Answer the following questions:
- Illustrate each of the nine fallacies by showing how each can be used to “explain” obesity.
Identify the social scientific research method you think is best for studying obesity, and explain why you think it is the best method for studying this topic.
Your initial post should be at least 250 words and must substantively integrate the assigned readings in the instructions with proper
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Read Attachments:Answer the following questions:Illustrate each of the nine fallacies by showing how each can be used to “explain” obesity.Identify the social scientific research method you think
Module 1: Module Notes: The Social Problems Framework The social problems framework is a lens through which any problem can be viewed. If one were to put on rose colored glasses, everything would look like it was rose colored; if one were to put on dark gray sunglasses, everything would look dark and gray; when one takes off the rose colored or the dark gray sunglasses, everything looks like it does in whatever lighting is in the environment. When one puts on a social problems “lens,” it enables him/her to view problems in society differently than if he/she were to put on a psychological “lens.” These module notes explain this framework in depth. If you are poor, is it your fault? If you are lazy and refuse to get a job or your spending is out of control, then you have a personal problem. However, if you are poor because you lost your job as a result of the housing market crash and the economy, then you belong to a larger group of people who suffer from a social problem. Most people are raised to believe that the problems from which people suffer are the fault of those who suffer from them. However, when problems are viewed as social problems, it means that their causes and solutions lie outside of the individuals or groups who suffer from those problems. In other words, the causes and solutions to problems perceived as social problems lie in the social environment, external to the individuals or groups who suffer from them. A personal problem is a problem whose causes and solutions lie within the individual. A social problem, on the other hand, is a problem whose causes and solutions are external to the individual who is suffering from the problem. It is important to point out that even if a problem is a personal problem, it does not necessarily mean that the individual has control over the causes and solutions. Depending on the internal causes and solutions, the individual may or may not have control over them. The extremely important point is that there is a major difference between internal factors over which an individual has control and internal factors over which an individual does not have control. “C. Wright Mills” (1959, pp. 8-9, as cited in Lauer and Lauer, 2014, p. 4), one of the earliest social thinkers and known as the father of sociology, “made a similar distinction, calling personal problems the ‘personal troubles of milieu,’ and social problems the ‘public issues of social structure.’” In other words, if one person in a city is homeless, then being homeless is a personal problem for that individual. If one person in a city is homeless, then it is fair to “blame the victim,” and say that there is something wrong with that person. He or she must be lazy, irresponsible, mentally unstable, etc. However, “if there are 100 million jobs in a society and 150 million people are available for work,” then it is a social problem (Lauer and Lauer, 2014, p. 4). When one begins to recognize the rates, percentages, or numbers of people who suffer from a particular problem, he/she is beginning to think in terms of social problems. In addition, it no longer makes sense to point a finger at each individual who is suffering from the problem and blame him/her for his/her situation. Social problems cannot be resolved by telling each person who suffers from a problem to make internal changes; they can only be resolved by making external, social, environmental changes. When people “blame the victim” for the problems from which one suffers, they are blaming the victim for causing the problems, as well as blaming him/her for not making the necessary internal changes to resolve the problems for himself/herself. When people blame poor people for poverty, they are blaming poor people for becoming poor (i.e., “you don’t work hard enough, you are lazy, you are irresponsible”), and they are blaming poor people for not resolving their situations themselves (i.e., “you need to work harder, not be so lazy, become responsible, etc.”). In sum, when problems are viewed as personal problems and the victim is blamed for his/her situation, the causes and solutions to the problem are perceived to lie within the individual. A few important points are worth noting. First, even when a personal problem can be viewed as a social problem, individual people still suffer from it. The fact that a problem is a social problem does not remove the suffering people experience from their problems. Second, all personal problems can be perceived as social problems when one puts on the social problems framework “lens.” Third, even though a problem can be perceived as a social problem, it does not mean that the individuals who suffer from the problem do not have any internal characteristics that contribute to the problem. Many people suffer from physiological and psychological conditions over which they have no control, but which also contribute to their problems. The point is that one’s view of the causes of problems will be distorted, biased, and inaccurate if one does not look beyond the individual level factors. Different causes and consequences will be identified, depending on whether one perceives a problem to be a personal problem or a social problem. Many people who suffer from various problems blame themselves for their situations, even though they are not mostly or entirely to blame for their situations. When people blame themselves, they are also expressing feelings of inadequacy. When a problem is defined as a personal problem, then internal or individual level strategies are used to try to resolve it. More specifically, when individuals blame themselves for their situations and feel inadequate, they look inward to resolve their situations. These internal solutions can range from escape mechanisms, like physical illnesses and self-destructive behaviors, to seeking specialists, like psychotherapists and religious counselors. Even when specialists help individuals with their problems, the problems are not solved. In sum, if every family received counseling for the problems from which they suffer within their families, each family would be better able to cope with them and endure them, but they would not be eliminated. Family problems would occur just as frequently, regardless of receiving counseling for their problems. When a problem is defined as a social problem, the consequences and corrective actions are much different than when it is defined as a personal problem. When poverty-stricken people recognize their situation as a social problem, then they will use social level strategies to try to resolve it. For instance, they may participate in collective behavior with others, like protests, social movements, or organizations that are designed to help poor people. In sum, personal problems are solved through the efforts of the individuals suffering from them and through individuals making internal changes. Social problems are resolved through social or collective action. Social problems cannot be solved through individual efforts. Social problems are analyzed through the use of nine fallacies. In order to cultivate critical thinking skills, one needs to develop an ability to recognize these fallacies. Once one is able to recognize these fallacies, one will be able to analyze and evaluate the validity of information with logic. You’ll learn more about the Nine Fallacies in our discussion in this module.
