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Critical Thinking Assessment

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 29-11-2023

The assessment is in two sections:

Section A: Analysing & Evaluating Argument (20% of the overall mark) Section B: Constructing Argument (80% of the overall mark)

Complete both Section A and Section B.

Section A: Analysing & Evaluating Argument (20%)

Questions 1-10.

Q1. Which of the following passages is an argument? Type the best answer, either A, B, C or D in the text box below. (1 mark)

A. Every young person should be able to choose an apprenticeship, just as they can choose university. With an apprenticeship, you start at a level which reflects your current qualifications and combine work and training for 2 to 6 years in a particular field.

B. A defendant has to be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The defendant in this case probably assaulted the policewoman but there is room for doubt. So the jury should find the defendant not guilty.

C. Playgrounds for the over-60s are popular in Germany, and now Manchester has one. They are intended to encourage older people to stay playful and active, and include swings, see-saws and ski-walkers.

D. Children’s TV these days is not as good as it was in the 1970s. Parents should watch TV with their children and explain what is happening.

Answer: A

Q2. Which of the following is the main conclusion of the argument? Type the best answer, either A, B, C or D in the text box below. (1 mark)

Although Usain Bolt holds the current world record for the 100m and 200m races, the fastest runner in the world today might not be the best of all time. With modern equipment runners from the 1930’s might beat today’s top runners. In addition, grace and elegance of style or consistent high speed might count toward being the best of all time.

A Usain Bolt holds the current world record for the 100m and 200m races.

B The fastest runner in the world today might not be the best of all time.

With modern equipment runners from the 1930’s might beat today’s top runners.

Grace and elegance of style, or consistent high speed might count toward being the best of all time.

Answer: B

Questions 3-6 refer to the following passage about biofuels (eco-friendly fuels produced from organic renewable resources such as crops and plants).

UN Food Conference: biofuels

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Food has never previously been used for fuel. The respected Food Policy Research Institute believes that biofuels are responsible for 30% of the rise in grain prices. Although biofuels are often portrayed as ‘eco-friendly’, rainforests are being cut down specifically to grow biofuel crops, according to Friends of the Earth. So biofuels are actually making climate change worse. A go-slow on biofuels would have a real impact on the current food crisis. That is why ministers at the UN Food Conference should call for a go slow on biofuels.

Select a word/phrase from the box to describe the function of the elements in the argument. You do not have to use every word in the box. You can use words more than once. One has been done for you as an example.

function of the elements function of the elements

Example. … biofuels are actually making climate change worse.

Answer: F

Q3. …biofuels are responsible for 30% of the rise in grain prices. (1 mark)

Answer: B

Q4. Although biofuels are often portrayed as ‘eco-friendly’… (1 mark)

Answer: E

Q5. That is why ministers at the UN Food Conference should call for a go slow on biofuels. (1 mark)

Answer: D

Q6. So… (1 mark)

Answer: A

Q7

Two men were involved in a fight. One was a 20-year-old, the other was aged 45. Because young men are more aggressive, the 20-year-old must have been to blame.

Explain the flaw in the above reasoning. (1 mark)

Answer:

It is a wrong assumption that young men are more aggressive in fight, it is an unsubstantiated claim. The 45-year-old may have had a more violent or aggressive personality than the 20-year-old, despite his relative seniority.

The statement rest on the assumption that the younger the individual is, the more aggressive they are likely to be. However, that is not the case as violence in an individual is a personality trait and not a function of the age. The 45-year-old is not significantly old, at this age, individuals still retain a lot of their physical vigour. It is likely that the 45-year-old was just as aggressive or more aggressive than the 20-year-old.

Additionally, it is wrong to make assumptions based on such factors when someone has not been a witness to the actual incident. The beginning of the altercation could have been an incident which was instigated by the either of the two individuals, without being privy to the actual exchange between the two individuals, it is difficult to determine who was to blame.

Hence, the reason behind the statement is not substantial and based on further unsubstantiated claims.

Questions 8-10 refer to the following passage.

Lentil munching nutty vegans have utterly lost the plot. They are now telling us eating meat every day is the biggest environmental danger of all, because cow methane emissions will overheat the planet. So apparently we should all become vegans. These vegans would want us to starve our children rather than accepting that eating meat is normal human behaviour. We should ignore them and carry on as we are. Cows and sheep eat grass, which people cannot eat, and turn it into meat, which people can eat. Grazing land is often in hilly regions with poor soil, where crops such as wheat would not grow. So we should keep eating meat.

Q8 Which of the following offers the strongest support for the authors’ conclusion that we should continue to eat meat?

Type the best answer, either A, B, C, D, E or F in the text box below. (1 mark)

A Lentil munching nutty vegans have lost the plot.

