an article)”Nuns Offer Clues to Alzheimer’s and Aging”
By: Pam Belluck
Pam Belluck’s article entitled “Nuns Offer Clues to Alzheimer’s and Aging” focuses on the lives of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and a scientific experiment called the Nun Study. The Nun Study intends to find clues and answers about who gets Alzheimer’s disease and why. For fifteen years, these nuns have been tested on their ability to memorize, their strength, and even their genes have been analyzed. Dr. Snowdon’s research has theorized that a positive emotional state of mind earlier in life may lead to a longer, healthier life. But overall, a good portion of this article has little to do with scientific research, and much to do with the lives of nuns. The scientific research that the author does provide is not helpful in fully understanding this experiment. Belluck is not totally committed to this scientific study. Her main interest seems to be fixed on the lives of the nuns in this convent.
Pam Belluck’s fascination begins in her opening paragraph, where she avidly describes the convent. The description she presents gives the reader the perception that the article is going to portray the lives of nuns. She writes “nuns attend Mass and murmur rosaries under a white vaulted dome.” The picture she paints in this statement describes a major daily activity in the convent, attending Mass. She is allowing the reader to assume that the article will be about convent life. Not once in her opening paragraph does she mention anything about a scientific study, the main intention of the article.
The author of this article then goes on to explain the scientific experiment, but she barely sites the scientific research performed. In the third paragraph of the article she writes, “And as they have died, their brains have been removed and shipped in plastic tubs to a laboratory where they are analyzed and stored in jars.” She tells the reader that the nuns’ brains are being researched, but she does not state the cause. What are the scientists trying to prove by analyzing these brains? She leaves this question unanswered. This article shows various signs of weakness in the area of scientific research. Another example of this is found towards the middle of the article when she goes on to explain the daily testing the nuns perform. They undergo physical and cognitive testing, and afterwards the nuns receive reports of their results to see if their performance has altered. Belluck tells the reader that the nuns are being administered tests, but she never states the information regarding the test results. The reader is then left wondering about the results of these tests. The article does not go on to explain if these tests are producing any scientific data. This is a very important component of this study, and she simply left it out. Belluck does a poor job of analyzing the scientific research performed by Dr. Snowdon and his team. She leaves statements unclear and thoughts unfinished. Her main focus appears to be on nun life.
The article is supposed to focus on elderly nuns being analyzed in an effort to provide answers about Alzheimer’s disease and the aging process. Instead, Belluck decides to centralize on the nuns themselves. “The School Sisters are white and eat in convent cafeterias,” she writes, “and most were teachers in Catholic schools.” This statement is completely unessential and unrelated to the title of this article. There is no connection between the nuns eating in convent cafeterias and Alzheimer’s disease. This is an example of useless information in this article. But since Pam Belluck holds more interest in nun life, she feels that she must include that statement in her article, even though it does not pertain to the main point, Alzheimer’s disease.
The author seems to feel as though the reader should be fascinated by the nuns’ lives. She goes on to write about Sister Nicolette, age 93, who reads, knits, plays card games, and “until a recent fall was walking several miles a day with no cane or walker.” Belluck goes on for several paragraphs about Sister Nicolette, her sisters, and what they are capable of. It is great that Sister Nicolette can still do all these things at her age, but it is unnecessary to put all this information in the article. Belluck also seems very interested in another nun, Sister Esther, age 106. Two consecutive paragraphs are written about Sister Esther, neither paragraph pertaining to any ideas or issues related to Alzheimer’s disease. Belluck loses focus on the real intent of her article and goes off on a tangent about these nuns. The article was meant to talk about the correlation between Alzheimer’s disease and these elderly nuns, not their personal lives.
Pam Belluck’s interest in the lives of nuns is clearly shown throughout the article. Her primary concern was supposed to be based on the Nun Study, but instead her main focus turned out to be on the nuns. Too much unnecessary information was written about the nuns, and not enough was said about the scientific experiment. She continually loses focus on the central propose of the article, the connection between these nuns and Alzheimer’s disease. This article lacked confidence and certainty. Dr. Snowdon and his team seem to have gathered a lot of helpful information on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease and aging, but Belluck’s great interest in nun life seemed to override the ideas of this scientific experiment. Pam Belluck should have been more focused on the real issue at hand, rather then to write about her interest.