Saturday, November 22, 2014

project proposal

Ruthie Cohen
Professor Johns
Seminar in Composition
18 November 2014

Final Project Proposal

1.     Bibliography

Grady, Denise. The New York Times. Accessed 10-15-14.

2.     Argument

·      Lewontin criticizes modern science, particularly the Human Genome Project, arguing that such research gives society false hope
·      Science is full of trial and error and has before produced positive results at the cost of frustration—does this mean we should just abandon scientific research altogether? How is science expected to find an answer to anything then?
·       Modern science is relevant in everyone’s lives
·      Cancer affects many
·      Lewontin’s theory that biology is tied to society’s ideologies
·      In my final project, I plan to make some changes to my to my revised draft. I plan to add more to my counterargument and possibly add another one. I want to put less emphasis on my use of an article from the NY Times and focus more on academic sources backing up Lewontin’s claim that while cancer research may be beneficial in the long run, it is detrimental to society and its ideologies.
3.     Introduction and outline
Throughout the Lewontin’s Biology as Ideology, he criticizes modern science, arguing that specifically the Human Genome Project offers false hope for those affected by cancer. Denise Grady’s New York Times article Study Gives Hope of Altering Genes to Repel HIV gives Lewontin’s argument context, furthering his challenge of blind faith and purely positive support of medical research. While deemed by some as cynical and anti-science, Lewontin may be doing society a service by pointing out the not-so-glorious aspects of modern science and its implications.
Grady describes a process in which cells are drained from patients, engineered to repel AIDS, and then inserted back into the body. This is a revolutionary form of treatment and a possible cure for an illness that has plagued modern society for quite some time. Similarly, as Lewontin explains, the Human Genome Project aims to record the entire pattern of human DNA in an attempt to find and then fix mutations that lead to cancer. Both are groundbreaking methods offering the solution to diseases that take the lives of many. Such a solution would give peace to many victims of cancer and HIV/AIDS and their families.
Unfortunately, not only uncertainty but also ill intentions haze the path towards a glorified “cure.” A cynical Lewontin does not hesitate to point out that after the hype of such trials have died down, “The public will discover that despite the inflated claims of molecular biologists, people are still dying of cancer, of heart disease, of stroke, that institutions are still filled with schizophrenics and manic-depressives, that the war against drugs has not been won.” (Lewontin 52). Such a threat of disappointment can be seen in the word choice of Grady’s article. Although very hopeful and optimistic, ambiguous terms such as “may seem like a pipe dream,” “in theory,” “might in effect” and “seemed to help” imply a lack of confidence, a preparation for a setback. Indeed, exploratory science is unpredictable and merely experimental. Both Lewontin and Grady explore the topic of “gene editing” and its tantalizing yet simultaneously risky aspects.
·      Introduce counterargument: if this attitude sustains, humanity will just give up on science altogether and then certainly will not be able to find a cure
On the other hand, throughout history, science has always been riddled with mistakes and repeats, a necessary inconvenience on the track to success. If such experimentation never has the chance to develop, how can society expect to reach a solution? While this may be true, and some science is not worth giving up on, it may be time for us to succumb to certain forces that are much bigger than ourselves. While Lewontin’s argument may be inconvenient and even socially unacceptable, he is valid in questioning the efforts of modern science specific to cancer research—a field in which we have much to gain but perhaps even more to lose.
·      Expand with other examples of Lewontin’s argument from the text

·      Make specific: defense of modern science

·      Lewontian problems with HIV

·      Doesn’t matter that motivations are wrong—it’s still a functioning system

·      Use Lewontin to show it is still promising

·      Greed in scientific system: scientists based on success

·      A part but also a critic

·      Philosophical approach or scientific?

·      Critics of Lewontin

o   E. O. Wilson
·      What is wrong and why does it matter?

·      Greed wrecks modern science is invalid because greed is at heart of system and we are still successful

Friday, November 21, 2014

Project Proposal


1.       Butler, Octavia E. Dawn. New York: Integrated Media, n.d. Web

I use multiple quotations and will get additional information once I read the last two books to support my argument. By using the text to show the Oankali’s incompleteness in knowledge further supports the argument that genetic determinism is incomplete.

2.       Freeman, Scott, et al. "Gene Structure and Expression." Biological Science. 5th

      ed. New Jersey: Parson Education Company, 2014. 237-304. Print.

