Unit 1 Text A
Love and logic: The story of a fallacy
1 I had my first date with Polly after I made the trade with my roommate Rob. That year every guy on campus had a leather jacket, and Rob couldn't stand the idea of being the only football player who didn't, so he made a pact that he'd give me his girl in exchange for my jacket. He wasn't the brightest guy. Polly wasn't too shrewd, either.
2 But she was pretty, well-off, didn't dye her hair strange colors or wear too much makeup. She had the right background to be the girlfriend of a dogged, brilliant lawyer. If I could show the elite law firms I applied to that I had a radiant, well-spoken counterpart by my side, I just might edge past the competition.
3 "Radiant" she was already. I could dispense her enough pearls of wisdom to make her "well-spoken".
4 After a banner day out, I drove until we were situated under a big old oak tree on a hill off the expressway. What I had in mind was a little eccentric. I thought the venue with a perfect view of the luminous city would lighten the mood. We stayed in the car, and I turned down the stereo and took my foot off the brake pedal. "What are we going to talk about?" she asked.
6 "Cool," she said over her gum.
7 "The doctrine of logic," I said, "is a staple of clear thinking. Failures in logic distort the truth, and some of them are well known. First let's look at the fallacy Dicto Simpliciter."
8 "Great," she agreed.
9 "Dicto Simpliciter means an unqualified generalization. For example: Exercise is good. Therefore, everybody should exercise."
10 She nodded in agreement.
11 I could see she was stumped. "Polly," I explained, "it's too simple a generalization. If you have, say, heart disease or extreme obesity, exercise is bad, not good. Therefore, you must say exercise is good for most people."
12 "Next is Hasty Generalization. Self-explanatory, right? Listen carefully: You can't speak French. Rob can't speak French. Looks like nobody at this school can speak French."
13 "Really?" said Polly, amazed. "Nobody?"
14 "This is also a fallacy," I said. "The generalization is reached too hastily. Too few instances support such a conclusion."
15 She seemed to have a good time. I could safely say my plan was underway. I took her home and set a date for another conversation.
16 Seated under the oak the next evening I said, "Our first fallacy tonight is called Ad Misericordiam."
17 She nodded with delight.
18 "Listen closely," I said. "A man applies for a job. When the boss asks him what his qualifications are, he says he has six children to feed."
19 "Oh, this is awful, awful," she whispered in a choked voice.
20 "Yes, it's awful," I agreed, "but it's no argument. The man never answered the boss's question. Instead he appealed to the boss's sympathy — Ad Misericordiam."
21 She blinked, still trying hard to keep back her tears.
22 "Next," I said carefully, "we will discuss False Analogy. An example, students should be allowed to look at their textbooks during exams, because surgeons have X-rays to guide them during surgery."
23 "I like that idea," she said.
24 "Polly," I groaned, "don't derail the discussion. The inference is wrong. Doctors aren't taking a test to see how much they have learned, but students are. The situations are altogether different. You can't make an analogy between them."
25 "I still think it's a good idea," said Polly.
26 With five nights of diligent work, I actually made a logician out of Polly. She was an analytical thinker at last. The time had come for the conversion of our relationship from academic to romantic.
27 "Polly," I said when next we sat under our oak, "tonight we won't discuss fallacies."
28 "Oh?" she said, a little disappointed.
29 Favoring her with a grin, I said, "We have now spent five evenings together. We get along pretty well. We make a pretty good couple."
30 "Hasty Generalization," said Polly brightly. "Or as a normal person might say, that's a little premature, don't you think?"
31 I laughed with amusement. She'd learned her lessons well, far surpassing my expectations. "Sweetheart," I said, patting her hand in a tolerant manner, "five dates is plenty. After all, you don't have to eat a whole cake to know it's good."
32 "False Analogy," said Polly promptly. "Your premise is that dating is like eating. But you're not a cake. You're
33 I laughed with somewhat less amusement, hiding my dread that she'd learned her lessons too well. A few more false steps would be my doom. I decided to change tactics and try flattery instead.
34 "Polly, I love you. Please say you'll go out with me. I'm nothing without you."
35 "Ad Misericordiam," she said.