Read Attachments:Answer the following questions:Illustrate each of the nine fallacies by showing how each can be used to “explain” obesity.Identify the social scientific research method you think
The Nine Fallacies Social problems are analyzed through the use of nine fallacies. In order to cultivate critical thinking skills, one needs to develop an ability to recognize these fallacies. Once one is able to recognize these fallacies, one will be able to analyze and evaluate the validity of information with logic. 1: Dramatic Instance 2: Retrospective Determinism 3: Misplaced Concreteness 4: Personal Attack 5: Appeal to Prejudice 6: Circular Reasoning 7: Authority 8: Composition 9: Non Sequiter Fallacy 1: Dramatic Instance The first fallacy is the fallacy of dramatic instance, which refers to overgeneralization. It is appropriate to generalize the results of studies when the research methods used to conduct such studies warrant generalization of the results. For example, if the sample size is representative of the population from which it was drawn and is large enough, the results can be generalized back to the population from which the sample was drawn. More specifically, research studies have been conducted to determine the extent to which people in the entire country are abusing the welfare system. If 70% of the population on welfare is white and female, 20% is African American and male, and 10% is Hispanic and female, then the sample needs to reflect the same percentages as those in the population in order for the sample to be representative of the population. If the sample is representative of the larger population from which it was drawn and the results of the sample show that most people on welfare in the sample are not abusing the system, then the researchers can generalize their results back to the entire population on welfare and state that most people on welfare across the country are not abusing the system. However, most people have a tendency to overgeneralize their beliefs/assumptions/claims about other people. Overgeneralization refers to beliefs, assumptions, or claims based on one, two, three, or a handful of people, or a very small number of people, usually less than thirty. Many people believe and claim that most people on welfare are abusing the system, do not need the help, and are lazy, and do not want to work. The people who believe this claim do so because they are overgeneralizing based on knowing a few people personally who are on welfare, and the few people that they know on welfare are abusing the system. When one is in line at the grocery store behind someone else (with children in tow) who is paying for her groceries with food stamps, and the person next in line gets checked out and sees the woman on welfare in the parking lot getting into a new and expensive SUV, the person seeing her get into this SUV with her children may overgeneralize about people abusing the welfare system based on the one person/case that he/she saw in the grocery store and in the parking lot. He or she may think to himself/herself, “She does not need to be on welfare, she is lazy, does not want to work, and keeps having more and more children so that she can get more and more money from the government, etc.” Then, he/she may think to himself/herself, “If she is abusing the welfare system, then most people on welfare must be abusing the system.” In short, overgeneralization means that one is basing his/her assumptions/beliefs/claims on a very small sample size, like one, two, three, or a handful of people. When research is conducted to test these assumptions/beliefs/claims, then the results can be generalized, not overgeneralized, because the sample sizes from which the populations are drawn are much, much larger and represent the populations from which they were drawn. It is important to note that sociologists identify commonly shared patterns of behavior within groups of people, but there will always be exceptions to these patterns. In other words, not every single person on welfare will fit the overall pattern of legitimately needing the help. There will always be some people, or a small percentage of the whole group, who is abusing the welfare system. Sociologists, however, focus on the overall patterns of commonly shared behaviors, and not so much on the exceptions to these behaviors. The few people that one knows personally who are abusing the welfare system, for example, may not be representative of the typical cases of people who are on welfare. return to top Fallacy 2: Retrospective Determinism “The fallacy of retrospective determinism is the argument that things could not have worked out any other way than the way they did” (Lauer and Lauer, 2014, p. 16). This fallacy is similar to believing in fate over free will, but it is applied to the past, not necessarily the future. Those who believe in fate over free will believe that everything that has happened in the past was inevitable; it had to have happened the way it did. As a result, if this fallacy is accepted, current social problems are seen as inevitable. In addition, if this fallacy is accepted and applied to the future, then social problems would be perceived as beyond one’s control, which results in feelings of apathy. return to top Fallacy 3: Misplaced Concreteness The fallacy of misplaced concreteness refers to the idea of making something abstract into something concrete. For instance, society is an abstract concept, but even so, many people