Tag Archives: CTW

Life-Changing Deceptions In Our Lives // Abel Daniel

Throughout the past two quarters of CTW here at Santa Clara, I have been given the opportunity to do a lot of research along the lines of human tendencies to dishonest behaviors. The sum of these observations come together to form a picture of a modern society where we are faced with dishonesty in many basic components of our lives.

Throughout CTW 1 we analyzed inadequacies and corrupted systems in the factory farming and food industry. As we dove into discussions of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, we ran into many different insights into this industry that are inherently broken, and have far-reaching effects. One of the most relevant topics to the arguments against factory farming that we discussed was the topic of health and the effects eating factory farmed food has on it.

lose-weight-faster-nutrition-label As factory farming grows to be more and more worldwide, the scale of the operations become so big that they far outstrip the agencies tasked with regulating them. With this opportunity for little oversight, these businesses capitalize on their freedom, and proceed to engage in dishonest behaviors to increase profits.

In a study done by Dr. David B Allison, Dr. Stanley Heshka, and Dennis Sepulveda, they discovered that the nutritional labels found in supermarkets on foods showed that “across the board” the labels understated the true caloric values of the foods that they were describing (2). With such widespread inaccuracy, we cannot be surprise when we try to diet or change our lifestyles and for some reason our calorie counting techniques aren’t working. With such widespread inadequacy, we cannot hold our regulatory institutions to a high standard, however we can’t blame them, because they are far outstripped in manpower and funds. This has become a fact of life that, if we do not remain diligent to filter out, will have a negative effect on our lives. Soon we as a country must make a decision to empower those institutions to make a more meaningful difference in our lives, or begin changing industry practice to a higher moral code.

We have many opportunities to encounter dishonesty resulting from negligence that are completely unrelated to food and to public health.

In CTW 2 we dove more deeply into the direction of dishonesty as a part of our culture and the affects that that has had on the way we approach decisions throughout the day. One of our most useful references to dishonesty in this type of behavior came from our readings of Dan Ariely’s The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, where we were mostly introduced to a term “fudge factor” which inspired my last essay and was one of the most critical aspects of the course. 

When we look at large scale financial scandals, we can be left in the wake looking at how such large catastrophes could go unnoticed. In the case of Bernie Madoff, who’s Ponzi scheme was busted in 2009, after $65 Billion stolen, investors were left wondering how they could’ve been so totally duped (Arvedlung 10). flat550x550075f-u4





There was a lack of oversight, again, when a highly esteemed investment banker who was well known and trusted to federal agencies such as the SEC was able to operate the largest fraud operation in the history of the United States. Through further research into what caused such dishonesty in the operation that led to this scandal, I discovered that the same phenomenon occurred in this case as did the nutritional labels mentioned before. As the operation expanded, and became a multinational, with a total tens-of-billions of dollars, it becomes too much of a burden for regulatory agencies to pay proper attention to dishonest behavior, and vast injustices, such as this one, are allowed to occur under their noses.

This, and a culmination of the other lessons of this course, have helped me to understand what the premise of the class is in a much more clear way. What these discoveries have uncovered are the fact that many things, though they appear one way, actually can actually be completely different. The implications of this, which we have finally discovered is that we can’t take things at face value. What this research has done for me as a student is that it has allowed me to develop a more substantive writing process, with more emphasis on research and real brainstorming. What I’ve learned from this class, as cliché as it sounds, is to think in a more critical capacity, and to proceed with caution, because the world isn’t exactly as it seems.

Works Cited:

Allison DB, Heshka S, Sepulveda D, Heymsfield SB. Counting Calories—Caveat

Emptor. JAMA.1993;270(12):1454–1456. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510120076034

Arvedlund, Erin. Too Good to Be True: the Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff. Penguin Group,

Ariely, Dan. The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially

Ourselves. HarperCollins, 2013

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Access and Diversity, Crane Library, University of

British Columbia, 2013.


Change Where Change Feels Implausible//Zachary Flood

My journey through the CTW sequence was…. unexpectedly surprising to put it one way. I, like many other students i’m sure, walked into the class on the first day with the complete wrong notion of what these classes would be like. Continue reading Change Where Change Feels Implausible//Zachary Flood

The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

It’s August of 2017, and I finally pull up my future schedule for the first time. Everything looks great until, no that had to be a mistake. There’s no way they’d make me go to a class that met from 7:20 to 9 p.m., right? Wow, was I wrong. Fast forward to the first day of class, and I still couldn’t believe that I was walking to class, all the way on the other side of campus, while the sun was going down. To make it all worse, the teacher seemed far too happy to be teaching a bunch of freshman at this awful time on a Wednesday night. I’m not a guy who can handle over-eager optimism, and this guy was just beaming at us from the start. Didn’t he know that I was a Biology major, a science student with absolutely no interest in taking another English class? Needless to say, my first experience concerning Nick Leither and “Food Porn” was not a great one.

