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Writing Assignment 3

Writing Assignment 3 - Mark Einsiedel FSNA 109 Prof Greksa...

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Mark Einsiedel FSNA 109 Prof. Greksa November 20, 2008 How Social Influences Affect Scientists Have you ever wondered why people make certain decisions? The same can be asked of scientists. What causes them to come to their conclusions, and what affects how they interpret their data? Do they truly present explicitly what their evidence supports, or is something or someone influencing them to make their conclusions? According to Stephen J. Gould, it is the latter as scientists can be unconsciously influenced by their culture-based belief systems. My purpose in writing this paper is to show how social influences, specifically conformity, compliance, and obedience, affect how scientists unconsciously act with respect to abortion and capital punishment. I believe that even scientists, the purveyors of our truth, are genetically predisposed towards social influences. Conformity is a change in a person's behavior or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or group of people. Conformity has the potential to affect scientists in a manner such that they make the unconscious decision to give a correct conclusion or to conform to the majority and deliver the wrong conclusion. In my own humble opinion, it seems to reason that when there is a large group of scientists agreeing on something, it is rare that one scientist acts as an individualist. Scientists could
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possibly unconsciously become conformists to be socially accepted. Furthermore, if a scientist is not well known and therefore his ideas are not generally accepted, he may simply conform to the ideas of other scientists in an effort to gain respect. Most importantly, however, regardless of the reason for conforming, it has the potential to drastically affect how one acts. When scientists study the validity of abortion and capital punishment and whether or not it should be readily accepted, they are susceptible to conformity. For example, scientists studying abortion may be unconsciously influenced by lobbyists in addition to negative media coverage of commercials bashing abortion. Moreover, scientists who study the validity of capital punishment would be highly influenced if they knew someone who was treated unfairly or had a major flaw in their trial leading to the death penalty. Despite any evidence they found supporting that with the death penalty society is less likely to commit violent crimes, it would be very difficult for that particular scientist to forget about the person they know. Obviously, in both cases, the media could
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