Tuesday, 16 September 2014

GRE writing - analyze an argument: The following appeared in an article written by Dr. Karp, an anthropologist.

"Twenty years ago Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia and concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. However, my recent interviews with children living in the group of islands that includes Tertia show that these children spend much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. This research proves that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture is false, and thus that the observation-centered approach to studying cultures is invalid. Because they are using the interview-centered method, my team of graduate students working in Tertia will establish a much more accurate understanding of child-rearing traditions there and in other island cultures. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.
It is rather a challenging and difficult task to fully understand other cultures. The article presents two methods that allegedly led to two different conclusions. The main aim is to explain in which way children are nurtured on the island of Tertia. While both methods of scientific experiment shade more light on the issue, probably we can trust neither of them. Perhaps, we need specific evidence and more information to comprehend the problem in a thoroughgoing way.

First, Dr. Field visited the island twenty years ago. It might be the case that the way of upbringing children was altered on the island and this is why the previous observations are not in line with current results of the interviews. Maybe, many new people, for example, from western countries, came to the island and significantly influenced its culture. This fact could certainly weaken Dr. Karp's argument. In that case, the original study could have been accurate, and Dr. Karp's research could be correct, as well.

Moreover, Dr. Karp's investigation covers group of islands that includes Tertia. It is possible that the way of rearing children is different on each of the islands. To cogently refute Dr. Fields conclusions, Dr. Karp should narrow his area of research to the island of Tertia exclusively. Thus, if Dr. Karp's students interviewed none or only a few children from the island of Tertia, then the presented conclusions would be unsupported. Maybe, Dr. Fields research based on observation was more detailed and focused, thus provided better results, what would weaken Dr. Karp's stance.

Let' take into account children who were interviewed. We can learn nothing about them from the article. We are not provide with any information about their age or sex. The children could talk more about their biological parents, because they are very young and their vocabulary is very limited, for instance, they have just learnt how to speak the main two words like “mum” and “dad”. Thus, first it should be determined what range of age we consider. Furthermore, Dr. Karp should provide us with transcript of the interviews. Then, probably it would be reasonable to select group of children and measure precisely how much time they spent with different people, especially with their parents. If the time spend by children with their parents would be substantially greater, for example, than 80%, then Dr. Karp conclusions would be valid. Contrary, if the time spend by children would be evenly distributed between different people, then probably Dr. Fields theory would be correct.

A difficult task is to judge of the merits of the two scientific methods. Certainly, one unsuccessful result of observational method could not undermine the whole idea. Maybe, other scientists managed to prove that this method is valid and can bear fruitful results, what would abate Dr. Karp's conclusions. Besides, the final favourable outcome of Dr. Karp's approach would bolster his method significantly. For example, it could be proven that lingual description is more precise and does not omit vital details that are crucial to fully understand the upbringing process. It could occur that, during Dr. Fields observations, the people who cared for children were precisely instructed by parents and followed specific rules. Maybe, children spend time in sui generis kindergartens during daytime when they parents had to work and spend remaining time with their parents.

In conclusions, Dr. Karp argument has a few weak points and unsupported claims. Both experiments reveal their weaknesses and should be improved. The evidence that could resolve the issue should be based on a specific experiment narrowed to the island of Tertia, which would be able to measure accurately the time spent by children with various people. Otherwise, it is impossible to draw any convincing conclusions.

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