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  TPO 28

  Section1

  Conversation1

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a conversation between a student and a professor.

  Student

  I am so sorry I am late. Professor Mills. I just finished at the student medical center. I twisted my ankle playing soccer this morning. It took longer than I expected to see the doctor.

  Professor

  That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. David. So let’s get started. Your paper on John Dewey’s political philosophy has a few issues I’d like to cover. You gave a great biographical sketch in the beginning. Okay.

  But then as you get into his political philosophy, I don’t think you’ve done enough to situate his philosophy within the time period. In other words, you haven’t connected Dewey’s philosophy to the thinking of other intellectuals of the time.

  Student

  So I haven’t captured the most critical influences, the influences that were most significant to his political thinking?

  Professor

  Exactly. OK. Now, look back up at the section here, where you wrote about Dewey’s view of individuality. This is all good content. But you haven’t presented the information in a systematic way. I really think this portion on individuality needs to come later, after your paragraphs on Dewey’s intellectual influences.

  Student

  After my revised paragraphs on what influenced them.

  Professor

  Yes. Revised. Let me ask. Uh. When you were finished writing, did you go back and ask yourself if all of the material was relevant?

  Student

  Well, no.

  Professor

  I do think there are areas that can be cut. I guess what I am saying is that your paragraphs aren’t really presented in a logical order. The direction of your argument isn’t crystal clear. And there’s some unnecessary material getting in the way.

  Student

  OK. Sounds like I have a lot to do.

  Professor

  And one more thing, do you have a copy of the department’s document on the correct format for index, citations and references?

  Student

  No. I mean, I look at it online when I was working on this assignment.

  Professor

  You really should print it out. You are going to need it for every paper you write in the political science department. It looks like you are getting it mix up with another referencing system.

  Student

  Oh. Yeah. I used something different in high school. It’s so confusing switching to a new system.

  Professor

  I know. But remember, everything needs to be consistent when it comes to referencing. It is a very important academic convention.

  Oh, also, I wanted to ask you… Will you be at the political science club meeting Saturday?

  Student

  Definitely. The topic is John Dewey.

  Professor

  Yes. Are you interested in leading part of the discussion? Tom Hayward is looking for someone to help out. I think you’ll have a lot to contribute.

  Student

  That’ll be fun. I will give him a call.

  Lecture1-Philosophy

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a lecture in a philosophy class.

  Professor

  Okay. So, uh, to continue our discussion… When philosophers talk about the basis of knowledge, they don’t mean the source of information about any particular subject. They mean how we know what we know.

  Let’s start with one philosophical view—foundationalism.

  Foundationalism is the view that our knowledge claims, what we think we know, that is, they need to have a base. And think of knowledge as a house, you need a solid foundation on which to build your house. And if you have a strong foundation, your house is more likely to be solid. Well, foundationalists think the same thing is true of knowledge. If you have a solid base for your knowledge claims, then your knowledge structure is more likely to be strong, valid, true.

  First, you need some good foundational knowledge claims, and then the rest of the knowledge claims can be based on these. Now, as to what kinds of knowledge claims are foundational, well, that’s where this gets particularly interesting, in fact it sort of depends on which philosopher you ask. Take John Locke for instance.

  Locke’s viewpoint essentially was that when humans are born, their minds are like blank slates, that is, we don’t have any kind of knowledge when we are born. We get our knowledge from our senses, you know, taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. So, when we look at the world, first as babies and then as we grow, that’s where our knowledge comes from. Our senses, our experiences serve as the foundation for our knowledge.

  Now, for a very different view, let’s turn to another philosopher—René Descartes.

  Descartes thought that you have to go much deeper to find the foundations. He believed that our senses are not to be trusted. So he wanted to find a more solid foundation for knowledge. He began with what has come to be called methodological doubt. And when we say methodological doubt, well … Descartes believed that everything should be questioned, that is, approach it with doubt and that if you could find one thing that cannot be false, that one thing would serve as a foundation for all other knowledge claims.

  So unlike John Locke, Descartes doubts that knowledge comes to him from his senses. He points out that at some time or another, everyone has been deceived by their senses. We have all had experiences where our senses have been wrong—illusions, perhaps, mirages. When driving in a car on a hot summer day, you may see what looks like shimmering water on the road, which, as science tells us, is really just a mirage, an illusion caused by the heating of the air. Our senses are wrong, they’ve deceived us. And Descartes thinks that since our senses can deceive us, we ought not take for granted that what they tell us is really true. That’s the first step in his methodological doubt.

