Thursday, February 23, 2017


“Our brains don’t let piddling little facts get in the way of a good story, allowing lies to infect the mind with suprising ease.”
By: David Robson
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Experts Explain: Norbert Schwarz and Eryn Newman on 'Truthiness' and Political Fact Checks
1.       What conclusion can be drawn from the account of flesh eating bananas?
2.       Why is the story of the flesh eating bananas significant?
3.       What examples are provided in the text of the above?
4.       Look at the two questions in the text quickly and answer them. Why, according to the text, did you not notice the mistake?
5.       We understand from the text that our decisions are influenced less by cognitive powers / rational arguments / instinctive reactions / family and friends / statements by celebrities.
6.       Consider the following example: a woman is in an abusive relationship. She complains about it every day to her neighbor. One day, she hits him over the head because she says he was trying to beat her. Would the neighbor believe her when she says she hit him in self defense? Would the neighbor believe the husband if he said he hadn’t touched her? Why?
7.       Read the following excerpt from a paper by Prof. Simon Springer “The choice of doing the first conference in an Italian small town like Reggio Emilia, where an established local anarchist movement already promoted events and publications on anarchist geographers is instrumental to the capital tasks of continuing a discussion among scholars and militants from different linguistic and cultural areas, and ensuring discussions involve grassroots movements and militant situations outside the academy” . How effective would he be in convincing the rest of his group to hold the meeting in this town? What suggestions would you give him so as to improve his chances? Use your own words.
8.       Watch the following two videos:
·         Stephan Lewandowsky - The Rejection Of Climate Science And Motivated Reasoning
·         Stephan Lewandowsky: Denial of Science Always Involves a Component of Conspiratorial Thought 
Now explain clearly why some people reacted so strongly to the Professor’s papers?
9.       Read the first two paragraphs of the section titled “Fraying Myths”. We can draw the conclusion from this section that:
·         Debunked myths are an integral part of our mental models
·         It is very hard to get rid of a debunked myth
·         Our world views determine who we are as people
·         People don’t like gaps in their mental representation
    10. There is a belief that leaches are useful in the treatment of varicose veins. In fact the leeches are sold openly for this purpose. But a respected doctor, Gregg A. Reger, MD
 says the following: “Leeches would have no effect on varicose veins but other highly effective treatments are available”. Would this be enough to convince the leech advocates? Explain.
11.   Now watch the following video and answer the same question: Would this be enough to convince the leech advocates? Explain.
12.   Google the following: The link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Check out the number of texts and videos. One factor that has fueled belief in this link is:
·         The number of scientific studies
·         The number of first-person reports
·         The amount of evidence to the contrary
·         The amount of material about the issue
13.   The conclusion of the text constitutes recent examples / a warning / implications / flaws / solutions.
Use all you have learnt to analyse the reasons why it is easy to spread misinformation.
This is a very topical text as it covers a currently trending topic: misinformation, and the reasons why we are so ready to believe it. This is a scientific text and examines the issue in terms of various typical human idiosyncrasies. The videos relate closely to the text and have been incorporated into the task
1.       Humans are gullible
2.       Because such cracks in our rational thinking can have serious, even dangerous, consequences
3.       HIV is harmless vitamin D supplements can cure AIDS
4.       Because we to save time and energy, our brains use intuition rather than analysis. I would not accept “cognitive misers” as an answer because it is not explicit enough
5.       Rational arguments
6.       The neighbor would believe the woman but not the husband because their story fits in with her expectations
7.       No he would not be successful; the paragraph lacks cognitive fluency. Possible answer: he should simplify the language and write in an easy to read font; he should have a picture of himself and have pictures of the town
8.       The reason was conspiratorial thinking which means believing that nothing happens by accident, nothing is irrelevant and everything has to have a very sinister purpose.
9.       It is very hard to get rid of a debunked myth
10.   No it would not because the doctor does not come up with an alternative.
11.   Yes it would because he suggests an alternative form of treatment.
12.   The amount of material about the issue
13.   A warning

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


The world’s oceans are facing numerous problems from warming to increased acidity; from plastic pollution to radioactive pollution.  Go to the link below and study the problems facing the world’s oceans. When you have compiled the necessary notes, write an essay detailing what you have learnt.
The Economist “Water, Water Everywhere”


“Doctored images can affect what we eat, how we vote and even our childhood recollections. The question scientists are asking is why there’s nothing we can do to stop it.”
By: Rose Eveleth
Level of Difficulty: **
·        Elizabeth Loftus: How reliable is your memory?

