problem is not addressed. BODY The introduction to the main body of your proposal should also be concise (notice a theme here?). State what your proposal is and why it is the best. A short and direct explanation and justification of your proposal establishes credibility early and prepares the reader to follow the details of your proposal. After this brief overview, you can then provide a detailed, step-bystep explanation of how your plan will be carried out. Your concluding statement should discuss the deliverables of your proposal, that is, the concrete benefits carrying out your proposal. COSTS AND BENEFITS Prior to your conclusion, you can further support your argument by including a costs and benefits section. CONCLUSION Once again, the conclusion should be short and concise. In it you should do three things: restate the thesis, restress the importance of the topic, and â€œlook to the future,â€? which helps the reader visualize how the proposal will result in a brighter future. PRESENTING THE PROPOSAL Before you present your proposal, you should do a thorough revision and proofread. It should be polished, error-free and represent your best work. Your style should be persuasive and authoritative. Connecting with your audience important, because you are trying to persuade them to accept your proposal. Rhetorical devices (ethos, pathos, and logos) will enhance your argument. Metaphors and similes can be particularly influential.
Example showing a proposal for a Project.18 To: From: Date: Re:
Mrs. Lovely Person Miss Little Student 16 Feb 06 Proposal for My Stretch Project
This is the information on my project that you requested. I've included a brief discussion of what I plan to include in the project, who the audience of the project will be, what my own background on the topic is, and what the final product will contain. A tentative outline concludes this memo. Introduction to the Project Topic and Contents I plan to create a mini-documentary of a day in the life of a college student here on campus. The project will investigate what a particular student (and that student’s friends) does on campus and what that student thinks about. This mini-documentary not only hopes to open up other students to talking about college life and what they think about their world, but it also hopes to shed light on the “mysteries” of being a college student. I plan to show that students are not just the slackers everyone thinks they are, and I plan to show that college students can critically think about the world and comment on it in their own way, even if that “way” includes slang and swearing. The project will also compare and contrast this one student with other students to the best of its ability, given the length of time allotted to this project. The equipment needed in the process will be a digital camcorder and a computer with iMovie on it. Both needs are being met by myself and/or the computer staff on campus. Purpose of the Project This study will be directed toward the college staff and other college students. I will try to show the college staff (including the instructor of this class) just what college students are really like, and I will try put together a good representation for the college students on this campus. My hope is that this mini-documentary will be a somewhat true representation of college students here, and they will accept the documentary as a movie about their lives. This project may spark conversations on campus as to how campus can be more inviting to students, etc. My Background on the Project At this point, I know how to run a digital camcorder fairly well, and I have some experience with editing using iMovie. Having already chosen the particular student I will be taping, I asked another group member to aid me in the editing process. The biggest problem I foresee is taping the student during class, taping enough footage to do the project justice, and editing the footage down into an understandable format and organization.
Created by Sybil Priebe for a class, 2006.
Personal Advantages of Completing this Project In the past, I have always wanted to put together a documentary, but I never had time. This project will allow me to try out my skills as a “director,” “editor,” and “creator,” of a small film – something I have always wanted to do. The End Product What I propose to do at the end of this project, is to a) show off the final mini-documentary in class, b) have students in the class discuss the documentary afterwards, and c) have the students fill out a small survey about what they thought about the documentary (anonymously). This way, they will get to see the end product, I’ll get immediate feedback on what they thought, and I’ll have a survey to use for editing the project further and for use in my last paper in this class. Point Breakdown - Presentation of mini-documentary in class (50 pts) - Conduct a large group discussion of the documentary (10 pts) - Create survey for students to take (40 pts) - Finalized documentary (50 pts) Costs and Equipment The only cost for this project will be time. So far, I am using my own digital camcorder, one of the computer labs has iMovie on their computers, and the USB device was donated to me by the group member who will be helping me edit the footage. Tentative Schedule of the Project Here is a tentative outline of the project; I'll keep you informed of changes in it as they occur: ● January 30: Hand in proposal ● February 1-15: Start filming Eddie during the day ● February 16-17: If we have enough footage, start editing what we have; if we still do not have at least a few hours of footage, then we’ll film for a few more days ● February 18-21: Begin revising (place music and transitions in) ● February 24: Bring draft of mini-documentary to class so another group can give us feedback during REVISION day ● February 26: Present documentary during class time and hand out surveys after discussion ● March 1: Hand in finalized documentary after using feedback from surveys
Visual Argument What is Visual Rhetoric?19
“Argument.” Image by Brian Ford. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brian_ford/4427366469
We’ve learned that rhetoric is the art of persuasion using language. So, visual rhetoric uses images to convince people instead of using words. Images have just begun to be analyzed as rhetoric. They have surrounded people since cavemen began drawing pictures on cave walls. Images today are used in advertisements, schoolbooks, movies, magazines, paintings, the list could go on forever because images are everything we see. The visual surrounds people all the time. One aspect of visual rhetoric is intertextuality. This is how one image relates to another image. Are there similarities? Is it a certain type of image, advertisement, family photo? This is important because the more images that are similar, the more symbols our society comes to know, and the study of semiotics is born. The reason that images can mean something or create emotion in viewers is because of semiotics. Objects in images represent concepts known to our culture, that have a common meaning throughout our society. One example is the American flag. The American flag in an image at least in America, stands for freedom. Psychology must also be looked at when studying images. Trying to figure out what impact certain colors, shapes, symbols have on people is important in figuring out their reactions. This psychology could change from culture to culture. Cultural studies are then also important. Two people from different backgrounds could see images in completely opposite views.
19 “Definitions of Visual Rhetoric.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Visual_Rhetoric/Definitions_of_Visual_Rhetoric. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
What Are Other Visual Arguments to Consider?20 ADVERTISING Advertisements are more than celebrity endorsements, showing off products, interruptions in television programs, and pages in magazines. Advertisements surround us, whether or not we are aware of it and constantly attempt to persuade a target audience. Advertising is the most common manifestation of visual rhetoric and perhaps the most recognizable. Ever since the first advertisement in 1704, brands and companies have attempted to sell their ideas, products, and services to the public through various rhetorical strategies. In order for an advertisement to be effective it is important for advertisers to know the needs, motivations, and lifestyles of the target audience prior to the creation of an ad. The purpose of an advertisement is to persuade consumers to buy a particular product or service offered by a brand. When advertisements are well-planned and developed, they are not thought of as advertisements, but yet a form of communication. “At its best, it’s memorable, fresh, entertaining, and epitomizes some of the best visual communication anywhere,” (Ryan and Conover 424). The society we live in is very visually-inclined, meaning that individuals are drawn to images more than they are drawn to text. A visual message is more memorable than a verbal message because of its power of impact on an audience. Advertisers are aware of this and use it to their advantage by making the graphic element of advertisements the most predominant. Advertisers use various appeals to convey certain messages, create an image that the target audience can identify with, and build a relationship with the desired consumers. One of the more dominant rhetorical devices in advertising is the appeal to gender roles. (See: Gender and Visual Rhetoric) The first example of gender-directed advertising occurred in 1911 with a Woodbury Soap advertisement in the Ladies' Home Journal. Advertising can also appeal to historical context, as was the case in 1942 when the War Advertising Agency was created to help gain public support for America's involvement in World War II. In 1958, the National Association of Broadcasters banned the use of subliminal ads, messages which contain hidden messages that the audience would not consciously perceive but would subconsciously absorb. A concept is central to an advertisement’s success. The advertised brand requests to the hired agency that a certain message and concept be portrayed through the advertisement to an audience. The advertisers manipulate various components to illustrate the underlying concept. Advertisers create and reinforce a brand’s concept through the theme of a brand, the message, the product, the color choices, layout design, and the graphic elements.
20 “Mediums and Manifestations of Visual Rhetoric.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Visual_Rhetoric/Mediums_and_Manifestations_of_Visual_Rhetoric . Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
All advertisements contain the same elements: artwork, a headline, copy, and a logotype. The advertisers work hard to make sure all the components flow together and speak the same voice. Each element should reinforce and complement the others in order to create an effective advertisement that makes sense. The graphic component is often the dominant part of an advertisement because of its ability to persuade, inform, and entertain an audience. Advertisers use photographs to connect the advertisements to reality and to the audience; they also use graphics, artwork, and illustrations. In addition to the obvious visual components, advertisers also manipulate the headlines, logotypes, and copy to be visually appealing. Advertisers use specific typography, styles, and formats so that they are visually attractive and catch the audiences’ attention. Due to the limited time that advertisers have to capture and captivate the audiences’ attention, they make sure that every element is attractive and distinguishable. Advertising has become a major part of our culture as we see it in various mediums. Advertisements can be seen on TV and before movies, in magazines and newspapers, outdoors on billboards, posters, and buses, on the internet, and more recently in product placements. A product placement does not follow the standard guidelines for ads because they do not overtly sell a product, however, they promote a product indirectly through making an appearance in media. A product placement can be something as simple as the mentioning of a particular brand or using the actual product and showing the brand’s logo. Advertisements exemplify visual rhetoric because they encompass the components that make a text both visual and rhetorical through the design process and the purpose of the final product, to make someone think or act. INTERNET The Internet as a medium of visual rhetoric has some unique characteristics. On one hand, some rhetoricians believe it is a powerful tool of creation and publication but on the other hand, some rhetoricians are weary of its use and contend that the Internet and technology in general are not unbiased. The line between verbal text and image seems to blur sometimes, such as in typography. Typefaces, and graphics can easily manipulate the mood of an audience and ultimately have persuasive effects. The existence of visual rhetoric on the Internet is more complex than matters of aesthetics. Theories of visual rhetoric can be seen as ways to filter information and determine credibility on the Internet. Alignment, position, spatial orientation and size are also elements of visual rhetoric. What Are Other Visual Arguments that Are Not Mentioned Above? Television…? 47
Visual Argument Examples What could these images be arguing? What is controversial about them? What statements does each one make? EXAMPLE #1: The Barbies and Dolls Lineup.
â€œbody shots 001.â€? Image by Susan. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/susan402/2037842950
EXAMPLE #2: Putin Graffiti.
“#street #art #streetart #moscow #russia #putin#elections #revolution #graffiti #stencil #politics#controv ersy #radical #guerilla.” Image by Kolin Z. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kolinzeinikov/6780032804
EXAMPLE #3: Global Mathematics Ranking Banner.
“Education_Olympics_8.” Image by BagTheWeb. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagtheweb/7846825670
Presenting Arguments Presentations21
“9-23-10.” Image by Alexis Nyal. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexisnyalphotography/5183903682
DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES Visual presentations are designed using some of the same techniques that you would use in written communication; however, there are different techniques since visual presentations are another form of communication. To accurately accomplish what you want to present, it is important to analyze the situation by looking at four differing aspects. Think about your readers and your communication goals: Know who your listeners are and how you want your presentation to affect them. For example, ask yourself what you really want to tell your listeners and what they really want to hear from you. Think about what your readers expect: Understand what your listeners’ expectations are about the presentation. Assess the technology of your presentation: The availability of equipment determines the types of graphics you can use. If you do not have Powerpoint available, you’ll need to get
21 "Professional and Technical Writing/Presentations." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 9 Mar 2017, 03:27 UTC. 31 Jan 2018, 18:16 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Professional_and_Technical_Writing/Presentations&oldid=3194480 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
creative with Microsoft Word, perhaps. You might also have to find more creative web sites to use (Piktochart, Pixlr, Powtoon, Animoto) in order to get your message/goal across. PLANNING THE VISUAL PRESENTATION Who is Your Audience? When planning out your presentation remember that in order for it to be effective it needs to be tailored as best as it can to reach the specific audience. If your audience cannot understand what you are trying to say you will find it much harder to deliver your message. This means that you should figure out who your audience is so that you can format your presentation accordingly. The easiest way to figure out your audience is to focus on their characteristics. Be Mindful of Your Audience's: Age, Knowledge Level, Gender, Occupation, Ethnicity and Culture, Values and Morals, and Goals. Keep in mind though; your audience members are individuals not stereotypes. If you do not know much about your audience, research! Researching your audience can only benefit you, the more that you know the better prepared that you will be. If you are presenting to another culture or non-English fluent audience, doing research cannot be stressed enough. Different cultures have different ways of presenting speeches. What Visuals Will You Use? Before you decide which types of visual aids to use, you need to figure out where and how you will be presenting, what technology will be available, and your audience. COMMON VISUALS • PowerPoint – a visual aid which can incorporate sound, video clips, photos, charts, tables, and graphs. • Funky Web Sites: Prezi, Animoto, Piktochart, Powtoon, and many others… • Chalkboards/Dry Boards – boards which can be written on with chalk or dry erase markers. • Handouts – materials with key points and information for the audience to use. • Infographics/Posters – materials with key points and information for the audience to use. • Dialogue – create dialogue between 2+ characters that discusses your topic, etc. Make Sure Your Visual Aid Uses Easy-to-Read Text and Graphics. People identify items more quickly when using graphics in addition to text alone. When creating your visual aids, however, make sure your text and graphics are easy to read. LABELING • Use headlines and sub headlines in a larger font • Bold, italicize, or CAPITALIZE important information 52
Use bullet points or create lists to organize material. Make sure this is "nice" to look at (easy to read)
CHARTS AND GRAPHS • Make sure there is clear information presented and support your presentation. Color coordinate charts/graphs if necessary • Use text to support/explain your charts and graphs (be brief but cover the high points) • Avoid charts and graphs that can be misleading to your readers WORDING AND LETTERING • Use large sized easy to read fonts • Be concise with as little text as possible. Also use simple language to avoid confusion • Limit number of fonts to one or two • Think about the age of your audience when setting font size and type • For slides, limit the number of lines to no more than six lines per slide with six words per line; watch for overcrowding slides since it is common and can be easily avoided by limiting the amount of text COLOR • Use color for clarity and emphasis, not for decoration • Use color schemes • Keep a similar color scheme throughout the entire presentation • Use contrasting colors to highlight main points • Making a Proper PowerPoint • We have all encountered boring Powerpoints with overloading information and lack of creativity. The following are precautions to ensure that you are making a proper power point using PowerPoint etiquette. • Do not write the entire presentation on your Powerpoint. Instead, create bullet points and headings no longer than three to five words that give the main points. • Have no more than five to seven lines per slide. • It is better to have two slides than it is to cram too much information on one. • Be consistent with your "theme." (Do not use a different theme for each slide.) • Do not overuse transitions. They are meant to enhance your presentation, not take over. • Be careful with your color scheme. Again, this is meant to enhance your presentation. Make sure the audience can read the text. • Make an outline of what you will be talking about so the listeners can know what to expect within the presentation. • Use at least 18-point font, and for each sub-bullet portion use a smaller font size. • Do not use complicated and unreadable font. • Use a font color that stands out against the background.
Evaluating and Citing Sources
“Can I Get – Google.” Image by Tommy Elmesewdy. Flickr Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/r1tommy/4289613697
Researching22 At some point in your life, someone r is going to throw a research project in your face. It might be a teacher assigning the topic to be researched – “Your question is: Where did the electoral college come from?” – or it might be open-ended, and in that case, you almost have free reign as to what you dive into. If the research project is open-ended, brainstorm to figure out what your topic will be. Will you try to answer what vegans eat and why? Will you look up all the reasons behind teen suicides? Or will you simply research the ways to train an old dog new tricks?
From our previous OER textbook, Writing Unleashed.
After nailing down a research topic, decide whether to use primary or secondary sources. Sometimes, your instructor will push you to consider both or either. TYPES OF RESEARCH • Primary research is conducted first hand and includes interviews, blogs and forums, surveys and question groups, etc. The key to conducting primary research is accuracy and privacy. •
Secondary research is the gathering of information that has previously been analyzed, assessed, or otherwise documented or compiled including: sources (print or electronic) such as books, magazine articles, Wikipedia, reports, video recordings, correspondence, reports, etc.
CREDIBILITY OF SOURCES There are some basic signs that can guide you in your search for credible sources, whether you are using print or electronic: The site or publisher is an expert or well-established in the field; the content is current; the content is free of errors (accurate); the content is free of bias. HOW CREDIBLE IS YOUR SOURCE?23 Dig into the following topics when it comes to choosing a source for your argument: ▪ Neutrality – A neutral source is impartial and does not take sides. The neutral source does not favor one point of view over another. Neutral sources are generally seen as more reliable. ▪ Vested Interests – A person or organization has a vested interest if they have seething to gain from supporting a particular point of view. This can cause a person or organization to lie, tell the truth, distort evidence or present one-sided evidence. Vested interests can increase or decrease the credibility of a source. Vested interests do not necessarily mean that a source will be biased. ▪ Bias – Bias is a lack of impartiality. Biased sources favor a particular point of view. It has been argued that an unbiased source is impossible as everyone has a particular viewpoint. Propaganda can affect bias; bias can be seen in the selective use of language, and there can also be cultural bias – Ethnocentrism. ▪ Expertise – Expertise is specialist knowledge in a particular field. Experts are only regarded as knowledgeable in their own particular field. However, be aware that experts disagree; experts have made incorrect judgements; some have argued expertise is harmful. (e.g. medicine); expertise changes over time. ▪ Reputation – Reputation is the regard in which a person or organization is held. People can have good or bad reputations based upon their character, organizations can have reputations because of their actions. Newspapers can also have a reputation for quality and accuracy. 23 “Critical Thinking.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. Accessed 10 May 17. https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/A-level_Critical_Thinking.Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Observation – Eyewitness accounts are direct evidence. Evidence from those that saw an event firsthand. Observations are affected by: Senses – short-sightedness would affect an eye-witness account; Memory – eye-witness accounts can be poor a long time after an event because memory can fade; Bias – Prejudice can distort an observation; Prior knowledge – Expertise can affect the way that an eye-witness account is told. Corroboration – When more than one source of evidence supports the same conclusion. The evidence “points in the same direction”. Selectivity – How representative information or evidence is. Surveys can be unrepresentative in terms of size and the type of people that they survey. To be neutral selected information should be representative of all of the information available. Context – The setting in which information has been collected (e.g. a war-zone) 1. The historic context – Attitudes can change over a period of time. 2. The scientific context – The response to new scientific ideas if affected by what already known (e.g. Darwinism initially discredited). 3. The journalistic context – Embedded reporters in a war zone – how accurate can they be? Interview context – People respond differently to different interviewers. 4. Linguistic context – Language can affect the type of answers people give. An easy, quick way of remembering the main credibility criteria: Consistency Reputation Ability to perceive Vested interest Expertise Neutrality / bias
SEARCH ENGINES Choosing the appropriate search engine is simple—if one is assigned or you have already become well versed in online research. However, if you are a novice in the field of research, the following list of electronic search engines may ease some of your research stress. ● College Libraries: Mildred Johnson Library; NDSCS & NDSU Library: Both of these library systems have developed gateways to everything from large numbers of academic journals to popular media. If you are looking for free access to documents that are peer reviewed, this is a great place to start. In both library systems, the key is to use the electronic databases that each library has access to through licensing. The use is free of charge when you are a student and gives you access to complete articles (most of the time) rather than just abstracts. ● Google Scholar: Google Scholar was created as a tool to congregate scholarly literature on the web. From one place, students have the ability to hunt for peer–reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Make 57
sure that you have access to full articles, etc. when using this site as it often only gives free access to abstracts. Educational Resources Information Center: Populated by the U.S. Department of Education, the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a great tool for academic research with more than 1.3 million bibliographic records of articles and online materials. ERIC provides access to an extensive body of education - related literature including journal articles, books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers, and more. Virtual Learning Resources Center: Virtual Learning Resources Center (VLRC) is an online index that hosts thousands of scholarly websites, all of which are selected by teachers and librarians from around the globe. American Memory: American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s database of more than nine million digitized documents, sound recordings, images, maps, and other American primary sources. This free and open access site includes sound recordings, images, prints, maps and articles that document United States history and culture. This search engine is the go–to source for American history. Noodle Tools: Noodle Tools is a service that helps students find references for papers or projects. Users can choose the best search for your information need based on an analysis of your topic or sift through the database of how - to articles. This site is widely used among college institutions, as it provides not only an all - inclusive search functionality, but also a citation generator for bibliographies in MLA, APA, or Chicago style. Creative Commons.
SEARCH TRICKS Either more accurate terms or punctuation changes should be used to signal a more specific search or topic and lead to better results. First, determine what words or phrase best suits your needs. For example: If you are looking for information regarding a specific type of dieting, use quotation marks to indicate to the search engine that you are just looking for “vegan restaurants in California.” This will narrow down the return you get in your search. These Search Tricks (also called Boolean and/or Proximity Searching) allow you to specify how close a search term appears in relation to another term contained in the resources you find. “women vs men” + “swearing” + blog “which age group loves football the most” + survey “depression rates in teens” + statistics KEEPING A SOURCE LIST A working source list is a listing of all of your sources with short annotations that identify information about the sources such as: 58
● Who wrote the article and/or conducted the research, and do you think these researchers/authors are biased? ● What the findings were and how they help your argument. ● How the article or document connects to the major premise of the work you are completing.