  From there he wonders, well, ok, I can doubt my senses, but can I doubt that I am sitting in this room? Can it seem that we are not really here? That we are somewhere else? He conceives that most of us would know that we are sitting in the room. But then he says, well, couldn’t I just be dreaming? He’s had dreams that were so real that he thought he was awake when in fact he was actually asleep. And this is another good point. It’s really hard to be sure that you are not actually dreaming. Yet another proof for Descartes that we can’t always trust what our senses are apparently telling us. We could be dreaming. And there’s really no good way to prove that we are not.

  So the common sense picture of reality, that the world is really the way it looks to us, Descartes shows that we cannot just assume this to be true beyond all doubt. And he does this by talking about illusions and also by arguing that we could be dreaming. But consider this, he says, while one is thinking or doubting, or doing any of those sorts of mental activities, one has to exist, right? To even think that I doubt that I exist, you have to exist! And so what Descartes has done is find at least one thing that he can be certain of. He says, “I exist.” And that’s a start. And other knowledge he tells us can be based on that foundation.

  Lecture2-Animal Behavior

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a lecture in an animal behavior class.

  Professor

  As you know, researchers have long been interested in discovering exactly how intelligent animals are. Today we are going to talk about a particular cognitive ability some animals seem to have—the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror.

  Student

  Oh. I’ve heard about that. Chimpanzees have it.

  Professor

  Right. Chimpanzees and other primates, chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and of course, humans. But it’s also been found in elephants and bottlenose dolphins, a bit of a surprise. It’s very rare. Most animals don’t have it. And it’s called mirror self-recognition, or MSR.

  Student

  Well, how does it work? I mean, how do researchers know if elephants or chimps recognize themselves?

  Professor

  Researchers give them a mirror mark test. In the mirror mark test, researchers put a mark on the animal where the animal is unable to see it or smell it or feel it, like on the side of their head, without looking in the mirror.

  Now, typically, when animals first see themselves in the mirror, they think they are seeing another animal. Often they will look for this animal behind the mirror. They may even exhibit aggressive behavior.

  But some animals, after this period of exploration, exhibit behaviors that show they know they are looking at themselves. For instance, elephants will touch the mark on their heads with their trunks.

  Now, it’s been assumed that primates and some other mammals stood alone at the top of the hierarchy of cognitive evolution. But recently, birds have been found to possess some of the same cognitive abilities! In particular, researchers have discovered these abilities in corvids, birds of the corvidae family.

  Corvids include ravens, jays, crows and magpies among others. And what kinds of cognitive abilities are we talking about? Well, corvids and some mammals have the ability to plan for the future, to store food for instance, in places where they can find it later. It’s been suggested in fact that jays, corvids known for stealing each other’s food, may hide their food precisely because they are projecting their own tendency to steal onto other jays.

  So let’s talk about a study recently conducted with magpies. As I said, magpies are corvids. And because corvids have these other cognitive skills, researchers wanted to see if they were also capable of mirror self-recognition. So they gave them the mirror mark test, placing yellow sticker on the birds’ black throat feathers. At first, the magpies all engage in the same social behaviors that other animals do—looking behind the mirror, etc. But eventually, some of the birds, while looking in the mirror, kept scratching at the mark until they got rid of it. And they didn’t scratch at it when there was no mirror around. So they passed the test.

  Student

  Wow! Do any other birds have this ability?

  Professor

  Well, not that we know of. There was a study using pigeons, where researchers attempted to reduce MSR to a matter of conditioning, that is, they claimed that the ability to recognize oneself in a mirror could be learned. So these researchers basically trained some pigeons to pass the mirror mark test.

  But two things are noteworthy here. One, no one’s ever replicated the study. But more importantly, it misses the point. The issue isn’t whether some behavior can be learned. It’s whether a species has developed this ability spontaneously.

  Student

  So what does the test tell us about corvids or chimpanzees?

  Professor

  Good question. For one thing, it is important because it sets animals with a sense of self apart from those without a sense of self. But more importantly, many researchers believe that MSR is indicative of other advanced cognitive abilities. Self-awareness, even in its earliest stages, might entail an awareness of others, the ability to see their perspective, to look at the world from another’s point of view. This is crucial, because it implies a high level of cognitive development. It’s perhaps the first stage toward the development of empathy.

  Student

  But birds’ brains are so small compared to primates.

  Professor

  True. Though corvids do have unusually large brains for birds. But size isn’t the whole story. It’s thought that primates are so intelligent because of a certain part of their brains, which birds simply don’t have. But there is an area in birds’ brains that researchers believe governs similar cognitive functions.

