RCL 2 #5: Appeals of an Anti-GMOs Organization

Arguments of the NON GMO Project against GMOs:

  1. GMOs are Unsafe
    • Claim that “there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs”
      • There have been studies upon studies supporting the cause that GMOs cause no harm to humans
        • Lots of information why the studies done to prove GMOs are safe are wrong, but do not provide any evidence of GMOs actually harming humans
      • I can agree that genetic engineering is unsafe, but mostly just in the aspect that many times, genes come from creatures that aren’t endemic to the region where genetic engineering experiments take place and there must be extra containment to prevent them from escaping from the lab and wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem
      • The non-GMO paper continues by saying that genetic modification isn’t a precise technique due to mutations
        • In lab, there are PCR machines to verify that the gene you want is in the correct place and various sequencing tools to get the exact order of nucleotides within your recombinant DNA, so you can check if your DNA did what you wanted it to do
        • Of course there are mutations, but due to the wobble effect, they can still code for the same amino acid and that won’t kill you
        • The magic of checking your DNA lets you see if these mutations are harmful or not
  2. Promote the “natural” method of crossbreeding seeds
    • Technically speaking, the natural method is also intentional genetic modification. but instead of taking a few months/years to develop more food, this method is as fast as watching grass grow, literally
    • People have been taking seeds out of plants that showed favorable traits such as pest resistance, largest fruit, sweetest flavor, etc, which caused a natural change in the genetic makeup of the plants since certain genes were selected for
    • One source referenced on the NON GMO project website gives an accurate depiction of plant transformation, but then goes to to say that transformation is a “long, arduous, labour-intensive, and expensive process’
      • That’s true, depending how you look at it. Maintaining explants takes a lot of time to make sure that the transformed leaves don’t have bacterial overgrowth and there’s constant transfers of the explants, but it takes only a few months to set up the process and once that happens, you can pump out transgenic plants pretty quickly
      • Especially in comparison to the natural “pick a seed and replant, wait a year for it to grow, and hope that it grows with your selected trait,” genetic editing allows you to transform a copious amount of plants at once and various hormones can help you determine whether the plant is transformed or not
      • This is important in areas with severe food shortages: genetically modifying plants to withstand drought and other stresses is much more important to areas where food isn’t guaranteed and banning GMOs would negatively impact many of those who aren’t as well off to choose to eat that haven’t been genetically modified
      • The main fear is that GMOs are unnatural and genetic engineering “evades natural barriers between species and kingdoms that have evolved over millennia”
        • Considering that at one point, there was only one species and every living created evolved from that organism, this is weak evidence of why people shouldn’t eat GMOs
  3. Bank upon the fact that GMOs cannot be tested upon humans
    • As mentioned before, the website provides no real evidence for why people shouldn’t eat GMOs other than the fear of what will happen to the human body after a long-term consumption of GMOs as well as links to various other websites that use big words to make genetic engineering seem like a mad scientist’s toy which also do not give any substantial evidence proving the negative of consuming GMOs
    • This whole argument is based on personal preferences: some people don’t like the idea that their mass produced food was given a gene to help it proliferate faster so farmers and stores can sell more food for less money
    • Their main argument includes that we don’t know how GMOs will impact humans in the long term even those most of us are already test subjects
      • Scientists cannot do experiments testing the impact of GMOs on humans due to ethics
      • There was an experiment in which rats that ate GMOs grew tumors, but it was later revealed that these rats were already cancer-prone to begin with and the scientists left out trials in which many of the rats that were given GMOs grew no tumors at all

Testing Labs

http://livingnongmo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/GMO-Myths-and-Truths-edition2.pdf

 

RCL2 #4: Persuasive Essay Draft

Audience: Congress/general government/voters

Thesis: Politicians and others in authority must exhibit some competency in science in order to pass laws or talk about topics that regard science in order to avoid the adverse effects of spreading false scientific information, such as the public skepticism of proven scientific topics, the propagation of harmful or even fatal practices to both human health and the environment, as well as the perversion of science for political matters.

