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By blindedbananas Jul 31, 2013 1751 Words
1. The benefits (key word) of the Internet (topic word) have been overrated (key word). Do you agree (question word)?

Recommended Approach – This question demands that candidates assess/evaluate the value of the positive aspects/effects/qualities/characteristics of the Internet. As such, the candidate has to be very knowledgeable about the benefits of the Internet, going beyond specific examples of web apps, social media etc. and being able to make valid claims about the broad impact of the Internet (macro perspective).

If the candidate agrees with the statement, he must argue that the positive aspects of the Internet have been overstated or assigned excessive value.

If the candidate disagrees with the statement, he has to argue that these benefits have been assigned appropriate value or even undervalued.

AGREE| DISAGREE|
Though the points in the right column are true, each benefit has in turn resulted in severe negative consequences.Cost – While communication through the Internet is practically free, the true cost is that of our privacy.Efficiency – The Internet is perhaps too effective as a means of communication, so much so that people now seek refuge away from it to escape the deluge of information and pressing demands made possible by email and other forms of electronic communication.Effectiveness – The effectiveness of the Internet as a medium of communication has conceivably reduced the need and desire for personal interaction.Globalisation and Connectedness – One of the most immediate and grave threats arising from the globalisation and connectedness made possible by the Internet is that of cybersecurity.| The Internet has been touted as a revolutionary medium of communication in terms of cost, efficiency, effectiveness and reach, and has facilitated globalisation, thus making the world more connected than at any other point of time in human history.| The rise of the Internet as the memory of the world has had a deleterious effect on the physical memory of humanity. We are less capable of remembering and recalling basic facts because we are reliant on digital memory. In addition, the sheer volume of available information is overwhelming and has perhaps encouraged a retreat from knowledge.| The Internet has become the world’s memory and library, surpassing even the great library of Alexandria. Never has so much information and knowledge been made so available to so many people.| Though the rise of companies like Amazon and Apple, especially with regard to its music arm, attest to the formidable presence of the Internet as a significant force in business and commerce, e-commerce via the Internet has had a calamitous effect on traditional businesses, particularly local businesses who possess neither the scale nor the reach of Internet-based companies.| The Internet has also emerged as a major medium and forum for business and commerce, and will in the near future overtake traditional retail and business outlets in terms of revenue and profit.|

2. Televison (topic word) is a true mirror (key word) of modern society (key word). Comment (question word).

Recommended Approach – This question demands that candidates grapple with the claim that television as a medium accurately reflects or portrays the defining features/characteristics/qualities of society as we know it currently. As such, candidates are expected to be cognisant of these features and to make the case that television does or does not portray them accurately, and to what extent.

Candidates should centre their points/arguments on the broad characteristics/qualities of television as a medium and not on specific genres or television programmes.

Yes, it is.| No, it isn’t.|

The increasingly niche programming of television mirrors the increasing fragmentation of society into myriad subcultures.| Ultimately, television traffics in entertainment. As such, whatever is portrayed on television is a hyperbolised version of reality because mundane, actual reality is simply not entertaining.| The rising popularity of shows which feature complex plots, stories, fully realized characterisation and a multi-perspective approach correspond with a growing distaste in society for artifice, cliches, disingenuity and condescension.| The television industry is profit-oriented, thus what eventually makes it onto television screens is not so much dictated by what is happening in reality or society but what sells and draws audiences.| The core genres on which television is founded, drama, comedy, the arts, sports and the news, have not really changed since its advent as a medium. They reflect the complexity and paradoxical nature of the human experience which defines society.| Even in broadcast journalism, which some would claim portrays society in all its naked, unflattering glory, television is less a mirror and more a magnifying glass, which highlights and brings to attention the ills of society, or a mirror that is used in the performances of illusionists, diverting and distracting the audience's attention from actual reality.|

3. Science and technology (topic word) have allowed man (key word) to lead better lives (key word). Discuss (question word).

Recommended Approach – This question demands that candidates make a case as to whether science and technology have contributed to the advancement of humanity, which implies a comparison between the past and the present, and even looking ahead into the future.