I use my biology textbook for information on certain genetically inherited traits and how environmental factors are equally involved. The textbook provides factual scientific information to keep my argument scientifically correct.

3.       Lewontin, R.C. Biology as Ideology. New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 1991. Print.

Biology as an Ideology not only provides the basis of my argument off of Lewontin’s own ideas but I can also go more in depth into Lewontin’s background information to further support my argument.

4.       "An Overview of the Human Genome Project." National Human Genome Research

      Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

This is a scientific website providing accurate information on the human genome project which is a strong example I use. The website gives an overall description on what research comes into play and the goals of the human genome project which I use against them to show the inaccuracies of the project.


I really am obsessed with this essay’s topic. I want to expand off my last essay and just further detail my main points. I think I have solid, valid supporting examples and want to hopefully keep all of them and just separate each one supporting argument out and again add more detail. My overall goal is to scientifically and accurately prove that genetic determinism is incomplete with the support of Butler’s symbolism and imagery as well as Lewontin’s theories and factual genetic examples from my biology textbook.

My argument is that Butler uses the Oankali to illustrate the errors/limitations in modern science that is supported by scientist like Lewontin and modern research to show there is a more scientifically correct way.

Why it’s important: Many modern scientist support genetic determinism like those creating the human genome project however there are many inaccuracies with this theory and it’s important to understand what they are. I will prove that genetic determinism is incomplete and use strong, scientifically accurate and relevant information to show that there is hope in modern science for better methods and thus better scientific institutions (which in itself is important).

I can fine tune this thesis further but my biggest struggle is how to end it with a clear statement. I want to say that Lewontin’s ideas and modern research of PKU and BRCA1 show that there are better methods and better science in modern science. However, even that doesn’t sound to pretty so one of my edits will be having a concise thesis.

Cutting and Keeping:

I plan on adding information from the last two books in Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, however I need to read them first and plan out what parts are useful so that will be determined later. I also want to add background information on Lewontin and possibly on Butler as well but I haven’t decided if that will be necessary. I will cut out (hopefully) every single grammatical error!


1.       Introduction to thesis

2.       Defining genetic determinism

3.       Explaining the misconceptions and scientific inaccuracies of genetic determinism and scientifically proving it’s incompleteness

4.       Background information on Lewontin

5.       Research to support genetic determinism is incomplete

a.       PKU

b.      BRCA1

6.       The human genome project, explain its scientific inaccuracies to support the main argument

7.       Oankali’s incomplete knowledge of humans and thus the symbolic reference to the incompleteness of genetic determinism- use lots of quotes from Lilith’s Brood

8.       Then delve into the last two books to prove the Oankali’s errors

9.       Conclusion: Butler uses the Oankali to show the limitations of genetic determinism and Lilith to show instill hope for better scientific modern methods

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Final Project Proposal

Jonathan Hranek
Dr. Adam Johns
English Composition 0200
19 November 2014

Argument – I am going to argue that hierarchies are a natural part of a civilization in order to function correctly. Simply having different jobs for the various sections of a culture provides the most basic structure to set up a hierarchy. Due to the Oankali’s intelligence, they overlook the fact that they have a basic hierarchical structure, which they argue to be the cause of the downfall of the human race. This shows their hypocrisy when it comes to their evaluations on the differences between humanity’s characteristics and those of the Oankali race.

Possible Counterargument - the Oankali do not have a hierarchical structure for various reasons. I hope dissuade and/or close that argument through this essay. There are multiple other arguments that could come up from my point of view because what I am arguing is not typical for this book. I am going against the grain, one could say, since it says in the book that the Oankali are supposedly not hierarchically structured, but I am arguing for the opposite.

I plan on keeping most of my second revision because it fits nicely with my theme that I am arguing for right now. However, deciding what to cut will be more difficult. I foresee myself changing the sentences I had already had to fit my thesis instead of completely deleting them. I intend to add in some criticism (if possible) about hierarchies and their effects on societies. Maybe even arguments about what they are derived from and how they help to make a functioning group of peoples. I may even include some background information on the author to see if her viewpoints or beliefs have any affect on what the Oankali think about humanity (like if she is speaking her thoughts through the Oankali).
Why we should care – we should care because hierarchies are the sole basis upon which humans can somewhat judge how they are doing, where they want to go, and how they are planning to get to that point of the social ladder.

