AP SEMINAR: End- of- Course Exam SAMPLE RESPONSES SECTION I: PART A. The Uncertainty of Science, by Richard Feynman

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1 SECTION I: PART A The Uncertainty of Science, by Richard Feynman Question 1 (3 pts): Identify the author s argument, main idea, or thesis. The author s argument is that we should not fear doubt; we should value it because it leads to the potential for innovation and because it represents our freedoms as human beings. Question 2 (6 pts.): Explain the author s line of reasoning by identifying the claims used to build the argument and the connections between them. The author makes two claims to establish his line of reasoning as he argues the value of uncertainty. In his first claim, Feynman reasons that if we did not recognize ignorance, we would not get any new ideas, which basically means that doubt is our whole motivation for creating something new. This cause-effect logic supports his argument that doubt has value because it helps us achieve progress, particularly in the field of science, but it extends beyond this field into others as well. His second claim reasons that doubt is valuable because it represents humanity s struggle for freedom and the speaker demand[s] this freedom for future generations because we all fought for this right to be free thinkers. He reasons that if we don t exercise this right, then we lose a piece of our rights as individuals. The claims are clearly linked in the sense that if we use our freedom to doubt, we will uncover new innovations as a result, all of which supports the overall point that we should not fear uncertainty but embrace it instead. TURN OVER à

2 Question 3 (6 pts.): Evaluate the effectiveness of the evidence the author uses to support the claims made in his argument. Although the author presents a clear argument and makes strong, well-reasoned claims to initially support his perspective, the evidence he provides to support those claims is actually very weak. The only support present in the first part of Feynman s argument comes in the form of a hypothetical scenario, which cannot be deemed concrete evidence. For example, in the first body paragraph, the author illustrates a conversation a scientist might have with another regarding how certain he is if his idea is going to work; but the scientist does not appear to exist in reality as no names, qualifications or specific context is provided. The lack of concrete evidence here seems to undermine the validity of his point. Further on, the author points out that when it comes to scientific knowledge, there are varying degrees of uncertainty, and scientists are used to this, but again, he fails to provide a concrete context in which an actual scientist profited from pursuing such doubts. Instead, he relies on his own opinions as a scientist to deliver the point, which is not a valid basis of evidence in this case. For his latter claim that we should value doubt because it signifies our own freedoms, Feynman again uses his own, personal opinion as support, particularly when he says: I feel a responsibility to proclaim value of this freedom [and] want to demand this freedom for other generations. Though he is a citizen and a scientist (according to article title), his own words on the matter lack the impact that more concrete evidence would have. It is worth noting that despite the lack of evidence, Feynman s argument does appear logical on the surface. Since he is presenting this information in the form of a lecture series, it makes sense not to weigh the audience down with lengthy evidence/data, but instead build their trust through a more pathological approach. An in-depth analysis will reveal, however, that the author s failure to acknowledge his own bias makes him an untrustworthy source, since as a scientist, his ideas seem self-serving. When viewed as a whole, Feynman s argument can be described as a man claiming that his opinions are fact simply because he believes them to be true.

3 SECTION I: PART B Make Them Eat Cake: How America is Exporting its Obesity Epidemic, by John Norris AND New Global Middle Class Hungers for Good Ol U.S. Fast Food, by John W. Schoen Read the following two (2) articles carefully, paying attention to their perspectives, implications, and limitations. Then, write an essay that compares the two arguments by evaluating their effectiveness. In your essay, address the relevance and credibility of the evidence each presents to support the author s line of reasoning. Both of the articles in this section are concerned with the fast food culture that seems to be spreading throughout the world. The author of Article A makes the argument that American greed is contributing to a rise in global obesity. The author of Article B, however, seems much more focused on describing the how he believes that the emerging middle-class in developing countries is starting to consume American fast food at an astounding rate. Both authors rely on similar data to develop different arguments. The author of Article A believes that the United States should be blamed for an increase in the global obesity rate. The author claims that the American agricultural, trade, marketing, and scientific practices are taking a toll on international health, particularly among the poor. The author presents a statistic from Mexico s national statistics agency that shows that Mexico has the highest soda consumption rate in the world. He then discusses how America is one of the biggest contributors to the soda consumption rate in Mexico due to the more than 1200 percent increase in highfructose corn syrup exports from the US to Mexico between 1996 and This statistic was provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is known to be a credible organization. The argument is then strengthened when the author backs up his claim that American policies are causing unhealthy behavior by describing how U.S. corn refiners successfully petitioned the World Trade Organization to strike down the Mexican government s tax on drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. The author of Article A also provides a statistic from the Economist to illustrate Coca-Cola and PepsiCo s stranglehold on the world s soft drink market. He writes, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo together control almost 40 percent of the world s $532 billion soft drink market. By using statistics that were reported by highly credible sources, the