·         Scott Fraser: Why eyewitnesses get it wrong

1.       What exactly is the “glitch” that the writer refers to? The fact that….
2.       The writer implies that the way our memories are formed and the way our minds work makes deception easier / makes forgetting easier / makes remembering easier/ makes misdirection easier / makes misconduct easier.
3.       What conclusion can be drawn from the experiment with the hot air balloon and the one with Bugs Bunny?
4.       What surprising discovery was made as a result of the gambling experiment?
5.       Imagine you wanted to remove the word “it” at the end of the sentence beginning “Of course, people aren’t walking…”. What would you replace it with? Be careful. This is a grammar question and has one answer.
6.       The study involving protests demonstrated that it is possible to promote damage to property /alter attitudes to protests / make protests more crowded / increase the danger of injuries.
7.       Most news channels have plenty of visual material on their websites. We learn from the article that this could be because……
8.       Who would be more likely to believe photos showing Vladimir Putin saving beached whales?
9.       What innate problem seems to prevent people from being able to pick out fake images? The human inability to…
10.   Why, according to the text, do we remember a particular joke but not who told it? Because although we remember the joke, …………………………..
11.   The bad news concerning all the experiments involving fake images is that …
12.   What is the difference between the examples of doctored images provided in the paragraph beginning “The worry” and the photograph of John Kerry at a Vietnam War protest. Explain in your own words.
13.   The take home point from this text is that our memory is often…..and therefore open to manipulation.
Write a cause and effect essay where you discuss the reasons why fake news has such a powerful grip on people’s minds.
The issue of fake news has been dominating the headlines around the world so it will be interesting to analyse the reasons why such news has such a grip on our minds even if it is proved to be wrong. The text examines the reasons for this issue and reports the findings of studies that have been carried out.
1.       The fact that human memory is like a desert mirage
2.       Makes misdirection easier
3.       Old memories seem the easiest to manipulate
4.       Even after being told that the footage was doctored, participants sometimes recalled the cheating that never happened.
5.       That you have seen them
6.       Alter attitudes to protests
7.       People trust photographs so much that they actually place more weight on information that is accompanied with an image (regardless of…)
8.       His supporters
9.       Analyse lighting and reflections
10.   We don’t remember where the information came from.
11.   There is not much that anyone can really do to guard against being duped by these images
12.   Possible answer: d├ęcor or props are added in the first case. The events did actually take place. The event is completely wrong in the second case; it never happened at all.
13.   Non-factual

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Callous disregard for the short term and long term impacts of radiation characterized the nuclear testing during the cold war. Do your research and find out what exactly was done and what the impacts have been. Then write an essay where you describe the problem and its effects.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Victims of Nuclear Testing
·         Effects of a nuclear bomb
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Slow Death In Kazakhstan's Land Of Nuclear Tests
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         THE POLYGON Documentary
·         The Polygon Nuclear Testing Site
·         Kazakhstan's nuclear curse - 29 Aug 09

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Do your research and find out what exactly permafrost is, how it is formed and the serious implications of its thawing.  When you are ready, write an essay in which set out the problem and discuss the potential effects.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Arctic permafrost and Methane
 Reading material to make notes on
·         Permafrost in a warming world
·         Climate threat: thawing tundra releases infected corpses
·         Anthrax outbreak in Russia thought to be result of thawing permafrost
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Permafrost – What is it?
·         Permafrost: The ticking time bomb

