EVO 301 – Summer 2012

Evolutionary Studies 301: 

Evolutionary Studies Seminar Series

Section 01 – ONLINE

SUNY New Paltz

SUMMER 2012

EvoStudies.org

Professor:  Glenn Geher

• Office: JFT 314

• Office phone number: 257-3091

• Home phone number: 255-1992

• E-mail:  geherg@newpaltz.edu

• Web address: http://www.glenngeher.com

• Web address: http://www.evostudies.org
OFFICE HOURS:

T; 12:30-2:30*

Th; 10:30-12:30

 

* For my Tuesday office hours, an appointment is needed. To make an appointment, please call Jane Lehman, psychology department secretary, at 257-3470 (or email her at lehmanj@newpaltz.edu)

 

 

Required Reading Materials:

 

There are THREE categories of readings:

 

A. Readings connected to the EvoS Speakers (these readings are referenced and linked in the “Calendar” part of this syllabus.

 

B. Readings required for classes discussing foundational ideas in Evolutionary Studies:

 

Bingham, P.M.; Souza, J. (2009). Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe. South Carolina, USA: BookSurge.

Dawkins, R. (2005). Afterword to D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology.New York: Wiley.

 

Gantt, E. E., & Melling, B. S. (2010). Evolutionary Psychology is Not Evil, It’s Just Not Any Good. In B. Slife (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues.

Geher, G. (2011, March 15). Immobilized Caimans, Toxic Plants, and Alternative Theories – Dinosaur Exctinction Revived. From the blog Building Darwin’s Bridges. www.evostudies.org

• Geher, G. (2009). Why Spearheading EvoS New Paltz Was the Best Career Move I Ever Made (from Building Darwin’s Bridges; www.evostudies.org)

http://evostudies.org/2009/06/why-spearheading-evos-new-paltz-was-the-best-career-move-i-ever-made/

 

• Geher, G. (2010). Evolutionary Psychology is Not Evil … And Here’s Why! In B. Slife (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues.

 

• Geher, G., Crosier, B., Dillon, H. M., & Chang, R. (2011). Evolutionary Psychology’s Place in Evolutionary Studies: A Tale of Promise and Challenge. Evolution: Education & Outreach, 4, 11-16. Special issue on EvoS Consortium (R. Chang, G. Geher, J. Waldo, & D. S. Wilson, Eds).

• Wilson, D. S., Geher, G., & Waldo, J. (2009). EvoS: Completing the evolutionary synthesis in higher education. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 1, 3-10.

 

• Wilson, D. S., Geher, G., Waldo, J., & Chang, R. (2011). The EvoS Consortium: Catalyzing evolutionary training in higher education. Evolution: Education & Outreach, 4, 8-10. Special issue on EvoS Consortium (R. Chang, G. Geher, J. Waldo, & D. S. Wilson, Eds).

 

C. Additional readings that are specific to your paper (paper assignment is found in subsequent section of syllabus).

 

Course Background and Objectives:

 

Welcome to the online version of the Evolutionary Studies Seminar Series Course! This course is the cornerstone of the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program. Via readings, online videos from the New Paltz EvoS seminar series, discussions, and written assignments, you’ll develop a basic understanding of evolution as well as a broad understanding of how evolution applies to all questions pertinent to life.

 

Topics will be diverse, including, for instance, the evolution of the human digestive system, Darwin’s work as a naturalist, the origins of human warfare, evolution and human health; evolution and the humanities; human evolutionary origins; and the importance of sexual selection in modern human societies. This diversity of topics, coupled with the ability to interact intensely about these topics as a class, should make for an academic experience that is nothing short of fascinating.

 

In the end, this course is designed to get students to do the following:

A. really understand the nature of evolutionary theory

B. develop an appreciation for how evolutionary theory applies across academic disciplines

C. critically evaluate different scholarly approaches to evolution – and develop an understanding of the interface between evolutionary scholarship and human societies

D. develop your ability to think like an evolutionist and extend human understanding of the world as a result (I know – this one’s ambitious!)

E. write coherently about topics related to evolution

F. effectively design and deliver brief written presentations on topics related to evolution

 

Overall, this course is designed to provide you with a first-hand, intensive, and cross-disciplinary set of experiences regarding modern scholarship on evolutionary principles.

 

Each and every class you take should change your worldview – if even slightly – in some way. This class should be no exception. The journey will not be easy – the readings will be dense – the writing assignments will be graded with a critical eye – and the exam will be designed at a high level. If all goes right, the successful student in this class will be rewarded intellectually for his or her hard work. I want that to be you. Welcome.

