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Online Gaming: Anonymous Communication

Online Gaming: Anonymous Communication

Introduction

“Drink pots if you got ‘em [sic].  I’m down to echoes and having trouble keeping the tank healed.”  The previous statement was recorded during a session of Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO), a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMO).  Each of the words in the statement is a recognizable term in English, though the usage is not customary.  Each segment of society has its own language and jargon for the world around it.  Online gaming is no exception, and while some terms, such as “tank” are common across an entire genre (MMOs), others like “echoes” are specific to one game or another.  Language, however, is not only about the words that are used, but a number of details, some more subtle than others, which provides the context necessary to understand a particular utterance.  With the understanding that not all potential readers readily understand gaming terminology, and to minimize the amount of space spent in explanation of terms, each highlighted term is explained in the Glossary of Terms prior to the Reference page.  By analyzing several hours of communication taking place within the contexts of two very different video games, one can discover the differences and similarities between the languages of each of the games and the general population. Continue reading

01/07/2013 Posted by | Achieving, College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , | Leave a comment

The Bride: Continuing Ritual Despite Secularization

WARNING: Do not plagiarize from this website. At least one university knows about the site and has already caught and punished people who were doing so. Do your own work, please! Thanks for reading!

The Bride: Continuing Ritual Despite Secularization

            A young woman, dressed in white, sits in a room isolated from all but her assistants, the bride’s maids.  A number of people, representing society as a whole, wait patiently for her to appear.  Neither the young woman nor her betrothed are particularly religious, and this is no “church wedding,” but ritual and symbolism persist.  The psychological, functional, and anthropological approaches to studying religion are still applicable to the ceremony, even if God himself is not necessarily represented. Continue reading

07/09/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Thinking | Leave a comment

Rite of Passage

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

I suppose you could say that I have been through several rites of passage, from high school graduation to my wedding day, my first period, or my first child. However, I don’t really see these as equivalent to those in most cultures. Especially the ones we saw in videos this week, many cultures have rites that involve some form of challenge- three days of dancing and behaving stoically, actual pain and suffering, the requirement to fend for yourself instead of always relying on your parents (or government) to support you. Continue reading

07/05/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , | 2 Comments

Persephone’s Capture: Duality in Myth

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

Persephone’s Capture: Duality in Myth

            “To see life as a poem and yourself participating in a poem is what the myth does for you” (Campbell, 1988, p. 65).  Like poetry, myth uses recurring themes, symbolism, and metaphor, but myth is not about fanciful stories.  Myth is about what it means to be human, our story in its entirety, and how to live in harmony with your society.  Sometimes, as is the case in Levi-Strauss’s analysis of hare-lips, twins, and children born feet first, several myths of varying cultures have similar symbols, speaking to the similarity of humans no matter the culture.  Sometimes, as in the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of these symbols can grow to encompass the entirety of a culture’s beliefs as a “master symbol.”  In both examples, the myth is shown to be symbolic, not factual, and this is the foundation of studying myth.  By identifying and comparing the symbolism inherent in myth, one can envision the universal nature of man.

One common theme in myth is that of duality, whether it be male/female, good/evil, Heaven/Hell, life/death or spring/winter.  A well-known Greek myth about this duality is that of Persephone.  Persephone, sometimes called Kore when associated with spring as the Maiden of Corn, was a beautiful child, loved by her mother, Demeter.  Demeter was the Greek goddess responsible for bountiful harvest, grain, and growth, and Persephone/Kore was a fitting version of her.  One day, she was in the fields with her mother and found a beautiful flower.  She was so entranced by it that she did not hear the ground opening behind her.  Hades, King of the Underworld, rose up with his horse-drawn chariot, abducted the girl, and took her back to the Underworld to be his Queen.  Demeter realizes her daughter is missing and goes on a search, forgetting about her duties.  The world experiences its first season of winter as the crops wither and die because the mother is in mourning.  She discovers the location of her daughter, but Hades has tricked Persephone into eating a number of pomegranate seeds, sealing her fate.  In some tellings, she adapts well to her new role as Queen of the Underworld and greeter of new souls, but in all accounts, she misses her mother as well.  Eventually, a balance is stricken.  Persephone comes to the middle ground of Earth to be with her mother as Kore, Goddess of Rebirth in the spring, and Demeter’s happiness is seen in the new life given to plants across the Earth.  She then returns to her throne in the Underworephld with Demeter returning to her mourning for the fall and winter.

Duality is emphasized symbolically throughout this myth.  The obvious example is in spring and winter, with spring emphasizing youth, happiness, and rebirth, while winter shows Demeter as a sad, old crone, and death of the crops.  The goddess Persephone herself is a great example of duality.  She is at once Kore, child goddess of grain, youthful and joyous at the feet of her mother, and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, grim and terrifying at the side of her husband.  Duality not only discusses, in Campbell’s view, a reference to before the transcendent entered into the field of time, and the balance required for a full life, but also the common human belief that to understand, appreciate, and experience the good, one must also experience the bad.

References

Campbell, J.  (1988).  The Power of Myth.  New York: MJF Books.

Moro, P. & Myers, J.  (2010).  Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion: A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion.  Eighth edition.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Strong, L.  (n.d.).  The Myth of Persephone: Greek Goddess of the Underworld.  Retrieved June 30, 2012 from http://www.mythicarts.com/writing/Persephone.html

07/03/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | | Leave a comment

Populating the New World: Theories of Initial Migration

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

Populating the New World: Theories of Initial Migration

            For decades, if not centuries, the origins of man have been some of the most heated scientific battles ever known.  The biggest debate is probably between the “Out of Africa” model and the multiregional theory of the first Homo sapiens, but the debate about the initial population of the North and South American continents cannot be far behind.  Nearly everyone has an idea of the popular “Bering Strait land mass” theory of migration, as it is the one typically taught in schools.  There are actually two theories that stem from the Beringian model, one claiming that the Paleo-Indians found an interior passage that was free of ice, and the other arguing a coastal route.  Finally, there is also a theory that states the first people to make their way to North America were not those from Siberia at all, but Southwestern Europeans by way of the Solutrean culture.  This paper will give a brief overview of the two main theories, followed by an analysis and author’s opinion.