4 author of Article A strengthens his argument that the U.S. is negatively affecting the health of citizens in other countries because of its desire to make large sums of money. The argument in Article A does lack sources for several of its claims, though. For instance, the author claims that soda sales have doubled in the last ten years, with much of that growth driven by developing markets, but there is no given source for this information. He also doesn t provide a source for the statistic regarding YUM! Brands revenue or its development in emerging economies. The lack of sources for these claims limits the effectiveness of the argument. The author of Article B does not talk about the global obesity trend and instead focuses on developing the argument that the rising middle-class around the world has developed an appetite for American fast food. The author of Article B claims that YUM! Brands generated 70 percent of its profits from international sales in the previous year, which is an increase of over 50 percent from what it used to generate 15 years ago. However, the author does not provide a source for this information, making the credibility of the claim unclear. Article B also uses a quote from a YUM! Brands spokesperson to develop its claims. This weakens the argument because the spokesperson is most likely biased towards his company. Additionally, the author uses several quotes from an IBISWorld Industry analyst named Andy Brennan to develop his arguments throughout the article, but it is never made clear whether or not IBISWorld Industry or Andy Brennan are credible sources. One final weakness in Article B occurs when the author shifts the focus of the argument abruptly by presenting some information about Subway and McDonald s efforts to change their menus to suit the local tastes of international consumers. The author does manage to describe this taking place in several countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and India. However, the information doesn t really seem connected to the argument that the author was developing. When comparing the overall effectiveness of the two arguments, Article A is a stronger argument. The author of Article A was able to back up his claims in a more convincing manner by providing statistics from credible sources like the Economist and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The argument in Article B does not contain strong evidence, and the author tends to lose his focus throughout the argument.

5 EXAMINER S COMMENTS for PART B: Overall, this response is indicative of a close and thoughtful reading of both texts. The response successfully identifies and evaluates specific pieces of evidence from both articles. It notes the credibility of sources (the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Economist) cited in Article A. The response successfully questions the credibility of sources quoted in Article B. The identification and evaluation of evidence in this response earns 6 points.) (The response conveys a clear grasp of each author s main idea and line of reasoning, and it notes that while each draws upon similar types of evidence, the arguments themselves are different. The response offers sound comparisons between the two articles in both its introductory and concluding paragraphs. The identification and comparison of lines of reasoning earns 6 points.) (The response effectively analyzes the perspectives and limitations of the two articles by observing the fact that both articles contain certain claims that lack sources. Additionally, the response notes that there are claims in Article B about fast food companies attempting to change their menus in other countries that do not seem connected to the argument that the author was developing. The response notes that Article B s author uses weaker sources and seems to lose his focus and concludes that it is generally weaker than Article A. The discussion and analysis in this response earns 6 points.)