________________________________________________________________

 

ASSIGNMENTS (ALL DUE DATES are found in course calendar section of syllabus):

 

1. Posting of 10 Content-Oriented BlackBoard Comments (UNGRADED – 30% of final grade; 3 points for each effective posting that is done ON TIME and done in way that effectively addresses the relevant content). See course calendar for specific due dates

 

Guidelines for Discussion Group Postings.

 

For each unit (see units delineated in Calendar part of syllabus), you are required to post at least one content-relevant comments on the discussion board forum appropriate for the particular unit.  For posting one content-relevant comments on time, you will receive full credit for the posting requirement for that particular chapter (3 points toward your final grade).

 

Postings must be related to the content of the unit to count toward this requirement.  Following are particular criteria that must be met for a posting to count.

 

1.  Your posting needs to be comprised of full sentences.

2.  Your posting must cite at least one specific idea, piece of research, or psychologist.

3.  Your reference to specific psychological ideas and research findings must be generally accurate and appropriate.

 

Example of a good posting (that will count toward this requirement):

 

Like Smitty, I too found Daly andWilson’s ideas about male mortality in young adulthood interesting. This research suggests that males compete with other males for access to females – particularly during young adulthood. It’s so interesting to me to see this barbaric-seeming behavioral pattern as so relevant to homicide and mortality data in the modern Westernized world. It really makes you think about how our evolutionary past is not so remote.

 

Example of a bad posting (that will not count toward this requirement):

 

Good idea Smitty.

 

2. The Introductory Posting (ungraded; 3% of final grade; must be done on-time within the specified parameters):  The first posting you will be required to submit will comprise an introduction of yourself for the first discussion regarding introductions.  In your posting, briefly describe who you are, what your major is, where you go to school, what goals you have in terms of academics and career, and, to make postings somewhat personal and interesting, describe the thing you expect to do this summer that you are most looking forward to. Finally, describe one specific reason that you are interested in evolutionary studies.

 

 3. Reaction Papers based on ONE of the Presentations that is NOT included in the calendar but that is included in the database of videos found at www.newpaltz.edu/evos. (GRADED20% of final grade). For this course, I chose 10 specific EvoS talks from the New Paltz database – but there are more – several more – and these talks comprise an important part of the NSF-sponsored database of EvoS videos worldwide. Pick one that’s not in our assigned reading – and write a reaction paper to it!

 

For this assignment, you are to submit a brief reaction paper describing a specific concept addressed by the speaker (in his or her writing and/or oral presentation). In addition to the specific concept (or concepts) that you describe, you need to also describe some reaction of yours. For instance, you may summarize your opinion of the scientific merit of an idea, your thoughts on political implications of an idea, your own personal experience with content related to the speaker’s talk, etc.

 

This paper should be roughly between 1-3 pages and should be submitted by email (see policy on submitting work in course policies in this syllabus).

 


4, 5, and 6 – all relevant to the final paper!

 

PAPER SYNOPSIS

 

EvoS underscores the connections and bridges across academic areas that are made possible by the power of evolutionary theory. For this paper, you are to articulate a specific instance of this kind of evolution-themed interconnection. You’ll find two EvoS presentations (with at least one from the required presentations on the course calendar – and both from the New Paltz or Binghamton EvoS video databases (collected at evostudies.org)). Importantly, choose two presentations that seem, in the surface, unrelated to one another (e.g., Gordon Gallup’s talk on dinosaurs and David Schmitt’s talk on human sexual strategies across cultures). In your paper, you’ll first describe the integrating nature of the EvoS idea (as delineated in Wilson et al. (2011) and Wilson et al. (2009); assigned readings).  You’ll next describe the content of the two specific presentations that you target for this assignment. You’ll then describe how evolutionary theory serves to create links between these different areas of scholarship. And you’re to end with a summary section that integrates these ideas and comments on the issue of evolutionary theory as an integrating force within academia. Your comment is partly designed to represent your opinion – and if you disagree with the idea that EvoS has such bridge-building capacities, that’s fine as long as you describe your rationale articulately.

 

The outline of your paper, then, will be as follows:

1. Summary of the idea of evolution as a builder of bridges across academic areas of inquiry.

2. Summary of first targeted EvoS speaker’s ideas

3. Summary of second targeted EvoS speaker’s ideas

4. Section that underscores parallels between the two EvoS presentations

5. Final section commenting on the integrative nature of evolution within academia – in light of the examples you’ll have delineated herein.

