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.

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 #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.

RCL #6: Conflicts

Similarly to most other people, Addario experiences many different conflicts within her life regarding her work and personal life, but considering her career, one wrong decision can be the difference between life and death. One specific conflict arises when she returns to Istanbul after the soldier’s mission in Afghanistan. The blindness that many people possess to the conflicts occurring around them simply because they have never experienced it themselves evokes quite a bit of introspection on Addario’s part, as seen when Peter asks about her latest mission. Although she witnessed the events, Addario had no idea how to relay them to someone who watered the whole situation down to only her near death experiences, which is emphasized when Addario thinks, “And suddenly I felt as if words were completely inadequate to describe what we had endured” (Addario 188). She has so many rich memories, yet due to the limited experiences the audience have, they cannot comprehend the dire situation in the strife-striken countries that Addario photographs. To help communicate the feeling of having a loss of words to the audience, Addario continues the paragraph by asking several rhetorical questions with heavy imagery about how she would articulate the intense emotions she felt on the combat zone. While most readers have not experienced war like she has, they can relate to the inability to convey a certain message or topic to someone who does not listen and cannot understand, which is ubiquitous.

In my own life, I sometimes have trouble communicating with other people because I have such different experiences from most people whom I meet, which aligns to Addario’s challenge with talking to those who didn’t experience the war zone with her. I’ve already mentioned the slight cultural conflict in Japan due to their tendency to shun outsiders a little bit in my passion blog, but I hope to inform my audience of what they’re getting into when they travel to certain countries in terms of national conflict so they have a better idea of the history and a more collective view of the nation rather than just the pleasing scenery.

RCL #5: Civil Artifact Essay

  • By creating wearable smart devices, Apple exacerbates the addiction to screens, but sidesteps this issue by depicting the active lifestyle
  • emphasizes the exercise apps within the watch and shows the intensity of the watch
  • can easily become obsessed with the biodata provided by the watch

RCL#4: Civic Artifact Speech Outline

Introduction: I have a bit of a problem. Whenever sprinting to class, I have a tendency to check my watch, somehow zone out while reading it, and then check my phone for the time. Considering this inefficient method of checking the time, I often wonder why I wear a watch. Of course, I don’t want to check my phone in the middle of class, but moreover, the weight of a watch on my wrist supersedes that. Simply wearing the watch instills a feeling of efficiency, of authority, of the duty I have to society in me and that is the true reason I wear a watch.

Thesis: Over the centuries watches have been present on the wrists of consumers, they have gone through a great evolution in terms of use and functionality, significance to the consumer, and the civic duty they evoke from the consumer.

Point 1: Development of the Wristwatch/Change in Use over Time

  • History from 1500s: large, bulky, had to wear around neck, not very accurate
  • Rising demands for practical watches during World War I, so pendant and pocket watches became obscure
  • Watches contributed both to fashion (gold plated/embellished watches and so on) as well to industry with the standardization of time, especially in consideration with train stations and similar industries
  • Evolved to become quieter, lighter, and smaller and continues to adapts to society’s needs, proven with the release of smart watches

Transition: With the increasing efficiency of watches over the years, they have come to represent that very value in many countries, alongside with the enormous fashion impact watches have.

Point 2:  Significance of Watches

  • Represent productivity and efficiency to many Northern European nations (especially Switzerland, where it’s a national symbol more or less), as well as the U.S.
  • Contributes to the commonplace “Time is money”
  • However, symbolizes a limitation to those who live a more “go with the flow” lifestyle, such as those in Southern Europe
  • Reflects the personality of the wearer due to the wide variety of watches available, allows wearer to express themselves in a practical manner
  • People who wear watches seem to have sophistication, authority, and control over their lives (especially in watch ads-lots of ethos!)
https://www.thecut.com/2008/10/watch_hotties/slideshow/

Transition: Given the eye-catching designs of watches presented in ads and the sheer number of watches available to the public, there is no surprise that many people buy watches for all sorts of purposes. Despite the different reasons, watches encourage a similar civic duty in all who wear them.

