What are some of the central components of Sagan’s epistemology that lead him to this statement?

Mosaic II, Fall 2017

Paper 1 Assignmentdue in class on September 18

Instructions and Submission Guidelines

1. Hard copies of papers are due at the beginning of class on the date noted. Please use double-spaced 12 point Times (black type on white paper). Papers will be accepted by email by permission only.

2. You have the option of co-writing a paper with a (1) classmate. This can be a challenging, but valuable exercise in collaborative learning. Co-authors will receive the same paper grade. It is up to you to ensure that both authors contribute equally.

3. Note the Paper Grading Scale below and staple this page at the end of your paper. It will be used for grading and returned with your paper.

Reminders from the syllabus

There will be four writing assignments based on lectures and readings. I will distribute the assignments at least one week before they are due for submission. Each assignment will count as 15% of the final grade. Papers should be about 3 to 4 pages in length.

Late papers policy

Papers are due at the beginning of class on the indicated dates. Late papers will be penalized five (5) points for each day late. Papers will not be accepted more than one week late. The only exceptions will be due to documented medical reasons and family emergencies.


Sagan writes, “Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. It is a bulwark against mysticism, against superstition, against religion misapplied to where it has no business being.” (p. 38)

What is epistemology? What are some of the central components of Sagan’s epistemology that lead him to this statement? Do all claims to knowledge have equal merit, according to Sagan? Select some short quotations that best illustrate Sagan’s thinking and his argument for science. You might include reference to such things as Sagan’s position on physical evidence, falsifiability, skepticism, critical thinking, humility, and human fallibility. In general, summarize Sagan’s argument for science and the thinking that leads him to this position.

Paper Grading Scale

Quality of Ideas (40 points): __________ points

Addresses the question(s) being asking; range and depth of argument; logic of argument; quality of original thought; appropriate sense of complexity of the topic; demonstrates analytical thought and understanding of ideas being addressed; incorporates theory and terminology

Organization and Development (20 points): __________ points

Logical and clear arrangement of ideas; effective use of transitions; unity and coherence of paragraphs; good development of ideas through supporting details and evidence; use of examples and brief quotations; maximizes use of available space

Clarity and style (20 points): __________ points

Ease of readability; appropriate voice, tone, and style for the assignment; clarity of sentence structure; appropriate variety and maturity of sentence structure

Sentence Structure and Mechanics (20 points): __________ points

Grammatically correct sentences; absence of run-ons, fragments; absence of usage and grammatical errors; accurate spelling; careful proofreading; attractive and appropriate manuscript form; follows all instructions and submission guidelines

Total points: __________

1) _____ Addresses the question/prompt

2) _____ Presents and discusses critical ideas

3) _____ Demonstrates understanding of and thoughtful engagement with the readings

4) _____ Good selection and effective use of quotations

5) _____ More and/or more carefully chosen brief quotations would be helpful (both #4 and #5 can be true)

6) _____ More discussion or more details and examples from the readings would strengthen the paper

7) _____ Points could be made more clearly, precisely or completely.

8) _____ Some misunderstanding or errors of interpretation of readings