The reigning theory holds that man migrated from the Asian landmass across a land bridge between modern Russia and Alaska.  That is where the semblance of agreement ends.  Until fairly recently, it was generally accepted that the initial migration occurred about 12,900 years ago, after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (Schurr, 2004).  The people who migrated found an ice-free corridor into the continent, likely following large animals, and used “Clovis” tools (Schurr, 2004).  Because there were no older sites found, and other early man sites seem to derive from these Clovis people, the Clovis First model claims to be the “earliest occupancy of the Americas by modern human groups” (Schurr, 2004, p. 552).  However, this claim has been contested.  Findings at sites such as Meadowcroft, Cactus Hill, Topper, and Calico make claims of earlier migration, as early as 16,000 years ago.  Again, until recently, this was thought impossible because the migration would predate the earliest known settlement of the Siberian region, but the Yana River site shows human occupation as early as 30,000 years ago, well before the LGM (Schurr, 2004).  The ice-free corridor theory has also taken a hit due to the lack of any animal bones found in the area between 21,000 and 11,500 years ago (Schurr, 2004).  In all, the evidence seems to point towards a coastal method of migration, which would also help to explain the incredibly rapid expansion of man throughout the two continents, which is estimated to have happened in only a few centuries (Schurr, 2004).

Bradley and Stanford have presented a new theory to challenge that notion.  They maintain that the Beringian theory is simply educated conjecture, not evidence, and that as scientists we must be careful not to create dogma and ideology in our studies (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  In The North Atlantic Ice Edge Corridor, they go into exacting detail about what makes Clovis points so unique, and then explain that no tool like the Clovis point has ever been discovered prior to Clovis except in southwestern Europe (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  They do not claim that people never came across the Beringian land bridge, just that they were not the first, and were not the ancestors of Clovis (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  The biggest challenges to the Solutrean migration are the 6,000 year difference in time and the incredible difficulty of a journey across the North Atlantic (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  The “complexity and difficulty of [overshot flaking to create thin bifaces] and its rarity” lead Bradley and Stanford to believe it is more likely that the Atlantic was crossed than to believe that Clovis points and Solutrean points were independently developed (Bradley & Stanford, 2004, p.465).  The claim is that the Solutrean people took to the sea to hunt seals, and eventually chased their prey “too far” until they found land on the other side, and may have even started a cyclic hunt that spanned the ocean, setting up camps with entire kin groups on the opposite coast (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  Sites like Meadowcroft (Pennsylvania), Cactus Hill (Virginia) and Page-Ladson (Florida) have been dated to pre-Clovis times and have some of the same tools as have been found in Solutrean sites (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).  Dating of Clovis sites seems to uphold this model, with the oldest dates coming in the east and the youngest at the west (Bradley & Stanford, 2004).

Personally, I believe that minds must always be kept open, particularly in the pursuit of science and history.  There was a time when we knew the world was flat, and a time when we knew that there was no way man was in the Americas before 4,000 years ago.  Now we know both of these claims are false, but we are still claiming to “know” facts that have not been proven.  In any case, I always search out “new” or “controversial” studies because if the truth is true, it will withstand any dissent.  Therefore, I admire Bradley and Stanford for publishing their views.  I also hesitate to “pick sides,” particularly when the answers are not mutually exclusive.  Without years of intensive research, I could not possibly add any insight to this discussion, nor could I determine from two articles which is “more correct,” but I must say that though I had not heard of the Solutrean connection before this paper, I find it fascinating and possible.  If genealogy says Native Americans came from Asia, and tools say they came from Europe, why can it not be said that they both came to the Americas and created the first “melting pot” before the melting pot we refer to now.  Why is it not possible that a smaller group of Solutreans spread their tools to a large group of Asian migrants who wound up overtaking the former?  Without considerable evidence to back either claim, it seems that the discussion will have to wait until “we know” where the Paleo-Indians came from.

References

Bradley, B. & Stanford, D.  (2004). The North Atlantic Ice-Edge Corridor: A Possible Paleolithic Route to the New World.  World Archaeology 36(4) pp. 459-478.  Retrieved June 1, 2012 from JSTOR.

Schurr, T.  (2004).  The Peopling of the New World: Perspectives from Molecular Anthropology.  Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. 33 pp. 551-583.  Retrieved June 1, 2012 from JSTOR.

06/04/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Study: Ethics of EA and Susan G. Komen

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

Case Study: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Electronic Arts

Abstract.

Electronic Arts, a video game company, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a non-profit breast cancer awareness and research charity, are both under fire for ethical concerns. EA has misused employees and treated customers as cash cows while Komen tends to make decisions that show a desire for money to spend on research and awareness, regardless of how the money is raised. This paper emphasizes the need for a clear ethical stance that is consulted in every step of decision-making.

Introduction.

Regardless of the theory of ethics used, acting ethically is often among the priorities of any individual or group. Sometimes, what is ethical to one may be unethical to another, which leads to ethics violations. Often the ethical issues that arise stem from failure to fully determine ethical guidelines for oneself or one’s organization. Two groups will be examined here in light of ethical conduct. One, Electronic Arts, is a company whose primary objective is to make money for shareholders. The other, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for their chosen cause. Both have had their ethics called into question and have both ongoing and resolved issues. Both of these companies have made missteps that could have been avoided if they had clear ethical stances that were used in decision-making.

Background.

Electronic Arts (EA), a “global interactive entertainment software company,” was founded in 1982 and is responsible for many high-profile video game franchises like Madden NFL, The Sims, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect (About, n.d.). The company operates many smaller studios under the EA umbrella and has acquired many smaller studios like EA Sports and BioWare. The ethical issues faced by EA come from their business practices and their use of Digital Rights Management (DRM).

EA rose to the top of the video game industry using a very effective business model. They used licenses granting sole rights to many non-game franchises to create tie-in games like with the NFL or Harry Potter. This means that even though a rival company could make a football game, they could not use actual player names or teams, a major draw for football fans who play video games. Similarly, fans of a particular movie or movie series will be more likely to purchase a game using licensed material such as plot lines, characters, etc. A common complaint among gamers is that licensed games are generally less entertaining than an original IP (intellectual property). Movie tie-in games especially have been plagued by bugs and poor quality due to the rush of production, trying to release the game the same week as the movie’s release. The same issue is present in the yearly releases of sports games that change very little beyond the updated rosters. Madden NFL, for example, has a number of “legacy issues” that have been apparent for several years, but are not addressed each year in favor of slicker UI (user interface) and other cosmetic changes. In addition, the company has, in the past, been referred to as the “Evil Empire” due to their tendency to buy out smaller studios, essentially just to purchase their IPs, disregarding the acquired company and its employees (Chella, 2005). These business practices have often caused gamers to feel as though the company sees them as little more than cash cows who will blindly purchase any game simply due to the title, regardless of actual quality, essentially using their customers as a means to an end, rather than an end themselves. It may have worked in the past, but with gaming reaching mainstream popularity, more information is available about games prior to release, allowing more informed decisions and making EA lose quite a bit of popularity. Beyond just the consumers, EA has a history of using its employees in an unethical manner, paying salaries but demanding as much as a 100-hour work week, even outside of “crunch time,” prompting comparisons to sweatshops in descriptions of working conditions (Mieszkowski, 2004). Recently, EA has decided to shift their business practices to models more like their competitors, allowing acquired companies to maintain most of their autonomy and creative control and treating employees more fairly by providing an hourly wage. They have also started to focus more on new and original IPs, and even this year’s edition of Madden, Madden NFL 13 is acknowledging the legacy issues and trying to address them (Miller, 2012).