Citations: Why, When, How?24 by Anne Canavan
"Skeleton - TLDR - Citation Needed" by Puker41349 is licensed under CC BY-ND 3.0
PLAGIARISM. This word can terrify even the bravest of students. If you went to school in the United States, you know that plagiarism can lead to failing assignments, repeating courses, or possibly even being expelled from school. You have heard it called “stealing,” “fraud,” and “cheating,” and you may have even accidentally done it once or twice. Plagiarism is a tricky subject. There are
24 Canavan, Anne. “Citations: Why, When, How.” Open English at Salt Lake Community College. 01 Aug 2016. https://openenglishatslcc.pressbooks.com/chapter/peer-review// Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
many different types of plagiarism, ranging from taking an entire essay from a website or friend and passing it off as your own work to forgetting to do an internal citation or missing a source from your works cited page. WHY DO WE CITE SOURCES? SHORT ANSWER: BECAUSE IDEAS ARE PROPERTY. To answer this question, it is necessary to understand some of the ideas Americans (among others) have about intellectual property. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, intellectual property is considered “creations of the mind—creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them.” This definition may sound a bit complicated, but it’s saying that ideas or other creative products, like writing or art, are protected just like “real” property (e.g. cars, personal possessions, etc.). Because we view ideas and the expression of those ideas as a kind of property that can be “owned” and protected by trademarks, patents, and copyright, when we use other people’s words and ideas, we have to give credit to where those ideas came from. One very basic way of thinking about this is the analogy of borrowing your friend’s car. You would definitely ask their permission first, and if someone asked you if it was your car, you would tell them it’s not yours but your friend’s. You would also (hopefully) return the car in the same condition you borrowed it. This last part is relevant to when we talk about using sources “responsibly.” To use a source responsibly, you have to take into account the context in which it was written and that the author has chosen, as well as what the meaning of the overall piece is. You don’t want to just take a sentence or two that seem to fit your beliefs or needs. Sometimes, this can be tricky. For example, an author might use irony to make a point (for instance, an author writing a pro-dog piece might write, “Everyone knows dogs make terrible pets, which is why they are so unpopular in American homes.”). If you were to only quote this sentence, in which the author is saying something that doesn’t fit with the overall argument/tone of the rest of the piece, you are misrepresenting the source to your reader. The final reason that we cite sources is so that our readers know where to go to find more information on the topic. Wikipedia makes a great example here; sometimes when we are beginning a research topic, we might visit Wikipedia to get an overview of the topic and to see what some of the big discussions about the topic are. However, we know we can’t cite Wikipedia because it’s not an authoritative source on its own. This is why the References section of Wikipedia is so useful. While you can’t quote what Wikipedia has to say about dogs, you can visit some of the sources it has listed as references. OKAY, SO CITATION SEEMS IMPORTANT, BUT WHEN DO I DO IT? 60
Whether you are writing an academic paper for a college course or making a flyer for our job, the principles behind citation remain the same: whenever you use someone else’s ideas, you need to give credit to that person. In order to do that, you need to tell the reader which part of your work came from another source and where the reader can find that information themselves. Whether you quote the words or not depends on whether you are paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting the words of the original author. Whether you are paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting the words of the original author, you need to cite your source (say where the information comes from and where to find it). SUMMARIZING This technique involves taking a large amount of text (anywhere from several paragraphs to a whole chapter, essay, or even an entire book) and condensing those ideas into your own words. The hallmark of summarizing is that you start with something very large and change it into a more concise version that only hits on the main ideas. Consider this example: In the film Jurassic Park, visitors to an amusement park find themselves in danger when the genetically engineered dinosaurs break free. This example is an extremely short summary of the film, and it leaves out a number of details, such as who the main characters are, how and why the dinosaurs were created, how the dinosaurs escaped, etc. You could do a more detailed summary that addresses those questions, or you could paraphrase a smaller part of the text, as in the next section. PARAPHRASING Typically, when someone paraphrases a source, they are working with a much smaller section of the source, often only a sentence or two. Having a shorter piece of text to work with means you are much more likely to be able to put all of the main ideas in your own words. The paraphrase is also likely to be roughly the same length as the original source. Consider this example. This is the original quote from Jurassic Park: “You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you wanna sell it.” Here is a paraphrase of the original quote:
In this scene from Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm makes the point that science should be accomplished in a thoughtful, orderly way and that scientists should consider the ramifications of their work before they try to profit from it. In this example, the ideas from the quote are represented in the paraphrase, but the language is entirely changed from the informal tone of the original. A good rule of thumb for when you are paraphrasing is to read the original source once or twice, and then try to write it down in your own words without looking at the original. Once you have your version written down, take another look at the original source to make sure you have all the main ideas. QUOTING Sometimes we run across a source that communicates an idea so clearly that we want to preserve not just the original idea but the language as well. In those circumstances, we want to quote the work. Consider this example. In the film Jurassic Park, the park staff is experiencing problems as they prepare to open, and the park’s owner, John Hammond, says, “All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!” However, Ian Malcolm responds, “Yeah, but John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” You can see that there is some framing around these quotes to give the reader context for the information, but everything within the quotation marks is clearly indicated as being the words of the original source. SO HOW DO I CITE WHERE THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM? This question largely has to do with the style of citation you are working with. Two of the most common citation styles are Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA). Your teachers may discuss these styles in more depth. The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has great references to help you as you research and lots of information on how to use MLA and APA. References Bouman, Kurt. “Raising questions about plagiarism.” ESL writers: A guide for writing center tutors (2009): 161-175. “Dog.” Wikipedia. 12 Dec. 2016. Web. Polio, Charlene, and Ling Shi. “Perceptions and beliefs about textual appropriation and source use in second language writing.” Journal of Second Language Writing 21.2 (2012): 95-101. 62
MLA VS. APA STYLE Typically, your teacher will require either MLA or APA style (they are the most common). Here is some information about both styles: MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION STYLE MLA does not require a title page, asks that the margins be 1” all the way around, wants double-spacing, and sometimes instructors will ask that a student’s last name and page number pop up at the top of each page on the right margin after the first page. MLA’s in-text/parenthetical citations ask for the author’s last name, most of all. If that’s not available, then throw the article title in there, etc. To be considered a block quote (also called long quotations) in MLA, you must have more than four typed lines that you want to quote. AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION STYLE APA does recommend a title page, asks that the margins be 1” all the way around, wants double-spacing, and sometimes instructors will ask that a student’s title pop up in the upper left corner with the page number on the right margin. To be considered a block quote (also called long quotations) in APA, you must have more than forty words that you want to quote. Also: Indent each paragraph when using MLA or APA style, as well as block quotes (a.k.a. long quotations). There is more to these styles – like how to use visuals and headings – so look online or in an updated handbook for more information on those specific writing situations. IN-TEXT CITATIONS Once the style is decided, and you’ve looked over how to cite in the text using that style, you’ll have paragraphs that look like these (depending on whether you use MLA or APA) meaning you have now embedded your in-text citations and are ready to create your end citations: MLA: The definition of the word "controversy" is tough to nail down, sometimes. For me, it's not those people who find ways to push everyone's buttons on a constant basis. No, those people are just mean. Instead, things that are "controversial" to me are things that are more hidden. Eric Haverty covers those people in his online post, but he also had definitions that fit my idea better. For example, he stated that people who "wear clothes reversed and inside out or none at all" are controversial. I agree. He also states that controversial people park where they shouldn't! Keeping with the traveling 64
concept, he also states that controversial people bike wherever they want to, too (Haverty). APA: Americans are boastful and Japanese are reserved. These are widely held national stereotypes (Madon et al., 2001), but is there any truth to them? One line of evidence comes from cross-cultural studies of the better-than-average (BTA) effect - people's tendency to judge themselves as better than their peers at a variety of traits and skills (Alicke & Govorun, 2005). The BTA effect tends to be strong and consistent among American participants but weaker and often nonexistent among Japanese participants (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999). END CITATIONS (ALSO KNOWN AS WORKS CITED ENTRIES) MLA The Modern Language Association style is most commonly used in writing courses; if you are taking a composition class, and are a nursing student – for example, your instructor might be okay with you using APA since it’s common in that field. Just ask. BOOK: Escholz, Paul, and Alfred Rosa. Subject & Strategy. 13th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2014. ONLINE ACADEMIC ARTICLE: Hernandez, Josh. “A Bovine Experience: Why the Cow Metaphor Doesn’t Work.” University Literary Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, 2002, www.icu.edu/uls/bovinemetaphor/fig.lang. ONLINE EDITORIAL FROM ACADEMIC JOURNAL: “Information Technology and the Disassociation of the Student Body.” Editorial. Persnickety Prose: the University Editor’s Journal, vol. 3, no. 3, 2007, pp. 34-47. www.persnicketyprose.org/editorital/IT/student. BLOG POST: Ramone151(Joey Ramone). RE: “I Wanna Be Sedated and other punk rules to live by.” Random Rock Inc. 1 June 1982, www.randomrockinc.com/thread/616192/punk-lyrics-aka-ruleslife. TWEET: @Rosalinda16. “Living large in the outback of Argusville tonight.” Twitter, 2 June 2015, 9:22 p.m., www.twitter.com/Rosalinda/Argusville/night/2349810945483. FACEBOOK POST: 65
Presley, Aaron. “Had the worst day. Came home and made a PB&J with bananas and bacon – now everything’s better.” 11 Aug. 2007, www.facebook.com/peanutbutterandjelly. EMAIL: Portmann, Rae. Subject: Foo Fighter’s MPLS!!!!. Received by: Cheryl Ann. 07 Sept. 2008. PERSONAL INTERVIEW: Priebe, Sybil. Personal Interview. 02 July 16. DICTIONARY DEFINITION: “Heuristic.” Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, www.m-w.com/dictionary/heuristic. SONG - CD: Nirvana. “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Nevermind, Geffen, 1991. SONG - STREAMING (Spotify): Prince. “Cream.” Diamonds and Pearls, Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records, 1991, Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/omgilvthis0983432. MOVIE: Shaun of the Dead. Directed by Edgar Wright, performances by Simon Peg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, and Bill Nighy. Universal Pictures, 2004. PHOTOGRAPH/IMAGE FROM A WEBSITE (Flickr): Clarke, Brenda. “Space.” Flickr, 17 July 2009, flic.kr/p/6FoPBk. FIGURE - CHART, TABLE, IMAGES (from a book): Fig. 3. Taylor, A. Research Geeks Rule. Bedford, 2013. p. 323. APA American Psychology Association style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. BOOK: Escholz, Paul and Alfred Rosa (2014). Subject & Strategy. Boston: Bedford. ARTICLE FROM AN ONLINE PERIODICAL: Hernandez, Josh (2002). “A Bovine Experience: Why the Cow Metaphor Doesn’t Work.” University Literary Studies (8.2). Retrieved from http:/ICU.edu/ULS/bovinemetaphor/fig.lang/ ONLINE EDITORIAL FROM ACADEMIC JOURNAL:
“Information Technology and the Disassociation of the Student Body” (2007). Editorial. Persnicky Prose: the University Editor’s Journal 3.3. Retrieved from: http://www.Persnicketyprose.org/editorital/IT/student/ BLOG POST: Ramone, J. (1982, June 1). I Wanna Be Sedated [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: http://www.randomrock.com/jramone/biblioinfo/ TWEET: Rosalinda16 (2015, June 2, 9:22 pm). “Living large in the outback of Argusville tonight.” FACEBOOK POST: Presley, Aaron (2007, June 11). “Had the worst day. Came home and made a PB &J with bananas and bacon – now everything’s better.” http://facebook.com/peanutbutterandjelly EMAIL AND PERSONAL INTERVIEWS: “According to Rae Polemen (personal communication, September 7, 2008) studies show that music can influence….” DICTIONARY DEFINITION: Heuristic. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster’s Dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.mw.com/dictionary/heuristic
The following sample papers were stolen/taken/borrowed from the first edition of Writing Unleashed. New ones would be greatly appreciated (hint hint students who are reading this).
Because writing is never just about writing.
Reading: Developing A Universal Religion25 This essay comes from an OER textbook – found in the Wikibooks collection – titled Developing A Universal Religion, so if you see references to “our new rational religion,” that’s where it’s coming from.
DETERMINING MORAL BEHAVIORS WITHIN OUR NEW UNIVERSAL RELIGION What would a universal religion look like? This chapter simply serves to illustrate how a “moral” direction might be deduced—a feat that will be more judiciously accomplished once a universal purpose has been defined. Thus, in that they serve only as examples, my derivations in this chapter are of limited practical application other than as a spring board for further discussion. We set out from the beginning by restating the facts that form the basis of our current understanding of reality. The facts of life presented in earlier chapters26 can be summarized as follows: • Life is a process whereby chemical complexes exploit their environments to obtain energy and resources. Living and exploiting are inseparable activities, present at the base level in all life forms. Replication is a secondary function that (if sexual, rather than simply division) facilitates diversity. Diversity helps life to survive in a changing environment. ● The elemental nature of life’s underlying process (chemical processes exploiting their environment) implies that it can, and will, arise anywhere, whenever suitable conditions exist. Once begun, life continues until all usable energy differences are exhausted; ceasing prior to this point would simply leave niches where new life could arise and evolve. ● Sporadic mutations that improve or have no negative effect on life’s ability to successfully exploit environmental resources are carried through into subsequent generations. ● Living organisms add new structures and cell processes to those they already possess, making entities more complex as time goes by. This creates an evolutionary trend
25 "Developing A Universal Religion/Determining Moral Behaviors." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 30 Oct 2010, 14:56 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 16:27 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Developing_A_Universal_Religion/Determining_Moral_Behaviors&ol did=1962195>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. 26 "Developing A Universal Religion." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 4 Aug 2018, 01:39 UTC. 29 Nov 2018, 18:41 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Developing_A_Universal_Religion&oldid=3448094>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
toward intelligence because, to become beneficial, compounded body augmentations require more elaborate controlling abilities. Furthermore, since energy-exploitation becomes more difficult as energy resources are consumed, the very act of living creates conditions that necessitate enhanced problem-solving ability. That is, declining resources (and challenges of any kind) beget increased mental ability or intelligence. ● Life learns how to exploit and control its environment by perceiving, investigating, understanding, then utilizing the relationships that exist between objects and events. This is possible because the universe is causally constructed. ● Causality’s chain seems to break, from an insider’s point-of-view, at the physical and temporal boundaries of our universe. Internal causality cannot be connected to anything external to this universe because the properties of that which lies beyond (if anything does exist outside) cannot be understood from a position within. There are many other important aspects to the nature of life and the universe but those listed above will suffice for the purposes of this chapter. One vitally important fact is missing from the above list: humans are not the whole of life. With the meta-purpose we have chosen, it is our relationship to life itself that determines “moral” behavior. Thus, we must carefully examine what this relationship entails. Humans are just one species, one twig of a giant tree, and this places us in a rather precarious position. As a twig, we are not only beset by the storms and upheavals that continuously affect and change our physical environment, we are further subjected to the demands that the tree itself places upon us. Life is our father and mother. Life produced us. It nurtures us, and it will absorb us once we die. Life creates and maintains our support system and structures much of our playground. Life itself is the totality to which we owe allegiance, and to which we should be paying most attention. Living life—not some imaginary after-death life—is our true super system. Knowing this, I ask myself what subsystem behaviors might such a super system reward, and what might it punish? To my way of thinking, the following statements are self-evident in the context of the super system “Life.” ● Subsystems (including humans) will be tolerated by their encompassing super system (Life) as long as they do not hinder its continuance. (For instance, plants will provide oxygen and convert sunlight into energy forms that we and other living entities can consume—as long as we do not eliminate them.) ● Life “punishes” entities that disrupt its existence or growth. (For instance, discharging pollutants diminishes the abundance and variety of food producers, eventually creating a future that becomes one of subsisting rather than of plenty.) 74
Life “rewards” entities that foster its spread and development. (For instance, enlarging rain forest acreage increases the abundance and variety of food and other resources that it supplies.) (To best appreciate these points, think of the long-term implications of any endeavor, human or otherwise, that impacts upon some part of the ecosystem, then imagine what might happen if the scope and depth of this impact were to be greatly increased. Projecting to the limit often clarifies what may well be happening, unnoticed, on a smaller scale or behind the scenes.) ●
There are likely several other truths about the relationship between humans (or any species) and our super system that deserve to be uncovered and discussed, but those stated above are sufficient to move to the next step. When I consider our relationship to the super system Life as we experience it on Earth, I find that Life is actually behaving very much in a traditional “god-like” manner. It is effectively “judging” what its subsystems—including humans—do, and it subsequently rewards or punishes their behavior. These rewards and punishments are meted out continuously, in various forms and locations, over short and long time-spans. Humans are learning to recognize these repercussions, but we still have a long way to go before we learn to respect—or even to expect—Life’s judgements. However, we can choose to behave in a manner that allows us to benefit from our relationship to our super system Life. For instance, we can reduce the harm we inflict on our super system by ensuring our discharges are benign. This would precipitate the reward of having more resources—food and oxygen, for instance—made available as greater diversity (and numbers) of other life forms survive and thrive. Or, as another example, we can increase rather than decrease the world’s rain forest coverage, thus increasing the variety and number of benefitsto-life that accompany biological diversity. We can choose to behave in such ways (and many of us do), but the activities of numerous others, some for profit some simply to survive, are hastening the demise of significant portions of Life’s super system. The reasons humans do not all act in ways that benefit Life are many and varied, but two are particularly significant to our discussions. First, as previously stated, we are only just recognizing, and do not yet fully comprehend, the fact that humans are simply a processing subsystem, subordinate to and dependent upon, a larger system. Second, failing to recognize our dependency, few of us value it appropriately. There are also degrees of valuing. We can give a wary nod to an idea, or we can embrace it wholeheartedly. Thus, we could pay lip-service to the idea of Life being our super system and say, “sure, I think this idea is important,” but carry on as before—and nothing changes. Or we 75
could say, “yes, the ecosystem is very important; I’ll be careful not to pollute,” and start, for example, participating in the community’s recycling program—producing a little change. Or we could say, “let me consider more fully this relationship between humans and Life,” then seek others already active in this area to investigate what can be done. In the latter situation, actions having greater impact might result. The degree to which we value the relationship between ourselves and Life affects the future that all life (not just our descendants) will experience on this planet. And while our effects on life’s future are typically minimal, the ramifications of humanity’s actions are increasingly far-reaching. Subliminal Message of Global Warming? Well, let’s think about what insights might be gained were we to recognize that our super system’s journey toward eventual possession of omnipotent abilities is the very same journey that all species as subsystems are undertaking, albeit that each will travel only an infinitesimal part of the way. If we were to regard Life’s continued evolution as an activity well worth supporting, and, particularly, if we were to use this “meta-purpose” to define the universal purpose that guides our moral decision making, then a whole new range of behaviors would become valued. We can use the ideas listed in section two above to deduce what these behaviors would be. We can even make moral judgements and infer what types of activities should be considered “right” and which should be considered “wrong” within the confines of such a value system. Subliminal Message of Knowing Science? When I attempt this, I find the following. ● It is right to learn, to support others’ learning, to try to understand how and why the universe and its contents are the way they are—because Life lives and advances by learning and by putting this knowledge to use. ● It is right to pass on this knowledge, to store it for future generations, to link knowledge together in theories, to find new avenues of thought—because Life has evolved intelligence as a helping mechanism, and knowledge is the food that nurtures capacity, intelligence and understanding. Subliminal Message of Education’s Importance? ●
It is right to make use of this knowledge, to expand our limits, our control and our ability to exploit—because Life lives, grows, reproduces and becomes richer in every 76
aspect, by using the energy and resources it has learned to extract from its environment. ● But it is equally right, and necessary, to control excessive exploitations—because these harm Life’s future. Determining where to draw the line between helpful exploitation and harmful excesses is, and always will be, a difficult undertaking, but one which must be made a priority if civilization is to continue. Subliminal Message of Hunting/Overpopulation? ●
And, it is right to help other humans and other life forms—because Life’s progress may benefit from the contributions of others as much as, or even more than, it does from ours.
These behaviors (and many others, of course) would be “right” for any living entity in this universe to practice, simply because actions of this kind help Life to actualize its potential. In response, the super system “rewards” subsystems for supporting its operations. That such actions are also “right” for humans to practice because they help each of us attain our own potential is likely to be secondary to Life’s progress (although it usually is very important to our personal well-being). That which helps Life, helps us. The order of importance must be this way around, not the other, because humans are a subordinate system. What are to be considered “right” actions, in the logical system of morals we are developing, must always be determined by putting Life’s advancement, not human advancement, first. With this process of reasoning in place, new behavioral boundaries (i.e., rights and wrongs) might be established. Some of those newly “recognized” above as being “right” to practice have been ignored or even discouraged within traditional religions, although others have always been important. For instance, before now there has not been a rational explanation of why teaching and learning are so important, such “right” functions. Furthermore, just as we can now clearly judge learning to be right, we can now immediately state why it is wrong to restrict knowledge, to burn books, to tell lies, to spread hatred, to prevent or limit the development of other life forms. Subliminal Message of Censorship? If, as a community, we were to adopt the practice of rationally deducing moral behavior from the purpose we elect to support, we would, after sustained effort, eventually be able to justify our morality to any intelligent being (including those beyond our planet). Our existing moral systems would probably become subsumed within the rational one, and some components of the former might in due time simply fade away.
Any rational being can deduce a moral code from a statement of desired purpose together with knowledge of the environment containing the criteria a successful solution must meet. If enough of humanity chose to value the living environment more than any possible dead one, then we could combine efforts to logically educe what behaviors should be called “morally wrong” or “morally right.” Given enough time, we should be able to formulate a set of moral statements, each element of which would be traceable back to its origins. This latter feature is important, as it ensures that each assertion is adjustable should new information or understanding make correction necessary. And we would know what is to be gained, both immediately and in the distant future, by acting in accordance with these values. Until we reach this stage, our beliefs regarding which behaviors are “right” or “wrong” stem only from what we have been taught by our parents, teachers, or religion’s authorities. That is, until we embrace logically deduced moralities, there is no rational way to independently verify the truth of such statements, and no straight-forward method to incorporate changes resulting from improved knowledge. (Christians, for instance, accept the authority of the Commandments on faith. These cannot be modified even if circumstances should so merit.) With a guiding universal purpose statement and its derived set of moral codes in place, it would no longer be necessary to separate religious thought from rational or scientific thought. Causal links and logical deductions could be made in both domains, with the two becoming inter-dependent and mutually supporting. The data, their sources, the need to inquire, and the methods used when investigating, would become identical for science and religion, unifying these two great endeavors. Effectively, they become one and the same search for reality’s truth. Moreover, we would know that any intelligent living entity, anywhere in the universe, would be able to uncover rational reasons to value and support Life reaching its full potential, and thus develop the same ethical standards as we support. Rationality provides the means to develop a truly universal religion. QUESTIONS: What pieces of this essay do you agree with wholeheartedly? Which pieces do you disagree with? Why? 2. As a human, do you “act in ways that benefit Life”? Explain your answer of Yes or No. 3. Comment on any of the subliminal messages from this essay. 1.
Reading: Game Addictions27 While most of the public views game addiction in terms of video games, game addiction can take many forms. People can be addicted to board games, card games, game shows and other forms of games. Video games are the most visible because they are more relevant in pop culture and are having a greater impact on the younger generations, so much of our data and research will be dealing with that. However, these concepts can be applicable to games of any and all ways, shapes and forms. HISTORY As long as there have been games, there have been addicts, much like with other addictive substances. One form of these addictions is caused by video/computer games. The term idea of video game addiction was first introduced to mainstream media in the early 80s. U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop (the Life-Alert guy) released a statement on November 10, 1982 saying that video games might be hazardous to the health of young people, who, he said, are becoming addicted to the machines body and soul. At the time he had very little evidence to support his claim but he predicted that in a few years medical professionals would ascertain this evidence through research. Almost thirty years of research coupled with more advanced technology for gaming now shows that Dr. Koop was accurate with his claims. In July 2006, the worldâ€™s first video game addiction clinic opened in Amsterdam. Since then other countries like the United States, Canada, China, and Korea have opened treatment centers. These treatment centers and the methods they implement to help video game addicts will be discussed in the Prevention and Correctional Programs section. ADDICTION DEFINED Addiction is an emotionally charged word with negative connotations. It turns out to be much harder to define what it is than it might at first appear. While there is not a steadfast, undebatable definition in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual Volume IV (the "bible" of Medicine), there is a definition of the term "dependence". Dependence is defined as "Substance use history which includes the following: (1) substance abuse; (2) continuation of use despite related problems; (3) increase in tolerance; and (4) withdrawal symptoms." Addiction to computer games is often seen as a social problem. Addiction to sports or to games of skill such as chess are more rarely seen as being a problem. Why is this? When does a passion for an activity become an addiction? Looked at more objectively, addictions are activities that society in general does not approve of. A passion for football or for chess is something society as a whole can approve of, even when pursued to the detriment of other
27 "Lentis/Game Addictions." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 3 Nov 2017, 01:55 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 17:37 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Lentis/Game_Addictions&oldid=3322706>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
activities. They are less prone to being categorized as an addiction. In approved of and unapproved of activities we can analyze the elements that make the activity “addictive”, the cycles of reward, the emotional circuits that are being tapped into. SYMPTOMS While video game and internet addiction are not actually classified in the DSM-IV, the American Medical Association is reviewing research to determine whether or not these terms should be included in the next update of the manual in 201028. As many as 10% of gamers exhibit addictive behaviors. Game addiction can include any number of symptoms mentioned below: ● Preoccupation: person seems unusually concerned with the game, may seem irritable or distracted, will talk about gaming frequently to his peers ● Lack of control: the person feels as if they need to play the game in order to function. The person cannot go for an extended period of time without playing the game. An example of this would be the YouTube sensation "The Greatest Freak Out Ever" from username wafflepwn. The teenager's reaction to the loss of his World of Warcraft account is a symptom of game addiction. ● Lying: fabrications of how much time is spent playing video games. The person may lie to his friends and family about playing video games in order to prevent intervention. Many of the symptoms and causes of game addiction are similar to that of gambling addiction, or problem gambling. In fact, gambling addiction and game addiction experience a lot of overlap, especially in terms of card games and slot machines. Where they differ is in sports betting, which is not seen by the public as a game. SIDE EFFECTS PHYSICAL ● Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: One of the most significant and costly physical effects of game addiction is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually contracted from extensive use of computer keyboards. The In the case of carpal tunnel, the patient will usually require extensive surgery in order to repair the hand. ● Weight Gain: Another side effect of game addiction is weight gain. Many game addicts will form abnormal eating habits, due to their long streaks of playing video games. Migraines: Game addicts will spend hours upon hours staring at a backlit screen. This concentration and the prolonged exposure to bright lights are known to bring on painful migraines. SOCIAL There are many social consequences of game addiction. Here are the three most prevalent:
Yes, this is an “old” essay.
Withdrawal: Game addicts, once at a certain point, will start to eschew29 friends and family in order to devote more time to gaming. This can hurt relationships, work and has even resulted in divorce in cases around the world. ● Lose touch with reality: Many game addicts prefer to be in their game world than to be in the real world. This goes hand in hand with social withdrawal. The gamer will communicate with other people in the language of the game, and in some rare cases, will imagine that they are the character they play, while they in real life. ● Misuse of Money: One of the major consequences of game addiction is the cost of the upkeep of games and systems. Most online multiplayer games require a subscription to keep the servers up and running. Other expenses come from purchasing new games and updates for hardware and software. Game addicts will put priority on those investments over more legally binding ones like bills and such. ●
PROBLEM GAMES30 Some games that have been heavily targeted by organizations as being more addictive than others include the following: ● World of Warcraft: World of Warcraft has gotten the most scrutiny of all video games by far. Its role-playing aspects, large following and seemingly endless updates make it a prime target for game addiction. There is a lot more to read about World of Warcraft in our colleague's MMORPG page. ● The Halo Franchise: This is the World of Warcraft of console games. Halo is one of the most popular game franchises of all time. On its first day, Halo:Reach sold over $200 million worth of games. Its online multiplayer is massive and very popular for its simplicity: kill or be killed. The fan base for the Halo series is also very loyal. On April 15, 2010, Microsoft shut down their servers that supported the original Xbox games' online play. The way they kicked players off of the server was that whenever they logged off, they would not be allowed to log back on. Some Halo 2 players heard this news and made a pact to keep playing as long as possible. So, for days upon days, these players kept playing Halo 2. After 26 days, the last player, Apache N4SIR, was booted from the system ● Tetris: Tetris is heralded by many gaming authorities as one of the greatest games of all time. However, it is also very addictive. One of the primary reasons for this is the concept of the high score. Since there are no levels in Tetris, one could theoretically play the game forever, so success in Tetris is measured by the highest score. The portability and ease of the game has allowed Tetris to experience a rebirth in the age of cell phones and iPods. As of January 2010, more than 100 million copies of Tetris have been sold on cell phones alone. POTENTIAL BENEFITS
29 VERB: deliberately avoid using; abstain from. 30 Since this was written around 2010, one might ask if these games are still “Problem Games” or if others have taken their places, etc.