B Cow methane emissions will overheat the planet.

C Eating meat every day is the biggest environmental danger of all.

D Eating meat is normal human behaviour.

E. We should ignore them and carry on as we are.

A. Cows and sheep eat grass, which people cannot eat, and turn it into meat, which people can eat.

Answer: F

Q9 The writer claims:

Lentil munching nutty vegans have utterly lost the plot.

In what way does this weaken the overall argument? Type the best answer, either A, B, C or D in the text box below. (1 mark)

A. Confusing correlation and cause: Assumption that because two things happen at the same time, one causes the other.

B. Attacking the person: The arguer is ‘attacked’ rather than putting a case against their argument.

C. “You too”: an attempt to justify an action on the basis that someone else is doing it too.

E. Two wrongs don’t make a right: an attempt to justify one bad action on the basis that another bad action is often / had been accepted.

Answer: A

Q10 The author of the passage claims:

These vegans would want us to starve our children rather than accepting that eating meat is normal human behaviour.

Explain the flaw in this reasoning. (1 mark)

ANSWER:

The statement makes overly-grandiose statement which does not realistically, probably, encompass the argument of vegans. As the given paragraph suggests, vegan advocates relay that meat is harmful for the environment as to keep up with the demand of meat in the market, more cows are bred and reared. The waste produced by cows contain the harmful gas methane, which when mixed with the air, causes air pollution. The statement could suggest either alternate forms of meat, like chicken and pork, or a reduction in the consumption of beef. The author of the paragraph understands meat only in the terms of beef and has derived their conclusion from this understanding only.

Moreover, the author seems to assume that nothing except meat is edible and if beef consumption is the only way children will get nourishment. That is a completely false statement as vegetables, cereals and nuts contain ample amounts of nutrients and are adequate for the nourishment of an individual. While meats like chicken and beef do contain high amounts of nutrients, most prominently protein, there is no way an individual who doesn’t consume meat will ‘starve’ or will be malnourished, if they carefully plan their diet.

The reason that something is ‘normal human behaviour’ is a contestable claim as there is no standard for measuring what constitutes normal human behaviour and what doesn’t. Certain sections of society have survived without meat for centuries and they did not perish. Hence, the claim is highly disputable and based on ideas which are not substantial.

Section B: Constructing Argument (80%)
Source 1:
The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom. 2016.

Fifteen million UK internet users have undertaken a ‘digital detox’ in a bid to strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond the screen. Our reliance on the internet is affecting people’s personal and working lives, leading many to seek time away from the web to spend time with friends and family.

One in three adult internet users (34%), equivalent to 15 million people in the UK, has sought a period of time offline, with one in ten (11%) doing so in the last week alone. Of these digital down-timers, 25% spent up to a day internet-free; 20% took up to a week off; and 5% went web-free for up to a whole month.

Many people found their time offline to be a positive experience: a third (33%) said they felt more productive, 27% found it liberating, while a quarter (25%) enjoyed life more. However, 16% experienced a ‘fear of missing out’ (‘FOMO’) while on the web wagon, 15% felt lost and 14% ‘cut-off’.

Source 2:
Social media firms must face heavy fines over extremist content– MPs

Social media companies are putting profit before safety and should face fines of tens of millions of pounds for failing to remove extremist and hate crime material promptly from their websites, MPs have said.

The largest and richest technology firms are “shamefully far” from taking action to tackle illegal and dangerous content, according to a report by the House of Commons home affairs committee.

In Germany, the report points out, the justice ministry has proposed imposing financial penalties of up to €50m on social media companies that are slow to remove illegal content.

During its investigation, the committee found instances of terror recruitment videos for banned jihadi and neo-Nazi groups remaining accessible online even after MPs had complained about them.

Google, the parent company of YouTube, told the inquiry that it has plans to extend its “trusted flagger” programme to identify terrorist propaganda and would invest in improving its alert procedures. It said that it had “no interest” in making money from extremist material.

Facebook also told MPs that it is reviewing how it handles violent videos and other objectionable material after a video of a murder in the United States remained on its service for more than two hours.

Google, Facebook and Twitter all refused to tell the committee how many staff they employ to monitor and remove inappropriate content.

Source 3:
Social media gets a bad press, but it was a lifeline for me

Recent research from Sheffield University has suggested that the more time children aged between 10 and 15 spend on social media, the less happy they feel. Many of the headlines in response to this study focused on the idea that engaging with social media platforms makes children more likely to compare themselves negatively with their friends. Girls were found to suffer more adverse effects than boys, and in particular feel discontented with school and their appearance. The comparisons they made were overwhelmingly negative because, as the report explained, “the material people chose to present online represents selectively idealised versions of their true appearance, activities, and achievements”.

