BI 71: Identity and the Human Genome
Scientific Thinking
The purpose of the assignment is to engage you in a topic or concept through the critical analysis of
readings and/or independent investigation. Some assignments may ask for the collection and analysis of
information, while others may ask you to apply readings to the world around you, your life experiences
and/or to your viewpoint. Some assignments are open-ended and may have no right or wrong answer.
Others are based on scientific methodology or call for more specific information. Your level of
engagement will be assessed by the extent to which you develop an idea and by your use of arguments,
evidence, data and examples.
Artificial Sweeteners such as Nutrasweet/Aspartame have been a part of the American diet for several
decades. Popular diet beverages have used Aspartame to provide a sweet beverage with reduced
calories. Recently, Diet Pepsi has chosen to reduce Aspartame in their beverage while Diet Coke
maintains Aspartame is a safe and desirable ingredient.
1) View the following videos or others you may find in popular media (TV news, non-scientific
journals) that discuss the Aspartame controversy. Summarize the main points for and against
use of Aspartame that we see in the public. Comment upon the source of the information for
and against. What are the credentials of the source, and what is their motivation to persuade
the viewer? (1-2 pages)
a. The Dangers of Aspartame
b. Aspartame is safe
c. EFSA Reaffirms Safety of Aspartame
2) Find two sources of scientific evidence in scientific journals or other science government agency
web sites that discuss Aspartame safety studies. (1-2 pages)
a. Was the study an epidemiological study observing human behaviors or an experimental
study on animals? Describe the group that was tested and how that group relates to the
average American consumer.
b. Analyze the data and/or results. Evaluate the sample size of the study and discuss any
other important issues with the study that may or may not have been a problem to
interpret the data. Discuss some important data from a graph or table if possible.
c. Do the results test or show a correlation or causation between Aspartame and any
3) Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi are using advertising to suggest their opinions on Aspartame. Compare
how the general public receives information about Aspartame studies from popular media and
advertising versus information in scientific journals. (1-2 pages)
a. Coca-Cola defends artificial sweeteners
b. Diet Pepsi quietly changes sweetener
4-5 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point font.
The assignment should be written in an essay format rather than a list of answers to the numbered
You must cite all references including the assigned readings. Use your citation method of choice.

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