Critical thinking is a tool that is often underused in our society. The process allows people to look beyond societal norms and trends. This makes figuring out the hidden motivations and making educated assessments in order to change our actions. Society progresses in the right way when we take the time to step back and think about the problems that plague our society is the best way to it.
I walked into Creative Thinking and Writing “Food Porn” on my first day of classes as a freshman at Santa Clara University. I thought to myself “Great, another English class I can write mediocre papers about topics and books I don’t really care about and get out with at least a C+.” just like every other English class throughout my twelve years of Jesuit Education. Yet our professor, Nick Leither, immediately shattered my hopes of coasting through my mandatory college writing courses. I knew it was going to be hard, but I was certain my twelve years of practice, hard work, and refinement of my one skill would suffice, bullshitting. Every English course prior to this course was simple and asked very little of the students. Read
Through out the past two quarters in this CTW course I have looked in depth at many different topics such as, factory farming, the food industry itself, dishonesty, academics when it comes to college athletes, academics in general, and what I’ve noticed is they all seem to have something in common. Cheating, and if I’ve learned anything over these past two quarters it is that cheating is an art. Cheating is inevitable, even when you don’t think you are doing it, you probably are to some extent. Continue reading The Art of Cheating // Samantha Needham
Information Age As Defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary: The modern age regarded as a time in which information has become a commodity that is quickly and widely disseminated and easily available especially through the use of computer technology.
We live in the information age, access to information has gone from something that required research in libraries and consulting with experts to an instantaneous process of looking something up on a web browser. Such advents of technoloy have turned information into a commodity. The commidification of information has opened up entire new ocean of misinformation. Just 50 years ago, buy in large our country could believe anything that they read on the newspapers or TV outlets. But then the internet happened… Continue reading The Misinformation Age//Cameron Read
Imagine a bright, sunny, and peaceful day. You are sitting aside a pleasant body of water, this may be a neighborhood pond, a smooth lake, or even a calm sea. Everything around you is still and exudes a an aura of calm. The bare surface that you are sitting is not rough nor smooth, not hot nor cold, but simply acts as a soft surface to only promote your sense of calm. There are no car horns, buzzing electric wires, or wailing winds but simply the sounds of nature. The only movement in this aura of tranquility is a small duck that is gently traveling across the body of water. A picturesque scene, right? Continue reading Aren’t We All Ducks in the Same Pond? // Alex Tay
Man, oh, man is the world a messed-up place.
Now, I have always considered myself to be a cynicist of sorts, but the research I’ve done in this class has really amplified the way I see certain aspects of the world we live in. As with anyone, I’m a stickler for controversy, and in the exploration of research catalyzed by Eating Animals and The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, I have had the opportunity to explore the dishonesty and immorality that exists in just about every layer and interaction of this world. In my research throughout fall and spring quarter, I have investigated the questionable practices of many industries and companies, ranging from traditional enterprises like PepsiCo and Enron to some more obscure operations like the Western Pacific Fishery. From this research, something has become clear to me: The world we live in is full of hubristically sadistic jerks that push ethical boundaries in order to achieve personal goals and fulfill societal or corporate agendas. Now, that is an admittedly aggressive and pessimistic statement and a rather sad manner in which to view the world, but my research has exposed to me to some large-scale and influential decisions that are far from ethical, yet we, as a society, seem to be far from bothered by it. Continue reading The World is Full of Sadistic Jerks, but That’s Okay // Quinn Carr
It’s weirdly paradoxical to be in a place where you are aware that you are unaware, yet that is where this class left me. If there’s one common theme that seemed to run through everything we studied as a class and everything I researched on my own, it’s the idea that we are less aware and understand less than we often realize.
During first quarter, we read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. As someone who had fairly recently become a vegetarian, I was interested to read the book, but also expected that most of it would cover what I already knew. I was wrong. I found much of this book surprising. To me, the most shocking part of Foer’s book was his description of how the animal agriculture industry handles animal waste and how this affects people.
In total, all farmed animals in the U.S. produce 87,000 pounds of waste per second. This 130 times what the human population produces. There is no real regulation on all this animal waste. Most often, it is put into football field-sized pools. It often runs off into water supplies and toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide inevitably evaporate into the air. Children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma, while children raised onÃ‚Â a typical hog factory farm have an over fifty percent chance of developing asthma. People living near factory farms also have problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning in their lungs (Foer 174-176).
Before reading this book, I was aware (to some extent) that factory farming harmed animals and harmed our environment. What I hadn’t considered was how factory farming harms people.
For one of my essays, I explored how our culture tends to respond to the problem of hunger in the U.S. Often, people see food drives as an easy and effective way of responding to the issue. In reality, we are unaware of how inefficient food drives really are at addressing the problem of hunger. While the average person may be able to take a dollar to the store and buy a can of green beans, food banks are able to use $1 to purchase about four meals (often including fresh produce) because of discounted rates they have access to on food (Schilling). We are unaware of how the problem of hunger can best be solved through monetary donations because we want to feel good about ourselves when we donate a few cans.Â
In another essay, I argued that the clothing industry’s sizing system (or lack thereof) harms our self-esteem. Women’s clothing brands often label clothes so that women will fit into smaller than expected sizes. This sets women up to become frustrated, confused and disappointed. WhileÂ waists of size 8 jeans often vary by three or more inches (Dockterman), women tend to be unaware of this and may tend to blame their own bodies when they can’t find clothes that fit. In addition, studies have shown that women inevitably have to try on a size larger than expected, the negative effect is greater than the positive effect in self-esteem experienced when trying on a size smaller than expected (Aydinoglu; Hoegg).
Perhaps the thing that best drives this point home from this class is something that we looked at within the first week or so: This is Water.
David Foster Wallace’s speech makes an important and challenging point that we are often unaware of our own attitudes and biases. Without realizing it, we go through life with a self-centric view, unaware of the perspectives of those around us. To be aware of other’s perspectives, we must do the difficult work of continually paying attention.
Overall, this class made me aware of a few situations and truths that I was not before. I hope that I continue to grow in awareness, especially in awareness of the perspectives of those around me.
I also think that sometimes we know the truth, but we refuse to acknowledge it for whatever reason. Like Foer says, “It’s possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep” (Foer 102). Is there any point to awareness if it doesn’t lead to some kind of change?
Aydinoglu, Nilfer Z. and Aradhna Krishna. “Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 22, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 565-572. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.12.001.
Bodley, Riley. “In this photo are two of my favorite pairs of jeans…” Facebook, 9 May 2017, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1141910845955788&set=a.122027494610800.36926.100004106511339&type=3&theater.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.
Dockterman, Eliana. “One Size Fits None.” Time, vol. 188, no. 10/11, 12 Sept. 2016, pp. 78-84. EBSCOhost, login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117821613&site=eds-live.
Hoegg, JoAndrea, et al. “The Flip Side of Vanity Sizing: How Consumers Respond to and Compensate for Larger Than Expected Clothing Sizes.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003.
Schilling, Erin. “Georgia United Hosts Annual February Food Drive.” The Red & Black [Athens], 7 Feb. 2018, http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/georgia-united-hosts-annual-february-food-drive/article_34f61954-0bbd-11e8-9991-a790ef8f4fcd.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018.
“This Is Water” Full Version-David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech. YouTube, 19 May 2013, youtu.be/8CrOL-ydFMI?t=20m30s.