36 "You certainly can discern a fallacy when you see it," I said, my hopes starting to crumble. "But don't take them so literally. I mean this is all academic. You know the things you learn in school don't have anything to do with real life."
37 "Dicto Simpliciter," she said. "Besides, you really should practice what you preach."
38 I leaped to my feet, my temper flaring up. "Will you or will you not go out with me?"
39 "No to your proposition," she replied.
40 "Why?"I demanded.
41 "I'm more interested in a different petitioner — Rob and I are back together."
42 With great effort, I said calmly, "How could you give me the axe over Rob? Look at me, an ingenious student,
a tremendous intellectual, a man with an assured future. Look at Rob, a muscular idiot, a guy who'll never know where his next meal is coming from. Can you give me one good reason why you should be with him?"
43 "Wow, what presumption! I'll put it in a way someone as brilliant as you can understand," retorted Polly, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Full disclosure — I like Rob in leather. I told him to say yes to you so he could have your jacket!"
Unit 2 Text A
The confusing pursuit of beauty
1 If you're a man, at some point a woman will ask you how she looks.
2 You must be careful how you answer this question. The best technique is to form an honest yet sensitive response, then promptly excuse yourself for some kind of emergency. Trust me, this is the easiest way out. No amount of rehearsal will help you come up with the right answer.
3 The problem is that men do not think of their looks in the same way women do. Most men form an opinion of themselves in seventh grade and stick to it for the rest of their lives. Some men think they're irresistibly desirable, and they refuse to change this opinion even when they grow bald and their faces visibly wrinkle as they age.
4 Most men, I believe, are not arrogant about their looks. If the transient thought passes through their minds at all, they like to think of themselves as average-looking. Being average doesn't bother them; average is fine. They don't affix much value to their looks, or think of them in terms of aesthetics. Their primary form of beauty care is to shave themselves, which is essentially the same care they give to their lawns. If, at the end of his four-minute allotment of time for grooming, a man has managed to wipe most of the shaving cream out of the strands of his hair and isn't bleeding too badly, he feels he's done all he can.
5 Women do not look at themselves this way. If I had to guess what most women think about their appearance, it would be: "Not good enough." No matter how attractive a woman may be, her perception of herself is eclipsed by the beauty industry. She has trouble thinking "I'm beautiful." She magnifies the smallest imperfections in her body and imagines them as glaring flaws the whole world will notice and ridicule.
6 Why do women consider their looks so deficient? This chronic insecurity isn't inborn, but created through the interaction of many complex psychological and societal factors, beginning with the dolls we give them as children. Girls grow up playing with dolls proportioned so that, if they were human, they would be seven feet tall and weigh 61 pounds, with tiny thighs and a large upper body. This is an absurd standard to live up to, especially when you consider the size of the doll's waist, a relative measurement physically impossible for a living human to achieve. Contrast this absurd standard with that presented to little boys with their "action figures". Most of the toys that young boys have played with were weird-looking, like the one called Buzz-Off that was part human, part flying insect. This guy was not a looker, but he was still extremely self-confident. You could not imagine him saying to the others, "Is this accessory the right shade of violet for this outfit?"
7 But women grow up thinking they need to look like Barbie dolls or girls on magazine covers, which for most women is impossible. Nonetheless, the multibillion-dollar beauty industry, complete with its own aisle in the grocery store, is devoted to constant warfare on female self-esteem, convincing women that they must buy all the newest moisturizing creams, bronzing powders and appliances that promise to "stimulate and restore" their skin. I once saw an Oprah Show in which supermodel Cindy Crawford dispensed makeup tips to the studio audience. Cindy had all these middle-aged women apply clay masks and other "wrinkle-removing" products to their faces; she stressed how important it was to adhere to the guidelines, like applying products via the tips of their fingers to protect elasticity. All the women dutifully did this, even though it was obvious to any rational observer that, no matter how carefully they applied these products, they would never have Cindy Crawford's face or complexion.
8 I'm not saying that men are superior. I'm just saying that you're not going to get a group of middle-aged men to plaster cosmetics to themselves under the instruction of Brad Pitt in hopes of looking more like him. Men don't face the same societal focus purely on physical beauty, and they're encouraged to reach out to other characteristics to promote their self-esteem. They might say to Brad: "Oh yeah? Well, what do you know about
lawn care, pretty boy?"