Action games that demand multitasking and rapid information processing can enhance a range of visual skills. One study reports that avid video game players experience faster reaction times in a variety of tasks including spatial cueing, inhibition of return, and flanker interference than non-video gamers. The research also showed that non-gamers who underwent action game training experienced a greater increase in reaction times than those who had been trained in control gaming. In another experiment by Green and Bavelier, people who typically played action video games for more than five hours a week were able to maintain target identification with distracters in closer proximity than non-game players. After given 30 hours of action game training, these non-video game players saw improvements in their visual acuity and were able to decrease their visual crowding threshold. These studies suggest the causal relationship between action games and heightened visual skills. Furthermore, in a Multiple Object Tracking task study by Sun et al, gamers that had ceased to excessive playing as much as two years prior, exhibited superior visuospatial abilities than a control group. Thus, not only can video games improve perceptual reaction times, visual targeting abilities, and selective attention, but their benefits can be potentially long term. In the future, action video games might play a rehabilitative role for people with poor eyesight. CAUSES – WHO IS VULNERABLE? According to a survey conducted by USA Today, the average age of the typical gamer is 29, and men make up 59% of the gamer population. Adults that are not happy with their occupations or want more excitement in their lives may use video/computer games to gain satisfaction. A majority of younger game addicts include individuals who don't fit in or are not athletic in school. Others use computer and video games as a way to cope with social deficiencies. CAUSES – HOW ARE GAMES MADE ADDICTIVE? The most common causes of video/computer game addiction are: ● Achievement Systems ● Player Control: The ability to escape real life and the ability to be anyone you want to be (especially for online games) ● Social Connections ACHIEVEMENT SYSTEMS Many video game companies release new versions of their games annually, while most computer games are subscription based. This means it is beneficial for the companies to keep their customers entertained and playing their games. These companies implement certain strategies to ensure this happens. Video and computer games give the players give the players a sense of achievement to get them hooked. This is analogous to the scenario of a lab hamster on a wheel. As long as the hamster continues to turn the wheel, he will be given food pellets. If the hamster stops running the pellets will be withheld. Most games implement this strategy by having short levels so it is quick and easy to reach some sense of achievement. The players usually get an adrenaline rush 83
while playing, which is sometimes associated with the music in certain games during play. However, as the players' achievements begin to build up their brains release small amounts of dopamine. Another aspect is that in most games the levels or space between checkpoints slowly get longer and more difficult the more that someone plays, making it harder to reach the same sense of achievement. This directly mimics the effect of most drugs, whereas the chronic users must take more of a drug to reach the same high as their bodies get used to the effects. Another way achievement systems are used to get people to keep playing video or computer games is by implementing a play it or lose it strategy. This is similar to many games in which the player will lose achievements the longer they refrain from playing. Most players do not want to lose what they have work so hard to gain. PLAYER CONTROL Many players gain a sense of control from playing video and computer games. They are able to escape from their own limitations in real life and become someone completely different in the game world. This leads to a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction when playing the game as opposed to real life. SOCIAL CONNECTIONS Players are also attracted to the video games because of the social connections they can make with other players playing the game. This is true for both online and offline games. Players can find common ground with other players in real life by discussing the game with friends, while online players can meet people from all over the world and immediately have a connection. PREVENTION AND CORRECTIONAL CENTERS Over the past ten years, a few treatment centers specializing in game addiction have emerged in Amsterdam, China, and the USA. These facilities, typically residential, tend to utilize family therapy and social skills training. While some clinics focus on abstinence, others believe that gaming behavior can be relearned. Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been used to help gamers recognize the emotional reasons behind their excessive game playing, and motivational interviewing techniques have been incorporated to aid in establishing positive goals and time management skills. In 2009, Cosette Rae and Hilary Cash founded one of America's first residential rehab centers in Fall City, Washington. For $15,500 guests can spend 45 days cut off from computers and integrated into a real family's home with chores and daily therapy sessions. The program, called ReStart, also requires mandatory downtime sessions to help game addiction victims learn to deal with boredom in order to prevent relapse in the future. There are also many online forums for those affected by gaming addiction. One example, Elizabeth Wooleyâ€™s self-help site, Online Gamers Anonymous, provides message boards, online meeting places, and a 12-step recovery plan. These online websites attest to the serious withdrawal symptoms that game addicts in detox can experience including anxiety, irritability, restlessness, depression, disrupted sleep pattern, and violent mood swings. 84
New technologies have been developed offering parents more control over limiting excessive video game playing in children. In 2004, a universal video game controller that's operating time could be limited by parents was patented. The following year, parents could purchase the token-operated PlayLimit to indirectly control the operation time of televisions and video game consoles in their own homes. According to the website, this technology is beneficial because it forces kids to play a more active role in managing their playing time. By requiring children to put tokens in for 15 minutes of play time, this reward-based system might actually perpetuate the problem it attempts to solve. LAW AND VIDEO GAMES As problematic excessive video gaming becomes more apparent, developers might be required to include warning labels on their products in the future. In October of 2009, a man named Craig Smallwood filed a lawsuit against NcSoft Corporation for emotional distress and misrepresentation. He claimed that the company failed to warn him about the potentially destructive addictive nature of their game Lineage II. While the charges of misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional were dismissed by Judge Kay in April 2010, the company is still facing counts of defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress. QUESTIONS: 1. 2. 3.
This was written in 2010; what does gaming and gaming addiction look like now? Do you know of anyone who is a gamer? Are they addicted, according to this essay? What’s the difference between “addiction” and the happy sort of “obsession” some people get with their hobbies?
Reading: Determining Moral Behavior – Personal Freedom31 This essay comes from an OER textbook – found in the Wikibooks collection – titled Developing A Universal Religion, so if you see references to “our new rational religion,” that’s where it’s coming from.
Individuals have to be free to explore and exploit their environment if they are to maximize their ability to contribute to Life. This suggests that the freedom of individuals should not be restricted in any way (provided their actions are not restricting the ability of others to contribute, of course). And this implies that individuals should be free to act in ways that might harm themselves. The over-riding necessity for individual freedom affects how a rational religion might view private activities. For instance, individuals abusing drugs may be acting irrationally, and they may eventually suffer for doing so, but our new religion would likely not consider this action morally “wrong.” Who knows what discoveries, what new insights and understandings, might be realized were a drug-induced state to open neural channels routinely by-passed in everyday thinking? (And there have been many instances when drugs have enhanced an artist’s creativity, and others now reap benefits from that individual’s experience.) Many countries legislate against the recreational use of drugs. Clearly, we need laws that protect immature individuals from harm but legislation itself will not accomplish this end. Declaring drug use to be illegal simply hands drug control (and its resulting profits) to criminal organizations. Their activities simply make matters worse, as prohibition tried to teach us. Our new religion would state that individuals must have the freedom to experiment knowledgeably and to face the ensuing consequences. This is how every animal learns: they act, analyze the results of their action, then modify, cease, or repeat the action, learning and developing physical and mental skills as they do so. Education, not legislation, properly limits the harm that ill-considered experimentation can do. That occasionally people die through their own careless actions is distressing, but we cannot logically expect this to never happen, even were we able to foresee and forbid all possible harmful actions. We need to teach, for example, why wearing bicycle helmets and seat belts is important, not legislate then spend
31 "Developing A Universal Religion/Determining Moral Behaviours/Personal Freedom." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 30 Oct 2010, 14:11 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 16:25 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Developing_A_Universal_Religion/Determining_Moral_Behaviours/P ersonal_Freedom&oldid=1962160>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
money, time and resources enforcing their use. Laws and their enforcement simply remove degrees of the self-responsibility that all individuals must possess if they are to mature. A great deal of this education can, and should, be performed by the primary authority figures in our lives, our parents. This assumes first that the parent figures have been trained in the traditional moral values and respect. In today's world, where social workers step in to direct children/parents in the art of creating respect, the parents must be provided the training and freedom to raise their offspring in a manner that is conducive to creating social harmony. Within three generations we can start to move towards a society that fosters mutual respect, both within a society and internationally. Creating laws that take away common freedoms, as opposed to major crimes, only create disharmony, fear and fat pockets for lawyers. Teaching self-responsibility for behavior towards others will quickly spread through a society and create peer pressure on those who would rule the world to conform to a higher moral order or be ex-communicated by their own society. Questions: 1. Should individuals have the freedom to experiment? Why or why not? 2. Is education more important than laws, as the essay states? 3. Does the bulk of education fall on the shoulders of parents?
Reading: Determining Moral Behaviors – Killing32 This essay comes from an OER textbook – found in the Wikibooks collection – titled Developing A Universal Religion, so if you see references to “our new rational religion,” that’s where it’s coming from.
The rationale for stating that it would be wrong to kill an individual is easy to state: any individual’s actions may contribute to the objective of supporting Life’s continued evolution, thus each life is valuable and should be preserved. Killing an individual prevents that individual from contributing (discounting the body’s store of nutrients and energy that inevitably recycle and do contribute). However, this seemingly simple premise hides a few surprises, the first stemming from how we define an individual. Two separate cells, the sperm and ovum, before joining to form a zygote do not constitute an individual. They each contain part of the potential to form an individual, but they have not yet become an individual. Our new morality would therefore likely state that there is nothing “wrong” in killing these cells. And life routinely does exactly that—our bodies produce many more sperm and ova than are needed or used. An embryo, then a fetus before birth, is also a “potential” individual, not yet able to contribute directly to Life’s evolution (although it may very well be inspiration for some of the contributions made by its parents). Thus, our rational new religion would probably rule that it is not wrong to kill developing embryos at any stage. This may be its rational declaration, but human emotions would most often have it otherwise. Few parents would want to harm or kill their children-to-be. It would feel emotionally wrong to do so. Our new religion may even come to the same conclusion about killing infants, as well as those individuals that no longer possess the ability to contribute, by arguing along the following lines. Newborns are potential individuals, not individuals as we typically understand fully developed adults to be. Newly born babies exist as separate beings, having wonderfully formed bodies
32 "Developing A Universal Religion/Determining Moral Behaviours/Killing." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 30 Oct 2010, 14:09 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 16:16 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Developing_A_Universal_Religion/Determining_Moral_Behaviours/K illing&oldid=1962156>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
but relatively empty minds. Empty, that is, of most of the stored memories, links and thoughts that will rapidly form to produce an individual in its own right. Our new rational religion would likely not call a physical body, mostly empty of mind, an individual, and would probably not state that it is “wrong” to kill such an entity. But, of course, we do state that it is wrong. We denounce killing newborns for emotional, cultural, and legal reasons. It feels wrong to kill children of any age, and the law in recognition of this usually declares that newborns become individuals at birth. Clearly, we will continue to state that killing newborns is wrong, but it is possible that our new religion may not actually state that it is “morally wrong” to do so (for instance, if “potential to contribute” is given minimal weight by the religion’s developers). A similar argument applies to the way we regard mature individuals. In the grand view of Life’s endeavor, the individual is everything and nothing. It is everything while it is contributing to Life’s journey; it is nothing when it has made its contribution. During our lifetime, we all, knowingly or unknowingly, strive to support Life’s journey. We all do our best to learn, to grow, to create, to procreate, to feel that we are living a productive and meaningful life. These are innate behaviors that are carried out daily—part and parcel of being a living entity. We may even accept them as responsibilities. But, as we end our days, with our physical and mental powers deteriorating, we become free of this duty to contribute. Our new moral code is likely to state that at this stage, those who so choose have every right to seek death when they are ready for it, be it self-awarded or assisted. The same contention might well apply when a person’s brain becomes damaged or debilitated by disease or accident. As long as there is the slightest chance that the individual will recover, to be able to contribute once more, then our new moral system would probably rule that it is wrong to kill or to sanction suicide for that individual. But this ruling could change as conditions worsen, as death becomes imminent, or as living becomes unbearably painful. For such individuals who will never be further able to contribute, our new religion would probably state that euthanasia is not morally wrong. However, as we may know, even under such circumstances it is next to impossible to kill someone we love. Our emotions (quite apart from our laws) make it very hard to hasten their death. But our new religion would now possibly offer consolation, not condemnation, were we to do so. Using similar arguments, our new religion would probably tell us that it is irrational to simply declare abortion or euthanasia wrong, and also that there are times when we may morally allow compassion to rule. Thus, we begin to see that morality would likely differ from what it is now. Our new religion would clearly separate rational, emotional and legal arguments, allowing us to frankly examine 89
the contribution each makes. It would open the way for our old, sometimes simplistic, sometimes cruel, laws to be reconsidered, and perhaps, if thought necessary, eventually modified. (Indeed, its construction would force us to reassess our understanding of what it is to be a thinking human). On the surface, our new religion may seem hard and cold, ruling by logic first, and only allowing emotions to be considered second. But our proposed religion must be so constructed because the universe is so constructed, and because life evolves in obedience to the laws of physics that govern and define the universe and all its contents. While animal behavior is largely emotionally governed—animalistic—because it has no other option, humans have gained the ability to be objective. Humans, in following their minds’ attempts to think rationally, also try to behave rationally, and the two foremost dimensions of humanity, emotion and logic, are often at war in the effort. Our new religion, if developed rationally, should allow us to separate, then balance, emotion and reason, giving us tools to assess both before making any decision. We would no longer be commanded by dogma, emotions or beliefs, but by logical rationality. Surely, this is what our modern minds are asking us to institute when they react against the occasional religious (or parental, legal, employment, or other) requirement that seems irrational. There are other “wrongs” to consider, for instance, the rationale for stating that birth control is morally wrong. If circumstances dictate that additional progeny will harm, rather than help, Life’s continued evolution on this planet, then birth control would necessarily be considered by our new religion sensible and “right.” What value to Life would there be in saturating an overpopulated environment with individuals if nothing remains for them but an arduous search for nutrients and niches where precious few are to be found? When would such individuals ever find the time, or develop the ability, to contribute? Of course, there will always be many outstanding individuals who will do exactly that in any population. Perhaps one percent, or, say, five, would surmount their disadvantageous surrounding conditions. Birth control, some might contend, would have denied Life their contributions. But that argument ignores the possibility that, if this world was less densely and more equitably populated, then a great many more than one or five percent would be in a position to contribute. Of course, it is not simply a matter of quantity, it is more one of quality. But, again, there are many more opportunities for quality to emerge in an educated and liberated environment than there are in a povertystricken or hopelessly overcrowded one. The overwhelming need for world population controls is one of the implications of a report written by Mathis Wackernagel (et al). This report discusses the compilation and findings of human “ecological footprint” statistics [the planetary acreage needed to sustain human life at its current rate of resource usage]. Two of its findings are particularly relevant to this 90
discussion. First, that humans, on average, expend thirty per cent more than nature is able to sustain (and this figure is increasing rather than decreasing). And, second, that the resources of five more Earths would be needed for everyone to live at the average current North American rate. Clearly, the majority can never live as North Americans now live. But all could, should they so desire, were there fewer for the planet to nourish. One billion people is about this planet’s limit, if the North American way of life is universally accorded. However, the world’s population is currently over six billion, and could reach ten billion in thirty years. Another issue to contemplate is capital punishment. As above, the criteria used to weigh the merits of this practice would need to be reconsidered. Under the rationality of our new religion, anyone able to “contribute” should be allowed to live. While we may want retribution for heinous crimes committed, this is an emotional, not reasoned, reaction. However, if an individual was clearly unable to “contribute,” if serial killing (for example) was his or her sole motivating interest, then there may be no rational reason (nor religious, for our religion would be rational) to let that individual continue living. The problem then, as always, becomes one of judging whether or not enough is known to be certain about the true state of affairs. Our proposed new religion tells us why individuals are important—because each individual has the potential to make a difference. He or she can uncover new facts, find new linkages and applications, discover new meanings, and perhaps augment Life’s ability to control. This is why each and every individual matters. Embryos and fetuses before birth cannot contribute in this manner, infants in their first few months, and some individuals, perhaps in the closing days of their life or if criminally insane, cannot contribute. In these circumstances our new religion would likely tell us that killing is not morally wrong (although it is unlikely to decree that it is morally right). Our new doctrine would probably conclude that such individuals are of no relevance as they are and offer no guidance at all. Questions: 1. This essay covers abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment = all incredibly controversial topics. Did it change your mind about any of them? 2. Is our purpose as human to “contribute to Life”? Is so, why? If not, why not?
Reading: Physician-Assisted Suicide33 Physician-assisted suicide in the United States is a controversial issue which has garnered much attention from medicine, law, and many social interest groups. The influence of technological change on social acceptance and opposition of assisted suicide will be examined in this chapter. Jack Kevorkian, or "Dr. Death" as he is commonly called, was responsible for elevating the issue of physician-assisted suicide to the national spotlight in the United States. The career of this polarizing pioneer offers a valuable case study through which the issue will be explored. SUICIDE CASE STUDIES THE BRITISH COAL-GAS STORY Throughout generations prior to the 1970s in Great Britain, families heated their homes with coal-gas furnaces. The gas, in its unburned form, released high levels of toxic carbon monoxide. Because of this, â€œsticking one's head in the oven,â€? as it was called, became a preferred method of suicide in England. In the 1960s the British government began phasing out coal-gas in favor of the cleaner burning natural gas. By 1971, nearly 70% of the gas reaching consumer households was natural gas. Furthermore, by 1975, the portion of carbon monoxide in the gas entering the average consumer's home was less than one percent. Throughout the 1960s, at the same time that the carbon monoxide was being reduced, the suicide rate dropped in Britain. By 1971, the overall suicide rate for men of all ages had dropped by about 16%. Why is that removing one method of self-harm has such a profound rippling effect? Norman Kreitman, in his report on the coal-gas story published in 1976, writes that "There is no shortage of exits from this life; it would seem that anyone bent on self-destruction must eventually succeed, yet it is also quite possible...that a failed attempt serves as a catharsis leading to profound psychological change." A TALE OF TWO BRIDGES The Duke Ellington Bridge and the Taft Bridge are two bridges in Washington D.C. which both cross over the Rock Creek gorge. In 1985, the Ellington Bridge accounted for four suicides each year, which was half of all jumping suicides in the city. The Taft Bridge averaged fewer than
33 "Lentis/Physician-Assisted Suicide." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 6 Dec 2011, 10:28 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 16:09 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Lentis/PhysicianAssisted_Suicide&oldid=2230712>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
two suicides per year. This disparity was quite unexpected, considering two important similarities between the two bridges. First, both bridges stand at approximately 125 feet tall, essentially guaranteeing death as a result of jumping. This precludes the hypothesis that one bridge was more desirable due to an increased chance of death. Second, the bridges are located only several hundred yards from each other. Thus, neither was in a region of a higher general jumping suicide rate than the other. On a particularly tragic 10-day period in 1985, three people committed suicide by jumping off the Ellington Bridge. Certain groups of citizens lobbied strongly for the construction of an antisuicide barrier on the bridge. Opposition groups like the National Trust for Historic Preservation claimed that such a barrier would be useless, founding their argument on the assumption that those people intent on committing suicide would simply go elsewhere. Their argument was strengthened by the fact that the Taft Bridge was just yards away. The barrier was constructed in January 1986 and completely eliminated suicides at the Ellington Bridge-four deaths per year to zero. The overall suicide rate in Washington dropped by a similar amount. Meanwhile, the suicide rate on the Taft Bridge saw only a slight increase, from 1.7 deaths per year to 2. Experts attempted to determine the cause for this phenomenon. Why had the construction of a barrier on one bridge (of 330 total in Washington) nearly eliminated the four suicides per year for which it was formerly responsible? They concluded that the initially lower barrier (kneehigh) on the Ellington Bridge, relative to that on the Taft Bridge (chest-high), was the primary factor. Its lack of height offered potentially suicidal people the option to kill themselves quickly and easily in an impulsive moment. On the other hand, suicide on the Taft Bridge took more time and effort, significantly impeding impulsive suicides. IMPLICATIONS Both the British coal gas story and the Washington D.C. bridges case imply that the availability of the means to commit suicide can profoundly influence a person's ultimate decision. Studies on other suicide methods have revealed similar implications. A 2005 international study found a strong correlation between the availability of firearms and firearm suicides. A similar effect was discovered in suicide by pesticide ingestion in developing countries. LEGALITY OF PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE In the United States, physician-assisted-suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. The processes of applying for physician assisted suicide varies between in each state, and in some cases the steps can be quite arduous. In all three states, a physician may legally provide a patient with a lethal dose of prescription drugs which the patient is then responsible for taking independently. In this way, the physician is absolved from any liability and the case cannot be labeled as euthanasia. Oregon was the first state in the United States to legalize physician-assisted-suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act (ODWDA) was passed in 1994 amidst strong public 93
support. Under ODWDA, upon first meeting a set of qualifying criteria, a patient may submit a request for a dose of a lethal prescription. The patient must also submit two oral requests to his physician at least 15 days apart from one another. The ODWDA has faced numerous legal battles since its enactment in 1994. In 2006, the ODWDA was upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court by a vote of 6-3. The Washington Death with Dignity Act mirrors that of Oregon and has been active since 2009. Unlike the cases of Oregon and Washington where public support led to the enactment of the Death with Dignity Acts, the legality of physician-assisted-suicide in Montana is based on the judicial resolution of a lawsuit, Baxter v. Montana. In this decision, a Montana judge ruled that the right to physician-assisted-suicide was protected by Montana's state constitution. JACK KEVORKIAN Dr. Jack Kevorkian was trained as a pathologist and publicly demonstrated an unusual interest in death throughout his career. He published and presented on controversial topics such as medical experimentation on willing capital punishment subjects, blood transfusion from cadavers, and the ethics of euthanasia. He was dismissed from his residency at the University of Michigan for his discordant opinions and research interests. Kevorkian is best known for his work as a right-to-die activist, assisting in the deaths of over 130 patients throughout the 1990s. CONVICTED OF MURDER Thomas Youk was a patient of Kevorkian's who suffered from multiple sclerosis. In 1998, Kevorkian assisted in Youk's suicide. In this case, however, the patient was unable to administer the drugs himself, so Kevorkian administered the drugs to Youk. To complicate matters, Kevorkian filmed the entire procedure and sent it to 60 Minutes, taunting the authorities to try him and put him in jail. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to jail in 1999 and was not released until 2007. Kevorkian would later disclose that the Youk case was not the first in which he had caused the death of the patient rather than allowing the patient to perform the act on their own. SUPPORT EXIT INTERNATIONAL Exit International is a registered non-profit group headquartered in Australia dedicated to advancing information and advocating for end-of-life choices. Exit's main goal is enacting legal reform to support physician-assisted-suicide. Exit believes that the Swiss model of PAS is the standard that should be sought after. DEATH WITH DIGNITY NATIONAL CENTER 94
The Death with Dignity National Center is a non-profit organization committed to protecting and preserving the rights established by the Death with Dignity laws in the United States. Additionally, their aim is to extend the Death with Dignity laws protected in Oregon and Washington to states throughout the country. OPPOSITION RELIGIOUS GROUPS Many religious groups are opposed to physician-assisted suicide because they believe that it violates the sanctity of life. The Christian Medical and Dental Association's position statement conveys the generally pervasive view among conservative faith groups: "We, as Christian physicians and dentists, believe that human life is a gift from God and is sacred because it bears God's image. We oppose active intervention with the intent to produce death for the relief of pain, suffering, or economic considerations, or for the convenience of patient, family, or society." Religious groups also commonly propose that the authority of their respective religious figures trumps patient autonomy, disallowing physician-assisted suicide. SLIPPERY SLOPE Opponents citing the "slippery slope" argument claim that allowing physician-assisted suicide provides doctors with less motivation to exhaust every alternative option before turning to death. Others say that there is little if no difference between physician-assisted-suicide and doctor-induced euthanasia. A more extreme proposition made by a journalist opposing legalization of physician-assisted suicide is that the procedures would "become routine" and that "comfort would make us want to extend the option to others who, in society's view, are suffering and leading purposeless lives." IMPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY The bioethics principle of non-maleficence states that a healthcare provider has a duty to do no harm. The termination of a person's life to alleviate suffering prior to exhaustive assessment and treatment of the underlying causes of suffering is a violation of this principle. Reduction of a potential suicide subject's suffering to the point where death is no longer desired is clearly preferable over hasty suicide. This underlies the arguments of critics who contend that Kevorkian's seemingly swift process may have indicated a neglect for potentially beneficial non-suicide treatments. Those societies which accept physician-assisted suicide as an ethical medical practice generally do so subject to the condition that the cause of the patient's suffering is untreatable. In such a case, it is actually inaction which is considered to be malicious towards the patient. Physician-assisted suicide is justified as a means of reducing suffering in lieu of any other realistic option. Suicide-enabling technology, including firearms, chemical toxins, and Kevorkian's inventions, has varied consequences, depending on the context of its use. For example, there may be a case where extreme, incurable suffering renders suicide to be the least malignant course of action. If law allows physician-assisted suicide, painless suicide techniques clearly offer 95
favorable alternatives to more brutal, potentially painful methods. However, the existence of more "advanced" suicide technologies can also enable egregious violations of nonmaleficence. As the British coal gas and D.C. bridges case studies showed, available technology can influence and even encourage suicidal behavior. Thus, the decision to opt for suicide may come hastily and in place of more beneficial treatments. In other words, the patient may not have chosen such a drastic end if the means were less attractive or available. Although physician-assisted suicide technology can be beneficial in enabling an escape from suffering, it also has the potential to distort medical decision-making and, at its worst, encourage suicide. Questions: 1. One might argue that since we have no control over our birth, why canâ€™t we control our death? 2. Do you have a personal connection to this topic? Does it skew how you feel about it? 3. If you are â€œokayâ€? with animal/pet euthanasia, do you feel the same about human euthanasia? Why or why not?