  So primates and birds’ brains have evolved along different tracks, but ended up with similar abilities.

  Section2

  Conversation2

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a conversation between a student and a professor.

  Student

  Hi. Sorry. I’m late. Professor Blane.

  Professor

  No problem. Jim. So you’ve got some questions about your senior thesis requirement?

  Student

  Yeah. I’ve got a couple of problems actually. So, the first thing is, you normally write it during the first half of the academic year. Right? In your final year of studies.

  Professor

  Right.

  Student

  But I have my student teaching scheduled for that time. I want to teach high school English after graduation. So I really need to give that my full attention. And I just worry that I won’t be able to if I am writing my senior thesis at the same time. I mean, it’s supposed to be 35 to 40 pages. That’s a serious commitment.

  Professor

  You are right. But it really isn’t a problem.

  Student

  Really?

  Professor

  No. A lot of English majors get teacher certification, so we have students like you do their senior thesis after their student teaching. It works out well, because many students want to use a unit they taught as the basis of their paper. So you’ll just enroll in a thesis seminar for the second semester.

  Student

  Well, that’s a big relief. But it brings us to my second problem. I’d really focus my studies on old and middle English literature. I am even thinking about doing a graduate degree with a concentration in that after I taught for a while. So I was hoping to do my senior thesis on Chaucer, on The Canterbury Tales, because that would obviously be useful if I do go on. But …

  Professor

  Ah. But Professor Johnson …

  Student

  Exactly. Professor John is going to be taking a sabbatical to do research in France during the second half of the year. So without him around, I am not sure how I could do a senior thesis on The Canterbury Tales. I mean, the focus of his teaching and research is unique around here.

  Professor

  Yes. I understand. It would be difficult to do your paper without professor Johnson around. Hmmm… would you allow me to try to sell you on an alternate plan?

  Student

  Well, you can try. But Chaucer is sort of my hero, if you know what I mean.

  Professor

  Well, I am teaching a course on the literature of the Renaissance in the first half of the year. It’ll meet late in the day, so it won’t interfere with your teaching. And I haven’t offered it in quite a while now, so I doubt you ever studied that period on the college level.

  Student

  No. I haven’t.

  Professor

  If you would be interested in taking the course, I’d be happy to give you supplemental readings, and I’d also be happy to be your advisor for your paper later on.

  Student

  Well, I never looked at that area before, but I have always had an interest in it. So that does have a certain appeal.

  Professor

  Well, if you do decide to go this route, I would make that decision soon and I would use this summer productively. After all, this is not going to be like taking an intro course.

  Lecture3-Botany

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a lecture in a botany class.

  Professor

  OK. Last time we talked about photosynthesis, the process by which plants use light to convert carbon dioxide and water into food. Today I want to talk about another way light affects plants. I am sure you all know from physics class about how light moves in microscopic ways and that we can only see light when the wavelength of that light is in a specific range. Plus, depending on the wavelengths, we see different colors.

  Well, plants are also capable of distinguishing between different wavelengths of light. Now, I don’t want to confuse you. It is not like plants have eyes. Plants don’t see in the sense that humans or animals do, but they do have photoreceptors.

  Photoreceptors are cells that respond to light by sending out a chemical signal. And the organism, the plant, reacts to this signal. In fact, the signals that plants get from their photoreceptors sometimes cause significant reactions.

  And many plants are seasonal. And one way they know when winter is ending and spring is beginning is by sensing the change in light. The time when an adult plant flowers is based on the amount of light the plant senses. Certain plant species won’t flower if they sense too much light and some plants will only flower if they sense a specific amount of light. Of course, these aren’t conscious reactions. These plants just automatically respond to light in certain ways.

  Plants are also able to distinguish between specific wavelengths of light that the human eye cannot even see! Specifically there’s a wavelength called far-red. Although why they call it far-red … I mean, it is not red at all. It lies in the infrared range of the spectrum. We can’t see it, but plants can sense it as a different wavelength.

  OK. Now I need to mention another thing about photosynthesis. I didn’t explain how different wavelengths of light affect photosynthesis. When a plant absorbs light for performing photosynthesis, it only absorbs some wavelengths of light and reflects others. Plants absorb most of the red light that hits them, but plants only absorb some of the far-red light that hits them. They reflect the rest. Remember this, because it’s going to be relevant in an experiment I want to discuss.

  This fascinating experiment showed that plants not only detect and react to specific wavelengths of light, plants can also detect and react to changes in the ratio of one wavelength to another. This experiment was called the Pampas experiment.