Piracy is always an issue for any sort of digital content, whether in gaming, music, or movies. EA has attempted to curb piracy using various Digital Rights Management (DRM) methods. Unfortunately, most of them have backfired. One method used was to prevent multiple installations of a game, at first limiting Spore, an ambitious creature creator simulation, to only three installations over the life of the game. Considering that many “hard-core” gamers have multiple computers and upgrade them constantly, three game installations may only last a short time. Gamers claimed that this essentially meant that they are renting the game for full price (Copyright, 2008). Even more insulting, Spore became the most pirated game in history, followed by EA’s The Sims, partially due to backlash against their “draconian” DRM policy (Rosenberg, 2008). EA’s next big release increased the number of activations to five, but consumers were still not satisfied. EA eventually went back to a traditional “CD-key” method of anti-piracy, but it was not to last. In fact, the DRM wars seemed to have faded into the past when issues related to Dragon Age: Origins started appearing. EA publicized their decision not to use the Spore-related SecuROM in Dragon Age: Origins, but their usage of online verification was less well known. In April of 2011, gamers with legitimate copies of the game were locked out of their offline, single-player campaigns due to server issues with the EA authentication servers (Ewalt, 2011). Meanwhile, pirates who were playing “cracked” versions that had the authentication stripped from their games were happily enjoying their illegal product (Ewalt, 2011). Essentially, EA’s anti-piracy DRM is actually encouraging piracy and punishing their consumers who purchase legal copies of the games. It is not uncommon to find gamers asking one another if it is ethical to purchase a copy of a game but download a “cracked” version to actually play so that the company still receives the monetary compensation for the product, but the issues related to DRM are bypassed. Once again, EA is using their customers as a means to an end, specifically making them put up with annoying factors in an attempt to bolster the bottom line. Unfortunately for EA, it seems to have backfired every time.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a non-profit organization that raises money for breast cancer awareness and research. The organization was founded by Nancy G. Brinker in 1982 as a promise to her sister, Suzy, who lost her life in a battle with breast cancer (Komen Home, n.d.). Originally “Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation,” the name and logo were changed in 2007 on their twenty-fifth anniversary (Brainerd, 2007). As the most well-known and popular breast cancer research charity, if not the most well-known non-profit organization in the country, Komen is responsible for turning October into the month of pink ribbons. Concerns about the over-use of pink and the unhealthiness of some of the products adorned with the pink ribbon have raised ethical concerns in a scandal termed “pinkwashing.” In addition to pinkwashing, a recent public relations nightmare involving Planned Parenthood has revealed questionable ethics on the part of the board members.

Pinkwashing is a term that was coined by Breast Cancer Action, a sort of watchdog group that operates the website ThinkBeforeYouPink.org, trying to stop consumers from blindly supporting any group with a pink ribbon (Think Before You Pink, n.d.). There are two aspects of pinkwashing. One is what many survivors feel is the commercialization of their disease (Begos, 2011). The pink ribbon is not copyrighted, so companies are legally allowed to decorate their goods with pink ribbons without making any sort of commitment to donate proceeds to Breast Cancer Awareness. In addition, many of those who do partner with Komen, or other cancer societies, have particular methods of donation which are not always clear to the customers. According to Think Before You Pink, some companies have a cap on total donations, meaning that purchases made after the cap is reached do not go towards breast cancer awareness, even though they have no intention of removing the pink labels (Think Before You Pink, n.d.). Another tactic was used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC donated a flat amount to Komen, and then sold special pink buckets of chicken (Anonymous, 2010). The amount donated would not change no matter how many buckets of chicken were purchased or whether those buckets were pink or not. This all basically amounts to free advertising for both Komen and the company involved.

The second form of pinkwashing comes from Komen partnering with products that are unhealthy, sometimes even causing cancer themselves. Back to the KFC scandal, their fried chicken can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, and obesity can be a factor in a number of diseases including cancer (Anonymous, 2010). Komen itself has marketed a perfume called “Promise Me,” referencing Brinker’s promise to sister Suzy, that contained chemicals that were known to cause cancer (Szabo, 2011). In addition, according to Brenda Coffee, a breast cancer survivor, “patients treated with chemotherapy often become hypersensitive to scents, and perfumes can give them headaches, dizzy spells or nausea, even years after treatment” (Szabo, 2011). When confronted with this information, Komen said they would reformulate the perfume, but did not remove existing products from the shelf (Think Before You Pink, n.d.). “Promise Me” in particular, and other examples in general, show a growing insensitivity to the very victims Komen attempts to help, using a sort of “ends justify the means” method of fund-raising. Apparently the method of raising the money makes little difference as long as research is done, awareness is spread, and Nancy Brinker and friends are paid.

Another example of Komen not determining their ethical stance prior to policy making came early this year. A conservative politician opened an investigation into Planned Parenthood. A conservative board member urged Komen to stop grants that funded Planned Parenthood, citing a previously unknown policy not to fund projects under investigation. Whether this policy was enacted for Planned Parenthood or it had always been a mindset is unclear. Liberals across the nation reacted with fury to the news that Komen was pulling funding for the “sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate,” which is also the country’s leading provider of abortions (About us, n.d.). Donations poured into both organizations, pro-life groups celebrating Komen and pro-choice groups making up for lost funds by donating directly to Planned Parenthood (Feldmann, 2012). With the backlash caused by the defunding of Planned Parenthood, Komen issued a statement retracting its previous decision, pledging to continue the grants, which was accompanied by resignations of some of the Komen decision makers, including the conservative who first suggested the defunding (Feldmann, 2012). With this action, Komen simply looks inept, or willing to reverse their ethical stance when convenient, neither of which are favorable. The move to continue the Planned Parenthood grants alienated pro-life donators, some of which were unaware of the ties to Planned Parenthood before the dispute, and did little to convince the pro-choice donators to return (Hopfensperger, 2012). This was evident in May when Komen’s annual Race for the Cure registration was down over 5,000 runners from last year (Hopfensperger, 2012). Some have accused that board members were letting personal politics color their judgment; others have accused the company of straying too far from their stated mission. Some wonder why Komen funds Planned Parenthood at all, considering that they do not provide mammograms, and only help recommend clinics that do (McCormack, 2011).

Alternatives and Solutions.

One of the most important actions a group can take, especially when in a field that can be littered with ethical problems, is to have a clear understanding of the group’s ethical stance. Typically, this can be made simple by taking a utilitarian or deontological approach to issues. Sometimes, however, a more in-depth review must take place.

