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Reflective Journal Information for Impacts of Science and Technology on Society: (10% of final mark for the course) Section 002

Reflective Journal Information for Impacts of Science and Technology on Society: (10% of final mark for the course)
Section 002

Here is what is written about this assignment on the course syllabus:

“As a social sciences/humanities course, you will be expected to reflect on some of the ideas and questions that are raised.  On the classes that are indicated (please see the schedule below) you will be expected to write a brief reflection or tentative answer based on the question detailed for that week.  Journals will not be graded on spelling or grammar, and each entry should be about 2-3 paragraphs in length (that is, about 250-300 words, typed, double-spaced).  Your journal will be graded at the end of the term.  Entries will be graded based on quality of engagement with the topic.”

Due date: Monday, April 6th/2014 (by noon/12pm)—after 12:00pm submissions will be docked 5% per day.

TOPICS:  (See topics and due dates on pg. 3 or in the Weekly Readings Schedule of the Course Syllabus)

Submission process: Through the drop box created for this purpose in the Contents folder of the Blackboard course website.

-This is also going to be automatically checked through once the journals are submitted through the dropbox.  As with any other assignment, plagiarism will result in a 0/F grade.

-The nature of this assignment calls for personal reflection on the relevant issues/ideas.  Do NOT quote from any sources unless you absolutely need to.  The nature of these journals is such that I am looking for your ideas on these matters, NOT someone else’s ideas.  These are reflection journals, not research papers.  If you do quote/reference a particular text or source you MUST provide an appropriate reference to the relevant page, date, and author, and you MUST provide a Bibliography at the end of the journal to avoid charges of plagiarism.

Here is what I’m looking for in terms of content/structure:

-Everything on ONE document (not a different document for each entry)

-Entries clearly separated by several spaces

-Date and question/issue clearly marked IN BOLD at the beginning of each new entry

-Discussion in 2-3 paragraphs (individual entries should be no less than 150 words each—and no more than 300 words in total)

Entries should discuss the relevant question or issue and what they think about it.

There are two general types of entry:

Type I:

Plagiarised material/obviously unacceptable stereotyping or incoherent rambling/does not engage in any way with the issue/spouts incoherencies/very difficult to follow/poorly constructed ideas/incoherent/obviously cobbled together at the last minute/large sections taken from sources with words simply changed around in a minor way/lazy, etc…dismissive of other points of view for no reason/etc…

Type II:

-engages with the issue in a way that shows that the student is really thinking about the question at hand/goes beyond obvious dichotomies and really tries to think about the issue from a balanced, more subtle perspective/clearly engages ideas from the readings in a way that shows depth of analysis and sustained thought/is aware of alternative answers to the same question and incorporates some of that into one’s own perspective/etc…

Type I entries will receive a 1 out of 2 (or 0 if plagiarized)
Type II entries will receive the full point for that entry

Some Sample Entries:

Type I journal entry example (obviously this is problematic):
Only a clown thinks scienc tells us the whole truth about reality.  Everyone nows that things can’t always fit the receipies we disaster think fit into.  WE’re skin and bone, not stupid numbrs.  Winker is a dumdum.  According to Whateversler, Pinkler is a not smrt.  I’m they think they can’t tell us who is bosses!!!  Baskets and egss.  Only a dumdum can’t see that!  I know I’m write b/c I’m awesome.  Maybee Stinkler is right two?

Type II journal entry example (obviously one could do this in a million different ways):

Entry #1, July 8th:

Task: Read the Pinker-Wieseltier exchange in the New Republic and comment in your journal on who you think has the better argument.  Who do you agree with more [and explain why]?

Although I think that both Pinker and Wieseltier make very good arguments in their respective work, I can’t help but agree with Wieseltier.  Pinker is probably right that much of the anti-science rhetoric arises from religious fundamentalism or out-of-work postmodernist angst.  However, I worry about any attempt to make one particular way of knowing the be-all-and-end-all.  I think this inevitably narrows our ability to perceive the truth of things.  I agree with Wieseltier that when we make science the only standard of real knowledge, we are cheapening our own evaluation of experience, and those parts of our lives that can only really be contextualized through fine arts or humanistic learning.  I also tend to agree that underneath all claims to consilience among the disciplines, there lurks a tyrannical attempt to reduce all human knowledge to terms that we already understand.  To think that science is the only way to get ‘real’ truth is analogous to thinking that English is the only ‘real’ language (and that all others are merely poor imitations).
Clearly, science has an important and central place in our society today.  It is true that scientific knowledge has helped to overcome superstition and ignorance in some ways, and has allowed us to apply principles of nature in ways that help alleviate the human condition.  At the same time, like any other monoculture, putting all of one’s eggs into one basket is a recipe for disaster.  Frankly, there are things that I don’t want to ‘know’ scientifically (like love, faith, hope, etc…).  In fact, to approach those things at all is to fundamentally miss the point that we are not abstract laws but enfleshed people, living in a complex and interesting world.  I would side with mystery over reductionism any day, but I can also understand why some people would disagree with my opinion.

Type II entries are preferred to Type I entries ?

Monday, January 12th— Introduction to the course: What is Science: Knowledge and Truth? [dispersed]
Journal Entry #1: Watch the video by Adkins and comment in your journal on whether you agree or disagree with his view of science as truth [and explain why].

Peter Adkins, “Science as Truth” (please watch the video)


Monday, January 26th— Science in the Public Square [dispersed]
Quiz #1 due at noon/12pm in Blackboard
Journal Entry #2: Read the Pinker-Wieseltier exchange in the New Republic and comment in your journal on who you think has the better argument.  Who do you agree with more [and explain why].

Stephen Pinker and Leon Wieseltier, “Science Versus the Humanities: Round Three” in The New Republic, (September 26, 2013).


Monday, February 9th—Read the article by Diamond.  In your journal discuss whether [and why] you agree or disagree with Jared Diamond’s assertion about agriculture.

Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” Discover Magazine, May 1987, 64-67.


Monday, March 9th— Watch the Turkle video.  In your journal please make an entry which discusses whether social networking websites [such as Facebook] represent’ real’ community.  Has the advance in communication technologies enhanced human relationships?

Sherry Turkle, (video) “Connected But Alone” TED talk (Feb. 2012)


Monday, March 23rd— Read the debate between Kurzweil and Bill Joy.  In your journal please elaborate on whether you agree with Kurzweil’s assertion that we cannot refrain from technological development (and why!!).

Bill Joy, Wired 8:04, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us”

Ray Kurzweil, “Promise and Peril” (blog) April 9th, 2001



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