We’ve been studying the Panhandle, and it turns out other people have been studying it too.
Over the past 100 years, the Panhandle has changed from a parkway for automobiles to a car-free extension of Golden Gate Park. The streets bordering the Panhandle, Fell and Oak, have changed from quiet neighborhood streets to wide, high-speed expressways.
Now there are plans for further changes–but what should those changes be? Like our class, different groups have been trying to collect information that will help us make the best decisions.
Presenting the right evidence for your audience and purpose, and presenting evidence in the right way, is essentially for your credibility.
Additionally, we want people to base important decisions on evidence. When a doctor treats me, I want the treatment to be based on evidence (as opposed to tradition, belief, opinion, or superstition). When a new bridge is built, I want the engineers to make decisions based on evidence rather than gut feelings.
As we’ve discussed in class, there are heated debates about the use of bike helmets. In many US states, helmets are required for children, but no US states require them for adults. The primary purpose of bike helmets is to reduce fatal injuries, and there is good evidence that they reduce fatal injuries. However, new knowledge about traumatic brain injuries such as concussion has raised concerns about helmets and non-fatal head injury.
Watch three videos and write a post about the use of evidence in arguments about bike helmets. The first video is about effective communication of technical or scientific ideas. The next two are arguments about bicycle helmets (pro and con).
Don’t hesitate to google these speakers to find out a bit more about them.
Melissa Marshall, “Talk Nerdy to Me.” Marshall is a scientific communications consultant and faculty member at Penn State.
Mikael Colville-Andersen, “Why We Shouldn’t Bike with a Helmet. Colville-Andersen is a designer and urban planning consultant.
Fred Rivara, “The Importance of Bike Helmets.” Rivara is a physician and professor of pediatrics in Seattle.
For further thinking (optional), watch this video about a new kind of helmet, which is essentially an airbag for your head:
There are 2 main tasks to complete for class on Thursday.
In Module 3, we’re focusing on analysis for decision-makers. For class Thursday, read these two articles from the New York Times. One, “If Kant Were a New York Cyclist,” by Randy Cohen, addresses the ethics of cyclist behavior from a philosopher’s point of view.
The second, “Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?” by San Francisco writer Daniel Duane, examines the consequences of collisions–his focus isn’t so much the behavior of motorists, but rather the attitudes represented legal decisions about consequences for drivers.
In class, we saw some great presentations. Teams of 3 presented findings from our expedition to the Panhandle last week. The teams looked at:
the Panhandle soundscape
the Panhandle landscape
the shared-use path (north side) and its users
the pedestrian path (south side) and its users
people in the Panhandle (interviews)
We discussed a couple of key issues in public speaking, mainly focusing on the pros and cons of working in groups.
Following the system of Carl Kwan, we practiced transitions between speakers in a group presentation.
Areas for Improvement
A key area for future attention is the conclusion or ending of presentations. Conclusions are weird: it’s not a move we usually make in our everyday conversations. But to make an impact on an audience, a public speaker really needs to nail the conclusion.
This involves at least two aspects:
bringing the energy back up for the closing moments, rather than tapering steadily toward a low-energy closure
ending with a clear, strong statement of key ideas or “take-aways”