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3.6 Taking an objective, analytical stance

One of the things I said an essay should be is ‘objective’. What does that mean? Being objective about something means standing back from it and looking at it coolly. It means focusing your attention on the ‘object’, on what you are discussing, and not on yourself and your own (subjective) feelings about it. Your ideas should be able to survive detailed inspection by other people who are not emotionally committed to them.

An essay should argue by force of reason, not emot
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1.3.5 Stage 3: Details

Now examine the piece in more detail. Read it again slowly making sure that you are able to follow its logic from sentence to sentence. Are there any obvious gaps in the argument or any unsubstantiated statements or assertions? Do you agree with its argument or are you attracted by its message? Is its appeal principally emotional or analytical, or both? Analyse the piece in terms of what it doesn't say as well as what it does, and look for its hidden message. What is the scope of the sample o
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1.3.4 Stage 2: Find a way in

Bearing in mind your analysis of the overt purpose of the piece of writing, whether it is explicitly social science or art, politics, entertainment etc., try to establish its basic point, its most obvious message. What is the title or headline; is it clear and ‘factual’, does it refer to some previous debate or require some sort of previous knowledge? Are there sub-headings and can you get an idea of how the ‘story’ goes from them? Skim read the introduction and the conclusion. Can yo
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Introduction

Social scientists collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways. Such evidence is crucial to the practice of social science and to the production of social scientific knowledge.

You may be aware of the idea of active reading, which is about reading with the aim of understanding and grasping something: a definition, an argument, a piece of evidence. What that suggests is that active reading is about reading and thinking at the same time. In
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References

Croall, H. (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Harlow, Addison Wesley Longman.
Smith, D.J. (1997) ‘Ethnic origins, crime and criminal justice’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd edn), Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Zedner, L. (1997) ‘Victims’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Ha
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2.3 Reading techniques: focused reading

Activity 4

Have a go at reading The Scotsman article again, this time in a more focused way. Think about each section of the text, breaking off at regular intervals in order to identify and extract the main points or examples, a
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2.1 Reading techniques: scanning

There are three main techniques that you can use in order to read in such a way as to achieve your purpose: scanning, skimming, and focused reading. Let's take each in turn.

The technique of scanning is a useful one to use if you want to get an overview of the text you are reading as a whole – its shape, the focus of each section, the topics or key issues that are dealt with, and so on. In order to scan a piece of text you might look for sub-headings or identify key words and p
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Starting with psychology
The most ‘important and greatest puzzle’ we face as humans is ourselves (Boring, 1950, p. 56). Humans are a puzzle – one that is complex, subtle and multi-layered, and it gets even more complicated as we evolve over time and change in different contexts. When answering the question ‘What makes us who we are?’, psychologists put forward a range of explanations about why people feel, think and behave the way they do. Just when psychologists seem to understand one bit of ‘who we are’
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The autistic spectrum: From theory to practice
Most of us have a very vague and narrow concept of what autism is, based mainly on such stereotypes as Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man. In this unit you will discover that there is a wide spectrum of disorders associated with autism, and an equally wide range of approaches to diagnosis and treatment. First published on Tue, 04 Dec 2012 as
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licencelicence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Prop
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4.3 Attending across modalities

The preceding section raised the issue of attention operating (and to some extent failing) across two sensory modalities. By focusing on distraction we ignored the fact that sight and sound (and other senses) often convey mutually supporting information. A classic example is lip-reading. Although few of us would claim any lip-reading skills, it turns out that, particularly in noisy surroundings, we supplement our hearing considerably by watching lip movements. If attention is concerned with u
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2.3 Towards a theory of parallel processing

When people are asked to guess about masked material, they are commonly able to provide some information, but it often lacks detail. For example, if participants in a Sperling-type experiment have recalled three letters, but are pressed for more, then they can often provide one or two. However, they generally do not know information such as whereabouts in the display the letters occurred, or what colour they were. These, of course, are exactly the kinds of detail that can be used to select it
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1.4 Eavesdropping on the unattended message

It was not long before researchers devised more complex ways of testing Broadbent's theory of attention, and it soon became clear that it could not be entirely correct. Even in the absence of formal experiments, common experiences might lead one to question the theory. An oft-cited example is the cocktail party effect. Imagine you are attending a noisy party, but your auditory location system is working wonderfully, enabling you to focus upon one particular conversation. Suddenly, from
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1.2 Disentangling sounds

If you are still feeling aggrieved about the shortcomings of evolution, then you might take heart from the remarkable way in which the auditory system has evolved so as to avoid a serious potential problem. Unlike our eyes, our ears cannot be directed so as to avoid registering material that we wish to ignore; whatever sounds are present in the environment, we must inevitably be exposed to them. In a busy setting such as a party we are swamped by simultaneous sounds – people in different pa
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3.6 Reflecting on dyslexia

Throughout this unit, dyslexia has been evaluated as an example of ‘abnormality’, a difficulty, a problem in need of an intervention. However, research has shown that some adults with dyslexia are distinctive, not just in their difficulties, but also in their increased levels of creative reasoning compared to ‘normal’ people (Everatt 1997). West (1997) reports that Nicholas Negroponte, the founding member of the Media Lab at the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology<
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2.3 Biological explanations of dyslexia

Some physical characteristics appear to be ‘typical’ of people with reading difficulties, although their relevance is debated. These include being male, tendencies towards left-handedness or mixed-handedness (i.e. inconsistency of hand preference across different tasks), and a variety of neurological 'soft’ signs and minor physical anomalies. We will consider each of these in detail in the sections that follow. There is also some evidence that people with dyslexia (and the
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2.2.3 ‘Automaticity’ and ‘rate of processing’ hypotheses

A proposal that attempts to address the broader picture of dyslexic functioning is that dyslexia may be caused by problems in the automatisation of skills. The concept of automatisation refers to the gradual reduction in the need for conscious control as a new skill is learned. This leads to greater speed and efficiency and a decreased likelihood of breakdown of performance under stress, as well as the ability to perform a second task at the same time with minimal disruption to
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1.7.3 Differentiating dyslexia from other developmental conditions

While dyslexia is distinctive, there are other developmental syndromes that often co-occur with it. Examples include:

  • developmental dysphasia – specific difficulties with spoken language

  • attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder – involving particular problems with concentration and/or behaviour

  • developmental dyspraxia – developmental coordination disorder.

Developmental dysphasia


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1.4 Experiencing dyslexia

To illustrate just how problematic the idea of ‘abnormality’ is in practice, we will consider the condition of developmental dyslexia, dyslexia for short. Dyslexia is relatively common and you may have knowledge of it from friends or personal experience. The following section illustrates many of the difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia, and it also highlights more generally some of the problems that can occur if you are not, in some sense, ‘normal’.


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1.2.2 Medical approaches to normality

What did you write for ‘normal’ eyesight? The ability to see clearly without glasses? It is unlikely that you wrote down short- or long-sightedness as an example of ‘normal’ eyesight, even though they are very common. However, they are not seen as ‘normal’ because having to wear glasses is perceived as a limitation or even a form of disability. This relates to one of several so-called ‘medical models’ of normality, which centre on the idea of uniformity of physical and psychol
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