9 Of course women argue that they become obsessed with appearance as a reaction to pressure from men. The truth is that most men think beauty is more than just lipstick and perfume and take no notice of these extra details. I have never once, in more than 40 years of listening to men talk about women, heard a man say, "She had gorgeous fingernails!" To most men, little things like fingernails are all homogeneous anyway, and one woman's flawless pink polish is exactly as invisible as another's bare nails.
10 By participating in this system of extreme conformity, women are actually opening themselves up to the scrutiny of other women, the only ones qualified to judge their efforts. What is the real benefit of working this hard to appease men who don't notice when it only exposes women to prosecution from other women?
11 Anyway, to get back to my original point: If you're a man, and a woman asks you how she looks, you can't say she looks bad without receiving immediate and well-deserved outrage. But you also can't shower her with empty compliments about how her shoes complement her dress nicely because she'll know you're lying. She has spent countless hours worrying about the differences between her looks and Cindy Crawford's. Also, she suspects that you're not qualified to voice a subjective opinion on anybody's appearance. This may be because you have shaving cream in your hair and inside the folds of your ears.
Unit 3 Text A
Fred Smith and FedEx: The vision that changed the world
1 Every night several hundred planes bearing a purple, white, and orange design touch down at Memphis Airport, in Tennessee. What precedes this landing are package pick-ups from locations all over the United States earlier in the day. Crews unload the planes' cargo of more than half a million parcels and letters. The rectangular packages and envelopes are rapidly reshuffled and sorted according to address, then loaded onto other aircraft, and flown to their destinations to be dispersed by hand — many within 24 hours of leaving their senders. This is the culmination of a dream of Frederick W. Smith, the founder, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of the FedEx Corp. — known originally as Federal Express — the largest and most successful overnight delivery service in the world. Conceived when he was in college and now in its 28th year of operation, Smith's exquisite brainchild has become the standard for door-to-door package delivery.
2 Recognized as an outstanding entrepreneur with an agreeable and winning personality, Smith is held in high regard by his competitors as well as his employees and stockholders. Fred Smith was just 27 when he founded FedEx. Now, so many years later, he's still the "captain of the ship". He attributes the success of the company simply to leadership, something he deduced from his years in the military, and from his family.
3 Frederick Wallace Smith was born into a wealthy family clan on August 11, 194
4 in Mississippi. His father died when he was just four years old. As a juvenile, Smith was an invalid, suffering from a disease that left him unable to walk normally. He was picked on by bullies, and he learned to defend himself by swinging at them with his alloy walking stick. Cured of the disease by the age of l0, he became a star athlete in high school, playing football, basketball, and baseball.
4 Smith's passion was flying. At 15, he was operating a crop-duster over the skyline of the Mississippi Delta, a terrain so flat that there was little need for radar navigation. As a student at Yale University, he helped revive the Yale flying club; its alumni had populated naval aviation history, including the famous "Millionaires' Unit" in World War I. Smith administrated the club's business end and ran a small charter operation in New Haven.
5 With his study time disrupted by flying, his academic performance suffered, but Smith never stopped looking for his own "big idea". He thought he had found it when he wrote a term paper for an economics class. He drafted a prototype for a transportation company that would guarantee overnight delivery of small,
time-sensitive goods, such as replacement parts and medical supplies, to major US regions. The professor wasn't impressed and told Smith he couldn't quantify the idea and clearly it wasn't feasible.
6 However, Smith was certain he was onto something, even though several more years elapsed before he could turn his idea into reality. In the interim, he graduated from Yale in 1966, just as America's involvement in the Vietnam War was deepening. Since he was a patriot and had attended officers' training classes, he joined the Marines.
7 Smith completed two tours in Vietnam, eventually flying more than 200 missions. "In the military, leadership means getting a group of people to subordinate their individual desires and ambitions for the achievement of
organizational goals," Smith says, fusing together his military and business experiences. "And good leadership has very measurable effects on a company's bottom line."