An insightful response would go beyond the consideration of advancement in purely physical terms, but also address the emotional, spiritual, mental and relational aspects of Man.

Key to the candidate’s response would be a sophisticated understanding and thus definition of the term “better lives”.

Yes, they have.| No, they haven’t.|
Science and technology have enabled man to fulfil his every desire, or at the very least harbour hope of such fulfilment. Be it the restructuring of the natural environment to create ideal artificial or synthetic habitat, the modification of crops at a genetic level to control their yield, qualities and appearance, or even the provision of choice as to whether his offspring should live or die in the event that undesirable complications are discovered during pre-birth screenings, science and technology have fulfilled the greatest desire of man – that of utter sovereignty over self, others and the world around him.| By enabling the near-omnipotent ability to reshape nature, even down to an atomic level, science and technology have caused man to lose his sense of self, place and purpose in the universe. | Science and technology, by presenting themselves as a valid and modern alternative to old religions, have freed man from the burdensome shackles of superstition and non-empirical beliefs. This has opened up a world of possibilities for man in which the true purpose of his life then becomes an endless pursuit and realisation of these possibilities.| By presenting itself as a religion or belief-based system that man can adhere his life completely to, science and technology have caused man to cut his spiritual self adrift and accept a narrow empirically-based existence as the norm. It is no wonder then that at a time of human history when developed countries lack for nothing materially, we also find the people in these countries struggling with the reason for their very existence.| Science and technology have enabled man to transcend almost every boundary, the very last perhaps being the one that separates life and death, thus freeing him from the long-standing fears, that of a lack of shelter, sustenance, employment, relationships and purpose, which used to plague his existence.| Science and technology have not only not eased the fears that have always plagued man but instead magnified them a hundredfold. The rise of science and technology have corresponded with the insatiable rape and drain of the earth’s resources. A fear of the long-term effects of consuming “frankenfoods”, as GM foods are affectionately known, and the despair over the unethical industrialisation of food production methods are a feature of modern life. Humans find themselves obsolete and without purpose in several industries where machines and robots do a more efficient job while requiring less attention and resources and producing zero complaints. Communications technology has connected humans with each other on an unprecedented global and unrelentingly round-the-clock scale, but human relationships have never seemed so frail and superficial.|

4. To what extent (question word) is ethics (key word) important (key word) in the field of science and technology (topic word)?

Recommended Approach – This question demands that candidates examine the measure of influence that ethics should or should not, or can or cannot wield in the field of science and technology.

Because of the question words “to what extent”, an argument cannot be one-dimensional in nature, and has to state the limits of the role that ethics play and to explain why this is so.

Important| Unimportant|
The goal of science is to obtain knowledge of the world and all that is in it through empirical means. It is a method or approach towards the acquisition of knowledge. However, not all knowledge is good or has to be known. Ethics help to provide a sense of where the limits should be.| Ethics are not very helpful in alerting the field of science and technology of its limits because they are ultimately subjective, that is not rooted in any objective authority and determined solely by a vague sense of right and wrong as defined by humans. It is a perspective to be taken into consideration but lacks true authority to be important in science and technology.| Despite the limitations of ethics as a discipline and a field unto itself, ethics remind the field of science and technology of its priorities and its ultimate mission. This is because ethics is ultimately about what it means to be human and what our responsibilities as humans are to other living beings and the world. Practising science and technology without ethics would be akin to putting the world’s sharpest knife into the hands of an infant.| It can be argued that scientific and technological development has always been about human development and advancement at its heart. It has never been about the acquisition and application of knowledge for its own sake. Instead, as a field, science and technological have always striven to extend the limits of human capability.| Ethics is important in ensuring that the development of science and technology takes place at a reasonable pace that allows for debate and thorough consideration of the relevant issues and concerns.| Ethics is not only unimportant but detrimental to the development of science and technology. It does so by setting up roadblocks and obstacles to what otherwise might be the rapid development of a new line of thinking or technological application which could revolutionise some aspect of human existence.|

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