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Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. Even scientists know that absolute objectivity has yet to be attained. It's the same for absolute truth. But, as many newspaper reporters have observed, the idea of objectivity as a guiding principle is too valuable to be abandoned. Without it, the pursuit of knowledge is hopelessly lost. Adapted from "Focusing Our Values," Nieman Reports

Assignment: Are people better at making observations, discoveries, and decisions if they remain neutral and impartial? Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. Sample student essays

Each of the following essays is reprinted exactly as it was originally written (in response to the prompt above), including grammatical mistakes. An explanation of why the essay received the score it was given follows the each essay. Score of 6

Objectivity by researchers has not, and probably never will be attained. People will always have biases; some will be created by cultural values and others by personal views. The search for objectivity lies in the realm of philosophy along with the search for reality. Even though objectivity can never be reached, people are better at making observations, discoveries, and decisions if they attempt to set aside their biases. As I have learned in my Theory of Knowledge class, perception and thought are intimately connected. While the same rays of light may enter two different peoples eyes, what they see may be very different. The brain takes the input from the eyes and processes it to form an image. That image is not the only thing the brain produces; it also provides extra information based on generalizations and bias. This unconscious addition of information changes the observation of an object. By attempting to reduce the addition of extraneous information being added to the observation, by being objective, a true observation of an object can be more closely approximated. Discoveries, especially in the scientific realm can be doubly affected by a lack of objectivity. Since scientific discoveries are based on observation, all of the problems associated with observation apply as well to discoveries. Additional problems occur in the analysis of data collected by a scientific experiment. In a recent experiment in physics class, almost all of the students in my class analyzed the data incorrectly. However, armed with the knowledge that zero percent error is never possible, we were satisfied with the results. Our personal belief in the validity of the method of analyzation we chose, and lack of objectivity, led to our incorrect discovery in the field of energy. A lack of objectivity can clearly be seen to be a problem in my last student council election as well. The most popular person was chosen for president, not the objectively best candidate. Since then, the president has done nothing for our school. If the people involved had attempted to set aside their biases and pursue the goal of objectivity, it is less likely that errors would have been made. Bias will always be a part of human life. It can, however, be limited in how much we let it affect us. The less we allow bias to influence, the more objective we are, the less likely we are to come to false opinions, discoveries, and bad decisions. Why this essay received a score of 6

This essay effectively and insightfully develops the main idea (Even though objectivity can never be reached, people are better at making observations, discoveries, and decisions if they attempt to set aside their biases) with clearly appropriate reasons and examples, demonstrating outstanding critical thinking. Well organized and focused, the essay shows clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas (While the same rays of light may enter two different peoples eyes, what they see may be very different. ... This unconscious addition of information changes the...
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