blame problems on society. People will claim that poverty is society’s fault or juvenile delinquency is society’s fault. However, blaming society for all of its problems will leave one helpless because he/she will not know how or where to begin to resolve any current problem. Society is made up of many different institutions, so instead of blaming society for all of its problems, it is more useful to recognize that the institution of the family helps to perpetuate delinquent behavior. Both parents in most two-parent households work outside the home, and most single parents work outside the home, as well. Therefore, many juveniles are left unsupervised between the time school lets out in the afternoon and the time that their parent/s return home from work. By making this problem concrete, parents could try to find organized activities for their juveniles during these hours on weekdays. By identifying the specific institutions and some of the specific factors that contribute to a particular problem, one makes the problem concrete and becomes able to resolve the problem more readily by making changes to those concrete factors that contribute to the problem. return to top Fallacy 4: Personal Attack The fallacy of personal attack means that one attacks another personally. Personal attacks are attacks against the intelligence and/or character of an opponent and usually occur as a result of one not being able to support his/her position through the use of logic, rationality, reason, or facts. Most presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates engage in this kind of fallacy during their debates and through their campaign activities. return to top Fallacy 5: Appeal to Prejudice The fallacy of appeal to prejudice refers to making arguments by appealing to popular prejudices/beliefs or passions. Many opponents during debates use this fallacy to gain favor over their opponents by using such prejudices/beliefs, or passions to convince the voters that they are right/correct and their opponents are wrong. Popular slogans or myths are used to convince people emotionally when social problems are the topic. One example of this fallacy is that some people continue to believe that women are to blame when women are raped because they must have been behaving in sexually provocative ways towards the men who raped them; otherwise, they would not have been raped. People who continue to believe that rape is the fault of the female victims have either never seen any evidence to the contrary or dismissed any evidence as invalid. Myths like these, unfortunately, become ingrained as beliefs in many people, and even when people are confronted with evidence to the contrary, they continue to hold on to their incorrect or invalid beliefs. People in general have an extremely difficult time changing their beliefs, even when the evidence is contrary to their beliefs. In sum, judgments about social problems must be made on the basis of factual evidence, not on the basis of opinions or beliefs. return to top Fallacy 6: Circular Reasoning The fallacy of circular reasoning refers to the use of conclusions to support the assumptions that were necessary to make the conclusions. For instance, Larry is an alcoholic because he drinks too much. Larry drinks too much because he is an alcoholic. Another example is that single mothers are on welfare because they are lazy and do not want to work. Single mothers are lazy and do not want to work, which explains why they are on welfare. Circular reasoning does nothing to enhance the understanding of social problems. return to top Fallacy 7: Authority Virtually everything that everyone knows (unless they are the authority figures who hold positions of leadership or scholarship, etc.) is based on the authority of someone else’s or other experts’ research, beliefs, or experience. The fallacy of authority means that the argument is based on an illegitimate appeal to authority. There are four ways that this fallacy interferes with thinking about social problems. First, the authority on which beliefs are based may be ambiguous. For example, there are contradictions between the Old Testament and the New Testament with regard to the death penalty, among other issues. If people appeal to the Old Testament, they are appealing to that particular interpretation of the Bible over the other interpretation of it, and vice versa. People must find other bases for making judgments, since the interpretations are contradictory. Second, the authority may be irrelevant to the problem. Most people cannot have expertise in most disciplines or in every discipline. In other words, because one is an expert in the field of quantum physics or metaphysics does not mean that he or she is an expert on sex inequality in society. People who have expertise in one area should not speak about issues or problems outside of their area of expertise. Third, the authority may be pursuing a bias rather than studying a problem. For instance, the food guide pyramid put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August of 1992 includes the number of servings of different food groups that Americans should eat on a daily basis. These food groups, from the largest portions Americans should eat to the smallest portions, include: (1) bread, cereal, rice, and pasta; (2) vegetables; (3) fruit; (4) milk, yogurt, and cheese; (5) meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts; and (6) salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, soy