This topic has major significance in this time frame due to how anti-science the current government has become, especially with many significant politicians taken positions that have been debunked with many years of science. This issue becomes increasingly concerning when these politicians have a large following and easily influence people who may not have a strong background in science and the impressionable minds of children, who should be taught proven theories before they dive into the world of politicalized science. For that reason, politicians must have somewhat of a basis in science in order to pass or deny bills that focus on science. As a scientist, I constantly hear arguments about proven topics that take science and mutate it into something unrecognizable or simply use some popular, incorrect rumor to justify a scientific opinion, which ultimately comes back to how this incorrect scientific “reasoning” spreads. When looking at many of the tweets by politicians, there’s a theme where opinions debunked by significant evidence are backed by hundreds or thousands of Americans. If politicians, who are major influences within the nation, began to back their claims with evidence or did not partake in voting in bills that they could not show competence in understanding, then I think we would have more laws backed by science rather than very subjective opinions of a few within a nation of three hundred million.

  1. Laws Passed/Actions Taken Concerning Science
    • Paris Agreement
      • Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, making the United States the only major nation to not join
      • His explanation of why the US didn’t join included repeating that it wasn’t a good deal for America several times, which completely ignored the science aspect of the issue
    • Abortions
      • Politicians voting upon these bills consist of mostly Christian males, who do not represent the feelings of the women who are impacted by the bills (research further)
      • Many radical bills supported by many politicians and based upon dubious science, which is furthered by those in the public with questionable science backgrounds (i.e. the bill that proposed a ban on abortions after twenty weeks since fetuses could apparently (not proven) feel pain by then
  2. Effects of False Information Spread
    • Trust in scientists plummets
    • Public accepts incorrect, potentially harmful or fatal opinions
      • Abortions
      • Vaccines and Autism (the connection promoted by Trump)
        • Due to herd immunization and the eradication of certain diseases due to vaccines, people have begun to lighten up on vaccines since they cannot see the direct impact on them, which will backfire if more people begin to stop getting vaccinated or vaccinating their children
      • Deadly fads
        • Unbacked diets
      • GMOs
        • People still think that GMOs are unhealthy even though they’ve been eating them for years/GMOs have been produced since people moved to agriculture as their primary food source
    • Focus on social media (all those ads on Facebook that advocate losing weight in two weeks or
  3. Trump’s Presidency and Its Impact on Science
    • Vowed to eliminate the EPA
    • The USDA mess
    • Promotes a view that the earth is fine as it is, people don’t need vaccines, all disproven by science

https://www.kqed.org/science/22186/why-scientists-are-seen-as-competent-but-untrustworthy-and-why-it-matters

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vv7xqx/what-a-trump-presidency-means-for-science

Public confidence in scientists has remained stable for decades

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/449525268529815552?lang=en (Trump’s unsupported tweet about vaccines and autism)

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/28/donald-trump-says-us-could-re-enter-paris-climate-deal-itv-interview Trump wants back in on the Paris Agreements

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/syria-is-joining-the-paris-agreement-now-what/545261/

48 Senate Republicans just voted for a radical abortion ban. And so did a few Democrats.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002716214555474

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/usda-food-stamps-school-lunch-trump-administration

RCL2 #3: How Can We Make Drinking Safer? A Deliberation that Discussed Drinking Policies at Penn State

During Deliberation Nation, I attended the deliberation that talked about drinking at Penn State, called, “We Are…A “Dry Campus”? A Discussion about Penn State’s Drinking Policies. Before attending, I thought it would be very difficult for me to relate to the topic due to my lack of involvement with drinking, I found that it was a very novel discussion since instead of analyzing various policies that preventing students from drinking at Penn State, the discussion was  geared more towards how to make the inevitable drinking culture safer since as many attendees mentioned, college students will drink no matter the policies in place to stop them.

