Is there any point in trying to predict future trends?

JC General Paper

Yes there is a point in predicting future trends 

Predicting future trends is not pointless especially when the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are ultimately at stake. This applies to anything from the economy of the world, to business trends for companies and even the potential of a natural disaster to occur. For instance, meteorologists save hundreds of thousands of lives when they are able to predict the movements of storms and to evacuate the people in time. Also, it is important to have technologies to predict the next natural disaster so that millions of lives would not be lost in the process. Successful politicians would be able to predict the demographic trends of the world and to prepare their country accordingly. The survival of a country’s economy is also dependent on economists and government’s ability to predict the next economic recession and to help the country weather the storm.

The prediction of future trends is necessary of any decision-making and to allow oneself to stay relevant in this competitive world. Even if these future trends could be predicted wrongly or inaccurately, they are still an important basis for forward thinking for any individual or organization. One should not mistaken the difficulty of predicting trends with the futility of trend predictions. After all, it is always better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard and made irrelevant. For instance, it is critical for politicians and economists to predict the direction of the economy so that they can prepare citizens and formulate policies in accordance.  Accurate prediction is also important for risk-management in our lives.

Improvements in technologies have given us even greater reason to predict future trends. For instance, investment analysts are able to make use of softwares to predict the movements of stock prices using technical analysis or even the prediction of a whole economy using qualitative analysis. There is also impressive progress made in the field of Big Data that would improve the scope of information collected, helping us to make more precise prediction. As such, it makes investing as simple as pure science and maths, allowing more individuals to profit from the wealth of the stock market.

No there is no point in trying to predict future trends

Predicting trends does not help in preparing for the future at all, given how inaccurate these predictions often are. It is often a waste of money and resources to pay these analysts to predict the next hot stock or the next hot sector. Often, these datas are manipulated by investment banks to serve their own self-interests, and this works against the larger public. Black swan events tend to occur and there is no need to beat ourselves up over our inability to predict them. In fact, these events could serve as a learning point about our adaptability to world events. The ever changing context of the world is also a reason why predicting trends may not work.

Predicting trends usually come from an angle of fear of the future. It is also an attempt to control the unknown. Instead of approaching the future with a sense of fear, it is perhaps better to engage in mutual cooperation and preparation. It is more eventful to prepare the people against any potential threats such as terrorism.

Arts and Literature Questions

JC General Paper

Dear readers,

I’m sure some of you have realized that I have been posting essay outlines for arts and literature questions. Based on my teaching experience, many students do not like to attempt such questions because they are deemed to be difficult and boring. Most students do not even have an interest in the arts, resulting in them being unable to comment on such essays.

However, I would like to encourage you to consider such questions. I feel that the questions for this segment are quite predictable, meaning students can prepare their arguments before they even enter the examination halls. Also, since fewer students love to write such questions, the competition is definitely a lot less compared to Science and Technology questions… Finally, arts and literature questions are a lot more broad-based allowing students to expand the scope and demonstrate greater insights in their responses compared to how Science and Technology questions are becoming increasingly narrow.

Thus, based on the above reasons, shouldn’t you start looking at this topic to prepare for the A levels? Are you convinced right now?

PS Question selection is important when it comes to the A levels. Choosing the wrong question may cause you your grades. Any students here want to learn the fine art of question selection from me? 🙂 Do let me know.

‘Unlike the Arts, such as writing or music, Mathematics lacks the capacity for creativity.’ How far do you agree with this statement?

JC General Paper

‘Unlike the Arts, such as writing or music, Mathematics lacks the capacity for creativity.’ How far do you agree with this statement?

Agree:

Arts allows individuals the space to explore and create possibilities based on their own imaginations. Multiple viewpoints can congregate and amalgamate to form new ones. Arts is often seen to be the foundation of creativity. For instance, the composing of a music piece is unique to each musician and is very much dependent on their moods and creative feel. On the other hand, Mathematics is seen to be rigid and consistent. For instance, certain concepts behind engineering or architecture are fixed/cast in stone. Buildings depend on the consistency of mathematics reasoning and logic.