6 SECTION II: Sample Response Source A: Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare, by Alexis de Tocqueville Source B: A Sane Revolution, D.H. Lawrence Source C: Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau Source D: Death of Rosa Parks Senate Floor Statement, Senator Obama Read the four (4) sources carefully, focusing on a theme or issue that connects them and the different perspective each represents. Then, write a logically organized, well- reasoned, well- written argument that presents your own perspective on the theme or issue you identified. You must incorporate at least two (2) of the sources provided and link claims in your argument to supporting evidence. You may also use the other provided sources or draw upon your own knowledge. In your response, refer to the provided sources as Source A, Source B, Source C, or Source D, or by the authors names. The four documents provided in this section are all concerned with the idea of revolution. The four authors approach the topic from different perspectives, but the overall theme is that individuals can positively benefit society by standing up for what they think is right. It is true that some individuals have brought about positive changes in society by revolting. However, I think it is important to realize that not all revolutions lead to more peaceful societies, and the risks to the individual can sometimes outweigh the potential societal benefits. In Source D, Senator Obama discusses the story of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. He says that her actions reminded each and every one of us of our personal responsibilities to stand up for what is right (Source D). Senator Obama mentions that

7 the simple act of refusing to give up her seat became the spark that ignited the beginning of the end for segregation. Rosa Parks' actions on that day positively altered America, but the fact remains that she still had to spend time in jail for what she did. Rosa Parks took a risk by committing that act of civil disobedience, and things could have worked out very differently for her if people in Montgomery had decided that she should have just given up her seat. Individuals who break the law to bring about change in society are taking a large risk by assuming that others will stand and fight with them, and I am sure that the risk has not paid off in many situations throughout history. One assumption that seems apparent in several of the documents is the idea that a revolution started for the right reasons will always benefit society. One only has to think of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, which is the bloodiest revolution in history, to realize that this idea is incorrect. Once revolutions start, there is no way of knowing if they will end in peace or in bloodshed. D.H. Lawrence s poem pokes fun at this in Source B when he playfully mentions some of the reasons why people should revolt. He writes, Don t do it for equality, do it because we've got too much equality, and it would be fun to upset the apple-cart and see which way the apples would go a- rolling (Source B). This anarchic view of upsetting the established order just for amusement is likely to be shared by at least a few people in times of revolution. The uncertainty about what will happen once a revolt is started or which way the apples will spill is another reason why the individual who starts it should think carefully before acting. Despite Lawrence s insistence that we don t do it for the money, do it and be damned to the money (Source B). people will undoubtedly act in their own interests if the occasion arises. In another words, it can be easy to forget the noble cause that led to the revolution when there is money to be made. In Source C, Thoreau mentions his belief that citizens should have the right to rebel against tyrannical governments. He writes, But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer (Source C). Thoreau seems to think that it is the duty of honest

8 men to stand up and fight against an unjust government who is causing friction for the people. However, the problem with Thoreau s views in today s society is that the majority of people are not going to fight against injustice if it means that they have to break the law; any individual who does decide to act out of duty will simply be arrested and sent to jail without anyone really noticing. Thoreau gets closer to a more reasonable approach when he writes, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it (Source C). The idea of men discussing the type of government they want will lead to a more peaceful society than fighting or breaking the law to achieve it. The idea of individuals exercising their right to revolt is prevalent in all of the documents. The perspective of these authors is that revolution is necessary to fight injustice or as Thoreau calls it an individual s duty. However, no one knows what type of society will be formed as a result of revolution. This uncertainty, as well as the legal trouble that can result from breaking laws, should make the idea of revolting too large of a risk for an individual to undertake. (798) EXAMINER S COMMENTS for SECTION II RESPONSE: Overall, this response is rich and thoughtful, and it successfully develops an argument by synthesizing information from the provided sources. The response begins by identifying the theme connecting all four sources, but it moves well beyond simple summary or reiteration. The response asserts, I think it is important to realize that not all revolutions lead to more peaceful societies, and the risks to the individual can sometimes outweigh the potential societal benefits thus introducing a perspective that differs from the perspectives in the provided sources. The response earns six points for building an argument based on strong evidence. The response s line of reasoning is clear and compelling. The response builds its argument and arrives at its conclusion by analyzing, synthesizing, and reacting to each of the sources. The response earns six points for its line of reasoning. The response earns six points for its successful identification and dissection of the theme and for offering a fresh perspective in reaction to the provided sources.

9 The response accurately attributes knowledge from the sources and earns three points. Also, the response contains few grammatical or stylistic flaws and communicates clearly to the reader, earning three points.

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