Reading: Intro to Gender34 The speech today arose in a manner most Americans would find innocent enough, Jordin remarked as he began to speak to the assembled parents, kids and teachers. In his school class the previous month, his son, Junior, challenged inaccurate teachings common in American classrooms over the past 100 years. The teacher had said that boys have a penis and girls do not. Although Junior was only 7 years old, he grew up in a progressive, nonreligious household where his parents (both Native American biologists and activists by trade) encouraged him to ask questions, taught him all people were equal, and celebrated (rather than hiding) the human body by discussing it openly and embracing nudity at home. As a result, Junior tried to explain to his teacher that both Mommy and Daddy had penises – Mommy had an innie, Junior had an outie, and Daddy had an innie and an outie because he grew his own penis naturally when he was a teenager. The teacher was noticeably uncomfortable by what Junior said. (Junior described it to his father like this, “It looked like she wanted to yell at me, like when the Chicago Bears lose and Mommy gets loud.”) The teacher told Junior he was wrong and when he protested, the teacher sent him to the administration for discipline. After relaying this story to the crowd, Jordin explained that as a child he had been born with a tiny “penis” that white American society – scientific or otherwise since the 1920’s through beginning in the late 1800's – would call a “clitoris.” He then explained that whether we call the same organ a “clitoris or a penis” is generally decided based on measurements created by biologists based on religious teachings common in the Western world. He further explained that this was similar to the ways many religious people will call a book “scriptures” instead of a “book” because they believe it is important to distinguish between the two even though there is no empirical difference between the two – each one contains written words created by people the same way that both a “clitoris” and a “penis” contain roughly the same genetic components. Then, he explained how as a child he, like many other people in the world, turned his “clitoris” into a “penis” by ingesting specific chemical compounds, in much the same way people have for centuries. Similarly, he explained how other people consumed other chemical compounds to shrink their “penises” into “clitori.” He further explained that this was similar other parts of the human body, like legs; the difference, of course, is that we don’t call “longer legs” by a new name, and we don’t call the legs of some people “legs” and the legs of other people “clegs.” While Jordin offered many more examples of the ways we have created a mythology or religion called “sex” by naming or emphasizing this or that body part in certain ways, he 34 "Introduction to Sociology/Gender." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 1 Apr 2018, 22:46 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 20:48 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Introduction_to_Sociology/Gender&oldid=3399302 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
further asked parents to imagine that their son or daughter suddenly became not a son or a daughter because a small group of people decided that only brown-eyed people could be sons and daughters, and their child did not have brown eyes. Using another example, he asked the audience to imagine if instead of ovaries or vaginas, we decided people were essentially different (e.g., “sexed”) based on whether or not they could roll their tongues, digest vegetables or meats, or any other of a million tiny biological variations throughout human existence that do not have to create social differences in our world. Finally, he asked the audience what "sex" males who lose or have no use of their penises would be and asked the same for females who are born without vaginal canals, ovaries, or other materials we decided matter. As Jordin illustrated, we still consider them members of the same "sex" categories even if they are missing what we say create the categories in the first place. INTRODUCTION Why do some people continue to teach children and adults beliefs about human anatomy that do not align with empirical reality? Why did we create two names for the same genital organ, and why does it matter to people which name we use for which person? Why do we promote an inaccurate version of human biological variation in our classrooms and research centers? By the same token, why do people – even many trained in critical inquiry and scientific traditions – believe in these social constructs and use them to explain so much of our world? Why did we choose genital variations instead of eye colors, hair colors or other biological variations to segregate people into different religious and scientific categories? And finally, what consequences do our beliefs in sex – and by extension gender – have for individuals and the larger social world? While social scientists have tackled these questions in many ways, the sex/gender system remains one of the most powerful belief systems in our world today among both religious and scientific populations. GENDER VS. SEX Sociologists make a distinction between gender and sex. "Gender" refers to a person's perceived or projected social location within culturally established designations between masculine and feminine behaviors (e.g., gender refers to a person's attempt to signify a masculine or feminine self as well as a person's attempt to categorize someone else in terms of their presentation (intentional or otherwise) of masculine or feminine selfhood). Sex, however, refers to a person's assignment, usually by medical, religious, familial, and / or governmental authorities, into categories socially constructed on the basis of perceived genetic and biological factors (e.g., social elites place people into sex categories by interpreting genetic and biological components of said people). CIS VS. TRANS Sociologists further distinguish between cis sex/gender people and trans sex/ gender people. Cis sex/gender people are those who conform to the existing notions of sex and gender within 98
a given social, historical, cultural, political, and scientific context. A cissex male, for example, will be assigned male at birth (based on the interpretation of biological material), and will seek to remain male throughout the course of his life. Similarly, a cisgender male will be assigned male at birth (based on the interpretation of biological material), and then seek to learn and display the symbols, codes, and cues (based upon existing gender norms in his society) to be interpreted (by himself and others) as first a boy and later a man; he will thus follow the script set forth for males in his social world. Trans sex/gender people are those who do not conform to the existing notions of sex and gender within a given social, historical, cultural, political, and scientific context. A transsex male (often referred to as a female-to-male transsexual), for example, will be assigned female at birth (based on the interpretation of biological material), but will seek to become male - via the use of hormones, bodily training, herbal mixtures, and/or surgeries - during the course of zir35 life. Similarly, a transgender male (sometimes this person will also be a transsexual and other times this person will have no desire to transition sex categories) will be assigned female at birth (based on the interpretation of biological material), but then seek to learn and display the symbols, codes, and cues (based upon existing gender norms in his society) to be interpreted (by himself and others) as first a boy and later a man or as a boy/man sometimes and a girl/woman at other times. In some societies and historical periods, trans sex/gender people are accepted, celebrated, and affirmed, but in other societies and historical periods, they are faced with constant scrutiny, harassment, and discrimination that has even been supported by scientific and religious institutions. SEX Scientific communities (especially since the late 1800's) have divided many species of living things into two mutually reinforcing categories based upon dominant interpretations (political, religious, and scientifically established) of genetic materials, reproductive capabilities, and genital composition. Typically, these classification schemes have promoted the idea of two sexes: "male" and "female". Within these schemes, females are defined as the sex that produces larger gametes (i.e., reproductive cell) and which bears the offspring. These schemes have therefore been built to match reproductive functions that an individual may perform during life cycles. To establish these schemes, scientists simplified the empirical realities of human biology by formulating a typology of sex chromosomes labeled X and Y. Within this typology, they assigned females two X chromosomes, and males an XY chromosome. In fact, this socially constructed typology has become so well established that most people interpret and perceive "sex" as a dichotomous state. As noted previously, however, human biology is far more complex than this typology allows, and as a result, there are many genetic variations that are left out of these classification schemes (see the article on Intersex here as well as the citation outlining intersex experience earlier in this text). Further, most people are not genetically examined at birth, and standards
35 Ze and zir are gender neutral pronouns.
for assigning people to male and female sexes are not uniform across social, situational, or historical contexts - generally, a doctor makes the decision as to what sex the child is, and the child is listed as such regardless of what genetic testing or other biological criteria might reveal. Most clinical research and debates on the subject, for example, suggest that males are people born with a urethra at the tip of the phallus whereas females have it in the perineum, but in reality, people are born with urethral openings in a wide variety of locations between the phallus and perineum despite the fact that only a fraction of these births are labeled intersex (similar observations have been made concerning distinctions based on genital size, gamete size, chromosomal makeup, and other biological markers). While the socially constructed dichotomy (e.g., male v. female) mirrors capitalistic hierarchies embedded within many postindustrial societies, it does not in fact match the biological reality of people, and thus sociologists examine what role the "myth of distinct, dichotomous sexes" plays in social patterning and structure. Alongside such complexity, human biology is incredibly susceptible to influence, mutation, and adjustment, and not surprisingly, "sex" is rather mutable. As a result, historians have documented "sex" transition or change throughout human history and noted the ability for one to transform and change "sex" in many different ways. Until the 1950's, for example, transitioning or changing "sex" categories was typically seen as a natural variation in human biology and experience in most of the world. In search of greater market share in the 1950's, however, American and European medical authorities defined transsexuality as a disorder that required intervention and treatment by licensed professionals and facilitated the classification of transsexuality as a psychological disorder that necessitated a specific narrative and therapeutic protocol prior to transition. As a result, support groups and community centers sprung up in the 1980's (forming a national Transgender movement in the 1990's) to (a) teach people the story they would need to tell to acquire transexual services and identities, and (b) lobby medical and psychological communities to remove these newly added (or newly socially constructed) "disorders" from the record books (this process has been somewhat successful as transsexuality has been reinterpreted repeatedly throughout the last two decades and in some countries gained legal recognition and protection). At present, both intersex and transexuality are hotly debated topics within and between scientific communities. While many (especially in the biological, psychological and medical sciences) still promote the "two sexes" or "XX/XY" model, these perspectives are increasingly demonstrated to be ideological rather than scientifically based forms of knowledge (see Michel Foucault for discussion of the socially constructed and political nature of all human knowledge). As a result, debates continue wherein biological, medical, and psychological sciences attempt to maintain their hold on rather lucrative models of sex while many scholars in these and other fields attempt to return scientific understandings of "sex" to an empirical rather than ideological basis. GENDER 100
Similar to "Sex," Gender is a socially constructed interpretation of human behavior patterns. Specifically, gender refers to the ascription (by self or others) of differential social statuses based upon shared understandings of what constitutes masculine and/or feminine behavior. As such, gender typically involves two interrelated components built upon the acceptance or rejection of societal norms concerning masculinities and femininities. First, gender may refer to an internal feeling that one is a male, female, both, neither, and/or somewhere in between or beyond these categories. Because gender is dependent upon behavioral expectations and norms, once individuals know those expectations and norms, the individual can adopt behaviors that project the gender he/she wishes to portray. One can think of this side of gender like a role in a theatrical play - there are specific behaviors and norms associated with genders just like there are lines and movements associated with each character in a play. Adopting the behaviors and norms of a gender leads to the perception that someone belongs in that gender category. Similar to a play, however, there is another component of gender - the audience. In a play, performances are determined to be believable or not based upon audience reaction, and audiences typically arrive at performances with a pre-established set of expectations and ideas about what they will be witnessing. Gender is thus also the external perception others develop of us (e.g., Do other people think and believe we are men and/or women?). Since gender - like a play - is ultimately a human created fiction (e.g., a performance of shared understandings), it can only exist as long as others believe and approve of the performance. As a result, people "do gender" throughout their lives by (a) aligning their actions to the preconceived gender beliefs of others, and (b) developing an awareness (consciously or otherwise) that everything they do may be interpreted as evidence (or lack thereof) of their position within a specific gender category. Gender is thus an ongoing production dependent upon the reactions of others. Some examples may help illustrate the ways people learn to accomplish gender. Parents may socialize children into what is perceived as a traditionally masculine role, which includes characteristics like independence, courage, and aggressiveness while constantly reminding the child ze is supposed to be masculine by, for example, calling the child by gendered labels like "boy" or "son" and/or stopping the child when ze acts in non-masculine ways (e.g., boys don't do that). Likewise, parents may socialize children into what is perceived as a traditionally feminine role that includes characteristics like submissiveness, emotionality, and empathy while constantly reminding the child that it is supposed to be feminine through the same means noted above. Further, others in the child's environment (like siblings, strangers, and peers) will often reinforce these beliefs and social control mechanisms throughout the child's interactions. Assuming both of the aforementioned children never question their placement into these gender categories, the masculine child will learn to be a boy and a man and the feminine child will learn to be a girl and a woman by aligning their own behaviors to fit conventional gender norms over time. Such individuals will develop cisgender identities. For instance, the masculine child may play with toy soldiers, join athletic teams, and learn to prize
appearing tough while the feminine child may play with dolls, bond with other femininebehaving people, and learn that ze36 is rewarded for appearing to care. TRADITIONAL GENDER TRAITS Feminine: Submissive, dependent, emotional, receptive, intuitive, timid, passive, sensitive Masculine: Dominant, independent, rational, assertive, analytical, brave, active, insensitive However, gender â€“ like sex â€“ is fluid and can change. This can be seen by continuing the above example. It is possible for the masculine-raised child to decide later in life - or without the parents knowledge earlier in life - to engage in feminine behaviors, and the same could happen with the feminine-raised child (in fact, many parents raise children in gender neutral ways that allow the children to make these decisions from the start). In so doing, the aforementioned children could adopt relatively varied behaviors that create an androgynous or gender neutral self, or they could simply adopt the opposite (raised masculine, but decide to live feminine sometimes or all the time and vice versa) gender performances (see the image of drag queens for male people that adopt feminine expressions and behaviors sometimes). Either change, however, would require (a) adopting different gender performances than those promoted and enforced by dominant social structures, and (b) risking ridicule, harassment, and discrimination at the hands of cisgender people (often referred to as cissexism or transphobia). BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES While much of this chapter focuses on the socially constructed differences between men and women, it is also important to note there are some clear physiological differences between the two sexes. While it is as yet unknown how or why these differences develop, scholars typically attempt to explain the differences in one of two ways. Scientific disciplines tied more firmly to existing gender norms within a society, for example, typically argue that biological distinctions create these differences, and use these differences to argue that there are inherent differences between women and men (non cis-gender people are generally ignored completely by these fields and within their arguments). On the other hand, more progressive and diverse scientific communities generally argue that these differences reflect existing gender inequalities within a given society, and thus merely demonstrate that the social construction of sex and gender has biological (as well as social) consequences. While the emergence of bio-social mathematical models and critical examinations of scientific texts may shed light on this debate in the decades to come, at present the answers remain beyond empirical reach. As a result, the following paragraphs outline these differences while also noting the ways that social factors may cause or influence such differences. Keep in mind, however, that since these studies ignore trans sex/gender experience, we must limit our commentary to cisgender results only. In addition to different sex organs and sex chromosomes, the average male is 10 percent taller, 20 percent heavier, and 35 percent stronger in the upper body than the average female . Some researchers believe that these physiological differences may have been influenced by
36 Ze and zir are gender neutral pronouns.
social/cultural decisions in our evolutionary past. Even so, when measured against their own body size, rather than on an absolute scale (e.g., how much females can carry relative to their body size versus how much males can carry relative to their body size), actual strength differences are minimal. Females, for reasons still somewhat undetermined, tend to outlive males. Female life expectancy in the U.S. is 79.8 years; for males it is 74.4. Some believe this difference is due to the riskier lifestyles of males that identify as men (e.g., pursue masculine behaviors), especially earlier in life, combined with their typically more physically stressing occupations. Others have noted the negative effects that stress and lack of emotional expression (a hallmark trait associated with masculinities) place on the body, and the tendency for females to seek help and treatment (traditionally feminine behaviors) as factors in this pattern. Behaviorally, age of sitting, teething, and walking all occur at about the same time in females and males. However, males enter puberty on average two years later than females (it is important to note, however, that females have a clear sign (e.g., menarche) of puberty onset whereas males (and their parents) are generally uncertain of the exact onset of puberty, which could skew these interpretations). There are no significant differences in intelligence, happiness, or self-esteem between males and females. However, females are, statistically, twice as vulnerable to anxiety disorders and depression (possibly due to their experience as a subordinate or minority group within many societies), but only one-third as vulnerable to suicide and one-fifth as vulnerable to alcoholism (potentially due to traditional definitions of masculinities that link violence and substance abuse to masculinities). Females attempt suicide more often than males (mirroring patterns between other dominant and subordinate groups) but have lower rates of "success", because their preferred methods do not involve firearms, unlike males (potentially due to the association of violence with masculinities). Females are also less likely to suffer hyperactivity or speech disorders as children or to display antisocial personalities as adults (potentially due to gender socialization wherein femininities are associated with social behaviors and communication skills). Finally, females have slightly more olfactory receptors on average and are more easily re-aroused immediately after orgasm (potentially due to traditional associations of femininities to the pursuit of sexual pleasure and intimacy in relation to masculine associations with sexual conquest and performance). Much evidence has shown that there are differences in male and female brains. In fact, the temporal lobe, which is the part of the brain associated with language and emotion, develops up to 4 years earlier in females in comparison to boys (which mirrors patterns of gender socialization for femininities). On the other hand, the left parietal lobe, which is associated with mathematical and spatial reasoning, is thought to develop up to 4 years earlier in males (which corresponds to masculine socialization in terms of rationality and noted encouragement favoring male students in the physical sciences). This difference could account for the fact that females are sometimes thought to be better when it comes to language and are more emotional (following their gender socialization requirements), while males are thought to be better in math (following their gender socialization requirements). As well, some 103
say that females are better at hearing than males. A typical teenaged female in a society with high levels of gender inequality hears up to 7 times better than a typical teenaged male in the same society. This (along with masculine socialization emphasizing acting out, being loud, and avoiding being controlled) could possibly explain why males are diagnosed with ADHD more often (and may be the result of feminine socialization emphasizing the care-taking of others). Lastly there is a difference between sight for young females and males. Females are able to see facial expressions / emotions better while males are able to see motion better (mirroring gender socialization emphasis on feminine care-taking and communication and masculine attention to action). Females use the p-cells in the retina, which are associated with texture and color, while males use m-cells, which are associated with motion. SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES Gender differences (whether reflected in later physiology or not) typically vary by society, environment, historical context, and/or culture, indicating they are social constructions. For example, in work group situations in the U.S., men tend to focus on the task at hand whereas women tend to focus more on personal relationships, but studies of trans people have demonstrated that these differences are often the result of differential treatment women and men receive in the workplace (e.g., transmen report being encouraged to focus more on the task at hand after transition). When eating, women eating with men tend to eat fewer calories than when they are eating with women. Both of these differences in behavior vary by culture and are therefore believed to be socially constructed. WORK AND OCCUPATIONS An often discussed and debated difference between men and women involves work and occupations. Women's participation in the workforce has varied significantly over time. Prior to the development of capitalism and factory-type work, women played a significant role in food production and household maintenance. With the advent of capitalism and labor outside of the home, women continued to play a significant role, though their participation in paid labor outside the home initially diminished. Also, women's participation in the labor force varied (and varies) depending on marital status and social class. Current U.S. labor force statistics illustrate women's changing role in the labor force. For instance, since 1971, women's participation in the labor force has grown from 32 million (43.4% of the female population 16 and over) to 68 million (59.2% of the female population 16 and over). Women also make, on average, $17,000 less than do men. Women tend to be concentrated in less prestigious and lower paying occupations that are traditionally considered women's jobs (also referred to as pink collar jobs). Finally, women are not paid the same wages as men for similar work. This difference is often illustrated as a ratio, as shown in the graph below. Women tend to make between 75% and 91% of what men make for comparable work, though it depends on how the comparison is made. For instance, college educated women between 26 and 45 earned 74.7 cents in hourly pay for every dollar men in the same group made in 2005. However, if you compare women and men with similar profiles and qualifications, the gap is smaller: women make about 91% of what men make, at least they 104
have since the 1980s. In the 1970s, similarly qualified women made only 82% as much as their male counterparts. However, at all educational and skill levels, women still make less than men, as illustrated in the figure below. That women earn less than men with equal qualifications helps explain why women are enrolling in college at higher rates than are men - they require a college education to make the same amount as men with a high school diploma. The gap between men's and women's wages narrowed during the 1980s and mid 1990s, but that momentum has fallen off and the distance now appears to have stagnated. The gap in income between genders used to be similar between middle-class and affluent workers, but it is now widest among the most highly paid. A woman making in the 95th percentile in 2006 would earn about $95,000 per year; a man in the 95th earning percentile would make about $115,000, a 28% difference (and that's not including the highest earners, who are predominantly men). The narrowing of the gap in pay has also been called into question. While it appears there has been a narrowing of the gap in pay between men and women, Mulligan and Rubinstein show that much of the narrowing is actually the result of the most able women entering the workforce and not decreases in the pay gap between men and women. Thus, even the apparent narrowing of pay between the sexes likely overestimates the actual differences in pay. It is quite difficult for women to climb to the top in the business world. For instance, only 3% of tech firms and just 1% of high-tech firms were founded by women and very few are headed by women. But the women who do climb to the top of the organizational ladder in business also experience both overt and covert discrimination. For instance, companies with women on the board of directors have lower stock evaluations than do companies with exclusively male boards. This is likely a reflection of the lack of shareholder trust in women. Women are also often put into leadership positions in corporations when companies are in a crisis and have little hope for recovery, resulting in poorer evaluations of women in leadership positions. The phenomenon of putting women into leadership positions when companies are in trouble is referred to as "the glass cliff" and is also observed in politics, as women are disproportionately chosen to run in elections when it is almost guaranteed that the incumbent male candidate will win. The most common explanation for the wage gap between men and women is the finding that women pay a motherhood wage penalty, regardless of whether or not they are actually mothers. You can think about this from the perspective of a potential employer: If you have two equally qualified candidates for a position, both are in their mid-twenties, married, and straight out of college, but one is a male and the other is female, which would you choose? Many employers choose men over women because women are "at risk" of having a child, even though they may not want to have children. And, of course, to the potential employer accommodating a pregnant woman and mother is more cumbersome than a male turned father (despite the obvious need for children to continue our species). Thus, women pay a 105
penalty for their ability to give birth. Additionally, when women do have children, this often requires a period of time outside the workforce, whether it's six weeks or several months. Employers take the time off into account when considering raises. The "Mommy track" often results in women making less money than equally qualified men who have been in the same job for the same amount of time because women take time off to have children and are often responsible for taking care of children while men rarely do so. Thus, women are often paid less despite having the same qualifications because they are (1) at risk of having children or (2) do have children and are penalized for doing so. Another possible explanation for the wage gap between men and women has recently been proposed - customer bias towards white males. Hekman et al. (2009) found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19% more satisfied with the white male employee's performance and also were more satisfied with the store's cleanliness and appearance, despite the fact that all three actors performed identical, read the same script, and were in the exact same location with identical camera angles and lighting. They provide further evidence to support this claim by noting that white male doctors are rated as more approachable and competent than other doctors. They interpret their findings to suggest that employers are willing to pay more for white male employees because employers are customer driven and customers are happier with white male employees. They also suggest that what is required to solve the problem of wage inequality isn't necessarily paying women more but changing customer biases. Additional reasons for disparity in pay are discussed below. Another factor that may contribute to the higher wages of white men is the number of job leads they receive. White men, particularly those in management positions, receive more job leads from friends and colleagues than do white women and Hispanic men and women. Black men and women receive about as many job leads and tips, but only for non-management jobs. As many jobs result from social networking, white males are advantaged by their higher number of job leads, potentially contributing to their higher salaries and more prestigious jobs. EDUCATION Another often studied difference between men and women is educational attainment. For a long time, higher education (undergraduate and graduate education) was an exclusively male bastion. Women did eventually gain access to institutions of higher learning, but parity or equality on a number of levels has still not been achieved. One measure of educational attainment where women have made great inroads is in college attendance. In 1960, 37.9% of female high school graduates enrolled in college, compared with 54.0% of male high school graduates. In 2002, more female high school graduates were enrolling in college than males, 68.4% of females vs. 62.1% males. Women have, in fact, made significant progress in this respect. Women now earn more Bachelor and Master degrees than do men, and for the first time in 2009, they earned more PhDs. Women have made significant inroads into some of the traditionally most prestigious professions as well: 40% of medical school graduates are women and women make up large percentages of law school students as well. 106
Despite the progress, there are still problems. While women are entering college at higher rates and even earning more degrees, the degrees are in less prestigious areas (e.g., social sciences and humanities compared to physical sciences) and women with degrees still earn less than do men with comparable degrees. For instance, in medicine, women tend to concentrate in lower paying specialties (e.g., dermatology and family medicine). The highest paid specialties are dominated by men and will be for decades to come, based on the pipeline of residents: 28% of radiology residents in 2004-5 were women, and only 10% of orthopedic surgery residents were. At the primary and secondary levels, girls don't often do as well as boys, particularly in math and the sciences. One recent study offers a partial explanation for why this might be the case: highly math-anxious female teachers in elementary school pass their math-anxiety on to the girls in the classroom, but not to the boys. At the beginning of the class, there were no differences in math anxiety between the boys and girls, but in classes taught by female mathanxious teachers, girls developed math anxiety and boys did not. This anxiety led girls to believe boys were better at math than girls, though there is no evidence to suggest that is actually the case. SEXISM Sexism is discrimination against people based on their perceived sex or gender. Sexism can refer to four subtly different beliefs or attitudes: ● The belief that there are only two sexes. ● The belief that one sex is superior to the others. ● The belief that men and women (as well as other genders) are very different and that this should be strongly reflected in society, language, the right to have sex, and the law. ● It can also refer to simple hatred of men (misandry) or women (misogyny) or trans people (transphobia). Many peoples' beliefs on this topic range along a continuum. Some people believe that women should have equal access to all jobs. Others believe that while women are superior to men in a few aspects, in most aspects men are superior to women. Some believe that cisgender people are normal and better than transgender people while others do not even factor transgender people into their reasoning. Sexist beliefs are an example of essentialist thought, which holds that individuals can be understood (and often judged) based on the characteristics of the group to which they belong; in this case, their sex group (male, female, or intersex). Essentialism assumes that all individuals clearly fit into the category of male or female, which is not the case. It also assumes characteristics are immutable, which is also not the case. A good example of sexism against women is a question that has been asked in numerous surveys over the years in the US, "Would you vote for a female candidate for president?" A 107
2005 Gallup poll found that 92% of Americans would vote for a female candidate, but followup research found that this percentage was the result of response bias. When you use research techniques that allow people to express how they really feel toward women, the actual percentage who would not vote for a female candidate because she is female is closer to 26%. Intriguingly, it is not just men who feel that way, but some women, too. In short, nearly 1/4 of cisgender Americans maintain sexist attitudes against women (trans people are not counted in the surveys). Recent research illustrates the pervasiveness of sexism in the media. Messner et al. found that sports coverage on major television networks focuses predominantly on men, despite the increase in female participation in sports since the passage of Title IX in 1972. In 1971, 294,000 high school girls played interscholastic sports, compared to 3.7 million boys. By 1989 that ratio changed substantially - 1.8 million girls played sports compared to 3.4 million boys. By 2004 the ratio had changed even more - 2.9 million girls compared to 4.0 million boys. At the collegiate level, the change was also substantial. In 1972, the average college in the U.S. had two women's sports teams. In just the four years between 2000 and 2004, universities in the U.S. added 631 new women's teams. Despite the increase in participation in sports, major network news coverage of women's sports has changed very little over the last 15 years. In 1989 women garnered only 5% of air time; in 1999 that increased to 9%, but it fell back to 6% by 2005. Sports highlights shows (e.g., ESPNS's Sports Center) are even less accommodating, giving only 2% to 3% of air time to women. What's more, the little amount of air time given to women often portrays women's sports as "novelties" or pseudo-sports and often includes gags, like the women's nude bungee jump in 1999. Additionally, much of the coverage of women in sports is sexualized, as attention is often only given to women deemed "attractive" by the news anchors (e.g., Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova). Whether this treatment of women in sport is intentional or not, it is a clear example of sexism in the media. Another example of gender discrimination is the disparity in wealth between men and women. Using biographical data published in magazines and books as well as IRS income reports, Tickamyer found: ● There are fewer wealthy women than there are wealthy men. ● It is not entirely clear as to whether sources of wealth differ, but it does appear that women are more likely than men to inherit their wealth (especially from husbands). ● The forms of women's holdings differ from men's; many women have their money in trusts, which is a safer form of investment than those used by men (e.g., stocks and bonds). ● Women are less likely to have control over their wealth than men and are less likely to be actively engaged in increasing their wealth through investments as, say, the head of a company is engaged in growing his wealth.
