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High Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa, Article Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 720

Article Review

Abstract

The following essay is a critique of the scientific article entitled “High Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa”. In the following critique, the quality of the article is discussed. The legitimacy of the authors’ claims is evaluated as well as the formal logic used to derive that hypothesis. The authors’ writing style will be evaluated and the overall course of the article will be critiqued. This critique also concludes with a list of inadequacies and various parts which need improvement.

Article Critique on “High Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa”

The article entitled “High Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa” by John C. Caldwell and Pat Caldwell, hypothesizes that dwindling fertility has a huge benefit in regulating the population overgrowth and making it possible to have better living conditions for everyone. The author’s have based this hypothesis by viewing the results in the control group – areas of Sub-Saharan Africa in which the fertility rates remain high (Caldwell & Caldwell, 1990).  The article focuses on sub-Saharan Africa and discusses the societal destitution as a result of uncontrolled population. The following critique will gauge the quality of the author’s article, rather than presenting a summation or affirmation of the author’s position.

The article was originally published in Scientific American magazine – a highly acclaimed and well-respected magazine for different scientific studies each month. The audience for this magazine consists of the scientific community and each article is put in reader-friendly, layman’s terms. This article does a good job of keeping the data from becoming too technical. However, the lack of credentials of the two authors can leave the reader wondering what authority John and Pat Caldwell have in this area of science. The Authority fallacy is noted here as readers would expect scientifically-sound reasoning to accompany any article published in the notable Scientific American magazine (Chesapeake.edu, 2010). Publication of any type lends credence to an author’s position; this supposition of legitimacy is a fallacy however, due to the fact that the authors have not posted their source of expertise. The authors use a few statistics to prove the legitimacy of their argument. However, they fail to cite the source of their numbers. There are virtually no citations in the entire paper and the end of the article does not credit anyone for their derived data.

The article proffers some empirical data regarding the fertility rates. The study shows that the population in Nigeria in 1973 had only 1 woman out of 80 in the age group of women forty years of age and older were able to attempt and successfully accomplish careful maintenance of family size (Caldwell et al., 118) . The article is not taking the prevalence of birth control into account when it assigns a lower fertility rate to the men of the western civilization. Additionally, this study is taking account of a time back in the 1970s when the availability of condoms and birth control was not as great as it was even a decade later.

The article meanders off topic to a historical context of sexual practices. For a large portion of the article, the authors go off on a tangent about the Christian and Muslim missionaries (Caldwell et. al, p 119-120). While the virtue of chastity is largely reverenced by the church and its teachings, the topic veers off course for the largest portion of the article. Rather than staying on topic, the article shows the religious influences. An article that began as a piece about the differences in high-fertility regions of Sub Saharan Africa and its effects on the population as opposed to the declining fertility in other parts of the world switches to the topic of sexual mores and religious tones of the regions (Ibid).

In conclusion the overall concept of the study is intriguing. There are a lot of facts presented with empirical data to back up the facts. The only problems in the article are the aforementioned shifts in the focus of the authors. The article spends a large portion discussing sociological and religious aspects of the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. This part should be more condensed and the authors should draw more of a comparison between regions of high-fertility and regions of declining fertility.

References

Caldwell, J. C., and P. Caldwell. (1990). “High fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Scientific American, 262(5), 118-125

“Helpful Hints for Writing a Critique”. (2010). Retrieved on October 6, 2010 from Chesapeake.edu: http://www.chesapeake.edu/asc/CritiqueHandout.pdf

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