EA’s former business model was not in line with either school of ethical thought. Initially, it was providing shareholders a great profit as it rose through the ranks to become a top three company in the industry, but as the product began to suffer and complaints from employees started to surface, stocks dropped. In all, the plan did not suit any of the parties involved. With a firm ethical standpoint, EA could have avoided the “sweat-shop” and “monopoly” claims and instead took up a position more in line with their current business model. Among the changes were a fairer approach to employee pay, more creative control for acquired studios, and a new approach toward franchises, attempting to fix legacy issues rather than just pumping out the same product with new names.

Ethical treatment of one’s customers is also an issue that can be determined well ahead of issues such as EA’s DRM scandals. To purposefully annoy your customers to attempt to stop pirates in a manner that only hurts legal consumers is madness. EA should realize that DRM only encourages piracy and stop punishing their customers.

Not all pinkwashing is Komen’s fault, though one could argue that Komen is what made the pink ribbon so “fashionable,” and some blame can be laid at the feet of companies looking to unethically boost sales. However, the majority of the trend is indeed due to Komen’s tireless efforts to get the pink out. Some survivors are tired of the cheer associated with “celebrating pink” that simply glosses over the pain and loss associated with a terrible disease (Begos, 2011). The pervasiveness of the pink ribbon makes one wonder why Komen still needs to spend so much of its budget on “awareness” and not on “research.” Companies should be honest with their customers about the donations that are made and to which organization they will be made.

Komen seems to have made one ethical standpoint clear: money is money no matter where it comes from, and money is needed to combat cancer. They show little, if any, worry about endorsing an unhealthy product, focusing more on how they will use the money to support survivors and patients, and less on how the money was earned. Partnering with companies like KFC and Komen’s own “Promise Me” perfume proved this.

Finally, had Komen’s ethical stance been clear, there may not have been an issue regarding Planned Parenthood. Komen should have known if it was going to be influenced by politics and which “side” they would be on if it were. When funding such a controversial organization as Planned Parenthood, it is amazing that they were not better prepared for this eventuality. In addition, by reversing their decision, it made it look as though Komen’s ethics were a matter of convenience, not right and wrong.

Recommendations.

Each company must have a clear vision of what their ethical stance is. It should be reviewed often and practices should be held against it to determine if the company is on the right course. EA must continue to treat employees fairly and attempt to create products that gamers will continue to purchase. By creating good products and actually improving existing franchises, they will not only be benefitting gamers, but also their shareholders as stocks improve. EA must also deal with piracy in another manner. This author suggests that DRM is a failure, piracy will always happen, and attempting to end piracy will only punish legal consumers. Remove DRM and ship your games. If the product is worth the price tag, even pirates will purchase a copy, understanding that sales are what drive more content into production.

Komen must make every decision with breast cancer patients and survivors at the forefront of their minds. While the choice between more money for research and only appropriate product deals is a difficult one, this author believes that awareness is no longer an issue. Komen, especially after the most recent issue, needs to be dedicated to nothing but the best interest of their constituency. They should only partner with companies that are appropriate and have clear donation plans that are easily available to consumers. They must also stick by their decisions. If a decision needs to be revoked, it was not properly considered prior to implementation. We all have the right to learn from our mistakes, but such an easy reversal does not look good for anyone.

In short, know your ethical stance and follow it with every decision.
References
About. (n.d.). Electronic Arts home page. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://www.ea.com/about
About Us. (n.d.) Planned Parenthood About Us page. Retrieved May 20, 2012 from http://www.plannedparenthood.org
Anonymous. (2010, April 22). Breast Cancer Action calls shame on KFC’s Pink Buckets campaign: KFC’s new pinkwashing campaign to ‘raise money for breast cancer’ is half-cooked! U.S. Newswire. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from ProQuest.
Begos, K. (2011, October 12). ‘Pinkwashing’ has some seeing red. Telegraph- Herald. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from ProQuest.
Brainerd Dispatch. (2007, January 22). Susan G. Komen for the Cure: New name, renewed mission to fight breast cancer. Brainerd Dispatch. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://brainerddispatch.com/stories/012207/new_20070122016.shtml
Chella, B. (2005, January 12). The Evil Empire of Video Games: Electronic Arts. Buffalo News, p. N8. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from ProQuest.
Copyright. (2008, September 10). Copyright row dogs Spore release. BBC News. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7604405.stm
Ewalt, D. M. (2011). Dragon Age: Origins owners locked out due to DRM failure. Forbes.com, 16. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from EBSCOhost.
Feldmann, L. (2012, February 3). Susan G. Komen Foundation relents: Planned Parenthood grants restored. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from EBSCOhost.
Hopfensperger, J. (2012, May 6). Planned Parenthood flap puts Race for Cure off former pace; Registration for the yearly fundraiser hits a decade low. Star Tribune. Retrieved from ProQuest May 7, 2012.
Komen Home. (n.d.). Susan G. Komen for the Cure Home Page. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://ww5.komen.org
McCormack, J. (2011, March 30). Planned Parenthood President Falsely Claimed Clinics Provide Mammograms. The Weekly Standard. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/planned-parenthood-president-falsely-claimed-their-clinics-provide-mammograms_556015.html
Mieszkowski, K. (2004, December 2). Santa’s sweatshop. Salon. Retrieved May 1, 2012 from http://www.stage1.salon.com/2004/12/02/no_fun_and_games/singleton/
Miller, G. (2012, April 25). Madden NFL 13 Sees What’s Broken, Tries to Fix It. Retrieved May 15, 2012 from http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/122/1223710p1.html
Rosenberg, D. (2008, December 6). ‘Spore’ leads 2008’s most pirated PC games. CNET News. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13846_3-10116502-62.html
Szabo, L. (2011, July 17). Komen’s pink ribbons raise lots of green, many questions. Gannett News Service. Retrieved May 2, 2012 from ProQuest.
Think Before You Pink. (n.d.). Think Before You Pink. Retrieved May 1, 2012 from thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?page_id=13

05/21/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , | 3 Comments

The Greco-Roman Mediterranean

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

 

The Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome have long been considered the foundations for the modern western world.  The cultural traditions, political conventions, and philosophical, religious, ethical and moral standards have survived since the days of Socrates, Plato, Solon, Caesar, and Augustus, and still play a role in our culture today.  The Greeks and Romans were part contemporary, part successive, and sometimes indistinguishable from one another as is seen by the spread of their cultures, the role of women in society, and the effect of social distinctions.  It must be said, however, that when speaking of “Greeks,” more often than not, the Greek polis of Sparta is not included, such as in its equality of women and social distinctions.