Outline -
What hierarchies do in society
·      Sources to help with this
Beginning hypocrisy with the Oankali
·      Sources to help with this
Information about author to support my argument
*Depending on how much/what kind of information I find will determine a clearer picture as to where I will place the resulting paragraphs and what they will specifically say.

Bibliography -
Butler, Octavia E. Lilith's Brood. New York: Aspect/Warner, 2000. Print.
·      I am going to use this source for the main reasons as to why the Oankali have a hierarchical structure.
Johns, J. Adam. "Becoming Medusa: Octavia Butler's "Lilith's Brood" and Sociobiology." Science Fiction Studies 37.3 (2010): 382-400. JSTOR. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>.
·      I will use this source to further support my thesis.

Project Proposal

Emma Sullivan
Project Proposal

Potential argument(s): In my paper, I want to explore just why our society has become such a carnivorous, toxic environment when it comes to eating and perhaps shed a light on why we are so resistant to change. To do so, I plan to highlight two documentaries that have been made which paradigm lifestyle changes people have made, and talk about why they are effective in both their information, and persuasiveness. I am also exploring the possibility of having 2 “subjects” watch these documentaries and answer a series of questions in order to examine whether these films invoke change on either individual. This experiment is tentative, but definitely something I may include in my paper. The purpose of this paper is both to inform and enlighten, and will explore the idea we discussed many times in class of how things are, and how things ought to be.
Significance: In this paper, I plan to compile various statistics pertaining to health and food in America today in order to emphasize the need for change. In this way, I hope to get the reader thinking about the need for change as well as the factors holding change back, which we need to overcome on an individual and societal level.
Possible Counterarguments: As of where my argument stands right now, some possible counterarguments that could arise include the idea that we have the freedom to choose what we eat individually, and that right should not be controlled or mandated in any way. When, in fact it is mandated currently by our government, which allows for the level and poor quality of agriculture that goes on in America today. I also plan to absolve the idea that it would be impossible to shut down these big-business corporations with proposals on how to make our food industry more small-scale and local. Essentially, I plan on not just saying how things ought to be—but also giving examples of how to make the “ought to be” happen.
"Being a Vegetarian." Brown University. Brown University, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. This source provides some simple definitions/facts that I may include in the introductory paragraphs of my paper.
"Compassion for the Animals." Animal Rights and Vegetarianism- Why Be a Vegetarian? N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. This source is one that provides several general arguments for becoming a vegetarian, which I will be highlighting and referencing throughout my paper. I will most likely be conduction further research on several of them.
Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead. Cross, Joe., et al. Brooklyn, NY: Reboot Media, 2011. This is one of the 2 documentaries I plan on utilizing in my paper. It illustrates tangible and drastic change made by one person, which affected many.
Graham Hill: Why I'm a Weekday Vegetarian. Perf. Graham Hill. TED Talks, 2010.
This source brings to light some of the environmental benefits of becoming a vegetarian, and adds another component to my argument that is aside from the issue of health alone.
Vegucated. Dir. Marisa Miller Wolfson. Perf. Marisa Miller Wolfson. Kind Green           Planet/Get Vegucated, 2011.
This is the other documentary which I plan on utilizing and potentially showing to experimenters.
I also plan to do more in depth research on several statistics, companies, etc. I will discern what areas need further research as I begin drafting my paper.
Rough Outline:
Paragraph one: an introduction, including some shocking and worrisome facts about the state of our health and food system as a whole today. I also plan to clearly define my argument.
Paragraph two: I hope to include research on vegetarianism/veganism, as well as a further investigation of what we are doing wrong as a country by eating meat
Paragraph three: I will introduce the question of why people have such a hard time changing, and introduce Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and begin discussing this movie (this may be split into multiple paragraphs)
Paragraph 4: I will also introduce Vegucated and discuss its cause/what we should take from it, and also look at some ways its effective.
Paragraph 5: I will introduce the possible survey I hope to conduct, and give a brief over view on the subjects.
Paragraphs 6-9: In approximately 3 paragraphs I plan to examine the findings and make something of them in relation to the need to change—this will all be depending on what I find.
Paragraph 10: Potential counterarguments may come into play for a paragraph, which will introduce some proposals from both others and myself on how we can change
Paragraphs ?: Potential solutions and conclusion of what to take from this

*Note that many of these “paragraphs” will most likely split into several paragraphs, and will of course be returning and emphasizing the idea of how things are and things ought to be throughout the paper.