After reading the "Stories and Theories" portion of Call of Stories I was interested in finding out a little more about Coles' background as a psychiatrist. I found a really interesting commentary on Coles' writing (particularly about Children of Crisis) in a book called Intellectual craftsmen: ways and works in American scholarship by Steven Weiland (find it on google books). He writes "some distortion is perhaps inevitable given Coles' method and purposes and the expectations of his readers.
After class today I was thinking about how I might apply Sagan's skepticism to my life. I consider myself a pretty skeptical person, especially of authority, but I was trying to think of instances when I might not be skeptical...When I go to the doctor's office and my doctor diagnoses a sickness I might have, I never question her diagnosis as long as I have been thorough in telling her my symptoms. But when I take my dog to the veterinarian I ALWAYS question the vet's diagnosis and course of treatment because I have been a vet tech and know that vets make mistakes and there are always several diagnoses and courses of treatment that a vet might make. The vet could also prescribe treatment just to make extra money.
Our second class discussion on Sagan's A Demon-Haunted World allowed me to further develop my thoughts on my situation, although I'm still not closer to a resolution. In class someone brought up the fact that there has been a shift in authority. For years religion has had the authority, but as we have began to question and seek "facts" about the world, we have given the authority to Science. Scientists are the people that have cultivated the potential that we all have to be skeptical about things. What bothers me the most about Carl Sagan's writing is that he seems condescending to those that believe in something without evidence (i.e. God). This goes back to the last paper that I wrote about changing someone's reality.
Last class we began to think about the relationship that science has to our personal lives. I began to think a lot about religion. Science has often been used to disprove the belief that God exists, as we have gained more knowledge about the world and our relationship to it. However, this idea of asking questions is fairly new compared to religion's history. I find myself caught between God and the facts that science presents. I always resent the arguments used to convince me that God doesn't exist because I feel like someone is trying to take away my belief which in the past used to be firm. Although I was never deeply religious (i.e. not an avid church-goer), I feel guilty that my belief is not as firm, and sometimes I feel like I've completely lost it.
Going along with my semester-long quest to understand copyright law, I've decided to examine our own conceptions of "fair use" in copyright law. I want to open these questions to all of you on Serendip. Responses would be much appreciated!
I'm really enjoying reading The Demon Haunted World and I'm not sure if it is just because I agree with his ideas....but what I know for sure is that if I had come up with these ideas myself, I never would have found a way to convey them so well without offending the religious or the uneducated as Sagan does. I am impressed with how Sagan is able to discuss peoples' beliefs about the supernatural, for example, without insulting those who believe in things a scientist might deem outrageous. For example, on p. 30 Sagan writes "If you want to know when the next eclipse of the sun will be, you might try magicians or mystics, but you'll do much better with scientists.
Some of the continuation of our discussion on Tuesday of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks brought me back to an exercise that we did in my bio 110 course when reading the book. Our assignment was to create an informed consent for for Henrietta, attempting to explain the basic concepts behind her cancer and cells, and leave room for the potential of further research on them should her cells in fact grow in culture. So I just thought that I would share what I came up with as an informed consent for that perhaps could have been given to Henrietta Lacks:
As I continue to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I'm amazed at how Skloot seems to come at this story from every possible angle (historical, medical, cultural) and from the perspective of her own journey, Henrietta's and Henrietta's family's. I think that simply the author's fascination with Henrietta and her cells is an interesting story on its own...as is her journey to speak with Henrietta's family members...and even just the cells' medical narrative would make really interesting reading as well. Skloot even portrays Henrietta as a kind of heroine, adding another dimension to the book. I think that this book is an ideal combination of different types of literature.
"All writing is experimental . . . It is an attempt to solve a problem, to find a meaning, to discover its own way toward a meaning." - Donald M. Murray
In "Teach Writing as Process, Not Product," Donald Murray stresses that the ideas in a paper are just as important as execution, and that academia too often limits how an idea might be executed in prose. Having written two papers thus far for this class (and with two more to go), I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how well our class has embraced what Murray calls "experimental" in our webpapers.
-culture is constructed, other cultures seem “WIERD” to us
-children learn by active teaching = “WIERD” ; parents take active role
-teaching keeps you focused on one goal, doesn’t help w/ brain growth
-every book suggests that another book might give us a fuller picture (kgould’s post on the graphic novel Palestine)
-ckosarek: Ofed Grosbar’s “The Drama of the Suicide Terrorist”
western view: internal, personal, we would never die for a collectivist society, “private act”
eastern: collectivist, feel tied to culture
-Americans don’t have a unified culture to protect
-May not be the view from all of the western countries
-individual interviews, anecdotal