 

4. Paper idea (UNGRADED –  2% of final  grade. 100 for submitting on time). Here, simply describe, in a few sentences, what studies you’d like to use to connect – and how you, preliminarily, see the ideas of these different studies/presentations as connected.

 

5. ROUGH DRAFT (UNGRADED –  15% of final  grade. 100 for submitting on time).

 

This should be a rough draft of your paper – make it as complete as possible to benefit from my comments.

 

6. FINAL DRAFT (GRADED – 30% of final grade.) This will simply be a more-developed version of your rough draft that incorporates my prior comments.

 

 

 

            Grading:  Grades for all assignments will be converted to percentages.  The following equation will be used to determine your final grade:

 

• Final grade =

(BlackBoard Introductory posting * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #1 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #2 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #3 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #4 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #5 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #6 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #7 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #8 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #9 * .03) +

(BlackBoard Comments for Presenter #10 * .03) +

 

(Reaction Paper * .20) +

(Term Paper Idea * .02) +

(Term Paper PRELIMINARY DRAFT * .15) +

(Term Paper FINAL DRAFT * .30)

 

Your final grade will be on a scale from 0 to 100.  Final grades will be converted to letter grades using the following criteria:

 

94 – 100 = A

90 – 93  = A-

87 – 89  = B+

84 – 86  = B

80 – 83  = B-

77 – 79  = C+

74 – 76  = C

70 – 73  = C-

67 – 69  = D+

64 – 66  = D

60 – 63  = D-

Below 60 = F

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

1

5/23-5/29

A. Introductory Posting (where you introduce yourself)

B. Posting in Forum to discuss “Intro to EvoS” videos and papers

DUE BEFORE MIDNIGHT OF 5/29 via BlackBoard

Welcome to EvoS – the best academic program going!

Part 1: Glenn Geher’s State ofEvoS Address(Psychologist at SUNY New Paltz – on the EvoS Consortium)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=e62543b961f745f4a72d9583d82eb857

Part 2: New EvoS Courses

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=7f9456b74c8b4471b58d52c289cc73b3

READINGS:

• Dawkins, R. (2005). Afterword to D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology.New York: Wiley.

 

• Gantt, E. E., & Melling, B. S. (2010). Evolutionary Psychology is Not Evil, It’s Just Not Any Good. In B. Slife (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues.

 

• Geher, G. (2009). Why Spearheading EvoS New Paltz Was the Best Career Move I Ever Made (from Building Darwin’s Bridges; www.evostudies.org)

http://evostudies.org/2009/06/why-spearheading-evos-new-paltz-was-the-best-career-move-i-ever-made/

 

• Geher, G. (2010). Evolutionary Psychology is Not Evil … And Here’s Why! In B. Slife (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues.

• Geher, G., Crosier, B., Dillon, H. M., & Chang, R. (2011). Evolutionary Psychology’s Place in Evolutionary Studies: A Tale of Promise and Challenge. Evolution: Education & Outreach, 4, 11-16. Special issue on EvoS Consortium (R. Chang, G. Geher, J. Waldo, & D. S. Wilson, Eds).

• Wilson, D. S., Geher, G., & Waldo, J. (2009). EvoS: Completing the evolutionary synthesis in higher education. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 1, 3-10.

 

• Wilson, D. S., Geher, G., Waldo, J., & Chang, R. (2011). The EvoS Consortium: Catalyzing evolutionary training in higher education. Evolution: Education & Outreach, 4, 8-10. Special issue on EvoS Consortium (R. Chang, G. Geher, J. Waldo, & D. S. Wilson, Eds).

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

2

5/30-6/5

NOTE: Two discussion forums this week

POSTINGS FOR TWO FORUMS ARE DUE (Before midnight of 6/5)

 

 

Darwin and Evolution

Warren Allmon (Geologist of the Museum of the Earth – on the importance ofDarwin)

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=134ad22f626244b18b297a089bfbbc91

Afterword from Allmon (2009).