  The idea behind the Pampas experiment had to do with the response of plants to changes in the ratio of red light to far-red light that the plants sense with their photoreceptors. Some biologists hypothesize that a plant will stop growing if it’s in the shade of another plant, a reaction that’s triggered when it senses an unusual ratio of red light to far-red light. OK.

  Imagine there are two plants. One below the other. The plant on top would absorb most of the red light for photosynthesis, but reflect most of the far-red light. That would lead to the plant in its shade sensing an unusual ratio. There will be less red light and more far-red light than normal.

  What that ratio signifies is important. A ratio of less red and to more far-red light would cause a reaction from the plant. It would stop growing taller, because that plant would sense that it wasn’t going to get enough sunlight to provide the energy to grow large.

  To test their hypothesis, researchers took some electrical lights, um… actually, they were light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These light-emitting diodes could simulate red light. So they put these LEDs around some plants that were in the shade. The LEDs produce light that the plants sensed as red. But, unlike sunlight, the light from these LEDs did not support photosynthesis. So the plants sensed the proper ratio of red light to far-red light and reacted by continuing to grow taller, while in reality these plants were not getting enough energy from photosynthesis to support all of that growth. And because they weren’t getting enough energy to support their growth, most of the shaded plants died after a short time.

  Lecture4-Archaeology

  Narrator

  Listen to part of a lecture in an archaeology class.

  Professor

  It’s every archaeologist’s dream to find a lost civilization, to make some huge discovery, to find artifacts no one else has laid a hand on in millennia. You might think that this never happens any more, given all the research in archaeology that’s been done. But in the late twentieth century, archaeologists discovered the remains of a sophisticated people whose settlement might have been the hub of a civilization few people even thought existed.

  They found this site at the edge of a desert in Turkmenistan, in central Asia, where a series of mounds rise up from the plains. Now, you might remember because we’ve talked about this, archaeologists know that mounds such as these are the kinds of geological features that indicate the presence of ancient settlements. Jim?

  Student

  Um…mounds can be different things, right? Some are burial places…

  Professor

  Exactly. And some are the remains of cities. The inhabitants would build houses and temples you know, what have you. And over time, those buildings would fall down or be torn down and then be built over. Over time, generations of building and rebuilding in the same area would result in a large hill the size of a city. Careful excavation and documentation of layers in a mound can reveal a wealth of information about the everyday life of a people in a settlement over many periods of occupation.

  Now, this particular site is called Gonur-depe. What was found at Gonur-depe was amazing: the ruins of a huge palace complex, the foundations of shops and houses, the remains of thick walls and towers that fortified the city. There was even an elaborate canal system and a lot of very intricate jewelry. All these findings seem to indicate that they are the remains of an ancient civilization that was every bit as advanced as other more famous civilizations of the time. Like those in Egypt, or, or China. And the site dates back to 3,000 B.C.E.

  Student

  Did they trade with those other civilizations? Because if they did, wouldn’t there’ve been some evidence of that? You know, an artifact found in the ruins of other civilizations?

  Professor

  That’s a good question. I mentioned Jewelry, well, Jewelry have been found in Mesopotamia and at archaeological sites in modern-day Pakistan. But archaeologists didn’t know where it came from. Only after the site at Gonur-depe was excavated were archaeologists able to identify it as coming from Gonur-depe. Uh, Sheryl?

  Student

  I wonder why nobody found this site before.

  Professor

  Well, before the discovery of this site, it was commonly believed that central Asia had always been occupied by mostly nomadic people. So there would be no record of major settlements. A couple of small finds have been made in the area, but really, no one had looked very hard.

  Now, one mystery regarding this site is that archaeological records show it was inhabited for only a few centuries.

  Student

  What happened to the people who lived there?

  Professor

  Well, the site was close to the Murgab river, which they would have depended on for their water. And the Murgab river, which runs toward the west, is the kind of river that shifts its course over time. So one theory is that the river’s course shifted toward the South, and they simply followed it and built new towns to the South.

  Another theory is that they were involved in wars with neighboring settlements. But we might never know the truth.

  One thing we do know is that in the decades since Gonur-depe was discovered, the site has deteriorated significantly. I mean, it’s been disturbed for the first time in millennia. And being exposed to the Sun and wind has taken its toll on the ancient city.

  So now the question is, do we partially restore and rebuild the site before the entire thing disintegrates? It will take a lot of funding to restore it and I am not sure it’ll be made available, which would be a pity. Even a partly altered site can provide valuable information, which would be lost otherwise.

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