Skill Lessons : Gathering and Evaluating Sources (PRACTICE)

Read the description below and answer the question that follows.

National Geographic is published by the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit institution that focuses on science and education. It’s well-known for its photography and its reporting on various scientific discoveries, world issues, and cultures. Authors range from writers and editors to scientists in the field. The magazine addresses concerned citizens of the world, generally with some educational background, and its purpose is to inform.

Based on the description above, what kind of magazine is National Geographic?

substantive
periodical
scholarly
popular

substantive
Read the excerpt below from the introduction to the book Access to the Genome: The Challenge to Equality and answer the questions that follow.

As genetic technology and other technologies relevant to human biology are developed, society will face a host of complex ethical, legal, and social issues. One of the most complex sets of issues involves our choices over who will have access to these technologies. . . . If, indeed, diseases can be cured or prevented, and if embryos can be selected or enhanced, but the technologies are not available for all to have [due to affordability], how will our society respond? What does justice require, and what will political realities permit?

The issues surrounding how to distribute access to new genetic technologies are the focus of this book. These questions and problems are not new—we struggle now with the fair allocation of vital health care resources in a society marked by great discrepancies in wealth. But genetic technologies will dramatically up the ante as the menu of powerful possibilites expands. With the possible exception of slavery, these technologies represent the most profound challege to cherished notions of social equality ever encountered. Decisions over who will have access to what genetic technologies will likely determine the kind of society and political system that will prevail in the future.

Before discussing the social and moral issues raised by these questions, we will first provide some background information on the genetic revolution itself. In the next chapter, we describe the massive effort to decode the human genetic recipe. In Chapter Three, we describe the technologies that this effort is likely to produce and the potential benefits that they will provide. Then we will embark on a discussion of the social and ethical problems that these technologies pose and, finally, discuss potential solutions. (Mehlman 6)

Mehlman, Maxwell J. Access to the Genome: The Challenge to Equality. Washington, DC: Georgetown U Press, 1998. Print.

Is this a primary or secondary source? Would the information covered in this book be more relevant as a primary source or secondary source?

Responses may vary but should include some or all of the following information:

This is a secondary source because it is evaluating tons of data in order to draw a conclusion about the issue. The source is not performing new research or experimentation but is commenting on existing information out there. Since this issue is regarding a technology that is not yet fully developed and because the research is still new, it is more appropriately covered by a secondary source. As a quality secondary source, it is able to compile myriad factors and studies in order to draw an interpretation or make predictions that might otherwise be impossible to see using only an isolated experiment.

Read the scenario below, evaluate the source, and answer the question that follows.

Imagine that your teacher gives you the following writing prompt: “Write a persuasive essay articulating your position on the cloning of humans. Use specific examples and details to support your views.” After brainstorming, imagine that you choose to address the topic of human cloning by focusing on genetic enhancements, which result from using science to alter the physical and mental characteristics of humans. After some initial research, you formulate the following research question: “Do the benefits of genetic enhancements outweigh the possible negative consequences of this technology?”

This is the cover of a potential source:

Yes, it addresses the topic of genetic enhancements.
Analyze the images below from a print source and complete the statement that follows.

The publisher is __________. The publishing date is __________. The author is __________.

United States of America . . . 1942 . . . T. S. Eliot
Houghton Mifflin Company . . . 2002 . . . Gregory Stock
Houghton Mifflin Company . . . 1942 . . . T. S. Eliot
Houghton Mifflin Company . . . 2002 . . . Robert Overholtzer

Houghton Mifflin Company . . . 2002 . . . Gregory Stock
Analyze the image below from a print source and answer the question that follows.

For which research question would this source be most relevant?

Is it wrong for athletes to take drugs to enhance their athletic performance?
Is it ethical to clone athletes and celebrities?
How would genetic enhancements impact competitive sports?
Is cloning a reasonable solution for couples who cannot reproduce?

How would genetic enhancements impact competitive sports?
Read the scenario below and answer the question that follows.

Imagine that your teacher gives you the following writing prompt: “Write a persuasive essay articulating your position on the cloning of humans. Use specific examples and details to support your views.” After brainstorming, imagine that you choose to address the topic of human cloning by focusing on genetic enhancements. You type “genetic enhancements” into a search engine. Below are screenshots of some of the results:

A
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Read the passage below for bias and objectivity. Then, answer the question that follows.

Cloning, if allowed for human reproduction, could affect society’s perception of what it means to be a human being. Uncertainties over a cloned individual’s personal uniqueness or freedom to create one’s own identity may haunt him or her. Relatives or friends could have specific expectations regarding the cloned individual’s talents and abilities. Others might ill treat or discriminate against a cloned individual. Some worry that cloning would lead to diminished respect for human life in general, and for cloned individuals in particular, since the cloned person might simply be replaced with another clone. Others point out, however, that this altered perception does not occur today with identical twins, who are naturally produced clones. Cloning human embryos also raises difficult questions about the rights of parents to control their own embryos and other issues concerning reproductive rights and privacy. Some observers believe that it would be ethical to clone human embryos to help infertile couples conceive. Lastly, the possibility of human cloning is offensive to the religious and other deeply held beliefs of many people.

Source: “CRS Report for Congres.” Foreign Press Centers. US Department of State, 25 Feb. 2002. Web. 6 Dec. 2010.

Which sentence, taken from the excerpt above, supports the evaluation that this article is objective?