Point 3: Civic Duty Encouraged by Watches

  • Incorporate the consumer further into society by enforcing deadlines and serving as constant reminders of the flow of time
  • Encourages the consumer to push themselves even more for the betterment of society, which gives rise to new innovations
  • Smart watches in particular allow consumers many functions at their fingertips, encourages more efficiency in the work force and independency within their lives
  • Again, “time is money” saying, overall efficiency in society encouraged by watches

Conclusion: For a long stretch of time, watches were considered either timekeepers or fashion accessories, but since then, have branched out into many different fields and expanded on the civic duty it encouraged from consumers. Now more than ever, watches symbolize the constant innovations and development sweeping the planet and continue to push humans further by constantly reminding them of how much value time has. With the creation of smart watches, consumers will be able to complete so much more at a great efficiency, which is their civic duty.

 

RCL #3: How to Write Vividly

Although many scenes within Part II are compelling due to the action they describe, the one scene that stuck out to me occurs after Addario and Matthew are released by the commander of the village (pages 122-129). Gareib informs them that they cannot leave until the next morning and Matthew begins to panic, demanding to leave at that very moment.

Addario makes use of repetition in this scene, telling the readers that Matthew was getting angry several times as well as making him restate that he wanted leave over and over. She also juxtaposes Matthew’s breakdown to the scene before, when Addario was the one who kept rubbing her forehead in worry while Matthew was relaxed. The steady progression of anger Addario illustrates in blunt terms depicts how genuinely frightened Matthew feels after he’s captured, which conveys to the readers how close death may be to the reports in these conflict-ridden regions. In the next scene, nonetheless, Addario juxtaposes Matthew’s unease with the domestic scene with the wife in the second captor’s kitchen.

Repetition aids writers when they try to convey a point of great importance, but in terms of my own passion, regurgitating the same fact about a country or a culture will bore readers rather than entice them to read more of the blog. On the other hand, Addario’s action of juxtaposing between moments of conflict and tranquil ones keeps the readers on their toes and encourages them to ponder how such contrasting events could take place at the same time and place. Likewise, I could utilize juxtapositions when discussing countries that have strong traditional and modern cultures, such as Japan’s traditions of honoring elders which contrasts to their technological advanced society. Juxtapositions could also be used to to transition between ideas within a post, similar to what I did with the Romania post where I separated the post into sections about general travel facts about Romania, fascinating places to visit, and ended with a little cultural excerpt from the country. Like Addario’s writing, this keeps the readers interested in the topic, so I will continue with it in my new posts.

RCL #2: What to Do with Passion

If you ask someone why they do the job they do, they’ll give you one of three answers: money, some strange or uncommon reason, or passion. Parents and college recruiters tell students to find a passion and follow it through high school. Clearly, passion is something valued by Western societies, yet at the same time, those who follow their passion may be labeled as reckless or selfish.

Addario’s nana faces a dilemma in which she must make the decision between a spontaneous man with no money or a man who promises her a secure future. The predicament is almost cliché, but emphasizes just how much Addario wants to stay off the secure route. Nana chooses Addario’s grandfather, a logical choice that considers the future, yet still wonders about her decision many years in the future. In this context, Addario may have included the story to warn the audience against selections that may haunt you several years later.

She also includes the story to how important her passion is. While her grandmother chooses the safe path in consideration of her future, Addario knows how crucial her line of work is and for that reason, follows her passion rather than the safe route of staying out of conflict regions.

Unlike Addario, I wouldn’t say I have many stories of my travels abroad or that much advice, but simply standing outside sparks a sense of passion within me. Especially on this campus, if you stand anywhere, really, you’ll see tens or hundreds of students milling around, sprinting to class, or studying. Just looking at complete strangers makes me realize that just like me, these people have been through a multitude of experiences that I cannot fathom, have made many mundane decisions like me, and will make the choice between safety and passion.

As a naturally curious person, I wondered how these daily tasks differ between the people of the world. How does the trip to the grocery store vary between a Slovak and a Japanese person? What do students in Seychelles learn? Thus, my desire to learn about the world and its culture was born.