The author attributed the differences in wealth distribution to historical instances of gender discrimination. Up until the 19th Century most women could not own property and women's participation in the paid labor force outside the home was limited. It is possible that wealth among the elite may be redistributed toward a more equal balance between the sexes with increasing numbers of women entering the workforce and moving toward more financially lucrative positions in major corporations. Women in some organizations are suing their employers claiming gender discrimination. For instance, Wal-Mart has faced lawsuits by female employees who alleged gender discrimination. Part of the plaintiffs' argument rests on the fact that, while roughly 75% of intra-store department heads are women, only 20% of store managers (who make close to $100,000 per year) are women. It is difficult to prove discrimination in such cases. In fact, many researchers point out that there may and probably are other root causes, including: differences in gender socialization (men believe they need to support their families as the primary breadwinners, leading to greater job commitment) and emphasis by the government on equality in pay and opportunity between genders. VIOLENCE Sexism can take many forms, including preventing women from attending college and paying women less than men for comparable work. Another common form of sexism is violence, especially violence toward women and trans people. In 2002, women were the victims of over 900,000 violent crimes and over 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults. Men are more likely to be the victims of violent crime, but far less likely to be the victims of rapes or sexual assaults. Similarly, recent reports show steady patterns wherein trans people suffer more gender related violence than any other social group. THEORIES OF GENDER DIFFERENCES GENDER SOCIALIZATION Sociologists and other social scientists generally attribute many of the differences between genders to socialization (note that even physiological differences mirror existing gender socialization processes). Socialization is the process of transferring norms, values, beliefs, and behaviors to future group members. In gender socialization, the groups people join are the gender categories, "cisgender women and men" and "transgender people". Thus, gender socialization is the process of educating and instructing potential males, females, and intersex children as to the norms, behaviors, values, and beliefs of group membership. Preparations for gender socialization begin even before the birth of the child. One of the first questions people ask of expectant parents is the sex of the child. This is the beginning of a social categorization process that continues throughout life. Preparations for the birth often take the infant's perceived sex into consideration (e.g., painting the room blue if the child is a boy, pink for a girl). Many of the gender differences just described are attributed to differences in socialization, though it is possible that as yet undemonstrated genetic and biological factors 109
play some role. It is important to keep in mind that gender differences are a combination of social and biological forces; sometimes one or the other has a larger influence, but both play a role in dictating behavior. One illustration of early life gender socialization can be seen in preschool classrooms. Children in preschool classrooms where teachers were told to emphasize gender differences saw an increase in stereotyped views of what activities are appropriate for boys and girls, while children with teachers who did not emphasize gender showed no increase. This study supports the idea that subtle cues that surround us in our everyday lives strongly influence gender socialization. Research finds that gender differences in work and occupations begin with adolescents' first jobs: ● first jobs are significantly segregated by sex ● girls work fewer hours per week than boys ● girls earn less per hour than boys ● hourly wages are higher in job types dominated by males ● girls are assigned more housework than are boys Researchers attribute these differences to gender socialization and differential opportunities for boys and girls. Another example of research finding differences in behavior between genders can be seen in the differences in self-ratings of attractiveness. Using fifty-five Johns Hopkins University undergraduates (24 females), the authors had the students fill out questionnaires they designed as self-appraisals of attractiveness. The authors then used a panel to rate the attractiveness of the participants (an objective measure). The researchers found that females are fairly accurate in their assessments of their attractiveness but males are not. They explained their findings by discussing the salience of attractiveness for females, a characteristic learned through socialization: Attractiveness is a more important component of femininities. This is seen in the disparity between females and males in the number of cosmetic surgeries they undergo. Of the 11.5 million cosmetic surgeries performed in 2005, women accounted for 85% to 90% of them. Because attractiveness is so important for females, they are more attuned to their actual attractiveness than are males. OTHER IMPORTANT TERMS PATRIARCHY Patriarchy is a social system that is (1) male dominated (e.g., the primary positions of power are occupied by and/or encouraged for males rather than others), (2) male identified (e.g., what is defined as valuable or normative in society is associated with men and masculinities), and (3) male centered (e.g., the cultural focus of attention, whether media, scientific, religious, or political based, is on men and the things men do). This does not mean that all men in a 110
patriarchal society will be or feel powerful throughout their lives or necessarily possess power over women and trans people. Rather, it means that the primary social focus in a given social context favors males and those perceived to be men while granting all men - regardless of their intentions or their recognition of this fact - unearned privileges within and between existing social institutions. INTERSECTIONALITY Intersectionality is the interrelation and intersection of multiple, interlocking systems of oppression and privilege within and between societies. Central to this perspective is the recognition that systems of inequality, such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and age, ultimately rely upon and reproduce one another at all levels of society. As a result, social justice requires an examination of the foundations and interconnections that make existing and past inequalities possible as well as the ways these systems influence the contemporary and future developments of social, political, scientific, religious, and cultural systems of knowledge and power. RESEARCH EXAMPLES A powerful example of how gender affects everyday life comes from the recently published research of Kristen Schilt on female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals in the workplace. Schilt interviewed FTM transsexuals after they had undergone their sex changes and found that, following their change to a male identity, two-thirds of the FTM transsexuals saw increased benefits in the workplace, including receiving greater rewards for doing less work. They were also treated differently. They found that their opinions had greater authority and received more recognition for their work. The FTMs who did not experience these benefits tended to be smaller and minorities. In short, white males are privileged in the workplace, even when those "white males" were formerly white females. The lesson: Perceived gender has a powerful influence on everyday social interaction. Another interesting example of gender's influence on social organization comes from the recently published research of J. Edward Sumerau on gay Christian men's attempts to construct masculine selves within the context of a gay-friendly religious organization. Sumerau spent over 3 years observing the ways gay Christian males signified themselves as men and sought to claim privileges typically associated with masculinity. Ze37 found that the gay Christian males drew upon existing notions of masculinity, such as beliefs that men are breadwinners and leaders, emotionally controlled and rational, and dominants within relationships. This was done to demonstrate their "masculine" selves to one another and convince themselves of their "rightful" place as church and community leaders. The lesson: Masculinities may be constructed via the use of everyday assumptions and beliefs built into the gender norms of a given society.
37 Ze and zir are gender neutral pronouns.
Questions: Do you feel you are forced to conform to a specific gender based on how you were socialized, or do you willingly â€œaccomplishâ€? your gender and its socialized attributes? 2. What evidence exists to demonstrate that we live in a patriarchy? 3. Everybody has lots of identities and gender identity is only one of them. What are your identities? Which ones are most important to you? How would it feel to know you wanted to change your sex in order to affirm your gender identity? 1.
Reading: Feminism38 Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women's rights, interests, and issues in society. Some feminist scholars consider the essence of feminism as broader than male and female relations. It has been posited that the hierarchies in businesses and government and all organizations need to be done away with and replaced with a decentralized ultra-democracy. Some argue that the concept of having any central leader in any organization is a concept derived from the male-centric family structure (and therefore in need of reform and replacement). (Feel free to look up more on: Anarcha-feminism and Post-structuralism.) Feminist scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing on fields of study such as anthropology, legal theory, sociology, history, literature and media studies among others. Feminist Studies, Women's Studies, or Gender Studies may be their own academic departments at some universities, while at others courses that use a feminist analysis may be taught through other departments, such as any of those listed above or another department with an explicitly political bent, such as Ethnic Studies, LGBT Studies, or Queer Studies. There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not the needs of students and of the field are best served by teaching about women's issues, racism, homophobia, and other interconnected issues in departments specifically devoted to such study or as single courses through a variety of more traditional departments such as Literature, History, etc. Feminist political activists often campaign on issues such as reproductive rights, violence within a domestic partnership, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence. Themes explored in feminism include patriarchy, stereotyping, objectification, sexual objectification, and oppression. In the 1960s and 1970s, much of feminism and feminist theory largely represented, and was concerned with, problems faced by Western, white, heterosexual, middle-class women while at the same time claiming to represent all women through a theory of universal patriarchy and worldwide sisterhood. Since that time, many feminist theorists have challenged the assumption that "women" constitute a homogeneous group of individuals with identical interests. Feminist activists emerge from within diverse communities, and feminist theorists
38 "Feminism/Introduction." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 2 Aug 2009, 15:53 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 20:38 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Feminism/Introduction&oldid=1598305 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
have begun to focus on the intersection between gender and sexuality with other social identities, such as race and class. Many feminists today argue that feminism is a grassroots movement that seeks to cross boundaries based on social class, race, culture, and religion. Feminisms are culturally specific and addresses issues relevant to the women of each society, such as female circumcision in Sudan, or the glass ceiling in developed economies. There is an ongoing debate about the extent to which certain issues, such as rape, incest, and mothering, are universal, and under what circumstances feminists can and should intervene in other countries and form alliances with activists from other backgrounds, in light of histories of colonialism and globalization that can render forming truly helpful international projects rather difficult. Over the years a number of feminist political parties have been formed. Although negative stereotypes about feminists are still quite common, feminism and women's rights are often subject of mainstream or even conservative political rhetoric, as when Laura Bush used the concept of women's rights in a critique of the Middle East in 2005. The history of feminism39 reaches far back before the 18th century, but the seeds of the feminist movement were planted during the latter portion of that century. The earliest works on the so-called "woman question" criticized the restrictive role of women, without necessarily claiming that women were disadvantaged or that men were to blame. PRIOR TO 1850 Feminist thought began during The Enlightenment with such thinkers as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Marquis de Condorcet championing women's education. The first scientific society for women was founded in Middleberg, a city in the south of the Dutch republic, in 1785. Journals for women which focused on issues like science became popular during this period as well. Mary Wollstonecraft's â€œA Vindication of the Rights of Womanâ€? (1792) is one of the first works that can unambiguously be called feminist, although by modern standards her comparison of women to the nobility, the elite of society, coddled, fragile, and in danger of intellectual and moral sloth, does not sound like a feminist argument. Wollstonecraft believed that both sexes contributed to this situation and took it for granted that women had considerable power over men. LATE 19th CENTURY The movement is generally said to have begun in the 18th century as people increasingly came to believe that women were treated unfairly under the law. The feminist movement is rooted in the West and especially in the reform movement of the 19th century. The organized movement is dated from the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.
39 "Feminism/History." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 13 May 2017, 10:55 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 20:38 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Feminism/History&oldid=3218659>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the founders of the suffragette movement and aimed to reveal the institutional sexism in British society, forming the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Often the repeated jailing for forms of activism that broke the law, particularly property destruction, inspired members to go on hunger strikes. As a result of the resultant force-feeding that was the practice, these members became very ill, serving to draw attention to the brutality of the legal system at the time and to further their cause. In an attempt to solve this the government introduced a bill that became known as the Cat and Mouse Act, which allowed women to be released when they starved themselves to dangerous levels, then to be re-arrested later. The Feminist movement in the Arab world saw Egyptian jurist Qasim Amin, the author of the 1899 pioneering book Women's Liberation (Tahrir al-Mar'a), as the father of Arab Feminist Movement. In his work Amin criticized some of the practices prevalent in his society at the time, such as polygamy, the veil, or women's segregation, and condemned them as un-Islamic, and contradicting the true spirit of Islam. His work had an enormous influence on women's political movements throughout the Islamic and Arab world and is read and cited today. Less known, however, are the women who preceded Amin in their feminist critique of their societies. The women's press in Egypt started voicing such concerns since its very first issues in 1892. Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese women and men had been reading European feminist magazines even a decade earlier and discussed their relevance to the Middle East in the general press. 20th CENTURY Many countries began to grant women the vote in the early years of the 20th century, especially in the final years of the First World War and the first years after the war. The reasons for this varied but included a desire to recognize the contributions of women during the war and were also influenced by rhetoric used by both sides at the time to justify their war efforts. For example, since Wilson's â€œFourteen Pointsâ€? recognized self-determination as a vital component of society, the hypocrisy of denying half the population of modern nations the vote became difficult for men to ignore. (See: Women's suffrage.) The 1920s were an important time for women, who, in addition to gaining the vote also gained legal recognition in many countries. However, in many countries, women lost the jobs they had gained during the war. In fact, women who had held jobs prior to the war were sometimes compelled to give up their jobs to returning soldiers, partly due to a conservative backlash, and partially through societal pressure to reward the soldiers. Many women continued to work in blue collar jobs, on farms, and traditionally female occupations. Women did make strides in some fields such as nursing. In both World Wars, manpower shortages brought women into traditionally male occupations, ranging from munitions manufacturing and mechanical work to a female baseball league. By demonstrating that women could do "men's work", and highlighting society's dependence on 115
their labor, this shift encouraged women to strive for equality. In World War II, the popular icon Rosie the Riveter became a symbol for a generation of working women. The rise of socialism and communism advanced the rights of women to economic parity with men in some countries. Women were often encouraged to take their place as equals in these societies, although they rarely enjoyed the same level of political power as men, and still often faced very different social expectations. In some areas, regimes actively discouraged feminism and women's liberations. In Nazi Germany, a very hierarchical society was idealized where women maintained a position largely subordinate to men. Women's activism was very difficult there, and in other societies that deliberately set out to restrict women's, and men's, gender roles, such as Italy, and much later Afghanistan. Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first wave and feminists after about 1960 the second wave. Second wave feminists were concerned with gaining full social and economic equality, having already gained almost full legal equality in many western nations. One of the main fields of interest to these women was in gaining the right to contraception and birth control, which were almost universally restricted until the 1960s. With the development of the birth control pill feminists hoped to make it as available as possible. Many hoped that this would free women from the perceived burden of mothering children they did not want; they felt that control of reproduction was necessary for full economic independence from men. Access to abortion was also widely demanded, but this was much more difficult to secure because of the deep societal divisions that existed over the issue. To this day, abortion remains controversial in many parts of the world. Many feminists also fought to change perceptions of female sexual behavior. Since it was often considered more acceptable for men to have multiple sexual partners, many feminists encouraged women into "sexual liberation" and having sex for pleasure with multiple partners. The extent to which most women in fact changed their behavior, first of all because many women had already slept with multiple partners, and secondly because most women still remained in mainly monogamous relationships, is debatable. However, it seems clear that women becoming sexually active since the 1980s are relatively more sexually active than previous generations. (See: Sexual revolution.) These developments in sexual behavior have not gone without criticism by some feminists. They see the sexual revolution primarily as a tool used by men to gain easy access to sex without the obligations entailed by marriage and traditional social norms. They see the relaxation of social attitudes towards sex in general, and the increased availability of pornography without stigma, as leading towards greater sexual objectification of women by men. Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin gained notoriety in the 1980s by attempting to classify pornography as a violation of women's civil rights. 116
There is a so called third wave, but feminists disagree as to its necessity, its benefits, and its ideas. RECENT ACTIVITIES In many areas of the world women are still paid less than men for equivalent work, hold much less political and economic power, and are often the subject of intense social pressure to conform to relatively traditional gender expectations. Feminists continue to fight these conditions. The most high-profile work is done in the field of pay-equity, reproductive rights, and encouraging women to become engaged in politics, both as candidates and as voters. In some areas feminists also fight for legislation guaranteeing equitable divorce laws and protections against rape and sexual harassment. Radical feminism was a significant development in second wave feminism, viewing women's oppression as a fundamental element in human society and seeks to challenge that standard by broadly inverting perceived gender roles along with promoting lesbian and gay rights. In the Arab and Islamic world, feminist movements face very different challenges. In Morocco and Iran, for example, it is the application of Islamic personal status laws that are the target of feminist activity. According to Islamic law, for example, a woman who remarries may lose custody over her children; divorce is an unqualified male privilege; in certain countries polygamy is still legal. While not attacking Islamic law itself, these women and men in different Islamic countries offer modern, feminist, egalitarian readings of religious texts. In Egypt feminist gynecologist Nawal al-Sa'dawi centers her critique on the still-prevalent custom of female genital mutilation. Feminist groups in other African countries have targeted the practice as well. One problem feminists have encountered in the late 20th century is a strong backlash against perceived zealotry on their part. This backlash may be due to the visibility of some radical feminist activism that has been inaccurately perceived as representing the feminist movement as a whole. Many people have become reluctant to be identified as feminists for this reason. Outside of the West, feminism is often associated with Western colonialism and Western cultural influence and is therefore often de-legitimized. Feminist groups might then to refer to themselves as "women's organizations" and refrain from labeling themselves feminists. Questions: 1. How many philosophers, famous writers, etc. that are taught in classrooms are women? 2. If feminism is focused on â€œeradicating gender inequality,â€? why do so many detest the word/label? 3. Why is polygamy considered anti-feminist?