8 Home from Vietnam, Smith became fascinated by the notion that if you connected all the points of a network through an intermediary hub, the streamlined efficiency could be enormous compared to other disjointed, decentralized businesses, whether the system involved moving packages and letters or people and planes. He decided to take a stab at starting his own business. With an investment from his father's company, as well as a chunk of his own inheritance, Smith bought his first delivery planes and in 1971 formed the Federal Express.
9 The early days were underscored by extreme frugality and financial losses. It was not uncommon for FedEx drivers to pay for gasoline for their vans out of their own pockets. But despite such problems, Smith showed concern for the welfare of his employees. Just as he recalled, even when they didn't have the money, even when there weren't couches in the office and electric typewriters, they still set the precedent to ensure a good medical and dental plan for their people.
10 Along the way, FedEx pioneered centralization and the "hub and spoke" system, which has since been adopted by almost all major airlines. The phrase FedEx it has become a fixture in our language as much as Xerox or Google.
11 Smith says success in business boils down to three things. First, you need to have appealing product or service and a compelling strategy. Then you need to have an efficient management system. Assuming you have those things, leading a team is the single most important issue in running an organization today.
12 Although Smith avoids the media and the trappings of public life, he is said to be a friendly and accessible employer. He values his people and never takes them for granted. He reportedly visits FedEx's Memphis site at night from time to time and addresses sorters by name. For years he extended an offer to any courier with 10 years of service to come to Memphis for an "anniversary breakfast". That embodies Fred Smith's philosophy: People, Service, Profit (P-S-P). Smith says, "The P-S-P philosophy is like an unbroken circle or chain. There are no clearly definable points of entry or exit. Each link upholds the others and is, in turn, supported by them." In articulating this philosophy and in personally involving himself in its implementation, Frederick Smith is the forerunner of the new sphere of leadership that success in the future will demand.
Unit 4 Text A
Achieving sustainable environmentalism
1 Environmental sensitivity is now as required an attitude in polite society as is, say, belief in democracy or disapproval of plastic surgery. But now that everyone from Ted Turner to George H.W.Bush has claimed love for Mother Earth, how are we to choose among the dozens of conflicting proposals, regulations and laws advanced by congressmen and constituents alike in the name of the environment? Clearly, not everything with an environmental claim is worth doing. How do we segregate the best options and consolidate our varying interests into a single, sound policy?
2 There is a simple way. First, differentiate between environmental luxuries and environmental necessities. Luxuries are those things that would be nice to have if costless. Necessities are those things we must have regardless. Call this distinction the definitive rule of sane environmentalism, which stipulates that combating ecological change that directly threatens the health and safety of people is an environmental necessity. All else is luxury.
3 For example, preserving the atmosphere — stopping ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect — is an environmental necessity. Recently, scientists reported that ozone damage is far worse than previously thought. Ozone depletion has a correlation not only with skin cancer and eye problems, it also destroys the ocean's ecology, the beginning of the food chain atop which we humans sit.
4 The possible thermal consequences of the greenhouse effect are far deadlier: melting ice caps, flooded coastlines, disrupted climate, dry plains and, ultimately, empty breadbaskets. The American Midwest feeds people at all corners of the atlas. With the planetary climate changes, are we prepared to see Iowa take on New Mexico's desert climate, or Siberia take on Iowa's moderate climate?
5 Ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect are human disasters, and they are urgent because they directly threaten humanity and are not easily reversible. A sane environmentalism, the only kind of environmentalism that will strike a chord with the general public, begins by openly declaring that nature is here to serve human beings. A sane environmentalism is entirely a human focused regime: It calls upon humanity to preserve nature, but merely within the parameters of self-survival.
6 Of course, this human focus runs against the grain of a contemporary environmentalism that indulges in overt earth worship. Some people even allege that the earth is a living organism. This kind of environmentalism likes to consider itself spiritual. It is nothing more than sentimental. It takes, for example, a highly selective view of the kindness of nature, one that is incompatible with the reality of natural disasters. My nature worship stops with the twister that came through Kansas or the dreadful rains in Bangladesh that eradicated whole villages and left millions homeless.