Arts is often tied to the human experience, and this gives individuals the chance to express their emotions and feelings. Often, the most creative art works are formulated during these period of times. The greatest artworks are created during political turmoil such as the French Revolution in order to reflect the emotions of the artists and the society at large.

Disagree:

Some may argue that Mathematics provide the framework for creativity to occur and that some mathematics concepts have led to creativity in the real world. For instance, the golden ratio concept has been applied to many great architecture works in the world. It has even been applied in the arts, nature and photography.

Every discipline makes use of Mathematics as a means to give tangible form to the unknown. Mathematics, like Arts, could be seen to be a form of expression as well. The construction of arguments and evaluation of logical concepts demands inventiveness and original viewpoints, suggesting a capacity for creativity.

It is pointless to argue whether the Arts or Mathematics bring about greater creativity. In fact, they often go hand in hand. Music is one example of this. Musical scales are expressed in numerical ratios, and harmonics can be expressed in mathematical relationships. We must understand that Arts and Mathematics seek to express our understanding of the world. They are different disciplines deeply intertwined at their roots that are able to yield fresh insights.

 

Fun Facts #2: Marriage

JC General Paper

#1: Couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to divorce than those who wait.

#2: There are 100 divorces every hour in the US.

#3: A law in 2013 in Iran allows men to marry their 13 year old adopted daughters.

#4: Inter-racial marriage is banned in the US from 1776 to 1967.

#5: 69% of marriage in Ethiopia occur through abduction.

Given these facts on marriage, what are the implications in terms of gender and race? It appears that marriage does not seem to be the choice of women in some places in the world #3 and #5. Marriage being a social construct in which the rules and norms change according to the context of society’s values?

Fun Facts #1: Marriage

JC General Paper

This is personally one of my favourite topics for the essays: Marriage and Family. While taking a look at these figures, we must also know what are the implications of these facts…

Here are some interesting facts that I have found:

#1: 75% of people who marry partners from an affair eventually divorce.

#2: 80% of all marriage in history were between second cousins or closer. Have the notions and morality of marriage shift over time? Who decides on these notions?

#3: In France, you can marry a dead person.

#4: First marriages that end in divorce usually last an average of 8 years.

#5: Marital infidelity was punishable with jail in South Korea until 2015. Does this necessarily hint towards a shift in moral attitudes in South Korea and the dilution of family ties?

Fun Facts #2: Climate Change

JC General Paper

#1: The golden toad is the first species to go extinct due to climate change.

#2: Around 15% of the carbon released in the environment is due to deforestation and change in use of land.

#3: Climate change enhances the spread of pests that causes life threatening diseases like dengue, malaria, Lyme disease etc.

#4: Due to the greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the earth is 15 degrees rather than -18 degrees without the greenhouse effect.

#5: The Kyoto Protocol, an organization formed to analyze and fight against climate change will cost more than 100 trillion dollars thus making developing and underdeveloped communities to participate.

#6: According to World Food Program (WPF.org), by 2015, the number of people affected by climate change disasters could reach 375 million per year.

#7: Above 600000 deaths occur worldwide every year due to climate change. 95% of these deaths take place in developing countries.

#8: Over the next 20 years, global warming is expected to increase by 0.2 degree per decade.

Should we embrace the advances of life science?

JC General Paper

Should we embrace the advances of life science?

This question assumes that the advances of life science should be met with some level of skepticism, for fear that there are harmful drawbacks from the pursuit of life science. What are some of these implications? Life sciences here could refer to cloning; stem cell research; bioengineering; 3D organ printing etc.

Some arguments you can consider for this essay:

Alongside these advances of life science, science has also brought about technology that helps save human life. The kidney dialysis machine enables many people to survive kidney diseases that would once have proved fatal, and artificial valves allow sufferers of coronary heart disease to return to active living. Biochemical research is responsible for the antibiotics and vaccinations that protect us from infectious diseases, and for a wide range of other drugs used to combat specific health problems. As a result, the majority of people on the planet now live longer and healthier lives than ever before.

Science has also been used to develop technology that raises complex ethical questions. This is particularly true in the fields of biology and medicine. Research involving genetic engineering, cloning, and in vitro fertilization gives scientists the unprecedented power to bring about new life, or to devise new forms of living things. Religious people may think that such advances of life science is akin to “playing God”.