The Mediterranean, throughout history, has “acted more as a bridge than a barrier, encouraging trade and social contact between the countries bordering it” (Gilmore, 1982, p. 177).  Both the Greeks and Romans used the sea as a way to spread their culture from one end to the other, but in different ways.  The Greeks were always able seamen, relying on their maritime trade to supplement meager harvests caused by the rocky terrain.  By the mid-eighth century BCE, the Greeks were colonizing areas along the Mediterranean coastline (Bentley, et al., 2008).  These colonies, while maintaining many of the cultural aspects of the Greeks and benefitting from their trade routes, were not part of any Greek kingdom or empire, and were mostly left to their own devices.  On the other hand, the Mediterranean served as an invasion point for Rome against Carthage and many of its other conquests.  At the high point of the Roman Empire, there was a wide strip of Roman land entirely surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, which they referred to as “mare nostrum (“our sea”)” (Bentley, et al., 2008, p. 149).  While the Greeks were content to maintain cultural unity with independent city-states, or poleis, the Romans centralized government power in a Republic, then an Empire, but allowed conquered people to maintain much of their own culture.

Gender equality is both an ancient concept, and a relatively new one.  In the days of hunters and gatherers, the small family units are generally thought of as egalitarian- all members of the family play a role in food production, so all members are considered equal.  With the rise of agriculture, men started doing the heavy outdoors work of tending the fields, and with it, the power within the household and culture.  Both the Greeks and Romans had strong patriarchal traditions, with the Greeks granting citizenship only to men, and giving men total control of their family, including the ability to legally abandon children in the wilderness (Bentley, et al., 2008).  The only public position available to women was priestess, and one of the very few exceptions is Sappho, the 6th century BCE poet, who was eventually ostracized for probable homosexuality, another example of something open to men but unacceptable for women (Bentley, et al., 2008).  However, Greek women did have some power within their households, and upper class women were valued for their “pedigree” (Sanders, Nelson, Morillo & Ellenberger, 2006). In Rome, pater familias were given much authority over their households, including the ability to sell their family members into slavery or even execute them (Bentley, et al., 2008).  Roman women also had some power within the domestic sphere, which gradually extended to small shops and stalls as well as working around the law regarding inheritances until, in the third and second centuries BCE, women owned a considerable amount of property (Bentley, et al., 2008).

Finally, and most applicable to our modern world, is the effect of social distinctions.  Both the Greeks and Romans had an upper class of wealthy landowners and a lower class that was unhappy with their lot (Bentley, et al., 2008).  In both cases, the underprivileged threatened to revolt or secede, and in both cases, additional allowances were granted to help ease the gap between the rich and the poor.  In Greece, a 6th century BCE statesman named Solon compromised, allowing the aristocrats to keep their land, but cancelling all debt, freeing those who were in slavery due to debt, and outlawing debt slavery, and eventually, statesmen were even paid to ensure that “financial hardship would not exclude anyone” from holding office (Bentley, et al., 2008, p. 135).  In Rome, plebeians were granted the ability to elect tribunes, which became eligibility for almost all state offices, and eventually, even one of the consuls could be elected from the plebeians (Bentley, et al., 2008).  By the early third century BCE, plebeians had majority in the Senate, allowing the lower classes political power that bound the rest of the Romans (Bentley, et al., 2008).

The geographic proximity of Greece and Rome likely led to many of their similarities, while time and experimentation can account for many of their differences.  Even the term “Greco-Roman” points toward the inevitable comparison between these two cultural, political and philosophical powerhouses.  From the use of the Mediterranean to spread their cultures, the way women were treated in their societies, and the effect of social distinctions, one can see their similarities, differences, and effect on the western world.
References

Bentley, J. H., Ziegler, H.F., & Streets, H.E. (2008). Traditions and encounters: A brief global history. Ashford University edition.  Boston: The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Gilmore, D.  (1982).  Anthropology of the Mediterranean area.  Annual Review of Anthropology 11, pp. 175-205. Retrieved January 14, 2012 from JSTOR.

Nowak, B., & Laird, P. (2010). Cultural Anthropology (S. Wainwright & D. Moneypenny, Eds.).  Retrieved from http://content.ashford.edu/books

Sanders, T., Nelson, S. H., Morillo, S. & Ellenberger, N. (2006).  Encounters in world history: Sources and themes from the global past: Vol. 1. To 1500.  Boston: The McGraw-Hill Companies.

01/16/2012 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Darwin vs. God

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

Darwin vs. God: The Argument between Intelligent Design and Evolution

            According to Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), creationism is religion, and religion, focusing on nonmaterial reality, has nothing in common with science, which searches for material explanations (Scott, 2004).  Some evolutionists go so far as to say professional scientists are effectively throwing their hands in the air and saying “It must be a miracle!” because they cannot find the answer, but there are many scientists who are finding God in their work, and evidence of His works (Strobel, 2004).  Indeed, Walter Bradley, a former professor at Texas A&M University and co-author of The Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984), said, “I think people who believe that life emerged naturalistically need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer” (Strobel, 2004, location 699).  The main argument evolutionists have against creationism and Intelligent Design is that “the most insidious evil of supernatural creationism is that it stifles curiosity and therefore blunts the intellect” (Scott, 2004, p. 253).  This paper does not intend to prove the existence of God or disprove evolution, but aims to show the weakness in evolutionary theory, such as the lack of transitional forms and the various animals that seem to defy evolution, and the evidence pointing toward design, through irreducible complexity and specified complexity, to show that Intelligent Design is not merely a method of intellectual surrender, but a legitimate, scientific theory on par with evolution theory.

Background

            There is quite a bit of confusion that takes place between the different belief systems.  Many people form their arguments against “evolutionists” or “creationists,” but those two terms can mean a great many things to different people.  The first step, then, is to fully define each group of beliefs so arguments over semantics and “word games” can be avoided.  There have been scientists who try to place the different creationism beliefs onto a line showing how literally they follow the Bible and thus, how scientific their beliefs are, but this ignores the large impact the Bible has had on scientists throughout history, including Darwin himself (Ross, 2005).  Since the main argument of this paper deals with universal common ancestry, that will be the dividing line between “evolutionism” and “creationism” for the purposes of this paper.  The term “evolutionist” or “naturalist” refers to all persons who believe all living plants and animals descended from the same single-celled organism, and that all events can be attributed to natural processes.  The term “creationism” or “Intelligent Design” refers to the belief that universal common ancestry is false, and that someone or something, which is unnamed, created several organisms, fully-formed.