7 A non-sentimental environmentalism is one founded on Protagoras's idea that "Man is the measure of all things." In establishing the sovereignty of man, such a principle helps us through the dense forest of environmental arguments. Take the current debate raging over oil drilling in a corner of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Environmentalist coalitions, mobilizing against a legislative action working its way through the US Congress for the legalization of such exploration, propagate that Americans should be preserving and economizing energy instead of drilling for it. This is a false either-or proposition. The US does need a sizable energy tax to reduce consumption. But it needs more production too. Government estimates indicate a nearly fifty-fifty chance that under the ANWR rests one of the five largest oil fields ever discovered in America. It seems illogical that we are not finding safe ways to drill for oil in the ANWR.
8 The US has just come through a war fought in part over oil. Energy dependence costs Americans not just dollars but lives. It is a bizarre sentimentalism that would deny oil that is peacefully attainable because it risks disrupting the birthing grounds of Arctic caribou.
9 I like the caribou as much as the next person. And I would be rather sorry if their mating patterns were disturbed. But you can't have your cake and eat it too. And in the standoff of the welfare of caribou versus reducing an oil reliance that gets people killed in wars, I choose people over caribou every time.
10 I feel similarly about the spotted owl in Oregon. I am no enemy of the owl. If it could be preserved at a negligible cost, I would agree that it should be — biodiversity is after all necessary to the ecosystem. But we must remember that not every species is needed to keep that diversity. Sometimes aesthetic aspects of life have to be sacrificed to more fundamental ones. If the cost of preserving the spotted owl is the loss of livelihood for 30,000 logging families, I choose the families (with their saws and chopped timber) over the owl.
11 The important distinction is between those environmental goods that are fundamental and those that are not. Nature is our ward, not our master. It is to be respected and even cultivated. But when humans have to choose between their own well-being and that of nature, nature will have to accommodate.
12 Humanity should accommodate only when its fate and that of nature are inseparably bound up. The most urgent maneuver must be undertaken when the very integrity of humanity's habitat, e.g., the atmosphere or the essential geology that sustains the core of the earth, is threatened. When the threat to humanity is lower in the hierarchy of necessity, a more modest accommodation that balances economic against health concerns is in order. But in either case the principle is the same: protect the environment — because it is humanity's environment.
13 The sentimental environmentalists will call this saving nature with a totally wrong frame of mind. Exactly. A sane and intelligible environmentalism does it not for nature's sake but for our own.
Unit 5 Text A
Speaking Chinese in America
1 Once, at a dinner on the Monterey Peninsula, California, my mother whispered to me confidentially: "Sau-sau (brother's wife) pretends too hard to be a polite recipient! Why bother with such nominal courtesy? In the end, she always takes everything."
2 My mother acted like a waixiao, an emigrant, no longer patient with old taboos and courtesies. To prove her point, she reached across the table to offer my elderly aunt from Beijing the last scallop from the garlic seafood dish, along with the flank steak and the cucumber salad.
3 Sau-sau frowned. "B'yao, zhen b'yao!" she cried, patting her substantial stomach. I don't want it, really I don't.
4 "Take it! Take it!" my mother scolded in Chinese, as predictably as the lunar cycles.
5 "Full, I'm already full," Sau-sau muttered weakly, eying the scallop.
6 "Ai!" exclaimed my mother. "Nobody wants it. It will only rot!"
7 Sau-sau sighed, acting as if she were doing my mother a favor by taking the scrap off the tray and sparing us the trouble of wrapping the leftovers in foil.
8 My mother turned to her brother, an experienced Chinese magistrate, visiting us for the first time. "In America,
a Chinese person could starve to death. If you don't breach the old rules of etiquette and say you want it, they won't ask you again."
9 My uncle nodded and said he understood fully: Americans take things quickly because they have no time to be polite.
10 I read an article in The New York Times Magazine on changes in New York's little cultural colony of Chinatown, where the author mentioned that the interwoven configuration of Chinese language and culture renders its speech indirect and polite. Chinese people are so "discreet and modest", the article started, that there aren't even words for "yes" and "no".
11 Why do people keep fabricating these rumors? I thought. They describe us as though we were a tribe of those little dolls sold in Chinatown tourist shops, heads moving up and down in contented agreement!
12 As any child of immigrant parents knows, there is a special kind of double bind attached to knowing two languages. My parents, for example, spoke to me in both Chinese and English; I spoke back to them in English.