Reading: Global Issues in Austria & Czech Republic with Migration40 Current Issues with Migration, Immigration, and Human Trafficking in Austria and the Czech Republic Overview The movement of people into, out of, and through nations takes place in different forms that have become global issues today. Migration, immigration, and human trafficking are current issues in Austria and the Czech Republic that have global significance because of the push and pull factors related to globalization, a phenomenon that is rapidly shaping our world. Migration, the movement of people through, into, and out of a specified area, is the term used to describe the overall movement of people. This includes immigration and human trafficking, among other migratory terms. Immigration is the movement of people into a specified area, whether of their own free will, or as refugees from conflict in their homelands. Human trafficking is the movement of people through coercion or force, wherein the people being moved are bought and sold as slaves with no free will or human rights. Each of these three phenomena, migration, immigration, and human trafficking, are very important global issues affecting both Austria and the Czech Republic as a direct result of globalization. AUSTRIA Since 1995, Austria’s joining of the EU and the Schengen agreement has allowed free movement into and out of the country to other member states. As a country bordered by 8 others, Austria has been a country of immigration in recent history, though officially it does not claim the status of an immigration country. Until very recently in 2008, Austria’s border with Hungary was closed and illegal immigration was an issue that called for military assistance. Since Hungary joined the EU Shengen Area, however, the border controls have ceased to exist, and free movement from Hungary into Austria is allowed by EU mandate. This freedom of movement from the east is a cause for concern for the Austrian government because of Hungary’s status as a transit country for illegal immigrants from non-EU countries in Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia. Austria’s concern is that Hungary does not have laws in place, nor the power to enforce such laws, that can control the influx of illegal
40 "Global Issues: Austria & Czech Republic/Migration." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 21 Jan 2016, 19:06 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 20:55 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Global_Issues:_Austria_%26_Czech_Republic/Migration&oldid=3039 761>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
immigrants and criminal trafficking into EU territory, and ultimately into Austria. This issue has been brought up by Austria’s conservative politicians during the past two years. Immigrants and their descendants are called “guest workers,” and consist of recognized minority groups in Austria. Ethnic immigrant groups in Austria include Turks, former Yugoslavs, Albanians, Polish, Hungarians, Romanians, Arabs, Slovenes, Slovaks, Czechs, Persians, Italians, Russians, French, Chinese, Spanish, and Bulgarians. The Gypsy-Sinti are also migrants who are a recognized ethnic minority in Austria. Though the minority groups are recognized officially, there is still dispute among Austrian civilians and officials about minority and migrant rights, especially concerning workers’ rights. Austria’s net migration rate is 1.83 migrants/1000 population according to the 2010 CIA World Fact Book. While over 91% of Austria’s population is ethnically Austrian, the highest percentage of migrants include former Yugoslavs, at 4%, and Turks at 1.6%. Turks make up the largest ethnic minority in Austria, however, because many have become nationalized. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Turks reside in Austria today. An outstanding current issue Austria faces with immigration is concern over the large Turkish population. Turks were hired as “guest workers” in 1964 for the construction and export industries, and later came to Austria as refugees during the 1970s. In 1973 the first efforts to curb the influx of Turkish immigrants took shape in Austrian government, resulting in the end of the campaign to hire Turkish workers for industry and the beginning of restrictive immigration law. Several policies have been implemented by the Austrian government to restrict immigration. The first was the 1975 Aliens Employment Act, which set work permit quotas. The Residence Act of 1992 placed further restrictions, stipulating quotas for residency permits without the right to work. More restrictions were put into place in 1997, and the most recent restrictions were made in 2006. Aside from legal restrictions, there are social issues related to the immigrant Turkish population. In the past decade, intolerance of Turkish people and culture has gained momentum, largely due to the terrorist acts committed against Western countries by Islamic radicals. Further Austrian intolerance of the Turks in general is evidenced by the Austrian government’s actions in 2005 to unsuccessfully block the start of Turkish negotiations to join the EU. Social discrimination continues today, but the Austrian government has made efforts since 2005 to help Turkish immigrants and their descendants gain rights equal to those of naturally born, ethnic Austrians. The 2004 law for Equal Treatment in Employment was adopted by all provincial governments in 2006 to help with this. HUMAN TRAFFICKING 119
Austria is both a transit country and a country of destination for human trafficking because of its central European location and its high economic development. All forms of human trafficking occur here, including mostly trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced domestic labor, and child trafficking. Most trafficked people coming into Austria come from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Women account for those who are trafficked primarily for sexual slavery, while men are trafficked primarily for forced labor, which occurs in the service sectors, as well as in the agriculture and construction industries. Forced begging uses trafficked children from primarily Eastern Europe and Roma (Gypsy) communities. Sex trafficking has seen an increase due to traffickers abuse of the prostitution laws, wherein criminals use the law to keep trafficking victims in the country to work as prostitutes. There has been no government action so far to persecute these criminals, or to change the prostitution laws to prevent trafficking in sex slaves. To prevent forced work in the service industry, Austria made new regulations stating that newcomers must appear in person before the Austrian immigration officials in order to be educated about forced labor, and what they should do to get help if they become victims. The government also held a meeting with all foreign embassies to notify them of this new requirement. In 2004, Austriaâ€™s Foreign Ministry set up a Human Trafficking Task Force to combat all types of human trafficking within its borders. The task force wrote a plan of action against human trafficking for the Austrian government in 2007, and a second plan was written for the years 2009-2011 to try and prevent trafficking in humans, protect victims of trafficking, and prosecute criminals associated with trafficking in humans. This new protocol is in direct line with international efforts to streamline the fight against human trafficking, which outlines the three measures of prevention, protection, and prosecution. In 2009, the first report on combating human trafficking in Austria was published in accordance with international efforts to unify the global approach to stopping trafficking in persons. Austria also works with governments in origin countries for human trafficking, especially with southeastern European countries that see large numbers of emigrants leaving for the EU every year. Recognizing that combating human trafficking will take a unified international effort, Austria also works with other EU member countries in accordance with the international Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Additionally, Austria will participate in the new Stockholm Programme, which calls for more cooperation between government Justice systems in order to better target, capture, and prosecute traffickers. CZECH REPUBLIC
The Czech Republic, only an independent nation since 1989, went from a country of emigration to one of immigration in a short span of time. Since joining the EU and Shengen in 2004, the countryâ€™s increasing socioeconomic status draws migrants from Eastern Europe and as far away as Mongolia and Vietnam. The Czech Republic is also a transit country for migrants coming from Eastern territories to Western Europe and the US. Because of its status as a young country, migration policies are still being shaped by Czech Government. Current issues with migration are made more difficult by the countryâ€™s newly acquired EU membership because of the need to quickly develop effective migration protocol. Illegal immigration and human trafficking are two large issues under the umbrella of migration that the Czech government is currently trying to solve. Currently, the Czech Republic faces migration issues such as confronting illegal immigration, providing adequate assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, drawing in highly skilled immigrants for development, and criminal trafficking of humans and drugs. The Czech Republic has an immigration rate of 0.97 migrants/1,000 population according to the 2010 CIA World Fact Book. The number of illegal immigrants is estimated at 300,000 to 340,000. This is largely due to the Czech governmentâ€™s efforts to increase the population through liberal migration legislation following the divorce from Slovakia in 1993. Hundreds of thousands flooded into the Czech Republic from the East in search of better economic conditions in Western Europe. Even though most of these immigrants were in transit to countries further west, many stayed in the Czech Republic. Because of the large influx of foreigners, and the developing immigration laws, the government now faces issues with employment of immigrants without work permits. It is an increasing problem that illegal immigrants can easily find jobs in the Czech Republic, and the government is working with the office of the IOM in Prague to try and resettle illegals back to their country of origin. The main countries of origin for migrants to the Czech Republic are the Ukraine, Slovakia, Vietnam, Poland, Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, and Moldova. Immigrants from theses countries typically go to work in the service sector or labor industries. There are immigrants from Western countries, but these are usually temporary migrants who take prestigious jobs in governments or schools in large cities, especially Prague. The biggest issue the Czech Republic faces with its immigration policy is that the still developing policy must continue to meet with EU standards, especially in the context of illegal immigration and illegal migrant workers. Because the Czech economy is supported by a large number of foreign workers, many of whom are in the country illegally, the government must find a way to make its immigration policy more effective while at the same time not compromising its economy. The need to do this is an increasing concern among the EU and 121
Czech citizens, but elite government officials have yet to stress concern over immigration issues. HUMAN TRAFFICKING The Czech Republic is a transit, destination, and origin country for human trafficking, especially in women for the sex trade. Trafficking victims come from the Eastern European countries, Vietnam, Brazil, and Mongolia. Roma, (Gypsy) women are also trafficking within the country for the sex trade. Trafficking for forced labor also takes place here, especially in men and women from far Eastern Europe, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Additionally, Czech nationals are trafficked to Western European countries for forced labor and forced prostitution. Though the Czech government complies fully with the international protocol to end trafficking in persons, the conviction rates of trafficking criminals remains low, and punishment for convicted criminals does not meet sufficient periods of incarceration for the crime. Even so, the Czech police force has increased training to inform officers of how to detect traffickers and their victims. The Czech government places protection of victims in NGO authority, giving money to the organizations in Czech Republic who provide assistance to trafficking victims. In 2009, the government provided $213,000 to various NGOs who aid victims of trafficking, which was less than in 2008. Though monetary assistance is down, NGOs have continued to provide assistance to just as many victims in 2009 as they did in 2008. Government efforts to prevent trafficking are partnered with the IOM office in Prague through the Ministry of the Interior. Among these efforts are education for foreign workers and their children who are more likely to become victims of trafficking because of their socioeconomic status. This includes immigrants and nationals in the Mongolian and Vietnamese communities. In addition, the education of foreign tourists about human trafficking in the sex industry is aimed at decreasing the demand for prostitution, which draws many Western European tourists to the Czech Republic year-round. The governmentâ€™s Ministry of the Interior continues to cooperate with NGOs such as the IOM to fund research about human trafficking in Czech Republic. Ongoing efforts to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute criminals include policy advocacy from NGOs like the IOM, who use their research to inform the government of the best strategies for combating human trafficking. Questions: 1. What is the difference between a migrant, an immigrant, and a refugee? 2. What is the difference between emigration and immigration? 3. What are some countriesâ€™ laws/rules on seeking asylum? 122
Reading: Government Policies to Reduce Income Inequality41 By the end of this section, you will be able to: ● Explain the arguments for and against government intervention in a market economy ● Identify beneficial ways to reduce the economic inequality in a society ● Show the tradeoff between incentives and income equality No society should expect or desire complete equality of income at a given point in time, for a number of reasons. First, most workers receive relatively low earnings in their first few jobs, higher earnings as they reach middle age, and then lower earnings after retirement. Thus, a society with people of varying ages will have a certain amount of income inequality. Second, people’s preferences and desires differ. Some are willing to work long hours to have income for large houses, fast cars and computers, luxury vacations, and the ability to support children and grandchildren. These factors all imply that a snapshot of inequality in a given year does not provide an accurate picture of how people’s incomes rise and fall over time. Even if some degree of economic inequality is expected at any point in time, how much inequality should there be? How do you measure wealth versus income inequality? Income is a flow of money received, often measured on a monthly or an annual basis; wealth is the sum of the value of all assets, including money in bank accounts, financial investments, a pension fund, and the value of a home. In calculating wealth all debts must be subtracted, such as debt owed on a home mortgage and on credit cards. A retired person, for example, may have relatively little income in a given year, other than a pension or Social Security. However, if that person has saved and invested over time, the person’s accumulated wealth can be quite substantial. In the United States, the wealth distribution is more unequal than the income distribution, because differences in income can accumulate over time to make even larger differences in wealth. However, the degree of inequality in the wealth distribution can be measured with the same tools we use to measure the inequality in the income distribution, like quintile measurements. Data on wealth are collected once every three years in the Survey of Consumer Finance.
41 "Principles of Microeconomics/Government Policies to Reduce Income Inequality." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 3 Sep 2017, 16:28 UTC. 21 Nov 2018, 21:09 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Principles_of_Microeconomics/Government_Policies_to_Reduce_Inc ome_Inequality&oldid=3289004>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Even if they cannot answer the question of how much inequality is too much, economists can still play an important role in spelling out policy options and tradeoffs. If a society decides to reduce the level of economic inequality, it has three main sets of tools: redistribution from those with high incomes to those with low incomes; trying to assure that a ladder of opportunity is widely available; and a tax on inheritance. REDISTRIBUTION Redistribution means taking income from those with higher incomes and providing income to those with lower incomes. Earlier in this chapter, we considered some of the key government policies that provide support for the poor: the welfare program TANF, the earned income tax credit, SNAP, and Medicaid. If a reduction in inequality is desired, these programs could receive additional funding. The programs are paid for through the federal income tax, which is a progressive tax system designed in such a way that the rich pay a higher percent in income taxes than the poor. Data from household income tax returns in 2009 shows that the top 1% of households had an average income of $1,219,700 per year in pre-tax income and paid an average federal tax rate of 28.9%. The effective income tax, which is total taxes paid divided by total income (all sources of income such as wages, profits, interest, rental income, and government transfers such as veteransâ€™ benefits), was much lower. The effective tax paid by the top 1% of householders was 20.4%, while the bottom two quintiles actually paid negative effective income taxes, because of provisions like the earned income tax credit. News stories occasionally report on a high-income person who has managed to pay very little in taxes, but while such individual cases exist, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the typical pattern is that people with higher incomes pay a higher average share of their income in federal income taxes. Of course, the fact that some degree of redistribution occurs now through the federal income tax and government antipoverty programs does not settle the questions of how much redistribution is appropriate, and whether more redistribution should occur. THE LADDER OF OPPORTUNITY Economic inequality is perhaps most troubling when it is not the result of effort or talent, but instead is determined by the circumstances under which a child grows up. One child attends a well-run grade school and high school and heads on to college, while parents help out by supporting education and other interests, paying for college, a first car, and a first house, and offering work connections that lead to internships and jobs. Another child attends a poorly run grade school, barely makes it through a low-quality high school, does not go to college, and lacks family and peer support. These two children may be similar in their underlying talents and in the effort they put forth, but their economic outcomes are likely to be quite different. Public policy can attempt to build a ladder of opportunities so that, even though all children will never come from identical families and attend identical schools, each child has a 125
reasonable opportunity to attain an economic niche in society based on their interests, desires, talents, and efforts. The United States has often been called a land of opportunity. Although the general idea of a ladder of opportunity for all citizens continues to exert a powerful attraction, specifics are often quite controversial. Society can experiment with a wide variety of proposals for building a ladder of opportunity, especially for those who otherwise seem likely to start their lives in a disadvantaged position. Such policy experiments need to be carried out in a spirit of openmindedness, because some will succeed while others will not show positive results or will cost too much to enact on a widespread basis. INHERITANCE TAXES There is always a debate about inheritance taxes. It goes like this: On the one hand, why should people who have worked hard all their lives and saved up a substantial nest egg not be able to give their money and possessions to their children and grandchildren? In particular, it would seem un-American if children were unable to inherit a family business or a family home. On the other hand, many Americans are far more comfortable with inequality resulting from high-income people who earned their money by starting innovative new companies than they are with inequality resulting from high-income people who have inherited money from rich parents. The United States does have an estate taxâ€”that is, a tax imposed on the value of an inheritanceâ€”which suggests a willingness to limit how much wealth can be passed on as an inheritance. However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2015 the estate tax applied only to those leaving inheritances of more than $5.43 million and thus applies to only a tiny percentage of those with high levels of wealth. THE TRADEOFF Government policies to reduce poverty or to encourage economic equality, if carried to extremes, can injure incentives for economic output. The poverty trap, for example, defines a situation where guaranteeing a certain level of income can eliminate or reduce the incentive to work. An extremely high degree of redistribution, with very high taxes on the rich, would be likely to discourage work and entrepreneurship. Thus, it is common to draw the tradeoff between economic output and equality. In this formulation, if society wishes a high level of economic output, it must also accept a high degree of inequality. Conversely, if society wants a high level of equality, it must accept a lower level of economic output because of reduced incentives for production. This view of the tradeoff between economic output and equality may be too pessimistic and presents an alternate vision. Here, the tradeoff between economic output and equality first slopes up, suggesting that certain programs might increase both output and economic equality. For example, the policy of providing free public education has an element of redistribution, since the value of the public schooling received by children of low-income 126
families is clearly higher than what low-income families pay in taxes. A well-educated population, however, is also an enormously powerful factor in providing the skilled workers of tomorrow and helping the economy to grow and expand. In this case, equality and economic growth may complement each other. Moreover, policies to diminish inequality and soften the hardship of poverty may sustain political support for a market economy. After all, if society does not make some effort toward reducing inequality and poverty, the alternative might be that people would rebel against market forces. Citizens might seek economic security by demanding that their legislators pass laws forbidding employers from ever laying off workers or reducing wages, or laws that would impose price floors and price ceilings and shut off international trade. From this viewpoint, policies to reduce inequality may help economic output by building social support for allowing markets to operate. The tradeoff then flattens out which reflects the pattern that a number of countries that provide similar levels of income to their citizens—the United States, Canada, the nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia—have different levels of inequality. The pattern suggests that countries in this range could choose a greater or a lesser degree of inequality without much impact on economic output. Only if these countries push for a much higher level of equality will they experience the diminished incentives that lead to lower levels of economic output. In this view, while a danger always exists that an agenda to reduce poverty or inequality can be poorly designed or pushed too far, it is also possible to discover and design policies that improve equality and do not injure incentives for economic output by very much— or even improve such incentives. OCCUPY WALL STREET The Occupy movement took on a life of its own over the last few months of 2011, bringing to light issues faced by many people on the lower end of the income distribution. The contents of this chapter indicate that there is a significant amount of income inequality in the United States. The question is: What should be done about it? The Great Recession of 2008–2009 caused unemployment to rise and incomes to fall. Many people attribute the recession to mismanagement of the financial system by bankers and financial managers—those in the 1% of the income distribution—but those in lower quintiles bore the greater burden of the recession through unemployment. This seemed to present the picture of inequality in a different light: the group that seemed responsible for the recession was not the group that seemed to bear the burden of the decline in output. A burden shared can bring a society closer together; a burden pushed off onto others can polarize it. On one level, the problem with trying to reduce income inequality comes down to whether you still believe in the American Dream. If you believe that one day you will have your American Dream—a large income, large house, happy family, or whatever else you would like to have in life—then you do not necessarily want to prevent anyone else from living out their dream. You 127
certainly would not want to run the risk that someone would want to take part of your dream away from you. So, there is some reluctance to engage in a redistributive policy to reduce inequality. However, when those for whom the likelihood of living the American Dream is very small are considered, there are sound arguments in favor of trying to create greater balance. As the text indicated, a little more income equality, gained through long-term programs like increased education and job training, can increase overall economic output. Then everyone is made better off. And the 1% will not seem like such a small group any more. Self-Check Questions and Answers ● Here is one hypothesis: A well-funded social safety net can increase economic equality but will reduce economic output. Explain why this might be so and sketch a production possibility curve that shows this tradeoff. o A very strong push for economic equality might include extremely high taxes on high-wage earners to pay for extremely large government social payments for the poor. Such a policy could limit incentives for the high-wage workers, lock the poor into a poverty trap, and thus reduce output. The PPF in this case will have the standard appearance: it will be downward sloping. ● Here is a second hypothesis: A well-funded social safety net may lead to less regulation of the market economy. Explain why this might be so and sketch a production possibility curve that shows this tradeoff. o For the second hypothesis, a well-funded social safety net might make people feel that even if their company goes bankrupt or they need to change jobs or industries, they will have some degree of protection. As a result, people may be more willing to allow markets to work without interference, and not to lobby as hard for rules that would prevent layoffs, set price controls, or block foreign trade. In this case, safety net programs that increase equality could also allow the market to work more freely in a way that could increase output. In this case, at least some portion of the PPF between equality and economic output would slope up. ● Which set of policies is more likely to cause a tradeoff between economic output and equality: policies of redistribution or policies aimed at the ladder of opportunity? Explain how the production possibility frontier trade-off between economic equality and output might look in each case. o Pure redistribution is more likely to cause a sharp tradeoff between economic output and equality than policies aimed at the ladder of opportunity. A production possibility frontier showing a strict tradeoff between economic output and equality will be downward sloping. A PPF showing that it is possible to increase equality, at least to some extent, while either increasing output or at 128
least not diminishing it would have a PPF that first rises, perhaps has a flat area, and then falls. ● Why is there reluctance on the part of some in the United States to redistribute income so that greater equality can be achieved? o Many view the redistribution of income to achieve greater equality as taking away from the rich to pay the poor, or as a “zero sum” game. By taking taxes from one group of people and redistributing them to another, the tax system is robbing some of the American Dream. Review Questions 1. 2.
Identify some public policies that can reduce the level of economic inequality. Describe how a push for economic equality might reduce incentives to work and produce output. Then describe how a push for economic inequality might not have such effects.
Critical Thinking Questions 1. 2. 3.
What do you think is more important to focus on when considering inequality: income inequality or wealth inequality? To reduce income inequality, should the marginal tax rates on the top 1% be increased? Redistribution of income occurs through the federal income tax and government antipoverty programs. Explain whether or not this level of redistribution is appropriate and whether more redistribution should occur. How does a society or a country make the decision about the tradeoff between equality and economic output? Hint: Think about the political system. Explain what the long- and short-term consequences are of not promoting equality or working to reduce poverty.
Reading: Blogs Definition: A journal-style web site that lists the posts backwards with a timestamp. Some blogs are collaborative, and some are kept up by one individual. Blogs are used in teaching, the corporate world, the land of politics; they might be utilized to showcase daily outfits in a fashion blog or recipes in a cooking blog or share inspirational stories in a blog about parenthood; if a person has a passion, and wants to openly journal about it, he/she should consider starting a blog. THE HISTORY OF BLOGGING42 While the term "blog" was not coined until the late 1990s, the history of blogging starts with several digital precursors to it. 1983–1993 At this time Usenet was the primary serial medium included in the original definition of the Internet. It featured moderated newsgroup which allowed all posting in a newsgroup to be under the control of an individual or small group. 1994–2001 The modern blog itself evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives. The first weblogs were simply manually updated components of common websites. However, the evolution of tools to facilitate the production and maintenance of web articles posted in reverse chronological order made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population. Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today. […] The term "weblog" was first-used by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The (“more popular”) short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms. 2001–2004 By 2001, blogging was enough of a phenomenon that how-to manuals began to appear, primarily focusing on technique. The importance of the blogging community (and its relationship to larger society) increased rapidly. Established schools of journalism began 42 "Social Web/Blogs." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 17 Dec 2014, 14:26 UTC. 8 May 2019, 19:10 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Social_Web/Blogs&oldid=2748518>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
researching blogging and noting the differences between journalism and blogging. Since 2002, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. 2004–PRESENT In 2004 Merriam-Webster voted Blog the "Word of the Year." By 2010 about 8.4% of the German internet users had their own blog. Worldwide there were about 200 million blogs. Blogs are easy to create. All it takes is one idea. Anyone can do it. Your “diary” could be shared with everyone. HOW DO BLOGS WORK?43 Blogs are created via blog hosting websites such as Blogger, Wordpress, or Edublogs. Typically, a user registers a username and password, picks a blog title and URL, and then can immediately begin his or her first post, or entry. A post can include a combination or writing, photos, videos, links, and other embedded materials. Once the post is ready, the author can instantly publish it to the blog. Other people are then able to view the post (depending on settings--a blogger can choose to make his or her blog private, public, or shared with certain people). Readers can subscribe to the blog and receive updates in their e-mail or RSS reader. Posts can be shared via social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Bloggers can also enable commenting, which means readers can write responses to blog posts that will appear along with the post for other readers to see. All it takes is one click to post or respond to another person’s blog. HOW BLOGGING CAN BE USED IN EDUCATION Teachers can use blogs to communicate with students and parents. Teachers can use their blog to give detailed information on what students are doing in the classroom, post homework assignments for absent students, and allow a comment section for specific questions that students or parents might have. Blogging engages students in active learning, increases student and teacher relationships, increases higher-order thinking skills, and improves flexibility in teaching and learning (Ferdig & Roehler, 2003). Classroom blogging sites provide students with opportunities to share their viewpoints, and a supportive environment for reading and writing (Huffaker, 2005).
43 "User-Generated Content in Education/Blogs." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 2 Apr 2018, 12:02 UTC. 7 May 2019, 19:15 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=UserGenerated_Content_in_Education/Blogs&oldid=3399437>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Blogging is one way to communicate in a social context through the medium of technology. Larson and Marsh (2005) say that the practice of blogging in the classroom identifies the child as an active member of a constantly changing community of learners in which knowledge constructs and is constructed by a larger cultural system. From this point of view, conceptualizing learning creates a shift from the traditional teacher-centered classroom to one that is learner-centered. Larson and Marsh (2005), says in this type of classroom learning occurs through participation in social, cultural, and historical contexts that are intervened by instruction. Some teachers choose to have a class blog. There are several uses for a class blog: ● Teachers post a homework question and require students to respond to the question and other classmate responses. ● Students post questions they have that can be discussed during the next class period. ● Students can post their work to the class blog and allow others to leave feedback. ● One student can take notes for the class and post them on the class blog. ● Students, teachers, or parents comment on individual or class work on the class blog. Other uses of a classroom blog could include: ● Posting classroom rules, procedures, calendars, schedules, teacher email and school phone number. ● Posting links for online books or supplemental materials, i.e. videos, podcasts, and websites. ● Uploading digital photos or videos of class projects. ● Using a recording software program upload audio files of students narrating their favorite stories or stories they have written. ● Posting reviews, by individual students, of their favorite or recently read books. ● Creating and posting of creative or reflective writing. ● Posting minutes or records of meetings for class council, clubs, PTA… ● Inviting people from around the world to describe their day to learning of cultural differences. ● Listing topics for a research project. ● Reflecting and self-assessing by teachers on a personal blog about their daily lessons, then creating suggestions or finding alternatives for future lessons. THE PROS OF USING BLOGS IN THE CLASSROOM There are many pros of using blogs in education. ● Can promote critical thinking ● Can promote creativity ● Can promote social interaction ● Allows exposure to quality information ● Allows individuality ● Blogging can be done from home computers or school computers ● Allows students to practice and better reading and writing skills 132
Can be used as a student portfolio Allows for discussion Gives students a real audience for their work, as well as feedback that will help them to become better writers. ● Assigning "blogging buddies" in a classroom ensures that all students will receive comments on their posts. ● ● ●
THE CONS OF USING BLOGS IN THE CLASSROOM There are several cons when it comes to using blogs in the classroom ● Blogs can be viewed publicly by anyone if security settings are not set properly ● Students must be aware of not being defamatory or libelous ● School networks may block blogs ● All blogs are not factual ● It is not a replacement to real conversation since there can be a time lapse in postings and replies ● Not all students have a home computer ● Access to computer labs in schools may be limited ● Students in a class may only post comments to their friends BLOGGING CATEGORIES 44 In addition to Class Blogs or Teacher Blogs – mentioned previously – here are other specific sorts of blogs: • •
Political Blogs: These blogs are often tied to a large media or news corporation, such as "The Caucus" (affiliated with The New York Times), "CNN Political Ticker", and the National Review's "The Corner." Gossip Blogs: These blogs can greatly be attributed to the popularity of Perez Hilton, a celebrity and entertainment media gossip blogger. His blog posts contain tabloid photographs of celebrities, accompanied by captions and comments. Web traffic to the often controversial and raunchy Perez Hilton site skyrocketed in 2005, prompting similar gossip blogs, such as TMZ.com, Jezebel, and the Superficial, to gain popularity. Food Blogs: These blogs allow foodies and aspiring chefs alike to share recipes, cooking techniques, and food porn, for others to enjoy. Food blogs serve as a sort of online cookbook for followers, often containing restaurant critiques, product reviews, and step-by-step photography for recipes. Fashion Blogs: These blogs became their own larger than life sub-community following the explosive growth of the blogosphere. Besides fashion news blogs, street style blogs have also become exceedingly popular. Many Bloggers consider updating their blog a full-time job. These style mavens are able to earn considerable livings through
44 "Social Web/Blogs." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 17 Dec 2014, 14:26 UTC. 8 May 2019, 19:17 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Social_Web/Blogs&oldid=2748518>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
advertising, selling their photos and even providing their services as photographers, stylists, and guest designers. Health Blogs: These blogs cover health topics, events and/or related content of the health industry and the general community. They can cover diverse health related concerns such as nutrition and diet, fitness, weight control, diseases, disease management, societal trends affecting health, analysis about health, business of health and health research.
A BLOGGING TERM: THE BLOGOSPHERE 45 The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network in which everyday authors can publish their opinions. Since the term has been coined, it has been referenced in a number of media and is also used to refer to the Internet. There is no Study that can show a global view over the whole blogosphere. A BLOGGING TERM: MICROBLOGS Microblogs are a relatively new phenomenon and are a special form of blogging. The most famous microblog is Twitter, but also alternatives like Tumblr or Google Buzz exist. The main idea behind a microblog is to restrict the size of a message to 140 characters. This comes from its original connection to texting (SMS). In today’s society with its general tendency toward information overflow this is a welcome trend. This is also why it is very popular with mobile devices. Microblogging is essentially a broadcast medium, meaning you write a message, which then will be broadcast to all your followers. It is not unusual that you also follow your followers. It can not only be used to exchange textual messages, but also links, images and videos. In our class we will use it to primarily communicate class announcements. CRITICISM OF BLOGS ● Critics say that the majority of micro-posts being sent only contain dull, meaningless messages documenting people eating, waiting, etc. But opposing this argument, it’s not every bit of information sent through these channels that is important, but the potential it has in general. For example, it is the fastest way to spread news nowadays. In recent events there occurred several natural catastrophes and the first reports about what’s happening always reached people via twitter being posted by random people experiencing said events at the very moment. And that’s long before news stations were able to produce and publish/send their first reports. ● Those in academia, at times, have claimed that blog posts – specifically ones kept by students or novice writers – don’t contain the complexity journal articles do.
