Rebuttal Essay – Dale Hamstra

Walk the Line

Walking is something that comes naturally to all of us. It is something that we learn how to do on our own and we never forget how to walk. Walking in a straight line is just as simple, if you can see where you’re going that is. As soon someone puts on a blindfold it becomes near impossible to walk a straight line, sometimes even traveling in a circle. However, when an aural aid is provided, the person will naturally walk towards the noise in an attempt to stay straight.

During testing, everyone that participated thought that they would have no problem walking straight for a distance of fifty yards. However, they all had a surprised look when they realized that each one of them missed the target area but at least twenty feet. The average miss was by forty feet, with one person going in a complete circle. When the aural aid was added all of the participants walked toward the noise and ended up hitting the target. However, all but one took a curved path in getting there.

There are also other possible factors that may have been involved in why they did not walk in a straight line. For example, the wind blowing could have caused them to go off course. Also the ground was not as even as I originally hoped for, so imperfections in the ground could have caused some people to go off course. However, not all of my participants missed on the same side of the target, and when there was a noise for them to walk to, these factors did not seem to have the same effect.

There is also a similar experiment to the one I have been conducting at the Helsinki University of Technology. In their experiment the “test task [of the participants] was to find a sound source in a dynamic virtual acoustic environment” (Lokki, Grohn and Savioja). They were testing to see if sounds could help someone navigate through a virtual environment, and eventually find the source of the sound in the virtual world. In the results they found that “in most cases subjects did find the target area.” and that “over half the subjects made less than three errors” (Lokki, Grohn and Savioja). This provides substantial evidence that someone can walk in a straight while blindfolded, so long as there is a noise to guide them.

This shows us that it is, in fact, possible for us to walk in a straight line. This goes against the popular belief that it is impossible to walk in a straight line while blindfolded, under any circumstance. According to an article on “Science is Beautiful” “Even if the terrain is familiar but if we are blindfolded it’s really impossible for us to walk in a straight line” Popular belief tells us one of two things, either that we can easily walk in a straight line or that it is impossible. Where in reality they are both wrong.

It is not easy to walk in a straight line but it is not impossible either. Under the right circumstances someone who has a blindfold on can stay on a relatively straight path, and make it to the target area. However, it is by no means easy. People tend to think they are walking straight only to find that they have been walking in circles.

Works Cited

Lokki, Tapio, et al. A Case Study of Auditory Navigation in Virtual Acoustic Environments. 3 April 2012.

Walking in a Straight Line. 17 December 2010. 3 April 2012

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3 Responses to Rebuttal Essay – Dale Hamstra

  1. dalehamstra27 says:

    I had some trouble finding something to refute. Can I please have some feedback on how to make this essay better

  2. davidbdale says:

    Let’s see.

    For starters, it’s not at all obvious that everybody would say: Yeah, sure, I can walk a straight line blindfolded for fifty yards. Therefore, it’s not a good rhetorical strategy to tell your readers that this is obvious. Instead, tell them that your test subjects reacted this way. No reader can argue with that.

    You don’t define your experiment methodology well at all, Dale. I have no idea whether your subjects are trying to pin a tail on a donkey or stop when they think they’re inside a ten-foot circle on the ground. Without knowing that, I can’t judge what it means to “miss by 40 feet.”

    As for the “aural aid,” I need to know if this was a siren off to the side, a car running behind the subjects, or someone inside the target circle saying: “Warmer. Warmer. Colder.” Obviously, this matters quite a lot.

    You might well be able to imagine objections a reasonable reader would have to the methodology and reply with counterarguments why you chose the method(s) you did. There’s probably an easy 1000 words in that alone.

    Why were you hoping for even ground? What effect does wind have (or what effect do you think it has?)? You toss off observations as if they have been described and explained, Dale, when in fact they require considerable explanation. (It’s no wonder you don’t end up with a long enough paper: you don’t say what you should!)

    I don’t have the slightest idea what this means:

    However, not all of my participants missed on the same side of the target, and when there was a noise for them to walk to, these factors did not seem to have the same effect.

    I’m delighted you’ve agreed to do a “scientific” first-hand research approach here, Dale, but it requires some rigor in planning the experiment and explaining the experiment.

    No paper should contain the completely contradictory claims that

    everyone that participated thought that they would have no problem walking straight for a distance of fifty yards

    and

    the popular belief that it is impossible to walk in a straight line while blindfolded

    How can both claims possibly be true?

    Is that any help?

  3. davidbdale says:

    Again disappointed to see that there has not been a revision since feedback. Grade Recorded.

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