But while social media has its pitfalls, it also has benefits that the headlines rarely focus on. That same study found that, overall, social media can make children feel happier about their friendships. With girls especially, the study found that more time on social networks had a positive effect on how they felt about their friends. And other research, from North Florida University, suggests that chatting online via apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp could increase levels of empathetic concern for others, as it gives young people a chance to widen their perspectives and practise empathic responses. As a result, expressing empathy becomes habitual.

These findings complement those of a DePaul University study, which found that increased social media exposure allowed for more time in an environment that fostered feelings and expressions of empathy. This might be sharing a funny video to cheer up a friend or simply offering words of comfort.

There has been evidence, too, to suggest that social media can help combat feelings of isolation. Research from Wisconsin-Madison University has found that young adults who regularly use social media while transitioning from home to university demonstrate lower levels of self-reported loneliness than those who don’t. Why? Because they use those platforms to adjust socially and maintain friendships.

I can vouch for the importance of Facebook in combating loneliness. I took a year out of university in the UK to study abroad in the US. This meant that when I returned to London for my final year, most of my peers had graduated. Meanwhile, I’d left behind my American cohort. The loneliness that came with managing the notoriously tough final year of a degree without either set of friends was eased by social media. I was able to keep in touch with them all; excluded in the physical sense, yes, but with at least some connection. In lieu of taking new photographs, we re-posted old photographs, used Facebook Messenger to organise a return visit, and I watched their graduation ceremony through a live stream.

Six years on, Facebook has enabled me to maintain friendships – and Instagram and Snapchat have played a part too. I’m not a regular user of Twitter, but that platform also has benefits. Upon becoming self-employed two years ago I proudly printed business cards, but referring people to my Twitter is, in reality, far easier.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Q11: Write an argument of between 300 and 500 words that either agrees or disagrees with the following claim:

Social media is having a negative impact on society.

You should use sources 1-3 above where appropriate to support your argument:

Your arguments should:

be written in an academic style, in your own words;

clearly state your position (conclusion);

support your position with credible and relevant reasons and information from the given sources;

have a clear line of reasoning, with reasons grouped together logically;

include clearly refuted counter arguments;

use appropriate language to link your ideas together clearly;

cite at least one of the given sources in your argument.

You should use and cite Source 1, 2 & 3 where appropriate;

You do NOT need to include any additional research data in this assessment;

You do NOT need to include a Harvard reference list.

Answer:

Social media has been a prevalent form of communication and expression since the beginning of the 21st century. Although social media has been invaluable in terms of establishing cultural exchange lines and opening up arenas of knowledge for the layman, it has not come without its challenges. Most prominently, social media has been criticised for spreading misinformation and hateful messages. These could potentially turn dangerous as it could instigate groups to act violently against each other.

Increasingly. Policy makers across nations are coming to the same conclusion, whereby they are bringing into motion policies which would check social media posts and penalise them if community guidelines are violated. In 2017, Germany’s justice ministry proposed fining social media organizations which delay removal of harmful content from their website a fine of 50 million euros (The Guardian, 1 May 2017). The logic behind such a step is making social media companies financially accountable if they are to violate the rules of the nations they are operating in.

This is the institutional and political aspect of the harms of social media. At a personal level, social media can be extremely detrimental to the physical and mental health of individuals too. Increased usage of social media may lead to increasing usage of the smartphone, which can cause long term damage to the eyes and the hands of the individual. Photoshopped and edited pictures in social media by celebrities and influencers instil feelings of insecurity in the young user and make them them develop unhealthy attitudes towards their own body. This may lead to them developing eating disorders and seek cosmetic procedures for altering features of their body and face. However, it is not like individuals are unaware of the crippling addiction that social media is responsible for. In 2016, about 15 million internet users in the UK swore-off the internet, most for a whole day and around 20% for a whole week. 5% went without Internet for a whole month. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘digital detox’ (Ofcom, 4 August 2016).

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However, not all social media exposure is harmful. The Guardian (24 April, 2017) reports of a research project in Sheffield University which reported that children aged between 10 to 15 years can foster feelings of happiness in friend groups and subsequently develops empathy in children. The report cites research by DePaul university as well; friends remotely connecting with each other can reduce levels of loneliness and increase empathy. However, the Sheffield University research also showed that social media usage reduced happiness in children as well.

From these contrasting finds, one can assuage that while social media has been beneficial in increasing communication, the harm it has done outweighs the benefits. The benefits of social media is essentially the benefits of proper communication and if alternate lines of communication is established, without the pitfalls of social media, then increased communication can come without the baggage of harmful content.


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