45 "Social Web/Blogs." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 17 Dec 2014, 14:26 UTC. 8 May 2019, 19:17 <https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=Social_Web/Blogs&oldid=2748518>. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
THE PROVEN COMPLEXITY OF BLOGS This next chunk contains HOW I (your instructor) studied blogging for my master’s thesis46. In using participatory action-based research, I could easily participate in the study and work on my skills as an online community host. The section following the outline of participatory action-based research is a description of who participated and when the studies were conducted. Participatory Action-Based Research Since I knew that I would be a part of this study (I needed to write on The BisonBlog in order to get others to do so as well), I utilized research methods entitled Participatory Action-based Research (PAR). In doing so, I could gather information from my participants while being a part of the study (as the host) as well. According to John Creswell’s book, Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Action research: encourages change in schools, fosters a democratic approach to education, empowers individuals through collaboration on projects, positions teachers and other educators as learners who seek to narrow the gap between practice and their vision of education, encourages educators to reflect on their practices, [and] promotes a process of testing new ideas. (604) Participatory action-based research allows educators “to gather information about — and subsequently improve — the ways their particular educational setting operates, how they teach, and how well their students learn” (603). In wanting to investigate how students write online, I used participatory action-based research, like mentioned above, to “narrow the gap between practice and [...] vision.” According to PAR, The BisonBlog was created so that it could be the part I "look" at. This phase consists of collecting data such as observation or interviews or surveys (Creswell 610). The first cycle of participatory action-based research, completed beforehand, required that I "look," first, through other online communities to see how they had attracted quality discussions online. The online community, I knew and learned, needed to be successful in order to bring in those high-quality postings, conversations, and content. After looking at both online campuses and classroom blogs, I then "thought," another stage of the first cycle, about how to incorporate a small-scale online campus community for NDSU: one where the host would not be the only one blogging on the first page, one where the template would be simple, and one with easy access. Through the next stage, I “acted” in receiving IRB approval and in creating The BisonBlog. The action itself included the actual
46 SYBIL PRIEBE = BLOGGING THESIS = METHODOLOGY. Text is available under the Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike License.
putting together of The BisonBlog online through Blogger.com, putting up posters around campus advertising The BisonBlog, writing an article for The Spectrum (the NDSU campus newspaper) about The BisonBlog, and sending out an email via the NDSU student and faculty listserv. In a second cycle of PAR, to be completed during and after each one-month study, the process of research started with what I had ended with: "Act.” Through this second “act” as The BisonBlog host, I implemented community-building strategies such as: gaining valuable content with open-ended questions and daily topics, promoting events and rituals like giving dates when the BisonBloggers could meet each other, identifying my role as host, discussing accessible tools such as how to use the Comments feature or get their weblog added to the list along the side of the screen. From acting, I stepped back and "thought" again by gathering quantitative and qualitative data from participants as well as conducting analysis of what was/is on the screen. Data Collection This study is based on an analysis of all the postings within one month’s (4 weeks exactly) time. These postings were collected from February 1, 2004 to February 28, 2004 and from October 3, 2004 to October 30, 2004. All postings were included in the study, whether the posting was substantial (50+ words) or not (less than 5 words). The only exclusion from The BisonBlog study for both month-studies was comments to postings. These were not analyzed simply because the comments feature on Blogger.com (used for the February study) was not as accessible nor as widely used as the comments feature found in Drupal (the software used on the NDSU server for the October study). This would have led to a very biased report regarding comments to community weblogs in general, and this study wishes to look specifically at weblog postings, not at how participants responded to one another. To become a participant or member of The BisonBlog for the February study, NDSU students heard of The BisonBlog from an NDSU listserv email I sent out or they received information from posters I had put up on campus. From there, I sent them an invitation to The BisonBlog as well as the IRB information on becoming a part of my thesis study. On a weekly basis, and right before the study, I emailed participants to inform them of upcoming topics and events occurring on The BisonBlog just as a host of an online community would. Guidelines were laid out insofar as claiming that The BisonBlog remain a “friendly community.” Participants posted as often as they wished. Over the summer of 2004, a plan was devised to move The BisonBlog to an NDSU server to make it even more a part of the campus community. Also, Drupal (a weblog software) was used and the same advertising was used as before. Having The BisonBlog on an NDSU server allowed for less work on my part. Students wishing to participate simply went to the site and signed themselves up, accepting my IRB terms in the submission process. Topics and events were emailed just as I had completed for the February study. 136
All BisonBlog participants were or are current NDSU students and faculty members. Of those participants, 30 were members for the February study while 8 (excluding the host) participated actively (posted at least once a week), and 93 were members during the October study while 25 (excluding the host) participated actively. Both one-month studies saw about the same percentage of participation no matter how many total participants were signed up as a BisonBlogger. In February of 2004, the percentage of active participants was at 26.6%, and in October of 2004, the percentage was nearly the same with 25.8%. Statistics based on gender or race are not considered in this study since I wish to investigate whether students, in general, are writing complex postings. However, for further information, of the 8 participants in the February study, 5 were women, and 3 were men. In the October study, 11 were women, and 14 were men. Both studies show a fairly balanced representation of both genders. There may have been additional participants who commented on the blog postings of either study, but as previously mentioned, this study specifically analyzes the blog postings of The BisonBlog, not its comments. Throughout both studies, I, as the host, implemented many of the community-building strategies that had worked for Derek Powazek. In order to gain high quality content, I started off the first week of both month-long studies with open-ended questions. One such question in the February study dealt with how to deal with a racist friend, and another such questions used in the October study asked: “What do you do with a friend who won’t vote?” or “Should we be in Iraq?” These questions usually lead to elaborate answers in paragraph form. During the second week, I implemented a sort of “Sweeps Week” by creating some fun topic for each day hoping to lure in more participants by offering topics that may not be considered as “tough” to write on as the open-ended questions posed during the first week. These topics ranged from “Ticked Off Tuesday” (a participant favorite) to “Thankful Thursday” to “Web Site Wednesday.” As expected, “Ticked Off Tuesday” led to more lists in postings and “Web Site Wednesday” led to more postings with links to other sites, weblogs, etc. In comparison to the open-ended questions at the beginning of both studies, the Sweeps Week did bring in more participants and smaller postings. These postings, however, were not more or less complex than the paragraph-filled postings earlier in the month or later on. Analysis Just as Herring and her team analyzed blog samples in “Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs,” I used various ways of analysis to identify the content of the postings to The BisonBlog. The categories analyzed were determined through multiple means such as analysis of: ● use of subordinate clauses ● use of topic sentences supported by follow-up statements 137
● ● ● ●
number of high-order entries comparison of filter entries to journal entries list of grammatical conventions that mark a posting’s sloppiness, and instances of community building between participants.
Subordinate Clauses First of all, research by Naomi Baron has shown that subordinate clauses show up more in writing than in speech. When the writer, or weblogger in this case, has a posting which contains many subordinate clauses, they are writing something more complex than how they would speak. Therefore, the percentage of complex statements was calculated by checking to see if the weblogger had used a subordinate clause in their posting. What also goes along with complex postings, besides the amount of subordinate clauses, would also be the average amount of words per posting and the average length of each statement since the longer the statement, the more complex the thought that goes into that statement. Topic Sentences Secondly, Richard Braddock’s research, conducted in 1975 (“The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences in Expository Prose”), found that sometimes “a major topic sentence and a topic sentence occurred in the same paragraph, and sometimes several paragraphs seemed devoted to the presentation of one topic sentence” (36). Because of this, I looked for what Braddock would label an “inferred topic sentence” as well as obvious topic sentences. An inferred topic sentence is one where “the reader thinks the writer has implied [a topic] even though the reader can not construct it by quoting phrases from the original passage” (35). While Braddock’s findings within 673 paragraphs/25 essays only came up with 47% of the paragraphs containing topic sentences, he still states: “In my opinion, often the writing in the 25 essays would have been clearer and more comfortable to read if the paragraphs had presented more explicit topic sentences” (39). Therefore, from a first-year compositionist’s perspective, seeing many topic sentences come first in weblog entries as well as being followed by back-up statements would lead one to suggest that students are learning to develop and focus their topics within weblog postings. High Order Entries Next, I wanted to analyze how many participants used developed/high order thought by responding to a prompt with more than one statement. Since many compositionists see writing online as oral communication, I wanted to see if webloggers are exercising their academic writing skills by weblogging high order postings with, for example, a topic sentence followed by back-up statements or research. Posting which could, as laid out in Chapter One’s definitions section, be linked to use of the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, like Evaluation and Synthesis, would also be considered high order. Postings which just answer a question and move onto to some other topic, for instance, would not be postings considered showing high order thought; in other words, postings that contained high order thought contained not just understanding or basic knowledge, but synthesis and evaluation as well. 138
Filters Fourth on the list was investigating whether the lists or filters/links found on weblogs were more or less complex than entries containing paragraphs. With open-ended questions, the postings were usually in paragraph form and with the Sweeps Week daily topics, more postings were in list-form. Does this matter when determining complexity? For example, Herring’s team found that weblogs were not the linking genre they assumed to be. Also, in order for a filter to be considered a high order filter, it needed to contain evidence of the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy such as evaluation or analysis. For example, if a BisonBlogger elaborated on two sites he/she filtered, then that would be a demonstration of the higher order quality. If a web site was just placed in an entry without explanation (i.e. “I love this site.”) then it would not demonstrate the levels of high order thought. Grammatical Conventions Then I looked for the number of fragments, misspellings, slang, and missed capitalization. Obviously, seeing these sorts of problems in a posting would lead to thinking that these online postings really aren’t as complex or full of critical thoughts. Analysis of the high order as well as looking for items that contain a lack of formality (misspellings, fragments, etc) was called for in this analysis. In the investigation of The BisonBlog, the frequent occurrence of errors may suggest sloppiness whereas relatively few errors would suggest the opposite and perhaps lead one to assume that, indeed, webloggers are careful, committed writers who revise and edit to some extent. Community Building Lastly, community building analysis will be looked at. Aside from viewing The BisonBlog as a place for quality communication to take place, it is also a community. Students who do not respond to others in the community or are not responded to may feel left out, not leave quality postings, or just simply fade away. I want to show how and why The BisonBlog was a successful online campus community. This will be shown through the analysis of how many participants responded to each other or responded to a prompt. If student webloggers are recognizing each other as a particular audience and responding appropriately in certain situations, this may give further evidence to compositionists to see the relevance of weblogs in their classrooms or in their research. Originally, I wanted to analyze how many times participants on The BisonBlog used each other’s names or used greetings and closings, but a few differences in each study kept me from that analysis. First off, screen names could be chosen for the Drupal program (October 2004) so one may not know the webloggers actual name. Secondly, like previously mentioned, the Comments feature during the October study was easier to use, and therefore, used to comment more directly to each participant, so greeting someone by using their name was unnecessary. Lastly, Drupal allows for an automatic closing on a participant’s posting, so those numbers would have been skewed. 139
Before getting chin-deep in analysis47, one should know how The BisonBlog works on a weekly basis. Usually (as of the spring of 2005), a few student bloggers will log into the community and write postings that contain any of the following: how things are going with their studies and classes, how their personal lives are running (Some ask for advice or pose questions, and, usually, a few students will respond within a few day’s time.), and/or a response to the daily topics which are laid out on the screen’s left side. Currently, those topics are “Music Mood” Monday, “Ticked Off” Tuesday, “Web Site” Wednesday, “Top Ten” Thursday, and “Funky Title” Friday. On a daily basis, the number of BisonBloggers who log in, post, or just read the site ranges anywhere from 1 to 50 students. As the host, I used to have to post on a regular basis, but now, since The BisonBlog has taken off fairly well since moving to an NDSU server and having much easier access to logging on, I usually read students’ postings and comment on what they write. This may be better than posting my own thoughts simply because it encourages the bloggers to continue to post. When one has a direct audience, he/she is more likely to communicate with others as well as post his/her own thoughts. The results of the investigation into The BisonBlog support the possibility that these postings to an online campus community are complex in thought and written expression. The results also move away from the notion that online postings are filled with writing errors such as misspellings, lack of capitalization, comma splices, fragments, run-ons, and what some call “netspeak.” What I refer to in using the term “netspeak” is the type of writing you would see in a chat room or with an Instant Messenger conversation: words being spelled as they sound, many slang words, many smileys, and acronyms (ttys= talk to you soon). In this section, I will present quantitative summaries as well as charts and percentages of the results of the analysis, as an empirical look at the postings from The BisonBlog’s two onemonth studies. Please note that these percentages and amounts reflect what the participants wrote/blogged, and not what I, the host, wrote. Complexity of Postings In looking at the complexity of blog postings, showing the complexity of the post would mean showing how they contain the same items that are found in writing, not speech. Here, I employ Baron’s claim that those items are subordinate clauses, disjunctions (e.g. “however,” “in contrast,” etc.), and a low number of contractions. When blog postings contain these items, they are more closely related to writing than speech, according to Baron’s findings. Besides being more closely related to writing, subordinate clauses also show cause and effect relationships: e.g. Because I am tired, I did not complete my homework. Subordinate Clauses In analyzing the subordinate clauses in both one-month studies, I simply used Microsoft Word’s function “Find” to find all the varieties of subordinate conjunctions such as “although,”
47 SYBIL PRIEBE = BLOGGING THESIS = ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
“because,” “if,” “whereas,” “even though,” and so on. (For a complete listing of the subordinate conjunctions I looked for, see Larry Behrens’ Sentence Craft web site). After finding these subordinate conjunctions, I used my knowledge as an English composition teacher and writer to decide whether the subordinate conjunction was part of a subordinate clause by checking to see if a subject and verb followed the subordinate conjunction. Not all subordinate conjunctions lead to subordinate clauses (e.g. “Its now 3:27 … Phish is on though”). If a statement contained more than one subordinate clause (and this was a frequent occurrence) the statement itself was counted as complex. I did not count subordinate clauses, just the statements that contained them. The percentage of complex statements, statements with subordinate clauses, was at 30% for The BisonBlog’s February study. That percentage dropped to 20% for The BisonBlog’s October study. One possible reason for this drop could be the increase in the amount of participants for the October study. Also, many conversations during the October study took place in the Comments section, whereas February’s study did not have a widely used Comments feature. The postings in February usually contained responses to others, and the postings in October started conversations only to continue them in the Comments link/section. Some examples of statements from The BisonBlog (both from February and October) with subordinate clauses are found in Figures 8 and 9. Some of these very same statements, or others contained in the same blog posting, contain disjunctions which will be discussed in the up-coming category of analysis. 2.26.2004 Thank you to God for allowing me the chance to exist and live my life. Thank you to my parents, for being the best parents in the world. Thank you to my friends, because without them, I would be empty and incomplete. Thank you to teachers who drop the lowest grade you get. Thank you to the inventor of breath mints, because my breath is horrible. Thank you to the people who positively criticize me because it helps me become a better person. Thanks to the people who ever made me think outside the lines, or ever made me truly question something. And thank you to anyone who has ever read anything i've wrote, or ever listened to me. I truly appreciate it. this entry posted by Charles : 9:06 PM
Figure 8. A BisonBlog posting showing complexity in the February study. Stress Submitted by Shannon on Thu, 10/21/2004 - 14:46. 141
Is anyone feeling the most stress you've ever felt now than ever before? I'm a freshman here so I don't know if this stress level is normal, is it just me or is everyone feeling it? Let me know if you have any ideas how to control the high levels of stress so I don't flip out on some random person. ~Shannon » Shannon's blog | 4 comments Figure 9. A BisonBlog posting showing complexity in the October study. As one can see in the blog posting examples above, the complexity sometimes shows up in a less than profound manner. Charles’ posting contains examples of subordinate clauses that are examples of cause and effect which would definitely connect to the higher, more complex verbs used at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Shannon’s examples of complexity through subordinate clauses, on the opposite spectrum, are not as profound or “serious,” perhaps, but she does qualify her complexity with “I don’t know” or “let me know,” and Shannon also asks for advice which could be loosely interpreted as evaluation. While Charles’ complexity shows up in a more serious tone and is more closely connected to the high order content teachers would be looking for, Shannon’s are still somewhat complex even if they are not at the same level of complexity as Charles’ posting. Disjunctions According to Merriam-Webster Online, a disjunction is “a compound sentence in logic formed by joining two simple statements by or.” These types of statements are often used in logic or math, and for this study, add to the complexity of the statements found. Besides searching for statements with an “or” in them, I also looked for, as Baron suggests, the word “however” and the phrase “in contrast” (Baron 153). Out of the 423 statements found in February’s study, 27 of those statements contained disjunctions. For October’s study, statements with disjunctions came in totaling 34 out of its total of 623. Charles’ posting (Figure 8) contains two examples of a disjunction when he states: “Thanks to the people who ever made me think outside the lines, or ever made me truly question something,” and “And thank you to anyone who has ever read anything i've wrote, or ever listened to me.” In Shannon’s posting from October, another disjunction is evident: “I'm a freshman here so I don't know if this stress level is normal, is it just me or is everyone feeling it?” Two more examples of disjunctions used in both February’s and October’s studies are found in Figures 10 and 11. Disjunctions easily add complexity to a statement by referring to the opposite of the statement’s meaning, or by giving another example of what the writer is trying to communicate. As previously mentioned, these complex items, like subordinate clauses, can and do appear in sentences and topics that, to some, may seem less serious or profound. For example, Helene’s posting is generally about daily life, yet she used a disjunction to add humor and also show her synthesizing/evaluating what is supposed to happen in a particular situation. For example, should Helene feel reassured or faint in this given situation; she is considering 142
and evaluating both possibilities. Gunnar’s posting is geared more toward a bigger issue— belief system—and even the subject to his posting has a disjunction in it! While his posting is much longer, allowing for more disjunctions to be created, his topic has more distinctive examples of evaluation and synthesis. Some items he evaluates are people who believe in God or do not, why people believe in God, and whether people are Pro-Life or Pro-Choice based on yet further evaluation of whether they are any of the three mentioned due to what their family thinks or what they have decided for themselves. Once again, these two examples show the levels of complexity one may find in a collection of students’ online postings to a community site. 2.17.2004 Oohhh a lot of people have ticked me off today already. 1- My neighbors: why do they drink so much and then yell at each other night? They bth must be in their late 40s early 50s, they drink and yell, in the meantime I am awake... 2- phlebotomist: ok first he tried the right arm, "hmmm", then tried the left arm, "hmmmmm you got small veins"... Is that supposed to reassure me or do you want me to faint right then? 3- Hummer: not the car but my co-worker, she hums all the time. Usually I am a little annoyed nothing bad, but today I could have strangled her. This is what makes people go nuts and bring a gun to work! Thats all for now but it is only 4.20...I think I should go home early and make pancakes. I'll try the blog/hour tomorrow, I'll have to take notes as I doubt my boss will enjoy seeing me on the computer every hour :). this entry posted by Helene : 4:17 PM
Figure 10. A blog posting from February’s study showing disjunctions. Is this your opinion or what you were led to believe? Submitted by Gunnar on Fri, 10/08/2004 - 12:49. I often wonder why people think that we should not be in a war against terrorists. So I stopped wondering and asked a few people whenever the time was right. They were all saying this and that, but none of the opinions they had were their point of view and only led to believe what others thought were right. MiddleEastern culture is different than ours and that consideration should be given when demanding peace between us and the terrorists. So people, really carefully consider whether the opinions you have are your own and you would be willing to back it up or if you are just following in others steps clueless as to what you have on your mind. When I was growing up I thought I was a Christian. I do share a lot of views on Christianity, but I was only into it because my parents were. This is the case for many of us. Now that we are adults, we really should think for ourselves and know a little more before blindly following others. 143
Do you know why you believe in God? If you truly do, that is good for you, but if you question it every now and then, build your faith by questioning and finding answers on why you believe in your God (s). Are you Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Well, don't be one or the other because your friends are and your religion says so. Consider all the social influences as well as value of choices. Personally, I would rather spend all the energy and money that we spend on abortion and no abortion in our country to orphans, hungry children in our country and foreign countries out there. We shed blood and sweat and useless effort on fighting abortion and choice, but there are other actions that could be taken at this time to save children that are alive and not well that needs more help than fetuses and gametes. They are dying out there daily. Why not save the one's that are dying first? There are so many others that I could bring up and you know yourselves that you are questioning life as you know it. This is a place of learning. Now that you are adults, you should seperate your views from what your parents built into you growing up. Think for yourselves, and we can really change a lot. Thanks for reading my extra long blog. » Gunnar's blog | 2 comments Figure 11. A blog posting from October’s study showing disjunctions. Average Words/Average Length Baron’s computer-mediated discourse touched on the importance of word count, but Herring’s research regarding the length of such computer-mediated postings lead to specifics. Her team (in “Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs”) found that “at 210.4 words, the average blog entry is somewhat shorter than an email posting” and Cho, a researcher in one of Herring’s edited collections, found that “at 13.2 words” per sentence, the average sentence in blogs “are three words shorter than those of private email exchanged in a university setting [16.2 words per sentence]” (9). The biggest difference between this research and mine is the fact that The BisonBlog has a community of writers rather than just one blogger like the weblogs that Herring and her colleagues observed. While The BisonBlog averaged only 138 words per posting during the February study (versus her average of 210.4 words in her weblog postings), the average number of words per statement was consistent with Cho’s email statistic of 16.2 words by acquiring 16 words per statement. So, while the postings to The BisonBlog were shorter than what was found by Herring’s team, the amount of words per sentence were above what Cho discovered for weblogs. The BisonBlog contained shorter postings with longer statements in February.