Methods

            This paper was compiled using secondary sources and books that used both primary and secondary sources for their research.  The books used are either written by prominent scholars in the evolution field, such as Eugenie Scott of the NCSE, or are accounts of interviews with leading scientists in the field.  Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator is an account of interviews conducted with several leading Intelligent Design scientists at the Discovery Institute, and proved to be incredibly useful as many of the peer-reviewed articles were unavailable through the Ashford Library.  Other sources were obtained through Ashford Online Library’s search engines.  One major difficulty in compiling this paper was the scarcity of articles in scholarly journals defending creationism.  The Discovery Institute has a list of peer-reviewed articles, but few were available through Ashford resources and applicable to the narrow focus of this paper.

Results

Dogma

“Dogma- an idea held by belief or faith- is anathema to science,” says Eugenie Scott (Scott, 2004, p.8), but creationists argue that the absolute belief in atheism is simply scientific dogma.  One large argument from evolutionists is that science tests hypotheses against nature, and a Creator is outside the ability of science to test because a scientist could not hold a Creator constant, and “any action of an omnipotent Creator is compatible with any and all scientific explanations of the natural world” (Scott, 2004, p. 19).  Therefore, naturalists spurn the idea of a Creator and believe that natural processes are the only options for development of life.  Some creationist scientists, such as Stephen C. Meyer, claim that this refusal to acknowledge the possibility of the supernatural is an atheistic dogma, that “many believe that science must only allow naturalistic explanations, which excludes from consideration the design hypothesis,” and “many scientists put blinders on, refusing to acknowledge that evidence” (Strobel, 2004, location 1474).  In effect, both naturalists and creationists believe the other side is simply reading what they want into the evidence and not following scientific method properly.  Naturalists refuse to believe the supernatural could have had an effect, and creationists refuse to let go of God if they continue to see evidence that fits into their world view.

Macro- versus Micro- evolution

            One of the easiest ways to believe in evolution is to look around at the present world and see how many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, insects resistant to pesticides, or even people’s average heights increasing over the last several hundred years.  These are examples of “micro-evolution,” or evolution on the species level.  The real argument creationists provide is the argument against “macro-evolution” or evolution between types.  For universal common ancestry to be true, fish would evolve into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles, reptiles into birds and mammals, and mammals back into the water as whales and dolphins.

Darwin himself said “[i]t is a truly wonderful fact . . . that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other . . .” (Darwin, 1859, p. 122).  However, even Darwin knew the fossil record did not support his theory at the time of On the Origin of Species’ publishing.  He mentions the lack of “transitional forms” in Origin, wondering how there can be such distinct forms, rather than variants from one to another (Darwin, 1859).  The biggest dent in evolution theory comes from 540,000,000 years ago: the Cambrian Explosion.  As many as forty new and unique body types appeared “suddenly” in this layer of the Earth, with no discernable transitional forms preceding them (Strobel, 2004).  The argument that previous body types were too soft or too small to leave traces does not hold up under scrutiny considering that several single-celled organisms, which are both soft and small, sponges, worms, and jellyfish had been found in the layers older than the Cambrian (Strobel, 2004).

Injurious Aspects

            “Natural selection will never produce in a being anything injurious to itself, for natural selection acts solely by and for the good of each” (Darwin, 1859, p.183).  If a creature or plant were found to have a part of itself that caused harm, it would go a long way towards disproving evolution.  An example may be found in the honeybee.  The honeybee has a barbed stinger that will stick into a mammal’s skin so forcefully that when it flies away, the stinger, along with some of the bee’s insides, will be ripped from its body, causing the bee to die (Brown, 2010).  The barbs apparently aid in bee-to-bee combat, helping to penetrate the armor of the other insects, but they get stuck in the elastic skin of mammals (Brown, 2010).  The interesting part of this is that the honeybee is the only member of the family to have such large barbs on the stinger, possibly because the other bees and wasps have evolved to smaller or nonexistent barbs, but the honeybee did not for no discernable reason (Brown, 2010).

Symbiosis

One pillar of Darwin’s theory was that every trait a creature developed was for the good of that creature alone.  “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection” (Darwin, 1859, p. 182).  This brings to mind creatures that live symbiotically.  Most symbiotic relationships do not function this way, but one that looks possible is that of the tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymesiL. luymesi is entirely dependent on the bacterial symbiont living within its body because the tubeworm itself has no digestive tract (Cordes, Arthur, Shea, Arvidson & Fisher, 2005).  This creature was discovered relatively recently, and more research must be done to determine whether the bacteria gains any benefit from oxidizing the sulfates, or if the tubeworm’s foot provides any benefit to the worm beyond feeding the bacteria that feeds the worm (Cordes, et al., 2005).  Such a circuitous path surely is not within the realm of natural causes.

Irreducible Complexity

One of the cornerstones of Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity describes an animal, cell, or body part that needs each of its pieces to work in order to perform its function.  This seems to be a direct assault on Darwin, as he said “[i]f it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Darwin, 1859, p. 173).  The example used by Michael Behe is that of a mousetrap.  Each piece, the platform, the spring, the trigger, the hammer, and the connector between trigger and hammer, has a specific job, and without any one of these pieces, the mousetrap would not work (Strobel, 2004).  Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box (1996), says that irreducibly complex biological machines cannot be produced “directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system,” because any precursor, or transitional form, would be missing a piece and thus be unable to function properly (Strobel, 2004, location 3564).  Biological examples of these irreducibly complex machines include the hair-like cilia on the surfaces of cells, blood clotting, and the bacterial flagellum (Strobel, 2004).  The flagellum has a drive shaft, a hook protein, a bushing to allow penetration into the cell without allowing “leakage” in or out of the cell from around the shaft, and a power source that is still unexplained by science, and is made up of at least 40 different proteins (Holmes & Randerson, 2005; Strobel, 2004).  It spins more efficiently, at higher speeds, than any car motor we have ever been able to produce, and can stop and reverse directions within ¼ of a turn (Strobel, 2004).  Blood clotting involves specified coordination between ten different proteins and could not have occurred naturally through slow changes without causing the animal to bleed to death in the meantime (Strobel, 2004; Holmes & Randerson, 2005).

Specified Complexity

Another argument Intelligent Design offers is that of specified complexity.  A common analogy for specified complexity involves a million monkeys at a million typewriters.  No matter how long you let them pound away, they will never write a Shakespearean sonnet.  DNA stores information written in a code of four chemicals, adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine (Strobel, 2004).  However, just putting those four letters together in random sequences will not produce life; they must be put in the correct order, thus specified complexity.  Each protein has anywhere between 1,200 and 2,000 letters in its code, meaning that for the specific organization of these letters to form would take a prohibitively long time (Strobel, 2004).  Even if the complex protein evolved from a simpler one, the minimum required complexity for a protein to properly fold from the four chemicals is somewhere in the range of 75 amino acids, and the likelihood of this happening by chance is astronomical- one in the number “ten with 125 zeroes after it” (Strobel, 2004, location 4139).  In Scott’s book, she says that life could not have survived prior to 3.8 billion years ago, while comets and meteors were bombarding the Earth, but “shortly after the bombardment ceased . . . primitive replicating structures appeared” (Scott, 2004, p. 24).  If the chances of specified complexity occurring naturally are astronomical, the chance that it happened in a relatively short amount of time must be even lower.

