Changes Made to the Skepticism in Science

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Changes Made to the Skepticism in Science
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Argument Synthesis Final Essay Assignment
LIB 111/Gorman
Important Dates
First Draft:
In-class peer-editing:
Final Draft:
Tuesday, December 5
Thursday, December 7
Tuesday, December 12th at noon on
Please bring two printed copies of your paper to class with you on Tuesday, December 5th.
Required Minimum Length of the Final Argument Essay: 7 pages (Please note: this requirement is for at least 7 full
pages of text, not 6 pages and a few lines onto an 7th. This length requirement does not include the Works Cited page)
Goals for the Assignment
After completing this assignment cycle, you should be able to:
1. Craft effective arguments that incorporate rational reasons for support and include argumentative thesis
2. Demonstrate reading comprehension of difficult texts.
3. Demonstrate critical thinking and evaluation of topic.
4. Organize your paper well so that you have well-crafted unified paragraphs that relate to your topic and develop
your thesis statement.
5. Select evidence from the three course anthology texts and two database articles that you find appropriate.
Pick concise quotations that back up your thesis statement. Discuss those quotations used so that you explain
exactly how they relate to your thesis. Use at least two texts from the “Science” section.
6. Demonstrate your ability to find relevant and reliable sources from MCPHS databases.
7. Format the citations for each text correctly both in parenthetical in-text citations and on your Works Cited page.
8. Use clear, error-free language to express your ideas.
9. Create a works cited page, correctly applying MLA format.
Assignment Description:
You may choose a topic about essays read in the course from those on the back of this handout. To complete this
assignment, you must discuss at least three texts from our course reader and at least two of them must be from the
“Science” section of our anthology. You must also include at least two secondary sources that you find through the
MCPHS databases and/or the eBrary. You must advance a thesis statement. Make sure to fully support your claims
with textual evidence. Assume that your audience is unfamiliar with the essays, so you must introduce the texts to your
audience fully and clearly. As with any argumentative paper, you must make sure to have affirmative evidence, a
counterargument and a refutation of the counterargument.
The rough draft that you submit on Tuesday, December 5th must be complete. It must fulfill the page length requirement
and evaluate three anthology texts, two of them from the “Science” section of our anthology and two secondary sources.
It must also be on time. If you hand in your rough draft late, the grade for the overall assignment will be lowered just as it
would be if the final draft were late.
Peer-editing Process:
For this assignment, you will go through a peer-editing process in class. This initial work will be done outside of class as
you review your classmates’ work, and then you will be given time on the last day of class to discuss your response to the
essay. Further directions will be explained at the time. Attendance is required on peer-editing day; if you are absent
without getting your absence excused on a peer-editing day, your project grade will drop a full letter grade.
Material to be Submitted with Final Draft:
1. Final draft of the essay (passed in via by noon on 12/12)
2. All rough drafts (passed in to my mailbox in Fennell 260 or my office in Fennell 213 by 5 pm 12/12)
3. An additional sheet in which you write a paragraph explaining what revisions you made due to the peer-editing
Multiple essays engage with the ideas that issues regarding science have been misunderstood. For example, Stephen
Jay Gould would say that creationism gravely misunderstands the definition of “theory” and what is actually
debatable about evolution. Angier argues that evolutionary psychologists have made damaging misstatements
regarding the dynamic between men and women because of their misunderstandings of Darwinism. Baron writes
about how the general public does not understand how to be properly skeptical of science, which leads to their falling
victim to claims made by junk science, including those about vitamins and homeopathy. Skepticism related to science
can be both positive and negative. That is, Gould would say that creationists, those who are skeptical of science and
misunderstand its ability to explain the way the world works, are deeply damaging to scientific inquiry. However,
Leigh Ann Fischer Baron says that skepticism is absolutely required of all people to make sure that readers do not fall
victim to junk science.
In all, though, it is clear that skepticism has a major role in science and scientific inquiry. For example, Derek
Winstanley wrote an editorial in Environmental Science and Policy titled “In support of skepticism” that claims:
For centuries, science has been founded on well-established methods of scientific investigation, which include
recognition that “A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of
facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and
never subject to revision is not a scientific theory” (Judge William R. Overton, in Science, 1982). Thus, a basic
tenet of science is for scientists to posit and test hypotheses and theories. Scientific progress is made by accepting
or rejecting hypotheses at specified levels of confidence, thus embodying skepticism in the heart of scientific
He suggests that science and scientists must pursue skepticism as part of their research process. However, these
scientists have been trained to understand their subject matter thoroughly and thus are able to make reasonable claims,
test them, and arrive at approximations of truth. Based on the essays we have read this semester and research that
you do using MCPHS databases, is it really best for the general public to be skeptical of science?
Rachel Carson and Leigh Ann Fisher Baron both highlight the importance of education, especially education focused
on the field of science. They either state or imply that learning more about science will help people make better
informed decisions about the world in which they live, indicating a specific emphasis on education focused on
scientific subjects. However, we have also read other articles about education that indicate that education can also be
useful for people as they make decisions about governance (Plato), about their careers (Jacobs), about personal
enjoyment (Bacon), about empathy and compassion (Ascher), and about discovery (Bronowski). Further, Howard
Gardner’s “A Rounded Version: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” demonstrates that, most likely, a combination
of multiple types of intelligences will allow people to solve the problems needed by their communities and, it can be
inferred, by their jobs. Recently, there has been a sustained focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics) fields. However, this shift means that subjects in the arts, humanities, and social sciences may be left
out of the discussion. A proposal from Rhode Island School of Design suggests that: “We need to add Art + Design
to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM.” Based on the readings and research that you can carry out
on the MCPHS databases and/or the eBrary, would you agree that there should be a sustained focus on art and
design in your science-focused education in order to meet your future professional needs?
Each of the essays read this semester has a goal, whether that goal be persuasive or informative, and we have talked
about whether these essays have achieved these goals. At the same times, we performed critiques of the works, noting
how authors have used Aristotelian appeals to logos, pathos and ethic along with evaluating the tone, use of
counterarguments and refutations, etc. Ultimately, when it comes to achieving rhetorical success, does it matter if
these tools are used well or not? That is, can an essay have poor logic, unfair emotional appeals, false claims to
credibility, etc. and still achieve rhetorical success? Based on the readings and research that you carry out
through the MCPHS databases and/or the eBrary, does an essay have to use rhetorical appeals and
argumentation strategies well or not in order to be successful, and what are the implications for your thesis

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