Before the deliberation even began, I was surprised to see how many people showed up at the Fraser Commons. The professor had to grab more chairs so everyone could sit and even then, someone was standing in the back so I would estimate there were around twenty attendees at the deliberation, including a few “townies” as the State College residents were called. In contrast to our own deliberation, the professor also played a larger part by distributing the issue guide, telling everyone where the refreshments were, and during the break, passing said refreshments around, which was a little distracting from the deliberation.

However, the deliberation itself was very interesting. I think I would classify the topic as a type two problem since we were deliberating in order to improve the drinking policies at Penn State, which dealt heavily with the values of various people.

First and foremost, we discussed the policies in place at Penn State in Approach One, which included on and off campus policies as well as medical amnesty policies. There was a general consensus that medical amnesty laws were effective and someone mentioned that some states were expanding that policy to also protect the student in the medical emergency so the student who calls does not face backlash from that student or others for calling authorities, which most agreed was a worthwhile addition to the Amnesty laws. As mentioned before, most of the attendees agreed that students would drink off campus no matter what the Pennsylvania Laws said. On campus, they thought it would be better if the RAs were a little more lenient to students who have alcohols in their rooms if they aren’t bothering others in the hall since it is easier help students who drink and have an emergency in the dorms than those who must go off campus for a drink.

This led seamlessly to Approach Two, which regarded the enforcement of the drinking policy on campus. Many attendees shared stories about how their RAs approached drinking in the dorms, which revealed the disparity between RAs. Some only told their students to put the drinks away while others reported the students to housing. This led to a conversation about trust and most of the attendees agreed that they would trust a laid-back RA more than an uptight one for various issues they may have, such as drinking. Within this approach, we agreed that the NSO teams and other students guides should information about drinking that is objective and keeps students safe, but should not cross the line and become subjective and encourage students to go drink.

Finally, the third approach was about Penn State’s reputation as a party school and how to overcome this stigma. Most of the attendees agree that moderating social media and taking down posts that showed PSU students drinking would be too cumbersome and not very effective. Instead, emphasizing the academic, sports, and research achievements at Penn State on social media would be a better method of changing the reputation since it would show prospective students and the general public that there’s more to Penn State than just drinking

All in all, I thought the deliberation was successful in its goal to discuss various changes in policies to make drinking safer and it was also enjoyable to listen to the various stories and opinions shared by the attendees, as well as see the professor’s face in response to the stories about all the drinking mayhem that occurs at Penn State.

RCL2: #2 Deliberation Articles

An article published by the Los Angeles Times brings up the point that many college campuses have established “safe spaces,” which were once identifies as places where students could share problems but be shielded from verbal attacks. The article goes on to discuss why there’s support for safe spaces, such as the issue of identity, especially on college campuses, and students’ needs for a place to discuss their opinions without outsider hostility. However, these safe spaces also create separation between students and act as a form of self-segregation from others within the campus, which has caused many campuses to stop providing safe spaces to their students. Safe spaces grants freedom of speech to those who occupy the safe spaces, but clearly, those with contrasting opinions would not be welcomed into the safe spaces, which make safe spaces both for and against free speech.

A group of students at University of California San Diego (UCSD) wrote an article in The Koala, a student newspaper at UCSD, satirizing safe spaces and the construction of a new safe space within UCSD, emphasizing that “the lack of dangerous space at UCSD has become increasingly apparent…[safe spaces] threaten individuals who do not like feeling safe” (UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space on Campus, The Koala). The article was meant to be a funny one, but may have grazed a fine line with the profane and vulgar humor within it. Soon after publication of the article, the UCSD student government passed a Media Act which defunded student media groups, of which The Koala is a part.

These two articles show the divide between supports and those who think safe spaces are actually detriments to a college campus, which we can use in our deliberation to show how even the many facets within the free speech issue have great divides and try to use the problems raised within the issues to spark a discussion on how we can make students feel safe to share their opinions without harming or lashing out at others. We could also use the article about The Koala to start a conversation on what the students think about free speech and how much schools and other authority can limit student speech on campus.

 

Furedi, Frank. “Campuses Are Breaking Apart into ‘Safe Spaces’.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2017, 4:00 AM, www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-furedi-safe-space-20170105-story.html.