sauce, salt, dill pickles. According to this pyramid, Americans should be eating more portions of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta than any other food group. However, this authority is pursuing a bias rather than studying the problems of lack of health and nutrition, disease, and obesity among the American population. This authority is pursuing this bias probably for political and/or economic reasons. The food industry makes a whole lot more money selling breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and animal products than it does selling produce. However, several medical doctors who specialize in nutrition today, like Dr. Joel Fuhrman (2011) and Dr. David Kessler (2009), contend that Americans should be eating more vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds than bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. These doctors study the problems of lack of health and nutrition, disease, and obesity among Americans, as opposed to pursuing a bias. These doctors are not making any money by selling produce or by writing prescriptions because they are helping their patients to regain their health such that they no longer need any kind of prescription medication. Fourth, the authority may simply be wrong. Sometimes one authority will cite another authority or source without verifying the facts in the initial source. When the “facts” of the initial source are not verified, it is possible that the information in the second source is wrong or inaccurate. Conclusions should not be drawn based on information in sources that cite each other; conclusions need to be drawn based on information in original sources. return to top Fallacy 8: Composition The fallacy of composition asserts that what is true of the part is necessarily true of the whole. In terms of social problems, that which is true for the individual is not true for the group. We all hear stories about individual people like J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series), and Jewel (the singer/musician) who were homeless, poverty-stricken, etc., and literally went from “rags to riches.” According to this fallacy, if they were able to become wealthy, then everyone should be able to become wealthy. However, these two individuals and a small percentage of others were able to resolve their problem of homelessness and poverty for themselves, but the solutions they employed to rise above poverty are not available to all members of the group. return to top Fallacy 9: Non Sequitur The fallacy of non sequitur refers to something that does not follow logically from what has preceded it. Non sequitur literally means, “it does not follow.” This fallacy is used when people interpret statistical data. For example, Table 274 of the 1996 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States reports that in 1995 only 8.3 percent of students earned 600 or more on the verbal portion of the SAT test. The very next edition, in 1997, however, holds a pleasant surprise. Table 276 tells us that it was really 21.9 percent of students who scored 600 or higher in 1995. Later editions of this source retain the higher figure (Henslin, 2010, p. 514). In the twinkle of an eye, we get another bonus. Somehow, between 1996 and 1997 the scores of everyone who took the test in previous years improved… (Henslin, 2010, p. 514). These statistics make it appear as though students were increasingly smarter with each cohort that took the test, beginning in 1997 and every year thereafter. However, It certainly is easier to give easier tests than to teach more effectively. And this is what has happened to the SAT. he results were so embarrassing to U.S. educators that the SAT was made easier. Not only was testing on antonyms and analogies dropped, but the test was also shortened and students were given more time to answer the fewer questions. The test makers then “rescored” the totals of previous years to match the easier test. This “dummying down” of the SAT is a form of grade inflation…(Henslin, 2010, p. 514). There is always more than one way to interpret statistical data, so it is easy to fall into this fallacy of non sequitur. The improvement of the SAT scores of all of the students who took it in previous years makes it seem as though students were really smarter than they were in previous years, and that perhaps mistakes were made in the scoring of the SAT tests. Instead, we learned that the SAT was made easier in 1997, and the tests of the students who took it in previous years were recalculated according to the newer, easier test in 1997. Instead of the next cohort of students who took the SAT test in 1997 and every year thereafter being smarter, the SAT test was made easier. The fallacies described above help to perpetuate myths surrounding social problems. Social research, however, is designed to be objective, so that social problems can be seen from an unbiased perspective. Some research is scientifically valid, but some is not. Critical thinking skills, therefore, are still necessary for evaluating social scientific validity. When social scientific research is valid, it is also logical and empirical (based on fact). Research results are based on rationality and fact instead of biases or personal opinions. Social scientists use different research methods to collect their data, including survey research, statistical analysis of official records (government data), experiments, and participant observation.