Such advancement of life sciences may serve to widen the gap between the haves and the haves-not, since they will only be available to the rich. Will technologies like designer babies be the right and privilege of only the rich? What kind of social issues will we be facing?

Ev: One should always be skeptical with regards to the new inventions of life science. There have been cases where life sciences have been misused by scientists for their own personal fame and prestige. E.g. Hwang Woo-Suk became infamous for fabricating research experiments (cloning). It would be unthinkable if the scientific community actually make use of this fabricated results. But overall, the advances of life science should be embraced as long as they seek to improve the quality of life of an individual and do not infringe on any ethical considerations.

 

Animal rights is a futile pursuit. Discuss.

JC General Paper

Animal rights is a futile pursuit. Discuss.

1.At this current moment, humans have difficulty even preserving humans rights, to ask us to fight for animal rights seem a too far distant dream. Also, it questions the credibility of our fight for animal rights since we are already exploiting the humans of our kind. It does not make sense for animals rights to be championed at this current stage. e.g sweat shops in developing countries.

  1. Humans are intrinsically selfish by nature. Hence, in exchange for our own enjoyment and lowering of labour cost, companies may exploit animals rights for their own benefit. e.g Macdonalds which uses intensive farming unethical farming practices and even injecting steroids into bulls.  There are also reports of 10 chickens being stored in same cage. Even if we are aware of such practices carried out by these companies, but it does not seem to change any individual’s behaviour as they still support these companies.

  2. Animal rights encapsulates every single species. Humans get to be selective and only care about domestic animals. It is too selective in supporting the animal rights, only for domesticated animals. It is also very ironic that we tend to champion only certain animal rights (especially those animals that we consider to be “cute”).

  3. Animal rights is only alleviating the situation (main objective) and not eradicating the issues, hence we cannot say that it is futile. The aim of animals rights is to preserve the morality and dignity of the human race. Hence we should not trivialize the movement by saying that the animal right thing is futile. e.g, SPCA, PETA, WWF

P.s The culture would like to clarify that the above points are contributed by students during a class discussion. The writing in no way reflects the viewpoints of the tutor. For any clarification, please write in to theculture.

Format for Application Question (AQ)

JC General Paper

Here’s the format for the Application Question (AQ):

Intro- Brief summary of the author’s point; your overall stand + justification. Your justification should be in terms of Singapore’s related examples.

  1. Requirements a. Main Sentence/ Idea (identified from the passage). You can either quote directly from the author or to paraphrase his ideas. b. Your view/ stand.

  2. Explanation – Reasons to support your view.  Evidence from our country or personal experience.

  3. Evaluation: Balance- Looking from another perspective/ Opposing View come (Why some people might disagree with your view.) Reasons and evidence for the opposing view

  4. Consolidation: Putting it together -reasons why you stick to your original view rather than the opposing view.

Fun Facts #2: Crime and Punishment

JC General Paper

This is a continuation from our first post on Crime and Punishment…

#1: In ancient Rome, the preferred method of execution was crucifixion. Although largely abandoned as a method of execution by nearly every country in the world, at least one country still uses the method: Sudan. Crucifixion results in a slow, agonizing death, which is can be caused by a number of factors, and can take hours or even days before death occurs.

#2: Roughly 25 percent of people wrongfully convicted of a crime were found guilty due to incriminating statements and false confessions. There is a reason (other than profit) that so many lawyers say that people who are accused of a crime should never talk to the police without a lawyer present. That’s if they are fortunate enough to be in a place where the law requires representation for accused persons.

#3: Mistaken identification of the accused was said to be a factor in 77 percent of the cases where convicted criminals have been exonerated later due to DNA evidence.  Much of the time, a person’s ability to recognize faces is not quite as accurate as they believe it is, and is further complicated by the difficulty people have remembering faces of people whose race differs from their own.

#4: Of all cases of convicted criminals being exonerated due to DNA evidence, 15 percent of convictions were due in part to testimony by snitches or informants. One of the main problems with snitches is that they are often criminals themselves who are offered rewards (such as a reduced sentence) in exchange for their testimony against someone else.

#5: Thomas Edison invented the electric chair. Its development was spurred on by the cruelty of hanging.