During the October study, the average blog posting decreased a tad to 130 words per posting, and the average amount of words per statement decreased one word, to 15 words per sentence. A college community could be an important element in gaining short quality postings since The BisonBlog’s average words per statement as well as amount of subordinate clauses show that while the posts were smaller than Herring’s findings, the complexity of statements and postings was still evident. What I mean by this is in comparison to an academic discussion list or email (where the email entries were written by academics who probably should write longer statements than the average college student), the BisonBloggers were busy students only getting on the community weblog periodically through the week. The postings may have been short because of this, but their complexity is still evident in the length of their statements as well as the percentage of those statements that contained complex items. Also, if one were to view this average statement length from a first-year composition teacher’s perspective, one would agree that most of these student bloggers must be combining sentences to gain an average length of 16 words or more — a goal of a first-year writing program at many colleges. Dr. Kristi Siegel of Mount Mary College gives the following advice regarding sentence length: In general--and this type of analysis is very tenuous--an average sentence length well below 14 words per sentence may indicate that you use too many short sentences and you need to learn how to combine and/or subordinate ideas. If your average sentence length is well above 22 words a sentence, you may be piling too much freight on your sentences and have a prose style that is dense and tangled. If your average word length falls between 14 and 22, you need to look at your sentences to see if there is some variety or if they are all about the same length. For further research, then, one could analyze the sentence variety since The BisonBlog’s average length falls into the “average” length, according to her research. High Order/Follow-Up Statements Most compositionists would claim that good writing includes topic sentences with back-up statements provided in the body afterward. As found by Braddock, topic sentences do not always come at the beginning of the paragraph, yet topic sentences do help writers develop a main idea or claim for their paragraphs, and, perhaps most importantly, they help these writers stay focused and keep paragraphs manageable. So, as I investigated, I searched for both inferred topics as well as those that simply came first in the paragraph and lead into developed statements concerning the topic. A few researchers have viewed blog postings as irrelevant statements here and there, with the possibility of linking to a specific web site. In Steven D. Krause’s article, he found his “ ‘openended’ non-assignment translated into ‘vagueness’” in his students’ postings. Beyond that, Krause also found that “more often than not, the posts were short, merely links to other 145
documents, or text that was ‘cut and pasted’ from another source.” Now, I will say that to a certain extent, blog postings do contain just these elements at times; however, The BisonBlog is an exception simply because of the community aspect that was encouraged from the beginning. Rarely, student bloggers on The BisonBlog do just post a link to an interesting site; however, those postings usually occurred on “Web Site Wednesday” during the October study. Many students would simply post thoughts, questions, or develop a new topic for others to comment on. As previously mentioned, Herring found little linkage in blogs, and The BisonBlog was no exception during its one-month studies; therefore, Krause’s claim that he found short postings with links to other documents does not pertain to the contents in The BisonBlog. Furthermore, since The BisonBlog showed little evidence that students associated blogs with links, this gives hope to the possibility that students will utilize weblogs as places for brainstorming and free writing rather than only for linking to sites which pertain to their research or paper topics. Perhaps, this is a good thing for composition teachers to note rather than be discouraged by. The BisonBlog’s two one-month studies contained many back-up statements to various topic sentences which, then, took away from the “vagueness” that Krause kept seeing in his class’ postings. Whether the back-up statements were found in lists, after filters/links, or in paragraph form, in February The BisonBlog totaled 277 back-up statements out of a total of 423 statements. October’s study saw 477 statements out of 623 as back-up statements. Once again, large percentages in both studies (65% in February and 76.5% in October) show that there is evidence of well-developed writing in these community-based online weblog postings. A prime example from the February study showing a developed paragraph in a posting is shown in Figure 13. In this posting, Dave has 14 back-up statements in this posting, and the identified topic sentence is: “Regarding Sybils conversation starter for an intimate relationship I don't know, but for a friendship I really don't think there ever is a time to throw it out the window.” Even though this sentence could be considered a run-on, it does lead into 14 sentences that clarify what the blogger meant in writing this statement. Also, these very same 14 statements were also determined to be responses to the prompt — a question I had asked earlier in order to attract high-quality content. An example of a posting containing back-up statements after a topic sentence has been introduced in the October study is shown in Figure 14. Danielle’s posting would be considered, to some, a bit less serious in content than Dave’s, but this particular posting contains 9 back-up statements to the topic sentence of “I like to eat breakfast.” Instead of leaving her posting with just the comment that she likes breakfast or that she’s conducting a study on what people eat for breakfast, she has gone further to explain what she eats and why she’ll eat that in the morning. 2.6.2004 146
All the pretty girls shout "Daves got the Internet, Daves got the Internet!" Ah it is so incredibly nice to have the entire net at my finger tips again, if it wasn't for the IACC I don't think I would've made it. I probably would've gone crazy and attempted to create the entire internet on my computer with just notepad and html. Thank you Lord for Cable One, whoo hooo! To celebrate I think I'll introduce you guys to my favorite online comic some of you may already know it and if you don't well then what's stopping you go check it. Oh yeah the link, hehe, here it is Penny-Arcade. Regarding Sybils conversation starter for an intimate relationship I don't know, but for a friendship I really don't think there ever is a time to throw it out the window. If your friend is trying to get you to do things you don't want to do or is pestering you, then you just have to tell them. This might seem a tad bit extreme yet I still feel that even if a friend were actively trying to kill me and if trying to work it out had failed that the right thing to do for that friend would be to tell the police. I know that sounds ridiculous but to intentionally dissolve a relationship requires you to judge the other person as lower than you. As a Christian the many quotations from the New Testament which tell us not to judge others continually ring in my head. For an intimate relationship you have to come to the conclusion that the other person is not right for you and that it would not be pleasant for you to spend the rest of your life with them. But with a friendship you only need acknowledge that the other person is a friend. For me friends are merely people that I hang out with and talk to on a regular basis. I can't imagine any reason why I would say to someone I don't want to be friends anymore. It just seems like such a horrible thing to say to someone "I don't want to be your friend". Heck, I'd probably be friends with Hitler although I would have totally disagreed with his entire idea of genocide and taking over Europe. It would be far more usefull for me to continue to be his friend because I would be able to talk to him. I might have even been able to convice him that the Nazi thing was a bad idea. I'm sure he would've had me killed for trying but I wouldn't be surprised if Deitrich Bonhoeffer didn't hate Hitler only his regime. On the other hand if somebody didn't want to be friends with me anymore I would just accept the fact and if they ever want to be friends with me again I would have no problem with it. Mathew 6:44 "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Oh yeah the bone head who said "Do unto other as you would have done unto you" is Jesus Christ. I was thinking about getting a site counter once but then I realized that if I got one all it would do is burst the wonderful bubble in my head that hundreds of people visit my site everyday. God Bless 147
~Discrete Dave<>< this entry posted by David : 5:51 PM
Figure 13. A BisonBlog posting demonstrating the use of back-up statements (Feb). Again, while the posting does not have as much seriousness to it as Dave’s does, it does contain statements which back-up the topic sentence—something many composition teachers would be delighted to see no matter what the subject. To give an example of a BisonBlog posting which did not demonstrate back-up statements to a particular topic, see Figure 15. food is good Submitted by danielle on Sun, 10/10/2004 - 11:26. i like to eat breakfast. and not just quick grabbing a poptart or whatever on my way out the door. i like to take some time and cook something and sit down and eat it. pancakes & bacon or hashbrowns with cheese are my favorites. cereal, yogurt, or fruit is good if i happen to sleep in a little. anyways on to the point. do y'all eat breakfast? i'm conducting a study (just because i want to) of what people eat for breakfast. just leave a comment of what you most often eat (like if you never eat breakfast during the week but always have pancakes saturday morning). it would be much appreciated :) happy breakfasting! » danielle's blog | 2 comments Figure 14. A BisonBlog posting demonstrating the use of back-up statements (Oct). 2.24.2004 I am ticked off because... I cannot sleep. My computer doesn’t have Microsoft Access, even though I have Office. It’s only Tuesday. People who say they’re gonna call end up not calling, and not even letting me know they cant do anything even though I planned my day around THEM. this entry posted by Charles : 12:07 PM Figure 15. A BisonBlog posting demonstrating the lack of back-up statements.
As one can see, a posting of this sort did occur on The BisonBlog, yet these types of postings were usually found on Tuesdays with the “Ticked Off Tuesday” theme. The use of lists, as described in Section 4.1.5, will elaborate on the use of lists and paragraphs and how those writing styles lead to differences in complexity and form. Use of Paragraphs, Lists, and Filters While Rebecca Blood claimed that linking helped make bloggers better observers of the world around them, Herring’s team, my teammates (Dr. Kevin Brooks and Cindy Nichols), and I, in our essay found in the Into The Blogosphere collection titled “Remediation, Genre, and Motivation: Key Concepts for Teaching with Weblogs,” have found that while bloggers don’t use filters and links as much as previously thought, the content in their postings is still complex. The use of paragraphs on The BisonBlog was frequent. Out of 423 total statements in February, 208 were found in paragraph form as back-up statements. Using that same total for February’s study, 62 of the back-up statements were found in list form. Only 7 back-up statements were found following filters/links. As for October’s study, out of the 623 total statements, 453 were found in paragraph form, 5 in list form, and 19 were found following a filter or link. When it came to the use of the prompts, lists were used more when the prompt was “Ticked Off Tuesday” or “Make a Wish Wednesday” – a topic which usually results in shorter answers. The prompts that were more open-ended (“What do you do with someone who is racist?”) led to responses with paragraphs. October’s study saw more links to other sites probably because one of the prompts we decided on (as a community) was “Web Site Wednesday.” Other than that day, rarely were links to other web sites found. Lists and paragraphs seemed to be much more popular with the BisonBloggers during both one month studies. The BisonBlog reflects once again what Herring’s team concluded as well as what Kevin Brooks, Cindy Nichols and I concluded in our Into the Blogosphere essay. The BisonBlog had only a total of 6 filters/links during the February study and only a total of 11 filters/links in the October study “in contrast to the popular characterization of blogs as heavily interlinked and oriented towards external events” (Herring 8). Our team’s research (in the fall of 2002) found that only 12% of students preferred to use the filter type of weblog (compared to 63% who preferred the journal type). So, not only does The BisonBlog confirm what Herring’s group and my team found, but even when links were used, they rarely lead to much elaboration on the part of the BisonBlogger. Either students have not been shown by others how to link and use a bibliographical note with that link, or the idea of linking is just not as important to student bloggers as communication with others is. For example, perhaps when students link, it’s just to point out a good site, and that’s it. They would rather discuss with others on a community blog than spend their online writing time searching for what others have to say. The complexity in that may simply be that they would rather figure out what they have to say or think on a topic rather than search out other opinions right away. 149
Online Writing Errors If one ever happens to observe writing in a chat room or observe students typing to each other through Instant Messenger, he/she would notice that when students go online in synchronous ways, their spelling, capitalization, and punctuation seem to get tossed by the wayside like an old graded paper. As Naomi Baron’s most recent study shows, that is not always the case, but this investigation dealt with a slightly different type of computer-mediated discourse — weblogs. So, to connect back to the graded paper and the errors found in students’ offline work, one must look to the research conducted by Robert J. Connors and Andrea A. Lunsford. Their research, conducted in 1988, analyzed the errors found in 300 student papers, ranging in length from one to twenty pages. On average, they discovered that for every 100 words a student wrote, there were 2.26 errors (406). Their findings within each error will be discussed below, and their findings echo what was found in The BisonBlog’s investigation. The BisonBlog not only shows possibility in the fact that students are possibly writing and thinking complexly, but The BisonBlog also shows that these complex postings may have errors which do not reflect what a composition teacher would like to see in an academic paper. While some of the errors may be due to laziness or the fact that people, in general, don’t edit what they’ve written online (in email, with IM, chat rooms), some of the so-called errors could be due to students trying to stand out with their creativity or visual design. The percentages for lack of capitalization, misspellings, slang words, and netspeak were low. In fact, by totaling up the percentages of each error, the February study comes to under 2%, the October study comes to 3.65%, and, as a side note, some of these words were duplicated (i.e. spelled incorrectly and not capitalized, for example). Misspellings Misspellings accounted for .6% of the total amount of words in the February study and only 1.1% in the October study. Examples of misspelled words in the February study include “transfered,” “defintly, “respitory,” “beauiful,” “earings,” and “intrumentals.” Examples from the October study include “soo,” (to emphasize ‘so’) “anyways,” “thouroghly,” “aparently,” and “priveledged.” As shown, these words are missing only a few letters which may account for speedy typing or using a spelling that could be meant for fun (“soo,” or “anyways”). One such female BisonBlogger who was more prominent in the February study is of French origin. A few mistakes came from her, and she even admitted, on The BisonBlog, that her English writing skills were shaky but getting better. As far as what was found concerning spelling errors in the study done by Connors and Lunsford, out of the 300 papers they looked at, only 450 errors were found. It is unknown how many total words they were dealing with, but one can assume taking into account the large amount of pages they were dealing with that the percentage ends up as low as what was found in the BisonBlog. Capitalization 150
The percentage of errors made by not capitalizing was under 1% for February and only 1.85% for October (February: 42 words out of 6903, October: 178 out of 9616). Connors and Lunsford reportedly found 24 capitalization mistakes out of their 300 student papers. Again, the percentages of capitalization errors found on The BisonBlog are lower than I think teachers would assume them to be, especially after receiving emails from students all semester. As I mentioned in the introduction, weblogs can be serious in content but not in form. I found that even the few BisonBloggers who did not capitalize their “I’s” in their postings still posted interesting and/or complex content (Figures 16 and 17). Missed capitalization like this was usually used by the same people, and they would use it consistently throughout each posting. Rarely did a BisonBlogger, for instance, have one “I” not capitalized while the rest were capitalized. It’s an all or nothing practice that could be attributed to the fact that both of these female BisonBloggers intentionally wrote this way. Then, it wouldn’t be considered an error, perhaps. 2.18.2004 Crap! i missed ticked off tuesday! that pisses me off! i had a relatively interesting week so far (i should say year...)... the girl that is "with" my ex-boyfriend of a week works with me and she is avoiding me at every cost.....AS THOUGH I would start anything.......(heavy sarcasm)....i am the better person because i don't care and wish to remain neutral, he IS afterall, my ex (my exa**hole)....excuse my language/typing.....anyhoo, a saying holds true to me lately, something to the effect of: "Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned." Ahhhh...so true. So, for a topic for today, Hump day, i propose it be wicked wednesday. what do you do to relax, have fun, and have a wicked day? I go to the bison turf for $2.50 32oz beers, and that's where I'll be tonight! Later. this entry posted by Alisa : 1:00 PM Figure 16. A posting from February’s study showing missed capitalization. ticked off tuesday? or not-so-ticked-off tuesday? Submitted by danielle on Tue, 10/12/2004 - 12:31. i missed music monday!!!! so i'll tell ya i bought a new cd at work yesterday and i love it. the band is called "kids in the way." they are a christian punk band and they are really good. :) so for today. the only thing i'm ticked about is i work from 4-9 today. a 5 hour shift? its too weird for me. i guess its because on mondays i only work 3 hours, so i get the extra hour to 'balance it out.' but it still sucks. i can do 8 hour shifts cuz then i get two breaks. but 5 hours is a 151
little too much without a break. other than that i'm pretty happy today. ps) i work at the rainbow shop, but i think i've mentioned that before. » danielle's blog Figure 17. A posting from October’s study showing missed capitalization. Grammarians (and composition teachers alike) would not be impressed with either of the postings shown above; however, I would like to clarify that, as I mentioned in the Introduction, blogging is serious in content, not in form. Many webloggers acknowledge this, and they do not view it as academic writing which is why it is surprising to me that there is evidence of complexity in their thought and in their words. In Alisa’s posting, she has critical thought laid out in the fact that she is analyzing her relationship with people as well as evidence of complex writing when she uses a subordinate clause in the statement: “i am the better person because i don't care and wish to remain neutral.” Slang Words and “Netspeak” The number of words or symbols that could have been considered slang (informal English) or netspeak was extremely low—under .5% for each month. In my analysis, I found a few words, used regularly and spelled rather consistently, that fell into this category. Examples of slang words found in the February study were words such as “gotta,” “gonna,” “kinda,” and “dunno.” Examples of slang words found in the study which took place in October of 2004 were words such as “gotta,” “friggin,” “frickin,” “cuz,” and “Omigosh.” I found it surprising to not see as much “netspeak” (“lol” or “ttys”) or emoticons (smileys) simply because those types of words seem to be a staple of online writing (words created after online communication was in widespread usage) whether it is email, a chat room entry, or a note on a discussion board. February’s study saw five smileys and a shortened version of “By The Way” = “btw.” In October, I discovered four smileys in my analysis, ranging from the winking smiley to the sad smiley. Another type of netspeak that showed up twice was the shorten version of “What the Fuck?” = “wtf?” Contractions As mentioned, according to Baron, postings with high amounts of subordinate clauses and disjunctions are more closely related to writing than to speech. The complete opposite occurs when analyzing contractions. The fewer the amount of contractions compared to the total number of words links the blog postings closer to the modality of writing, not the modality of speech. In both of The BisonBlog’s one-month studies, the amount of contractions was extremely low. February’s study brought in 110 contractions (out of 6903 total words) and October’s study was even lower with 137 contractions out of 9616 total words. The percentages of both of these statistics are under 2. 152
Fragments, Comma Splices, and Run-Ons Herring’s team alludes to the possibility that blog entries contain a “higher incidence of sentence fragments” when using quoted material or headings (9). Also, the notion that fragments may be plentiful could also come from the assumption that weblog entries are full of filters to other sites. Most compositionists would acknowledge the legitimate rule of fragments in informal writing, but they recommend to student writers to eliminate fragments from their academic writing. Baron would say that they are connected more with speech. The BisonBlog has evidence that its postings are much closer to writing as well as show the opposite of what was assumed by Herring’s team regarding individual weblogs. All three elements — fragments, comma splices, and run-ons — were a small part of the total amount of statements found. Out of 423 statements in February and 623 statements in October, fragments totaled 18 in February and 27 in October. A large majority of the number of fragments was found when a BisonBlogger would have a list in their posting, which is pretty understandable considering lists rarely contain complete sentences. The study by Connors and Lunsford echo this low amount with 82 fragments in their 300 student papers. As far as comma splices are concerned, out of the totals mentioned in the previous paragraph, the February study contained 24 comma splices and October’s study contained 25. When it comes to writing for the composition classroom, Connors and Lunsford found 124 comma splices in their collection of 300 student papers. Again, both low numbers when taking into consideration the number of total words involved. Sometimes the statements containing comma splices were also run-ons. There were thirteen statements like this in the February study and four in the October study. These very statements, though, are also accounted for in the totals of comma splices and were not counted separately. As discussed in Section 4.2.6, statements which contained the use of ellipses also were separated as if the ellipses were pauses in thought like a period. Understanding this may aid readers in understanding why many postings seem to statements with multiple errors. A statement that is a run-on with a punctuation error, for instance, will fall into both categories. During the February study, The BisonBlog only saw thirty run-ons compared to the total amount of statements, 423. October’s study only saw 5 run-ons out of a total of 623. The percentages of all of these common writing errors is similar to what Connors and Lunsford found and allude to just how misrepresented the writing online by students has been regarding online communities and their postings. The point of these sections is to show that the percentage of errors is low when students write online in comparison to previous assumptions. 153
Statements with Errors in Punctuation Through the analysis process, I came upon statements that simply had errors in them, mainly regarding punctuation. Just as some BisonBloggers consistently used a small “I,” some would trail off their postings without punctuation. In viewing each individual statement, I first employed my own rule of looking at statements in between the periods the BisonBloggers used. If no period was used after a statement and the BisonBlogger continued their posting in a paragraph (for example, after pressing Return or Enter), I then identified that statement as in error. If the BisonBlogger was a user of ellipses, I treated those as periods as well. I justified that if they are pausing in their thoughts for whatever reason, and using ellipses to show that pause, then that pause equals what a period does for a sentence — it ends that statement or thought. Another habit was the overuse of commas where they were not needed or possibility of a missed comma, for example, in a compound sentence. The amount of statements with errors like these were far and few between. In February, 36 statements with errors were evident, and in October, that number increased to 49. What this section sums up for composition teachers, composition researchers, and grammarians is that when students go online to write to and with others, their writing abilities do not suffer. In fact, they rarely have errors in their postings. And when student bloggers have a comma in the wrong spot or forget to capitalize here or there, that does not mean their postings do not contain complexity in structure. However, these types of declarations can only be made about a site where the community was involved and responded to one another frequently. In the next section, one will observe how important the community-building aspect is to producing quality postings. Responding to Others in the Community Probably the most important part of a successful online community needed in order to gain high quality content (which leads to complex postings), according to Powazek and other online community builders, is the element of connection and building relationships. Powazek’s own definition of community wraps it up nicely: “Web communities happen when users are given tools to use their voice in a public and immediate way, forming intimate relationships over time” (xxii). Without the relationships built on The BisonBlog or the continuing response from one BisonBlogger to another, The BisonBlog wouldn’t have been as successful meaning the postings would have trailed off into nothing, and the postings, then, wouldn’t have contained the great content that they did and still do. Successful online or offline communities need to connect people and good writing or good communication is key in keeping that conversation ongoing. Now, with The BisonBlog’s two months, there were some exceptions as to how community building was demonstrated. As mentioned previously, the Comments feature on The BisonBlog in October was where one could find many more responses from one BisonBlogger to another. The February study, then, showed more response in each BisonBlogger’s posting since the 154
Comments feature was not utilized. Therefore, out of the total 423 statements made in the February study, 234 of them were statements that responded to the prompts (ranging from open-ended questions posed by BisonBloggers to “Ticked Off Tuesday”). This is a percentage of 55%. An example of the community conversations from February is shown in Figure 18. 2.5.2004 Okay Charles I just finally now got on to the blog and read what you wrote in response to what I wrote. And I would have to say I totally agree. So now I am lost on my opinion of the “second chance” deal. So I tested out the theory I looked up and old friend, and called them up to give them their “second chance” and I have come to conclude that I must have been on drugs when I decided to test this theory, because all I have now is nothing. It was the most idiotic thing I have done in a long time, so I say screw second chances, to some. So I guess ‘everyone’ was a term I used all too loosely, and so is ‘no matter what’ I guess I was just trying to once again create a picture of a perfect world inside of my head, but I had a crude awakening to reality. I am not so sure as what to think now. Sybil about your trouble with your friend I have to agree with chelsea once a cheater always a cheater. You know the saying ‘do onto others as you would do onto yourself’.?? Yeah so I am not sure what bonehead ever wrote that up, but I felt it fit into this situation. You tried to make ends meet by being nice to this friend of yours and she came back to kick ya. So conclusion, people don’t change, and once they are gone run like hell so you don’t meet up with them again. Good day to you all. I have written a blog on my personal site, and if you all wouldn’t mind I think I need a little advice or some feedback. So if you don’t mind could you all check it out and help out a fellow bison blogger. Thanks ~Jen~ my screen name is tooconfzd it is a xanga site. this entry posted by Jennifer : 12:21 PM If once a cheater always a cheater is true, then is once a liar, always a liar true too? I can take back friends for most anything, except lying. Sybil, I experienced something similar with one of my highschool friends, Dorene. We went through differences over and over again, but something held us together. Then one day she did something truly awful and I let her go. It tore a group of about ten of us girls in half and two groups emerged and went their separate ways. (This must sound so pathetic to all the male readers on this site) But what I wanted to tell you is that I think now that I look back on it, Dorene really needed someone to stick by her. I did it as long as I could. For me the issue is not how many chances, but how much will my decision effect the other person. Usually if the conclusion is 'he or she doesn't care', I go my own way. Sometimes you have to take something for yourself. On a related note, I'm completely neurotic. Good day. this entry posted by Chelsea : 11:39 AM 2.4.2004 Wow I disappear for a day or two and things get interesting. To Charles and Chelsea: 155
I don't believe for one second that ANYONE has the RIGHT to a second chance. If that was the case then concepts such as mercy and grace would not be as powerful as they are. I come from the philosophical view point that every single choice we make has good and bad consequences - and we are forced to live and die by those choices. I personally give a lot of "second" chances. I have been granted far mercy more than I have ever deserved, for me not to react in kind would not be just. As for the past and its impact on the present: The past can be one of several things, for some people it is a monkey on their back that will not leave them alone, for others it is a collection of very hard lessons. Personally I know that my past effects everything I say and do, those experiences bleed through at all times. I don't see this as a bad thing. In fact it allows for a wide perspective. One final thought: I do not equate forgiveness and "second chances" to be the same thing. I will forgive anyone for most anything (might take a little bit but it always happens). But just because I forgive someone doesn't mean they get a "Second Chance" card. Trust is fragile and must be earned. That is about it from here. P.S. I am very Sorry Jennifer if I ruined your research with your questions, it was not my intention. this entry posted by Jeremiah : 2:27 PM
Figure 18. Three different BisonBloggers demonstrate a community conversation (Feb). The BisonBlog, once moved to a North Dakota State University server with more potential and better features, only brought in 111 statements (found in postings) relating to the prompts out of a total of 623. This is a drop to 18%; however, this doesnâ€™t mean that the relationships or connecting between student bloggers stopped, it was just more evident in the Comments feature as shown in Figure 19. I would agree with Derek Powazek when looking through the discussions had on The BisonBlog. He has claimed that in order to get participants to come back to the community and post their thoughts, a host and other participants have to comment to that person or at least make them feel welcome. Each time a new student would sign up to The BisonBlog, I made sure to welcome them in the Comments section, and other students did as well. When a student feels that he or she is a part of something, just like in the classroom, they are more likely to come back to it or to come to class to join in the discussion. If composition teachers can take that idea of community into their classrooms and even onto their class blogs, students will be more likely to post and more likely to post quality entries.
Hmmm Submitted by Megan on Tue, 10/12/2004 – 13:04. I guess i don’t have much to say today. I’m pretty much a pist off girl right now. My best friend is an idiot. I’m serious, she has a possevive boyfriend and she seems to see it, but refuses to acknowledge it...drive me nuts. Whatever. » Megan’s blog | login or register to post comments Comment: yeah... Submitted by tompkins on Tue, 10/12/2004 - 13:16. I also have a friend like that, cept she's finally doing something about it. Problem is I'm his friend too and was actually friends with him for about 4 or 5 years longer than her. So do I side with the guy who has seniority but I don't agree with at all, or the girl? I don't know, just be happy you aren't getting pulled into the middle of it. =\ » login or register to post comments Figure 19. Two BisonBloggers converse with one another through the Comments feature (Oct). WORKS CITED Baron, Naomi. “Letters by Phone or Speech by Other Means: The Linguistics of Email.” Language and Communication. New York: Bergamon, 1998. 133-70. Behrens, Larry. “Subordinate Clauses.” Sentence Craft. Accessed 30 June 05. <http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/faculty/behrens/sub.htm#subs>. BisonBlog, The. Created 29 Aug 04. Accessed 30 June 05. <http://bisonblog.acm.ndsu.nodak.edu>. BisonBlog, The. Created 28 Aug 03. Accessed 04 July 05.<http://thebisonblog.blogspot.com>. Blood, Rebecca. The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2002. Blood, Rebecca. We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2002. Braddock, Richard. “The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences in Expository Prose.” On Writing Research: The Braddock Essays (1975-1998). Ed. Lisa Ede. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 1999. 29-42. Brooks, Kevin, Cindy Nichols, and Sybil Priebe. “Remediation, Genre, and Motivation: Key Concepts for Teaching with Weblogs.” Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Ed. Laura J. Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, and Jessica Reyman. Created June 2004. Accessed 30 June 05. <http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/remediation_genre.html>. Bruckner, Teresa. "“It Just Sort of Evolved”: Negotiating Group Identity Among Writers." The Writing Instructor. Created 2004. Accessed 30 June 05. <http://www.writinginstructor.com/essays/bruckner-all.html>. Capital Community College Foundation Web Site. The Guide to Grammar and Writing. Accessed 30 June 05. <http://cctc.commnet.edu/grammar/>. 157
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Talking Louder Makes Me Righter
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This version of the textbook, Writing Unleashed: Argument, was compiled in the Spring of 2018; the latest revision occurred May 2019. It is being used on the campus of NDSCS in Wahpeton, ND.
Minor changes were made to improve clarity, punctuation, grammar, and brevity.
Summer 2019 Edits and Additions: Accessibility and harmonious Creative Commons licenses. Download here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Jo...
Published on Jun 24, 2019
Summer 2019 Edits and Additions: Accessibility and harmonious Creative Commons licenses. Download here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Jo...