I have this English class, Research & Argumentative Writing, which is ongoing. I have to pass it to graduate in December. It is good that the University would not let me test out of this class, since I have no skill for either of its major pillars.
As part of the weekly assignments, I die a little. There is a "discussion" thread, upon which no discussions actually take place. People make statements and people make other statements that may or may not agree with them, which can often include such incisive language as "I agree." Sometimes the statements share relevant content. Even more rarely, they indicate that the poster has read and digrested the comments of anyone else on the board. Some of the posters are obviously posting from Soviet-era telegraph machines that offer no spacing, spell checking or formatting of any kind, while others are posting without the benefits of literacy. Some of these "people" have to be comment-generating robots or something, though one thinks robots would have come farther along by this point. Any dissection or deconstruction of the thread's "content" is generally not done, and if you were to say, point-by-point refute someone's argument, that would be considered aggressive and overwhelming.
Topics include softballs like "the survivability of the movie industry" and "compare and contrast yourself with someone important in your life." My fellow posters really only get into it when they can judge the morals of others in regards to marriage, gay rights, computer dating, or porn. This week's post is about honesty. The prompt reads:
"There is evidence that academic dishonesty (plagiarism, cheating, etc.) in schools is growing. Some schools have "honor codes," which include pledges signed by their students promising to complete work honestly. What do you think about the idea of "honor codes?"
What do you think about the problem of academic dishonesty? Have you witnessed or been a victim of it? Is it appropriate for university students to serve alongside administration in reviewing cases of academic dishonesty? Why or why not?"
Here is my post for this week:
I, for one, think dishonesty gets a bad rap.
Lying (either by direction or omission) is frequently the engine that drives progress. Our elected officials lie to us not just to get elected, but also to protect us in matters of national security, or to keep us from having information that might be harmful to our daily lives. Great histories paint with a brush of obfuscation, leaving out that which does not cast them in a favorable light, and the result is national pride, patriotism & heritage. In our daily lives, who among us does not lie to our children to protect them from awful truths, or lie to friends, family and co-workers about how "our phone was off" or "how nice that new dress is?" Lying is a fundamental part of many professions, it is simply how the world works.
That said, learning to lie at the college level is an essential skill for later life, which demands dishonesty. If one can get the answers more easily without working at it, doesn't that just make for a more efficient and quicker-working society? Why do work someone else has already done? "Plagiarism" is an outmoded concept in an age where information is free, and because of fundamental dishonesty, disinformation or misinformation has the same currency as anything factual. "Truth" is a pliable concept. "Honor codes" are all well and good in an age where honor is a fluid concept that includes lying to your fellows when you feel it is in their (or your) best interest, but even they should be malleable and adherent to situational ethics.
Of course, I may not actually feel this way. I could be lying.