·         Alaska’s thawing permafrost

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Keeping prisoners from reoffending and going back to prison is in everybody’s interest. Prisons are a drain on the economy before anything else. To be able to prevent first time offenders from reoffending, they need to be rehabilitated and helped to become productive members of society. Do your research and discover how this is achieved and write a problem and solution essay on the topic. Make sure you don’t stray off topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue :
·         How can we best rehabilitate prisoners so that they become productive members of society?
Reading material to make notes on :
·         Rehabilitation for criminals
·         Successful rehabilitation of today’s criminals
·         Prison re-entry programs help inmates leave the criminal mindset behind, but few have access to the classes
Videos to watch and take notes from :
·         Obama Weekly Address: Disrupting The School To Prison Pipeline
·         Prison rehabilitation

·         The process of rehabilitating prisoners  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Concern about damage to the environment and the imminent depletion of fossil fuels has led to a search for environmentally friendly, practical and plentiful sources of energy one of which is biofuels. Do your research and discover what biofuel is and what its advantages and disadvantages are. Then write an essay where you discuss them.
Familiarize yourself with the topic:
·         What is Biofuel?
·         What is biomass? ?
Reading material to make notes on
·         What are Biofuels?
·         Biofuel facts
·         Types of biofuels
·         Biofuel uses
·         Advantages of biofuels
·         Disadvantages of biofuels
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Are Algae Biofuels the Future of Energy? : Jerry Brand
Renewable energies: the return of biomass


“Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behavior and sense of self”
By: David Robson
Level of difficulty: **
·         Individualistic versus collectivistic cultures
Individualism versus Collectivism
1.       Which sentence best summarizes the first three paragraphs of the text?
·         Hokkaido was very similar to the American Wild West
·         Hokkaido was completely unfit for human habitation
·         Hokkaido was a very inhospitable place to live
·         Hokkaido was tough to reach and live on
·         Only the Ainu people were equipped to live on Hokkaido
2.       Why was the decision taken to reclaim the island of Hokkaido?
3.       What surprising discovery has been made about the residents of Hokkaido? Two answers
4.       The example of Hokkaido is provided to support the contention that…………………..
5.       What wrong assumption by researchers in the field of psychology probably led to misleading results? The assumption that…
6.       Read the two examples that follow and try and explain the reasons why the students acted as they did. Use your own words.
·         Consider the following incident that took place in an English class in Japan: Students were asked a question based on a reading passage that had just been covered. Nobody raised their hands to answer. The teacher later discovered that at least a third of the students knew the answer.
·         Now consider the following incident which took place during a German class in the US: Students were asked a question based on a reading passage. Most of the class raised their hands. The student who was told to answer the question got it wrong. One student called out the answer and was reprimanded for doing so.
7.       Consider the following example: You are walking down the street and you see a woman yelling at a boy and then you see her slap him. He starts to cry and she drags him off home. You react as follows:
·         You are angry. You think the mother is abusive and she doesn’t deserve to have kids
·         You wonder what the kid has done to deserve a beating
In which case are you thinking holistically?
8.       Consider the following list of terms items: pin, needle, thread. Which two would a holistic thinker not choose? Why?
9.       Look at this picture of the traffic accident: You are a traffic policeman. You see various people standing around. Who would you ask about the cars which are driving away?
10.   Second and third generation Turkish immigrants in Germany may experience change in their social orientation because…
11.   We understand from the paragraph beginning “But” that the teachings of people like Enlightenment scholars probably led people in Europe and America to focus on…..
12.   Read the section of the text comparing the Wild West and Hokkaido. We understand from this section that the independent spirit and increased individualism is fostered by: Select as many as fit.
·         The harsh living conditions of the two locations
·         Trying to cope with life in these two locations
·         The pioneering spirit of the people in these two locations
·         The battle with the wilderness in these two locations
13.   Consider the following example: A young boy steals some food from a supermarket. Your reaction is to think that he was probably hungry and couldn’t afford food / he was badly brought up and a thief. What kind of a culture have you been brought up in?
14.   We understand from the paragraph detailing germ theory that the relationship between social outlook and response to disease is
·         Untenable
·         Valid
·         Invalid
·         Irrefutable
·         Probable
15.   We understand from the section detailing the relationship between crops and social orientation that the more……………..the growing of the crop, the more………………the culture and vice versa.
16.   We understand from the same section that the correlation between wheat and rice farming and social orientation is
·         Untenable
·         Valid
·         Invalid
·         Irrefutable
·         Probable
17.   Read the section titled “Cognitive Kaleidoscope”. What function does it serve? How do you know?
Use all that you have learnt to compare and contrast the two forms of social orientation discussed in the text: individualism and collectivism.
This relatively simple text addresses ways of thinking, perspectives and attitudes which are shared by people in various parts of the world and can lead to a good writing task. The text has also allowed me to write questions including examples that are not in the text to test students’ comprehension.
1.       The fourth
2.       Because they feared a Russian invasion
3.       The frontier spirit still touches the way they think / Their cognitive profile is closer to America than the rest of Japan
4.       History, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways
5.       Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic people could represent universal truths about human nature
6.       Possible answer: The Japanese culture is collectivist and they tend to underestimate their abilities but the US culture is individualistic and people with such a cultural background thirst for self validation and demonstrate overconfidence
7.       The second
8.       Pin and needle; there is no functional relationship between them
9.       An east Asian
10.   Our social orientation is learned from others (in this case Germans and German society)
11.   Freedom and independence
12.   Two and four
13.   Depends on your choice: if you take the first one, you were brought up in a collectivist culture; if you chose the second one, you were brought up in an individualistic society
14.   Probable
15.   Labour intensive, collectivist
16.   Valid
17.   It is the conclusion. It goes beyond the text and refers to the future. It is more general than the content of the development