Continue reading The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

How We Survived // Emma Stevens

I’m perfectly content watching my show when it becomes that time of the day again.  I groan, get out of bed, put on my shoes, grab my backpack, and knock on my best friend’s door.  She opens it, groans, grabs her backpack, and leaves her room. “You guys going to study?” “Nope we have class.”  *makes a weird face* “Oh…brutal.”

Every monday and wednesday this was the routine for my best friend Marli and I.  Why the school cursed us with a 7:20-9pm class baffled us. How could we have gotten so unlucky?  I’d be lying if we didn’t complain about going to class every time we had to make that walk from Dunne to O’Connor.  Yet, through all our complaints, we were somewhat excited to go to class–something I would never admit. Continue reading How We Survived // Emma Stevens

Morning Lark vs Night Owl // Marli Stellhorn

I spent my entire life wholeheartedly believing that I was a morning person. I considered myself what they call a “morning lark”, someone who functions best and is the most productive earlier in the day. I always strived to finish all my work by evening, so I could relax and unwind at night. I would spend my nights mindlessly catching up on T.V, reading, and talking on the phone with friends, fully knowing I had to get up at 6 A.M for school. So, as expected, when I found out that I was assigned a critical thinking and writing class (CTW) at 7:20 P.M. for the first two quarters of my freshmen year of college, I was very skeptical. How would I be able to function in a class setting so late at night? How would I be able to actually critically think at the time when I critically think the least? I was convinced that I simply would not be able to be the best student I could be this late at night. Fortunately, I was very wrong.

Continue reading Morning Lark vs Night Owl // Marli Stellhorn

Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

-David Foster Wallace, “This is Water”

When I walked into my English Critical Thinking and Writing (CTW) class on the first day, I had no idea what to expect.  My professor, Nick Leither, showed the class David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water.”  After discussing the speech, Professor Nick switched gears and flicked the screen over to the next slide.  The screen displayed the course overview, reading “Food Porn: Reading Food, Self, & Culture.”  Both intrigued and confused, I left class on that first day with two questions.  First off, how can an english class be entirely dedicated to food?  Also, what the hell is water?  I had no clue what was to come during the two quarters of this class.  

I should first explain that I did not sign up for this class.  Every freshman at Santa Clara University (SCU) is randomly placed into a mandatory CTW class before even arriving to campus.  I was honestly quite displeased when I learned that I had been assigned a 7:30-9:10 PM CTW class.  Convinced that my brain would not be capable of attending class at this time of the day, my naive-self even talked to my advisor to see if I could switch into a different CTW section at a different time.  As you can probably guess, my advisor told me to suck it up, and viola- my “Food Porn” CTW class at 7:30-9:10 PM was here to stay for two quarters.  Although I was first unhappy by my CTW course placement, the class and its material caused me to reflect on my lifestyle and personal values, which which will continue to stick with me- not only for the remainder of my college experience- but for the rest of my life.  

Continue reading Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

The behavior of wastefulness // Robert M. Ota

B.F Skinner, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, was able to teach pigeons how to play Ping-Pong. Through controlling the pigeon’s environment and conditioning their behavior through positive reinforcement, Skinner was able to have pigeons peck balls back and forth across a table. Skinner asserted that behavior, human or pigeon, is determined by one’s direct environment (Koren, Marina). However, unlike the simple-minded pigeon humans are much more complex. Skinner argues that human behavior is shaped through our changing environment—what we listen to, what we watch and even more importantly what we spend our money on.

As a bright eyed college student, I love these theories about behavior and what makes us who we are, however I was never so keen as to actually notice this in the real world. My critical thinking and writing course exposed me to the harsh realities of the food industry, and allowed me to connect Skinner’s environment driven theory of behavior to our food choices as consumers. Throughout my first year in college, I became an expert on the food industry through writing a plethora of papers on the revolting practices of factory farming and the marketing tactics of food corporations to generate more revenue. My CTW course and extensive research on the food industry has made me realize that consumer behavior on the purchasing of food products is largely influenced from the environment that food corporations have set up around food products.

One of the most influential research assignments I have done this past quarter was based on the popularity of super foods in the health market. Our demand for these highly nutritious foods is a direct result from the sketchy marketing behind these food products. Because “the term ‘super food’ is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, marketers can use the phrase freely” (Turner). I conducted an experiment just to see how much the term ‘super food’ influences consumers willingness to pay by comparing how much consumers would pay for a bowl of acai and a bowl of blueberries. Even though “There is little evidence that a Continue reading The behavior of wastefulness // Robert M. Ota