Niles Eldredge (Geologist of theAmericanMuseumof Natural History – onDarwin’s life)

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=96b6a967e82548a68b91208068b52bdf

Eldredge, N. (2008). Experimenting with Transmutation: Darwin, the Beagle, and Evolution. Evolution: Education and Outreach. DOI 10.1007/s12052-008-0103-2

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

3

6/6-6/12

NOTE: Two discussion forums this week

POSTINGS FOR TWO FORUMS ARE DUE (Before midnight of 6/12)

PAPER IDEA DUE BEFORE MIDNIGHT OF 6/12

 

 

Understanding the Deep History of Life

Paul Bingham and Joanne Souza (Stonybrook)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=6299edf081154360b207a0b59217250f1d

Bingham, P.M.; Souza, J. (2009). Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe. South Carolina, USA: BookSurge.

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

Gordon Gallup (Psychologist of the University atAlbany– on dinosaur extinction)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=f1d550f3d0ad475fb3b8aeb7bde18381

Geher, G. (2011, March 15). Immobilized Caimans, Toxic Plants, and Alternative Theories – Dinosaur Exctinction Revived. From the blog Building Darwin’s Bridges. www.evostudies.org

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

4

6/13-6/19

NOTE: Two discussion forums this week

POSTINGS FOR TWO FORUMS ARE DUE (Before midnight of 6/19)

REACTION PAPER IS DUE (Before midnight of 6/19)

Evolution and Human Nutrition

Carrera-Bastos P, Fontes Villalba M, O’Keefe JH, Lindeberg S, Cordain L. The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization. Res Rep Clin Cardiol 2011; 2: 215-235.http://thepaleodiet.com/published-research/okeefe-cordain-2011/

 

Robb Wolf’s talk on nutrition from an evolutionary perspective and the paleo diet:

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=36d261682e3f4bd19d2c2e4978eddf261d

Richard Wrangham (Anthropologist at Harvard – on the importance of cooking in human evolutionary history)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=d430028568af402fbf83e25509307d22

Carmody, R. N., & Wrangham, R. W. (2009). The energetic significant of cooking. Journal of Human Evolution, 57, 379–391

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

5

6/20-6/26

NOTE: Two discussion forums this week

POSTINGS FOR TWO FORUMS ARE DUE (Before midnight of 6/26)

ROUGH DRAFT OF PAPER IS DUE (Before MIDNIGHT of 6/26)

 

 

Evolution, Human Health, and Mating

Chris Reiber (Anthropologist at Binghamton – on evolution and women’s health)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=dd1387b068f64bcaab69754cd6286c2d

Reiber, C. (in press). Women’s health at the crossroads of evolution and epidemiology Forthcoming in: Evolution’s Empress: How Females Shape Human Evolution. M. Fisher, J.R. Garcia, R. Sokol Chang, & S.L. Strout, (Eds.). New York: Oxford University Press.

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

David Schmitt (Psychologist atBradleyUniversity– on understanding human mating in cross-cultural perspective)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=529c8635fb6a43d1b04514f329d0f770

Schmitt, D.P. (2008). Evolutionary perspectives on romantic attachment and culture: How ecological stressors influence dismissing orientations across genders and geographies. Cross-Cultural Research, 42, 220-247

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

6

6/28-7/3

POSTINGS FOR FORUM IS DUE (Before midnight of 7/3)

Evolution and the Future of Humanity

David Livingstone Smith (Philosopher atUniversityofNew England– on human nature and our propensity for warfare)

http://mediasite.suny.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=bc5d71a6d3ca4a0eaf887dd988f10695

Excerpt from Smith, D. L. (2008). The most dangerous animal.

*** THIS READING IS FOUND ON COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE UNDER “READINGS” BUTTON

 

 

UNIT #

DATES

WHAT IS DUE

Content, Links, andReadings

7

7/3-7/10

FINAL PAPER IS DUE (Before Midnight of 7/10)

 

 

 

Course policies:

1.  Handing assignments in is done via email (geherg@newpaltz.edu)

PLEASE LABEL THE SUBJECT LINE OF EMAILS with submissions as using your last name and the assignment included. For instance, if your last name is Jones and you are submitting your reaction paper, you should label your subject line: Jones Reaction.

Only .doc files will be accepted as attachments.

2. Cheating. DO NOT CHEAT. Any student caught cheating will automatically fail that exam and, perhaps, the course. In addition, his or her name may be reported to appropriate authorities.

3. Plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when material is taken from a source without proper citation. If you quote something directly (i.e., use the same exact words of someone else), you must use quotation marks. If you borrow an idea and reword it, you must report your source. Any student caught plagiarizing will automatically fail the assignment and, perhaps, the course. In addition, his or her name may be reported to the appropriate administrator on campus.  DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.

