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Please review my argument essay? :)

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Please review my argument essay? :) [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2017, 06:17
Hello! I wrote this with standard test timing. Any feedback is appreciated!

Topic:
Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia. Using an observation-centered approach to studying Tertian culture, he concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. Recently another anthropologist, Dr. Karp, visited the group of islands that includes Tertia and used the interview-centered method to study child-rearing practices. In the interviews that Dr. Karp conducted with children living in this group of islands, the children spent much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. Dr. Karp decided that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture must be invalid. Some anthropologists recommend that to obtain accurate information on Tertian child-rearing practices, future research on the subject should be conducted via the interview-centered method.

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


The recommendation that anthropologists should use the interview-centered method to effectively investigate Tertian child-rearing practices fails to provide a cogent argument. Every argument made raises questions that, if answered, jeopardize the strength of the recommendation.

The main question concerns the method with which Dr. Karp analyzes his data. How does "children [spending] much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village" lead to the conclusion that the children were raised solely by their biological parents? It may be the case that the entire village raised the children, but the kids remember better details about their biological parents. Moreover, the passage does not mention the rigor of Karp's methodology. Did he only interview one child, or all the children in the village? Knowing this answer helps evaluate the representativeness of his sample. Furthermore, what kinds of questions were there, and were they the same for every child? If there were only questions about the biological parents, then the children would naturally mention them more. If the questionnaire was not the same, then his conclusions are seriously biased. Until these questions are addressed adequately, there is reason to doubt the effectiveness and conclusions of Karp's interview method.

Along the same line, one must question the accuracy of child responses. This point is crucial to the recommendation, as it assumes that the interview-centered method is more accurate. However, this seems implausible at best; interview responses are inherently framed in the interviewees' state of mind, which would vary among the children. For example, concepts like time spent with biological parents may mean different things for different age groups, thus rendering responses subject to interpretation. Also, one must also take into account the fact that children may be reluctant to answer truthfully to a stranger. In some cases, a child might lie to give the impression that they were a good kid. Therefore, the validity of interviewing children needs to be reevaluated.

Even if the answers above substantiate the argument, another to be addressed is "How has Tertia changed in the past twenty years?" The passage notes that twenty-years ago Dr. Field got one conclusion using the observation-centered method, and recently Dr. Karp used the interview-centered method to yield a different conclusion. In presenting this argument, the passage assumes that the island of Tertia has not changed in twenty years, which is clearly unsupported by the passage and very unlikely. This is a fallcy that assumes consistency between then and now. Twenty years can change a lot; China, for example, went from being a predominantly agricultural society to an urban society in this time. Thus, the answer to this question would likely weaken the presented recommendation.

In sum, the recommendation that the interview-centered method is better than the observation method raises many questions that need to be answered before it can be considered seriously.
Please review my argument essay? :)   [#permalink] 12 Aug 2017, 06:17
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