Leef, George. “Student Writers Mock ‘Safe Spaces’ Idea; Can The University Retaliate Against Them?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Aug. 2017, 10:55 AM, www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2017/08/26/student-writers-mock-safe-spaces-idea-can-the-university-retaliate-against-them/#621992ca5ebf.

TheKoala. “UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space On Campus.” The Koala, University of California San Diego, 16 Nov. 2015, thekoala.org/2015/11/16/ucsd-unveils-new-dangerous-space-on-campus/.

RCL2 #1: Deliberation Responsibilities

Title: WE ARE … Free to Speak: Or Are We?

Description: We are trying to define what freedom of speech really is, especially on a college campus. Furthermore, we will discuss how universities should manage freedom of speech within their campuses as well policies that need to be implemented in order to protect students from physical and mental harm in relation to free speech. Our three approaches that we will discuss are the negative impacts of free speech, the positive impacts, and policies in place at Penn State that deal with free speech. Within these categories, we’ll mention topics such as safe spaces, Penn State probing Richard Spencer from speaking on campus, and the mental impact free speech has on students.

Role: I am part of team 1, so my topic is the negative impacts of free speech. My duties include researching all I can about this topic and preparing an introduction for this approach with my partner for the deliberation. I also have to present my information in a practical manner, moderate my approach during the deliberation and finally, help write a several hundred words post-deliberation report.

Currently Working On: Researching the approach (with a focus on safe spaces for now) and helping plan the set up of the deliberation with the whole group. My partner and I are also searching for other mini-topics that are mentionable within the overarching subject of negative impacts of free speech. I’ve scoured several articles and found a lot of information on both the positives and negatives of safe spaces, so I’ll be sure to illustrate both sides of the story.

RCL2 #0: This I Believe Script

Satisfaction Brought it Back

My old laboratory was the minuscule bathroom of the apartment I used to live in. The puny sink served as a heat-resistant, state of the class lab counter and a sharpener’s plastic container intended to collect pencil shavings made an exceptional beaker.

Day after day, I’d enter the lab and do my business before beginning a long day’s work of mixing highly toxic and volatile chemicals such as blue shampoo and baby powder with a bobby-pin stirring rod.

Although most trials ended in a sludgy failure, once in a while, I would create a substance with a smooth consistency and a glossy shine and in my young mind, that trial was a success.

A decade later, I stand in a lab with glass beakers, stirring rods, actual volatile chemicals, expensive equipment, and a sense of satisfaction that I can finally follow that childhood curiosity of mixing two substances together but instead of doing it for my own amusement, I can improve the world with one chemical reaction at a time.

When applying to colleges, I thought back to all those “experiments” I conducted as a child, and in a moment of impulsiveness, I chose engineering as my major. Pretty soon, I discovered that thanks to the inquisitive nature I nurtured as a child, I avoided many other careers that I was considering but know that I would grow to dislike in the future. and for that reason, amongst many others, I believe in pursuing curiosities, no matter how profound or trivial they may seem.

For example, a few years ago, friend mentioned the Norwegian comedians behind the “What does the fox say”  video and in a bit of curiosity, I searched them up on YouTube. It turned out that they hosted a hilarious talk show, completely in Norwegian, of course. While most episodes were subtitled for the English speaking viewers, a few episodes were not. So naturally, I spent the next year learning Norwegian in order to understand their show.

Although I wouldn’t call myself even relatively proficient in Norwegian at this point, I learned copious amounts of information about Norwegian history and culture and know just enough of the language to get around when I go to Norway in the future.

Along the same lines, a boy I knew in eighth grade wrote a hundred-paged story, and I, in a bout of competitiveness and wonder, began to take creative writing more seriously. But in contrast to my Norwegian endeavors, my newfound interest in writing earned me a Scholastic writing award in  the  eleventh grade and a lifelong love for creating stories.