Thursday, February 9, 2017


“It’s not the kind of thing you can normally bring up in a conversation”
By: Renuka Rayasam
Level of difficulty:*
·         Watch the video: 5 steps to improve customer satisfaction
·         Learn about the company presented as an example in the text
·         Now study the findings of the Deloitte’s workplace pulse survey
1.       We understand from the information about Pink Jeep that their main key to success is
·         The fact that they drive distinctive pink jeeps
·         The fact that they are unlike any other company
·         The fact that the guides wonderful people
·         The fact that they think customer satisfaction is vital
2.       The reason for the above is the fact that…..
3.       We learn from the text that ……………..may bring down barriers and bring people together in the business community.
4.       We deduce from the Deloitte study that CEO’s need to be: mark as many as necessary
·         More human
·         More approachable
·         More professional
·         More businesslike
·         More personal
·         More experienced
5.       What Kohut means by warmth is: mark the odd one out
·         Understanding
·         Empathy
·         Sympathy
·         Closeness
6.       We understand from the Princeton study that warmth can: Mark true or false
·         Bring people together
·         Promote business
·         Increase trust
·         Decrease snap judgments
7.       Companies cannot disregard the importance of customer loyalty in the modern world because…………………………………
8.       We understand from the text that warmth can be evaluated by: mark the odd one out
·         Conducting questionnaires involving everyone
·         Sitting down and talking to people at the firm
·         Giving brownie points for helping the company
·         Conducting questionnaires with the public
9.       Read the example of Grant &Toy. It is implied in this section that the customers didn’t trust the company because the company had never offered proof to the effect / was losing business to competitors . Circle the correct answer.
10.   Read the last four paragraphs of the text. We can draw the conclusion from this section that Grand &Toy should do what Pink Jeep is doing and………………….
Write a brief summary of the text. If you don’t know how to write summaries, check out the videos under Learning Strategies on this blog.
Most business texts are quite complicated but there are many adult learners who wish to tackle issues related to the business world at a more simple level. This text is relatively straight forward, and the accompanying task is pre intermediate in level but it is about a very serious issue: increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty
1.       The third one
2.       The company’s guides must complete 150 hours of training before giving a tour
3.       Warmth
4.       More human, more approachable (Nothing else will fit)
5.       Closeness
6.       The last one is false, the rest are true. (Making snap judgments is a fact of life)
7.       With social media, customers notice ill intent and the word travels further and faster
8.       Number two
9.       The first
10.   Upgrade its hiring and training programs