Why We Shouldnt Go to Mars by Gregg Easterbrook By Prof. Jim Rush Summary Writer Gregg Easterbrook argues against President George W. Bushs stated goal of beginning a people-to-Mars space program. While conceding that the idea is exciting, Easterbrook concludes that with our present state of technology, a Mars program would be impractical and much too expensive. Meet the Author A Wide World of Writing Before he became a full-time writer and editor, Gregg Easterbrook worked as a bus driver and a used car salesman. Now a senior editor of The New Republic, Easterbrook has contributed to Time, Newsweek, and ESPN. Gregg Easterbrook born 1953 The Red Planet Mission to Mars?
The United States and the former Soviet Union began attempting flights to Mars in the early 1960s. In 1965, the first successful mission was completed when a U.S. spacecraft flew by Mars and sent 22 photos back to Earth. Since then, extensive space missions have revealed that Mars is rocky, cold, and sterile. Humans have never gone to Mars, and scientists still arent sure if there has ever been life there. In 2004, President George W. Bush announced a new space exploration program. Gregg Easterbrook responded to this announcement by writing the article Why We Shouldnt Go to Mars for Time magazine. Text Analysis: Counterargument A strong counterargument is an important part of any argument. A counterargument anticipates what the other side might say and answers possible objections with reasons and evidence. As this articles title suggests, author Gregg Easterbrook believes that sending astronauts to Mars is a mistake. Rather than ignoring those who disagree with him, Easterbrook states his opponents views and then tells why he disagrees. As you read, search for
examples of this technique. Text Analysis: Counterargument To examine counterarguments, read this example: Mom, this computer will help me with my schoolwork, and Ive found a part-time job to help pay for it. What arguments from the mother is the speaker anticipating? The speaker anticipates the arguments that buying the computer isnt necessary and that it is too expensive. Name a school rule and then think of reasons both for and against changing it. Reading Skill: Paraphrase Easterbrook supports his opinion with many scientific facts and figures that may not be easy to understand. A good way to make sure you understand Easterbrooks ideas is to paraphrase them, or restate them in your own words. A good paraphrase includes all of the main ideas and supporting details of the original source and is usually just as long, or longer. As you read, use a chart like the one shown to paraphrase parts of the article. Reading Skill: Paraphrase Read this example and paraphrase it: I object to cleaning up this sink full of dishes and not receiving a monetary reward. I think I should get paid for washing the dishes. Think of a common proverb, such as Waste not, want not, and paraphrase it.
Read With a Purpose As you read Why We Shouldnt Go to Mars, consider the pros and cons of going to Mars. Pg. 970 Analyze Visuals This picture of the planets combines photographs taken by different spacecraft. Pluto is not shown because no spacecraft has yet visited it. As a whole, what mood does this image convey? The placement of the planets in relation to each other creates a feeling of order and serenity. The differences in color, size, and features lend an air of mystery and wonder.. Pg. 970 Analyze Visuals (About the Art) From top to bottom, the planets in this montage are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The perspective is looking toward the sun. If the sun were included, it would be at the top of the
picture, beyond Mercury. The planets farthest from the sun are at the bottom of the picture. The Mercury image was taken by Mariner 10, the Venus image by Magellan, the Earth image by Galileo, and the Mars image by Viking. The Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune images were all taken by Voyager. Pg. 970 Background: The Lewis and Clarke Expedition In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson sent an expedition to explore the West. In 1803, the United States acquired much of this territory through the Louisiana Purchase. Congressional funding amounted to $2,500 with the actual cost reaching $38,722. Along with Lewis and Clark, about 30 other persons went long. They set out in May 1804 and traveled over 8,000 miles in nearly two and a half years. They mapped the territory and recorded vital information about its plants and wildlife. Pg. 971: Line 10 Own the Word: amenable amenable (adj): open; agreeable
Describe a place that is amenable to you. home or bedroom, a local park, the beach, etc. Pg. 971: Lines 1-16 1. Targetted Passage This passage introduces the idea of sending people to Mars and sets out three reasons why the argument is faulty. What What is is the the idea idea or or argument argument with
with which which Easterbrook Easterbrook disagrees? disagrees? (lines (lines 89) 89) The The Lewis Lewis and and Clark Clark Expedition Expedition should should not not be be compared compared to to a a manned manned expedition expedition to to Mars. Mars. There There are are some some important important differences. differences.