Conclusions

            Science is about maintaining an open mind and following the evidence, wherever it may lead.  Both sides can be faulted for dogmatic beliefs in the evolution/creation argument.  It is rare to hear an evolutionist even acknowledge a creationist scientist’s findings because they prefer, generally, to dismiss creationism as pseudo-science at best.  Some creationists are guilty of infusing religion into science without any evidence or against contradictory evidence.  As Eugenie Scott herself said, “the willingness to change one’s explanation with more or better data, or a different way of looking at the same data, is one of the great strengths of the scientific method” (Scott, 2004, p. 5).  Perhaps evolutionists should be reminded of this passage when dismissing Intelligent Design’s claims.

Evolution has some strong arguments behind it, but there are still flaws and gaps that have yet to be explained.  The fossil record is far from complete, but points overwhelmingly toward an event called the Cambrian Explosion, in which as many as forty new body types were suddenly introduced to the world (Strobel, 2004).  Evolution does not act quickly, as it requires several small changes through generational change using natural selection as the main tool (Darwin, 1859).  Some of the hypotheses for macro-evolution have held up, while others require as much faith as creationism.  Another flaw is found in body parts that cause harm to the possessor, the most obvious being the honeybee.  If a bee dies when it stings a mammal, the gene that produces the barbed stinger should be selected against, and no longer occur, but it still does.  Finally, more research is required to determine the validity of this particular event, but natural selection would not provide for a creature to function in a way to be exclusively beneficial to another creature.  The newly discovered Lamellibrachia luymesi may have a hand in overturning this pillar of evolution.

Intelligent Design has foundations in astronomy, cosmology, biology, and physics, to name a few, but in this paper, biology and biochemistry were the main focus.  Irreducible Complexity shows that numerous, successive, small changes from a natural phenomenon could not have created complex bio-machines, such as the flagellum, the cilia, and the act of blood clotting.  These pieces must have been created at the same time to have any ability to function correctly, and “created” is the best way to describe the action.  Alone, “irreducible complexity fulfils [sic] the requirements of being science.  It relies on empirical, historical, and experimental evidence to support its stance” (Bateman & Moran-Ellis, 2007, p. 272).  Specified complexity attempts to explain that the time required to randomly generate complex codes to build proteins that actually work to create life would be prohibitively long.

In conclusion, the scientists at Discovery Institute, the leading proponents of Intelligent Design, believe there is real scientific evidence for a Creator without invoking Biblical passages or other revelatory text.  The least science can do is investigate these claims with an open mind and discover the truth.  It would truly be a fault against science if it dismissed the possibility of supernatural events simply because of a dogmatic belief that everything must occur naturally.

References

Bateman, P.W., & Moran-Ellis, J. (2007). The science in the intelligent design debate: Teach it like it is. South African Journal of Science, 103(7/8) 271-273. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Brown, J. (2010, September 28). Bees, wasps, and stings. The Signal, 15. Retrieved from ProQuest. DOI: 2151091471.

Cordes, E. E., Arthur, M. A., Shea, K., Arvidson, R. S., & Fisher, C. R. (2005, March). Modeling the mutualistic interactions between tubeworms and microbial consortia. PLoS Biology, 3(3), e77. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1044833/ ?tool=pmcentrez#pbio-0030077-b06

Darwin, C. (1859).  On the origin of species [Kindle edition].

Holmes, B. & Randerson, J. (2005, July 9). A sceptic’s [sic] guide to intelligent design. New Scientist 187(2507), 10-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ross, M. R. (2005, May).  Who believes what?  Clearing up confusion over intelligent design and Young-Earth Creationism.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 53(3), 319-323.  Retrieved from http://nagt.org/files/nagt/jge/abstracts/Ross_v53n3p319.pdf

Scott, E.C. (2004).  Evolution vs creationism: An introduction [Kindle edition].  London, England: University of California Press, Ltd.

Strobel, L. (2004).  The case for a creator [Kindle edition].

09/04/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skepticism, Intelligent Design, Darwinism, Philosophy homework

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This article, itself, was copied directly into two discussion posts. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

So this week’s discussions were oddly interesting, and I figured I’d post my points here to let you dissect and dismantle my thoughts, particularly since it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of my classmates will actually read my topics, let alone have something intelligent to say on the matter. (Edit: I’ve had to adjust the wording of the assignment so it is not as easily found through searching, and to prevent any issues stemming from announcing assignments that may be the intellectual property of AU.)

Discussion 1

Can a person be skeptical about everything?

My response:

Title: Logically, no.

My initial response to the first question is no. If a person believed they needed to doubt everything, they would also doubt that they need to doubt everything, and thus would be skeptical of being skeptical. They have conviction that they need to doubt, and with conviction, doubt is erased. From the text, it was “impossible to know anything with certainty,” but to say something is “impossible” seems pretty certain to me (Mosser, 2010). Turns out, this is almost the same argument Descartes had.Word games aside, I think in order to become beliefs and proven facts, any assertions should be justified in the face of skepticism. That’s what makes facts proven- to have someone try to debunk your theory, and emerge victorious, is the epitome of scientific triumph. Anything worth believing is worth defending in the metaphysical realm, and scientific fact or mathematical proofs can be held up against detractors. Once the facts are established, the game isn’t over. We are constantly discovering new horizons, new particles, new building blocks, new facts to hold up to scrutiny, and we must always keep our minds open to the possibility of change.

I can show two examples of beliefs that I believe hold up to skepticism- one is math. Math is constant no matter what you do. The mathematical equation for acceleration due to gravity is the same whether you are on Earth or Mars. Skeptics can doubt it, but math does not change. The second belief is that one should always have an open mind. If the skeptic were to say “you don’t need to have an open mind,” it would defeat their own purpose. The entire point of skepticism is to prevent closed-mindedness. We don’t just believe whatever has been stated in the past. We dig deeper, find new truths to provoke thought, and find new ways to view the world. Just because Aristotle was a smart guy doesn’t mean he was 100% right 100% of the time, or that his ideas have not been surpassed by new technological or scientific insight. We must always be vigilant against complacency and keep an open mind about everything.

Mosser, K. (2010). Philosophy: a concise introduction. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books

(Side note, I think we need to petition the dictionaries to add “assertation” to the English language.)

Discussion 2

(Edit: Video link removed)

What is the basic issue about teaching creationism (or Intelligent Design) in public school science classes? How would you resolve this dispute?