Cloning, if allowed for human reproduction, could affect society’s perception of what it means to be a human being.
Relatives or friends could have specific expectations regarding the cloned individual’s talents and abilities.
Others point out, however, that this altered perception does not occur today with identical twins, who are naturally produced clones.
Lastly, the possibility of human cloning is offensive to the religious and other deeply held beliefs of many people.

Others point out, however, that this altered perception does not occur today with identical twins, who are naturally produced clones.
The description below is based on a real author bio found on a website. Evaluate the author’s credentials based on the description and answer the question that follows.

Dr. Gregory Stock is the Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at UCLA’s School of Public Health. In this role, he explores critical technologies poised to have large impacts on humanity’s future and the shape of medical science. His goal has been to bring about a broad public debate on these technologies and their implications, leading to wise public policies surrounding their realization. Of particular interest to the program are the implications for society, medicine, and business of the human genome project and associated developments emerging from today’s revolution in molecular genetics and bioinformatics. The Storefront Genome, the symposium he convened in January 2003 to consider the broad challenges that cheap, easy access to our genetic constitutions will bring, drew wide media attention, and his 1998 look at the possibilities of manipulating the genetics of human embryos, the first major public discussion of this issue among distinguished scientists, opened a global debate on this then-taboo topic.

A prolific author and recognized authority on the impact of new technologies on human society, Professor Stock’s 2002 book, Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future with Houghton Mifflin, won the Kistler Book Prize for Science Books and was nominated for a Wired Rave Award. Among his other books are Engineering the Human Germline for Oxford University Press, Metaman for Simon and Schuster, and the best-seller The Book of Questions, which has been translated into seventeen languages and is now in its fifty-fifth printing. Sequels to that book include The Book of Questions: Business, Politics, and Ethics and a new book that will explore how coming technologies will reshape our everyday lives.

Dr. Stock has been an invited speaker to numerous academic, government, and business conferences, sits on the editorial board of the American Journal of Bioethics, and was asked to submit an Advisory Memo to the President of the United States on the challenges of the next century. He makes regular appearances on television and radio, including CNN, PBS, NPR, Bloomberg, and the BBC. He has debated biotech policy with Jeremy Rifkin, Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, and other prominent voices who would rein in biomedical research, and he is hosting a television special later this year on key figures in today’s biotech revolution.

Gregory Stock has a doctorate in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Harvard University. He currently has appointments at Princeton University and UCLA’s School of Public Health.

Source: “Gregory Stock.” UCLA Center for Society and Genetics. UCLA Center for Society and Genetics, 2004. Web. 8 Dec. 2010.

Based on his credentials and background, which topic would Gregory Stock be most qualified to write on?

air pollution
new technologies in medicine
impact of sleep on learning
HTML coding

new technologies in medicine
Read the passage below and answer the question that follows.

The human cloning debate is absolutely pointless and potentially devastating. So far, cloning experiments have murdered 100% of all the animals tested. Do we really want humans subjected to such a dangerous and unproven science? We don’t if we value human life! Even if cloning does work, this technology could be abused by fans of celebrities and athletes who attempt to steal DNA from their idols to produce unauthorized clones. The very definition of what it means to be human could be destroyed if a human clone were produced. Don’t believe in the fictionalized version of clones in movies and books. The reality would be the end of the human race.

What questions should you ask when evaluating for objective reasoning? Evaluate the paragraph above using those questions and list the answers. If you cannot answer the question without more information or action, list exactly what you’d need to do or find to answer the question.

Responses may vary but should include some or all of the following information:

The student should list most of the questions listed below in the sample student answer and provide their own answers for each question. Here is a sample student answer:

1. “Is the information provided fact or opinion? If fact, is it verifiable? If opinion, does it evolve logically from the facts?”: The paragraph is mostly opinion and predictions. There is one fact in the second sentence, but the writer does not provide any citation to explain the source of this information. In addition, the opinions do not evolve logically from facts. There are not enough facts provided on which to base the opinions.

2. “Is the information valid?”: The information provided is not valid because it is not supported by evidence, reasonable, or well researched. There are no citations to indicate research.

3. “Is the information comparable to other credible sources?”: In order to answer this question, I’d need to conduct more research about human cloning. However, because this source is not a credible source based on the amount of bias displayed, I would not use the information it gives.

4. “Is the information relevant to my project?”: I would need to know my research question to answer this question.

5. “Is there bias?”: Yes, this is a one-sided presentation. The writer also uses emotion-arousing language and gives a lot of opinions not based on facts.

6. “Is it sufficiently objective?”: No, this is not based on facts and it is clearly influenced by personal feelings.

Read the scenario below, evaluate the source, and answer the question that follows.

Imagine that your teacher gives you the following writing prompt: “Write a persuasive essay articulating your position on the cloning of humans. Use specific examples and details to support your views.” After brainstorming, imagine that you choose to address the topic of human cloning by focusing on genetic enhancements, which result from using science to alter the physical and mental characteristics of humans. After some initial research, you formulate the following research question: “Do the benefits of genetic enhancements outweigh the possible negative consequences of this technology?”

In your research you come across the possible source Wondergenes: Genetic Enhancement and the Future of Society. In order to discover the author’s intent and purpose in writing the book, you read the introduction, which ends with the following:

Mehlman, Maxwell J. Wondergenes: Genetic Enhancements and the Future of Society. Bloomington: Indiana U Press, 2003. Print.

Which of the following reasons best reflects the author’s purpose in writing the book?

to discuss the pros and cons of genetic enhancement technologies
to warn against developing genetic enhancement technologies
to discover if the dangers of genetic enhancements can be prevented
to promote genetic enhancements as a medical and social solution

to discover if the dangers of genetic enhancements can be prevented