Critical Analysis Assignment
You will select a newspaper, blog, social media post or other online article espousing a conspiracy theory that has been discredited by mainstream scientists. It should be at least tangentially related to microbiology, e.g. antivax, anti-GMO, COVID-19 and 5G, SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a lab, homeopathy, “natural” cures, HIV denialism, etc. Your assignment will be to thoroughly debunk the conspiracy theory. Make sure you understand the article before you choose it (at least the science part anyway)! Choosing a good article is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure your success.
Possible sources: I haven’t systematically looked at these websites, but they may help you get started. https://www.breitbart.com/
Article Approval Deadline: All articles must be approved by September 29nd. I will need up to 24hrs to approve an article. No extensions for rejected articles so DON’T put this off until the last minute. Late submissions will be docked 5pts per day.
Article Requirements: The article should be widely available and accessible online.
• Should be at least 500 words
• Espouses a conspiracy theory or junk science not supported by mainstream scientists
• Theory is widely popular (i.e. not just a single crazy rando spouting craziness). I am willing to give some leeway here.
• Widely available online
Analysis Submission Deadline: The analysis should be submitted via Blackboard Turnitin (details provided later) by class time December 8th. You may submit drafts for comment at any time prior to Friday December 4th. Late submissions will not be accepted.
• Identify exactly what is being claimed by the author. Focus on the unscientific claims. (~100 words).
• Identify why the author’s claims are appealing to the general public (why do they persist?) What is compelling about this article that many people believe its claims? Why do people choose to believe it instead of the scientific explanation? (~200 words).
• Provide a scientific background of the issue (~300 words).
• Provide a point-by-point refutation of the author’s claims. What evidence would be required to support the author’s claims? What evidence is available that contradicts the author’s claims? (~400 words).
• Cite at least three scientific sources (peer-reviewed journal articles) backing your refutations
• Plagiarized assignments will receive a zero. Do not copy-paste. Write in your own words. How to avoid plagiarism: https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/quotingsources/
Excellent (10 pts)
Very Good (7.5 pts)
Good (5 pts)
Poor (0 pts
Article meets all criteria
Article meets most criteria
Article meets some criteria
Article does not meet criteria
Overview of Article
Clearly describes author’s unscientific claims
Identifies some of author’s unscientific claims
Unscientific claims not clearly identified
Not responsive to this requirement
Popularity of Claim
Provides strong analysis of why claim is popular or persists
Provides adequate analysis of why claim is popular or persists
Provides weak analysis of why claim is popular or persists
Provides no analysis of why claim is popular or persists
Provides a strong background of the scientific issues relevant to article
Provides an adequate background of the scientific issues relevant to article
Provides a weak background of the scientific issues relevant to article
Provides no background of the scientific issues relevant to article
Strong analysis of the scientific failings of the article
Adequate analysis of the scientific failings of the article
Weak analysis of the scientific failings of the article
No analysis of the scientific failings of the article
Clearly Identified Supporting Evidence
Refutation supported by clear scientific evidence
Refutation supported by some scientific evidence
Refutation weakly supported by scientific evidence
No scientific evidence cited in response
Citation of Peer Reviewed Articles
3 relevant citations properly cited
2 relevant citations properly cited
1 relevant citation properly cited
Length of Response
Response is > 1000 words, specific to response questions, and is not padded with repetitive elements
Response is > 1000 words, specific to response questions, but contains signs padding and redundancies
Response is > 1000 words, but highly repetitive and has significant digressions
Response is not > 1000 words
Response Coherence and Clarity
Very clear and coherent response
Adequately clear and coherent response
Somewhat unclear and incoherent response
Unclear and incoherent response
Grammar and Spelling
Almost no grammar and spelling errors
Some grammar and spelling errors
Many grammar and spelling errors
Such a cheap price for your free time and healthy sleep
All online transactions are done using all major Credit Cards or Electronic Check through PayPal. These are safe, secure, and efficient online payment methods.