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  1. Topic 967 - Thirteen years ago, researchers studied a group of 25 infants who showed signs of mild distress when exposed to unfamiliar stimuli such as an unusual odor or a tape recording of an unknown voice. They discovered that these infants were more likely than other infants to have been conceived in early autumn, a time when their mothers' production of melatonin ?a hormone known to affect some brain functions ?would naturally increase in response to decreased daylight. In a follow-up study conducted earlier this year, more than half of these children ?now teenagers ?who had shown signs of distress identified themselves as shy. Clearly, increased levels of melatonin before birth cause shyness during infancy and this shyness continues into later life. Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  2. Topic 765 - The following is a recommendation from the human resources department at Techforce Computer Company. "Many working parents report that problems related to their childcare arrangements are a major reason for absenteeism from their jobs. Bridgewell Corporation, a tele-communications company, implemented an on-site childcare program and after one year, the company reported that unscheduled absences had declined by 25 percent. Since Techforce has had an increase in unscheduled employee absences over the past year, we should therefore implement our own on-site childcare program. The program will undoubtedly reduce our unscheduled employee absences, resulting in significantly increased productivity. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  3. Topic 826 - The following is from an editorial in the Midvale Observer, a local newspaper. "Ever since the 1950's when television sets began to appear in the average home, the rate of crimes committed by teenagers in the country of Alta has steadily increased. This increase in teenage crime parallels the increase in violence shown on television. According to several national studies, even very young children who watch a great number of television shows featuring violent scenes display more violent behavior within their home environment than do children who do not watch violent shows. Furthermore, in a survey conducted by the Observer, over 90 percent of the respondents were parents who indicated that prime-time television ?programs that are shown between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ?should show less violence. Therefore, in order to lower the rate of teenage crime in Alta, television viewers should demand that television programmers reduce the amount of violence shown during prime time. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  4. Topic 974 - The following appeared in the health section of Glenntown's local newspaper. "Several national medical studies suggest that older people who have pets tend to enjoy better health than those who do not have pets: those who have pets have lower rates of high blood pressure and arthritis. It seems clear that having to care for an animal promotes good health for the older person. Therefore, Glenntown should establish a program to give a small pet such as a dog or cat to all of its citizens who are over the age of 65. This will help to insure that our senior citizens enjoy good health and have fewer medical bills. " Read | Write
  5. Topic 811 - The following report appeared in a memo from the vice president of the Southside Transportation Authority. "We should abandon our current five-year plan to purchase additional buses to serve the campus of Southside University, because students there are unlikely to use them. Consider the results of the recent campaign sponsored by the Environmental Club at Southside University: in a program on the campus radio station, the club asked students to call in and pledge that they would commute to school by bus instead of by automobile at least one day per week. Only ten percent of the students called in and pledged. In view of the campaign's lack of success, we can assume that the bus service we currently offer will continue to be sufficient to serve the university. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  6. Topic 843 - For the past five years, consumers in California have been willing to pay twice as much for oysters from the northeastern Atlantic Coast as for Gulf Coast oysters. This trend began shortly after harmful bacteria were found in a few raw Gulf Coast oysters. But scientists have now devised a process for killing the bacteria. Once consumers are made aware of the increased safety of Gulf Coast oysters, they are likely to be willing to pay as much for Gulf Coast as for northeastern Atlantic Coast oysters, and greater profits for Gulf Coast oyster producers will follow. Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  7. Topic 783 - The following appeared in a memo from the Principal of Sherwood Junior High School. "It appears that the lighting in Sherwood High's classrooms, which have large windows but minimal overhead light sources, is impairing student academic performance and teacher morale. Records show that during December and January, the two months with the fewest hours of daylight, attendance rates fall, average daily class participation drops, and grades decline. Teacher resignations are also highest during these months. According to a study of Tundra Vocational School, which experiences entire seasons with little daylight, students' grade point averages increased when Day Glow light bulbs, which mimic sunlight, were installed in classrooms. This study suggests that Sherwood can improve students' academic performance and teachers' morale by using Day Glow light bulbs in winter. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  8. Topic 835 - A recent study shows that people living on the continent of North America suffer 9 times more chronic fatigue and 31 times more chronic depression than do people living on the continent of Asia. Interestingly, Asians, on average, eat 20 grams of soy per day, whereas North Americans eat virtually none. It turns out that soy contains phytochemicals called isoflavones, which have been found to possess disease-preventing properties. Thus, North Americans should consider eating soy on a regular basis as a way of preventing fatigue and depression. Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  9. Topic 878 - The following appeared in a letter to the editor of the Parkville Daily Newspaper. "Throughout the country last year, as more and more children below the age of nine participated in youth-league softball and soccer, over 80,000 of these young players suffered injuries. When interviewed for a recent study, youth-league softball players in several major cities also reported psychological pressure from coaches and parents to win games. Furthermore, education experts say that long practice sessions for these sports take away time that could be used for academic activities. Since the disadvantages apparently outweigh any advantages, we in Parkville should discontinue organized athletic competition for children under nine. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  10. Topic 759 - The following appeared in a memo from a member of the Clark City School Board. "Mason Elementary School is faced with a shortage of classroom space. At the same time, parents in our district are increasingly expressing the desire to see improvements in their children's reading abilities. Therefore, we should reduce the number of physical education classes at Mason Elementary and convert part of the gymnasium to class-room space. The school will gain the additional space for classrooms without the cost of extending the building and can use the time that students would have spent in physical education classes to provide more reading instruction. This plan will lead to improvements in students' reading skills. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  11. Topic 854 - From a letter to the editor of a city newspaper. "One recent research study has indicated that many adolescents need more sleep than they are getting, and another study has shown that many high school students in our city are actually dissatisfied with their own academic performance. As a way of combating these problems, the high schools in our city should begin classes at 8:30 A.M. instead of 7:30 A.M., and end the school day an hour later. This arrangement will give students an extra hour of sleep in the morning, thereby making them more alert and more productive. Consequently, the students will perform better on tests and other assignments, and their academic skills will improve significantly. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write
  12. Topic 764 - The following appeared in an article in Supplements Today. "Dieticians have long known that professional athletes who eat a lot of nuts have higher levels of endurance than those who do not. Researchers have recently discovered that the particular combination of vitamin N and fiber found in some nuts provides a boost for those who participate in strenuous physical activities daily. Both vitamin N and fiber supplements are easily synthesized and widely available. As a result, all those who participate in athletic activities will be able to increase their endurance and win more games by taking vitamin N along with a fiber supplement. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Read | Write

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October 15, 2016