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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 rat

Essay topics: 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 of mine proves that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture is invalid and thus that the observation-centered approach to studying cultures is invalid as well. The interview-centered method that my team of graduate students is currently using in Tertia will establish a much more accurate understanding of child-rearing traditions there and in other island cultures."

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

San93's picture

There are various assumptions being made in the argument above, and those assumptions stem from the same basic mistake in generalizing what the results mean. All of the assumptions made in the argument arise from dismissing the effects of time, not accounting for interview flaws and interviewer bias, and making a grand generalization of the observation-centered approach.

First, Dr. Karp goes on to make his assumptions without any thought as to what time would have done to the village. Dr. Field’s approach was done 20 years ago, which means that quite a lot of changes may have happened to the village, including how children in the village are reared. Perhaps 20 years ago, children really were reared by the village but now most are reared and taken care of by their parents. This is probably the most obvious flaw in the argument above because, unbeknownst to Dr. Karp, both his and Dr. Field’s results may have been valid and accurate if so, the argument about which method is better at the end of the paragraph would be entirely dismissed.

Another grand assumption made by Dr. Karp is based on thinking that because kids were talking much more about their parents, that they must then be reared mostly by them. There are many reasons why the children may have been talking much more about their parents. For example, perhaps during the interview the biological parents where there and this prompted the children to themselves talk more about them. Perhaps the children were told to purposely lie by their parents. These reasons are accounting for the idea that the children were talking about their biological parents more. But, in reality, only because they were talking more about these parents does not mean that these parents do rear the children. Perhaps the children liked spending time with their biological parents, but weren’t necessarily reared by them. Perhaps the children were talking about how great these parents are, or how nice they are to them. In reality, perhaps they only see them once a week so their times with these parents stick out more in the childrens’ minds.

The above is weakened even more if one takes into account exactly how many of the children talked more about their parents. Even if when they did talk more about their parents this meant that the parents reared them (which as I mentioned previously, is a pretty bold assumption to make), perhaps only a small portion of the village children actually talked about their biological parents. The article by Dr. Karp makes no mention of having talked to “most” children. Perhaps in reality, Dr. Karp and the interviewer were biased in that they6 were actively trying to look for children who actually are reared by their parents. Perhaps only about 1/5th of the children turned out to be reared by their parents and thus talked more about them, but because of experimenter bias, this is then mentioned in the article and the 4/5ths of children who didn’t talk more about their biological parents aren’t mentioned. The idea here is that, even without any intentional bias, there is no accounting for how many children actually talked more about their parents, and if this is even representative of the village as a whole. If this were true, then the entire argument could be dismissed because even the results here are fallacious.

Even if we take into account that the results in Dr. Karp’s research do actually indicate truthfully that in general, the children are reared more by their parents, the assumptions he then makes because of these results are flawed. Not only because, again, time could have been a factor, but also because he makes a grand generalization about the observation-centered approach. Even if Dr. Field’s research had actually been invalid, one instance of the approach failing does not mean that the entire process should be dismissed. Perhaps in reality Dr. Field’s process was flawed because of the way it was conducted, but in reality the approach as it is can actually gain a lot of information. Perhaps others have used this observation approach and, in most occasions, it has worked. This Dr. Karp making the generalization about the process as a whole is once again going to the extreme.

If all of the above arguments about why the interview may have been flawed (i.e., the reasons why kids may have talked more about their biological parents) turned out to be true, then Dr. Karp’s conclusion that the interview method will provide better information in other islands would be entirely dismissed. Again, he’s trying to generalize the success of his own method here to it being successful in many different places without accounting for all of the extraneous factors that may factor into affecting his results, In comparison to the observation method. Perhaps in reality, the two methods have been used various times and in general, the observation approach has provided more accurate information. One example does not represent the entirety.

There are certainly various assumptions being made in the article by Dr. Karp, most of which are egregious enough to entirely dismiss his arguments. Not only would the assumptions be innacurate for present data, but for future data as well. One would need to look into what specific evidence is needed.

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Sentence: In reality, perhaps they only see them once a week so their times with these parents stick out more in the childrens' minds.
Error: childrens Suggestion: children

Sentence: Not only would the assumptions be innacurate for present data, but for future data as well.
Error: innacurate Suggestion: ?

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argument 1 -- OK

argument 2 -- not ok

argument 3 -- not exactly

argument 4 -- OK
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Number of Paragraphs: 7 5

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