My response:

Title: The World is Flat!

Whenever people close their minds to ideas, when people just argue over each other instead of sharing information, when people plug their ears and shout “I can’t hear you!” over the person they are debating, all I can think about is that one day, hundreds of years ago, there were people insisting that the world is flat. People knew that if they sailed too far in one direction, they’d fall off the edge of the world and get eaten by sea monsters. People once knew that the best way to get rid of a headache is to drill a hole into the top of your head. Everything we knowis only a discovery or two away from being tossed into the dustbin of history. This is why it is important to have an open mind when dealing with science, or anything else for that matter.Personally, I have struggled with issues of faith in my life. I was not raised to be religious, but have never considered myself to be atheist either. The best description I could find was how I perceived agnosticism- I don’t know, so I withhold an opinion. When the rest of my family decided to follow the Christian God and Jesus, it put pressure on me. My mom started asking me, every time I talked to her, when I was going to get baptized. I have always been skeptical and have always been more scientifically minded, and it seemed to me that faith, particularly the ‘faith’ that has no evidence, was simply something to make us feel better, make us less lonely, make us feel safer in dangerous times. An old saying is “There are no atheists in foxholes” and even I had muttered some prayers in my time as we went through dangerous waters during my time in the Navy or through rough turbulence in an aircraft. My dad found Christ through a book called The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel and suggested it to me. I went a step further and read The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator as well. Lee Strobel is a journalist who had been an atheist since he first learned of Darwin in high school and decided to go to experts to try to debunk the “Jesus myth,” as it was called. Using the same skills he used as a journalist, he searched for factual evidence and actually wound up becoming a Christian because of the strength of the evidence pointing towards Jesus being a real person, Jesus actually performing miracles, and evidence of a transcendant Creator. If you want to see the scientific evidence for creationism in one place in a fairly easy-to-read format, you can’t do much better than The Case for a Creator. In fact, after it went through and disabled many of Darwinism’s strongest arguments, it says, ” . . . people who believe that life emerged naturalistically [Darwinism, evolutionism] need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer” (Strobel, 2004, location 699). If the argument between creationism, Intelligent Design, and evolutionism is interesting to you, I strongly recommend this book.

As for the actual question here, the issue lies in personal choice, personal belief, and education. I don’t remember actually learning about creationism OR evolution in my school district. I’m almost positive we didn’t learn about creationism. I think that when it comes to issues like this, the best way to handle it is to approach all major theories equally, present them equally, and let the students determine which makes more sense. We should not be squashing the desire to find truth in our students. If truth is ever to be found, all options need to be considered, not just those that people agree with. There are many factors in many branches of science that point towards Intelligent Design, even if the Designer cannot be named, particularly in cosmology, or the study of the beginning of the universe. There have been hundreds of scientists who have committed themselves to God because of their discoveries. Automatically assuming that there is no God removes an option from the table, something that should never be done in truthful pursuit of scientific evidence. We should act the same way when teaching our children. Present all sides of an argument equally. At the very least, they should know that there is a debate about which way is correct instead of simply presenting theories as fact when they are anything but.

Strobel, L. (n.d.). The Case for a Creator [Kindle version]. (Original work published 2004) 

08/17/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , | 12 Comments

“Boy at the Window” by Richard Wilbur

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

The Man of Snow

            How often do people get into arguments about one person’s beliefs versus another’s?  In Richard Wilbur’s “Boy at the Window,” we see a boy and a snowman, looking at each other with pity because of their surroundings.  This poem was particularly engaging for me because of the content, the sudden burst of humor in a serious poem, and the rhyme and meter.

The poem is about differences in perception and misunderstanding.  As a child, the boy cannot understand that a snowman would prefer to be outside in the dark, cold, winter night.  He knows comfort is in his home, warm and loved, and wants his snowman to be comfortable as well.  The snowman, of course, would melt or “die” if he were to sit next to the fire.  The real touching point is not only that the child fears for the snowman, but that the snowman pities the child for knowing fear when he is surrounded by “Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear” (Clugston, 2010).  Hearing the audio clip provided with the textbook Journey into Literature provided background for the poem.  Wilbur was witnessing his son, wondering why his snowman could not come inside and join them (Clugston, 2010).  Hearing this background was both beneficial and detrimental to my understanding of the poem.  On one hand, it was easier to imagine a young boy having these worries, rather than some abstract deeper meaning.  On the other, however, once I heard that, I found that it was near impossible to think about the poem having a deeper meaning.  After all, the poet said it was about an actual boy looking out of an actual window at an actual snowman, so how could it possibly be about man in an over-industrialized world, a boy refusing to grow up, or a comparison of civilized man and primitive man, as some people claim (Elisa, Reza, & Kim, 2008)?  According to Alan Nadel, Wilbur uses children often in his poetry to express openness to change and transition, as well as sparks for inspiration and imagination (Nadel, 1978).

This poem has a serious tone, but line ten provides a burst of comic relief, which is refreshing.  I am not even sure I would have caught that bit of humor without listening to a performance of the piece and hearing the audience laugh.  “The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,/ Having no wish to go inside and die” does not seem like a funny line, but when the poet read the piece, the emphasis and tone in his voice provided the context to hear the humor.  The boy wants the snowman to come inside where he is comfortable, but, silly boy, a snowman would melt if he were to sit nice and warm by the fire.  It is refreshing to hear a poem that does not take itself so seriously.

Finally, I have always been more engaged by poetry that has some sort of rhyme and rhythm.  The poem does not have to be a strict sonnet or follow any specific structure, but in general, a structured poem is more interesting to me.  This poem is written in two stanzas with eight lines each, and ten syllables per line.  There is a rhyme scheme in each stanza, with the first and fourth lines, second, third, fifth, and seventh lines, and sixth and eighth lines rhyming respectively (ABBABCBC).  The cadence of the lines allows a smooth flow of words, allowing reading to come more naturally.

The content, surprising humor, and structure of “Boy at the Window” made the Richard Wilbur poem very appealing, interesting, and engaging.  They allowed me to see the world outside the window as though I were the young boy, fearful for the snowman who pities the child.  They also remind all readers that what you think is best for another may not always be the case, and to take each individual’s perspective into account when making decisions that affect a group.

References

Clugston, R.W. (2010). Journey into Literature. Retrieved from http://content.ashford.edu/books/

Elisa, Reza, & Kim. (2008, December 18). Analysis and comments on “A Boy at the Window” [Online forum message]. Retrieved from http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/Richard-Wilbur/17582/comments/2

Nadel, A. (1978). Roethke, Wilbur, and the vision of the child: Romantic and Augustan in modern verse. The Lion and the Unicorn 2(1), 94-113. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from Project MUSE database.

07/22/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | 3 Comments