I have similar recollections for learning art, Japanese, knitting, the guitar, photography, and  many other activities that I spent between a few weeks to several years learning. They all have a wide of range of successes and feelings of let’s-never-talk-about-that-again-thank-you, but in the end, I’m glad I tried out each and every one of them. Spurred on by a little curiosity, I peek into the worlds these activities occupy and realize just how much of the world I have to explore and learn that I never want to be pinned down by one career or hobby for the rest of my life.

After all, we only have around a century on a planet that spins due to money, time, and curiosity. For a person who already feels so, so old, I know that if I have my interest piqued for even the most minuscule amount of time, well I’d rather chase that curiosity and discover where it leads me rather than regret it until my dying breath.

RCL #10: HofPC Concept Contracts

During the time we had to talk about our History of a Public Controversy presentations in class, my group wanted to do the problems with THON, more specifically how it gives money to a relatively well-off hospital and other issues with its money distribution. However, we quickly realized that we probably did not have enough information for that topic. Since we could not get together over break and given that not everyone could be on the group chat at the same time, we’ll have to discuss a new topic when we get back from break.

We do have a few ideas such as whether we should pay college athletes or possibly taking a new view on the age-old stem cell issue, but it’s not set in stone since we have to present the issue from a unique perspective.

When we do find a topic, I have volunteered to take care of all the video editing since I had quite a lot of experience with iMovie due to a middle school project a few years ago. That being said, I haven’t used iMovie for a while other than to edit some pauses out of my Ted Talk, but I’m pretty efficient with technology and I don’t think iMovie has changed must since I was in sixth grade, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Additionally, I’ll also work with Jacob to come up with a script for the video and help with any research needed, although Jalani and Katie probably have the research aspect of the project covered. We’ll probably go over this in class, but we still need to figure out who’s going to film for the video and how exactly we’ll go about it, but of course, we need to focus on narrowing down and choosing a topic for the HofPC project for now.

RCL #9: Ted Talk

Focusing on the implications of the shift on our generation and what’s to come out of this shift

Introduction

  • How has technology rotted our minds away? Over the years, newer generations have supposedly become more narcissistic, at least in the perspective of those from a more conformist decade.
  • Talk briefly about 50s
    • Conformation as a result of Communism, don’t want to stand out
    • Nuclear family “propaganda”
    • Gender roles reestablished after war
  • 60s, civil rights rallies
    • Started the idea of the individual
    • People began to accept who they were (e.g. LGBTQ, women, people of color), set the playing stage for the boom in individualism in the next few decades
  • Snowballed to today
    • People more connected then ever
    • Gives rise to many new benefits
      • Growing middle class
      • Calling govts out more effectively
      • Personal benefits
  • Thesis: Through the empowerment of individuals over the years, our generation has altered technology and the workplace to show their own values, which will lead to further growth in individual efficiency, global development, and continue promoting the individual.

Effect of Technology on our generation as individuals & future uses

  • Technology is a major reason why individuals have as much power as they do today
  • Don’t need to rely upon others to accomplish things- Makes empowers individuals by giving them so much power at their fingertips
  • Shift in ideals over time; people more concerned with family and rights back in the day but due to a period of general peace, people have shifted their attention back onto themselves
  • Future: social media and technology will be more tied to individuals than ever (Smartwatch, anyone?, may cause a myriad of both problems and benefits, more connectivity and power to the individual

Our generation in the workplace/other professional places

  • Due to social media, want constant validation/feedback (source)
  • Growing up during Great Recession, generation Z is more cutthroat, want to get things done and move on (source)
  • Turnover in the workplace!
  • Expansion of middle class

Conclusion: make it memorable

Anecdotes? Something that relates to our generation

General info/research about generation z

RCL #8: Paradigm Shift Draft

Thesis: Through the rise of new technologies such as smart phones, the individual has grown stronger over the years due to the changing views of independence as well as the continuous separation of the government from both the church and their citizen’s lives.