4. Late assignments. Given the logistics involved in organizing and managing an on-line course, no late assignments will be accepted; they will all be assigned grades of 0. Even a few late assignments would suddenly make this course unwieldy.  I do not expect to make any exceptions to this rule unless extreme extenuating circumstances are shown to exist – and even then, I am hard-pressed to make exceptions to this policy.  Honest.

5. Technical Difficulties Clause:

At times, students do not hand work in on time due to technical difficulties; often computer-related. Such difficulties fall under the categories of viruses, servers that are down, disks that lose data, broken printers, etc.

The primary method for avoiding problems associated with such difficulties is to complete work relatively early. Note that a “due date” is not a “do date.” In other words, if something is due on a particular day, you are in no way required to do the work on that same day. If an assignment is due Tuesday, you may do the work for the assignment on Monday (or even earlier). In fact, you are strongly encouraged (by me, GG), to do so! Such a strategy greatly decreases the likelihood that technical difficulties will impede you from handing work in on time.

There are certain conditions under which I will consider a “technical difficulties” appeal regarding late work. Note that given the recommendations (aforementioned) regarding doing your work early, I reserve the right to not accept late papers that are, indeed, late due to technical difficulties. However, if your appeal fits the following criteria, I may consider such an appeal:

A. You contact me at least one full hour before the assignment is due.

B. You can provide some documentation regarding the fact that technical difficulties indeed inhibited you from handing your work in on time.

As a teacher I feel that my role is to help you learn, not to grade you, so please feel free to come see me or call me throughout the term if you have any concerns or questions.  I mean it.  Have a great semester.

 


Writing tips.

 

No papers with an abundance of the following errors will receive a grade of an ‘A.’

 

1.  USUALLY affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

 

e.g., This variable affects several things.

e.g., That other variable produced a very large effect.

 

2.  If the subject of your sentence is singular, the verb and subsequent pronouns referring to the subject must be also.

 

e.g., The participant then provided HIS OR HER (NOT “THEIR”) background

information.

e.g.,  The point of these studies WAS (NOT “WERE”) blah, blah, blah … (point is singular).

 

3.  NEVER use the word “PROVE” in a psychology article.  While psychologists do many things, proving is virtually never one of them.

 

INCORRECT: These results prove that Schmedley’s hypothesis was correct.

BETTER: These results support Schmedley’s hypothesis.

BETTER STILL: These results support the hypothesis that Schmedley should change his name … just kidding.

 

4.  BE SUCCINCT.  Do not use a lot of words to make a point if you can make the same point with fewer words.  If two papers make the same points, the one with fewer words is, by my definition, better.

 

BAD:  Asch’s research on conformity is very interesting because it includes interesting research and has important ideas that are very meaningful.

 

BETTER: Asch’s research on conformity is interesting for several reasons.

 

5.  AVOID 1st person and, especially, opinions (unless they are asked for).

 

BAD: I am writing a paper on conformity.  In this paper, I will talk about how social psychologists have studied conformity and why I am so interested in this interesting topic.

 

BETTER: This paper will address conformity as it has been studied in social psychology.

 

6.  DO NOT USE CONTRACTIONS:

 

BAD: Subjects were asked if they’d administer an electric shock.

BETTER:  Subjects were asked if they would administer an electric shock.

 

7.         It’s means it is (but you should not be using contractions anyway).

 

            Its is a possessive pronoun referring to a noun that possesses something.

e.g., The frog grabbed the fly with its tongue.   (here its means the frog’s)

 

8.  Punctuation marks go INSIDE quotation marks (when at the end of the sentence).

 

BAD:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy”.

BETTER:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy.”

BETTER STILL:  Then the experimenter said, “Golly!”

 

9.  Always follow the word “this” with a specific noun.  Otherwise, your writing will be unclear.

 

BAD: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this will be enormous.

BETTER: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this restructuring will be enormous.

 

10.  i.e., means “in other words.”  e.g., means “for example.”

 

e.g., These people are thought to be cerebral in nature (i.e., they tend to think a lot).

e.g., Their diet includes several kinds of flowers (e.g., roses).

 

11.  Here are some helpful word substitutions for you:

 

Change from                                    to

looked at                                examined

got                                           obtained

did                                           conducted

 

12.  Only use the word “correlation” if you are referring to a specific relationship between two different variables.  Do not just throw this word around because it sounds good.

 

GOOD: A positive correlation was observed between number of hamburgers eaten and the size of one’s bellyache.

BAD: A correlation between these different ideas can be found.  (This sentence simply does not mean anything).

 

 

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