Why Why does does he he point point out out that that many many people people already already lived lived in in the the area area that that Lewis Lewis and and Clark Clark explored? (lines 911) explored? (lines 911) Because Because if if there there are are people,
people, the the target target area area already already supports supports life, life, whereas whereas Mars Mars cannot support life. cannot support life. What What does does Easterbrook Easterbrook imply imply about about the the places places and and things things that that might might be
be found found by by sending sending people people to to Mars? Mars? (lines (lines 11 11 13) 13) Lewis Lewis and and Clarke Clarke knew knew that that they they would would find find new new places places and things of value, but Easterbrook is sceptical
that and things of value, but Easterbrook is sceptical that aa trip trip to to Mars Mars will will result result in in finding finding any any new new places places or or things things of of value value that that automated automated probes probes have have not not already already found. found. What What fact fact does does he
he provide provide about about the the cost cost of of sending sending people people to to Mars? Mars? (lines (lines 1416) 1416) The The cost cost of of an an expedition expedition to to Mars Mars would would be be $600 $600 billion, billion, which which would would be be equivalent equivalent to
to building building 800 800 Hoover Hoover Dams. Dams. Pg. 971: Lines 8-20 A. Text Analysis: Counterargument In persuasive texts, writers may use rhetorical fallacies, or false or misleading statements. One type of rhetorical fallacy is a false analogy. A false analogy is a comparison that doesnt hold up because of an important difference between the two subjects. Lewis and Clarks journey was to a place
amenable to human life; the Mars mission is not. 01 How does Easterbrook prove that likening a Mars mission to Lewis and Clarks expedition is a false analogy? 03 02 Lewis and Clark were certain to discover places and things of value to the country; a Mars mission is not. Lewis and Clarks expedition was inexpensive; a Mars mission will be hugely expensive. Pg. 971: Lines 21-28
Own the Words: exhilarating and tantalizing exhilarating (adj): open; stimulating; making one feel thrilled or inspired Brainstorm exhilarating experiences. meeting a famous person, riding a roller coaster, playing in a big game, etc. tantalizing (adj): tempting but out of reach Tantalizing is often used in reference to food. Use it in a sentence: The smell of fresh bread was so tantalizing as I rushed past the bakery. Pg. 971: Lines 2131 Analyze Easterbrook describes his own fascination with Mars in lines 21 27. How does his tone change in lines 2831 and what effect does this have on his argument? Pg. 972: Lines 40-41 Own the Word: automated automated (adj): able to function with little or no assistance from people Automate (v.), automatic (adj.), and automation (n.)
all come from the same Greek root, which means selfmoving, self-thinking. Identify something that is automated. ATMs (automated teller machines), vending machines, some computer programs Pg. 972: Lines 32-42 B. Reading Skill: Paraphrase Paraphrase the main reasons that Easterbrook gives in lines 3242 for not sending a person to Mars. Add it to your chart. Pg. 972: Lines 43-53 1. Targetted Passage In lines 3053, use these prompts to help understand Easterbrooks objections to a Mars mission: (Recall) What does Easterbrook say about traveling to Mars with our current technology? He says that sending people to Mars makes no sense with our current technology. (lines 3031)
(Analyze) What scientific activities could humans do on Mars that automated devices cannot do? Easterbrook thinks that humans could do nothing beyond what automated devices are already doing. Pg. 973: Lines 63-65 Own the Words: proponent and rationality proponent (n): a person who supports something Identify an idea for which you are a proponent. changes in a Panamanian law more school days off watching movies in class rationality (n): ) reasonableness
Who or what would you say is rational? Pg. 973: Lines 63-75 C. Text Analysis: Counterargument Easterbrooks Easterbrooks opponents opponents could could claim claim that that he he has has a a lack lack of of vision vision because because he he is is against against a a Mars Mars mission. mission. Reread Reread lines lines 6375.
6375. What What is is his his counterargument counterargument to to this this possible possible criticism? criticism? He He emphasizes emphasizes rationality rationality and and the the setting setting of of priorities. priorities. He He uses uses words words such such as as former
former and and latter. latter. Pg. 973: Lines 63-79 01 This passage summarizes the writers main points and restates his main idea: space exploration must be approached realistically. 03 What two opposing viewpoints does the writer set out in this passage? (lines 6365) The opposing
viewpoint is that we should go to Mars. Easterbrooks viewpoint is that there are more important things to prioritize. 2. Targetted Passage 02 What effect is created by the writers admission that exploration is part of what makes us human and has led to past glories? (lines 7679) What facts and ideas are repeated? (lines 6675) He is reinforcing his
The cost of going to Mars is too expensive, we do not currently have the technology, and our automated probes can do the work for us. main idea by stating that we will continue to dream and discover new things, by counter-arguing that it is not realistic at this time due to the points he has mentioned. Selection Wrap-up Analyze Arguments Read With a Purpose Critique Does Easterbrooks article appeal more to the readers emotions or to reason? List
examples of the two types of appeal. Then discuss your conclusions in class. 1 Decide whether you agree or disagree with Easterbrooks position. Refer to specific text details to support your position. 2 Evaluate the writers use of counterargument. Does it effectively make his case? Why or why not? 3
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