Useful poster: https://home.kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2013/10/rise-of-the-individual.html

  1. Historical Significance
    • People were ostracized for being different
    • Huge scientific discoveries weren’t accepted by the public for many years, such as Darwin’s Creationism due to both the prevalent religious beliefs as well as the ubiquitous groupthink at the time
    • Centuries before that, without a tribe, a person had no hopes of protection and by extension, survival
    • Research into what made groups so effective and necessary in the past
    • Limited knowledge and accessibility of the individual, people needed connections in order to accomplish anything
  2. Renaissance
    • Humanism prioritized individual
    • Gave rise to many paintings, da Vinci’s inventions
    •  Dante’s Inferno
    • Niccolo Machiavelli, rather controversial thoughts regarding what makes a king a good ruler (specific traits rather than Christianity)
  3. 20th Century
    • War discouraged individualism
    • Everything was for the state
    • “Doing your duty” for the community to function while the men were fighting overseas
  4. 1950/60s
    • Image of nuclear family
    • Technologies started developing at this time (satellites, domestic appliances)
    • After the war, people wanted to stay together, discouraged individualism
    • Red Scare: no one wanted to stick out for the fear of being a “Communist”
  5. Modern Impact
    • Technologies (WIFI, cell phones, even watches) allow people to be connected to other whenever
    • Kind of strange that greater connection allows for individualism, look into that
    • Information at fingertips for most people around globe (some people can find a mobile cell phone more easily than food and water) eliminates the middle man
    • Separation from government (government and religion doesn’t control everything aspect of a person’s life anymore)
    • Many industries have to make sweeping changes to appeal to new generation due to the radical change in beliefs (Apple Watch, various industries “killed” by Millennials)
  6. Views Toward Individuals
    • Kind of split
    • Elders follow their generation, think the both Millennials and Generation Z are stuck within their phones and as such, grow to be narcissistic
    • I don’t think that people on their phones realize the power they have by being on their phones, bombarded with information non-stop, causes new ideas and inventions, allowing for more individualism, cycle of individualism?
    • SOCIAL MEDIA: big reason that the shift in views toward individualism shifted
  7. Future Implications?
    • Rise of individualism leads to rise in robots and AI, many jobs already being replaced by robots who work continuously without tire unlike humans
    • Succession (think Spain and Quebec)

Conclusion:

The views towards individuals has fluctuated through the years due to the advancements of technologies both in the ancient modern times, leading to a population with narcissistic yet collaborative tendencies.

Sources:

  • http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/bernard-salt-demographer/all-about-me-the-rise-of-the-individual-is-trending/news-story/986eddce1aab96acc54cb74f346bae8c
  • http://professor-markellos.weebly.com/weekly-class-blog/renaissance-the-rise-of-the-individual
  • https://danielmiessler.com/blog/the-age-of-the-influencer/

RCL #7: Visual Aids

Addario includes many different photos within her book, the subjects of which range from the war to family life in the Middle East. One photo that particularly stuck out to me was the one two pages after 210 where another photographer took a picture of Addario capturing a photo of a father and child denied medical care. The fact they allowed Addario to photograph them during such a dire situation shows just how much they wanted relief from their current circumstances and their desire to increase awareness from those who can help, such as the Americans. The photo also shows that the Iraqis were fighting for their families and livelihoods instead of whatever the media feeds us.

Another photo that captured my attention was the photo six pages after page 210, in which a woman cooks during the early morning hours with a child besides her in a country that probably has a major conflict. This photo emphasizes how daily life must go on despite the atrocities occur around the locations where these photos are taken. The calm within this picture also serves to juxtapose against the other photos that display the war, dead bodies, and men with guns.

In my own blog, I have already used photos to help describe several different locations my readers can visit in a certain country and used a video to describe the vending machine culture within Japan. However, this is a very superficial application of photos and videos. Instead, in my later posts on my passion blogs, I could use more pictures to represent different cultures and illustrate the disparities between them instead of only supplying pictures of scenic locations that the audience can already look up on their own. Furthermore, videos can also help my audience visualize the different aspects of a culture much better than I can probably explain it, so I’ll be sure to incorporate more videos into my passion blog.