21 Class

Riddle: Decide for Yourself

Where I first saw this image: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cornwall-56286719

Is the BBC website a credible source of news? Is it credible enough that you will accept this photograph has not been altered after it was taken? The optical phenomenon is described in ways that sound SORT OF credible, but if the BBC had published it on April 01, maybe we wouldn’t be so likely to accept its veracity. Read the article. Decide for yourself. Leave observations below.


Writing Advice

Just Passed Scenic Views

The problem with this sign should be obvious, but just to be sure, let’s talk about the serious mistake it makes.


Any writer making the same mistake would have to return her reader’s attention back to the material he’s already read and analyzed, draw his attention to things he might have missed, prepare him after the fact to receive information in the most effective way, and talk him out of conclusions he’s already drawn. All because she failed to put the sign AHEAD OF THE SCENIC VIEWS instead of behind them.

Version 1.
This paragraph makes the “Just Passed Scenic Views” mistake:

In a recent poll, 51% of Americans estimated that most or some of the food they eat is genetically modified (or contains GMOs) while the rest claimed that they eat “no GMOs” or “not too much.” Further, 65% of those who knowingly eat a fair amount of GMO food claim to have read a lot about genetically modified foods, while a whopping 75% of GMO-abstainers admit they have read nothing about these foods. You would think these results would be the other way around if modified organisms were as terrible as some perceive them to be. Instead, the poll revealed that most of the people who are consuming GMOs have gathered a lot of information on them, while 75% of the people who stay away from these foods admitted to reading absolutely nothing about them.

Version 2.
This paragraph tells readers to watch for “Scenic Views Ahead”:

Evidence shows that adults who are educated about genetically-modified foods (GMOs) accept their safety and consume them without hesitation. In a 2018 Pew Center Research Poll, 65% of respondents who knowingly eat a fair amount of GMO food report that they have read a lot about GMOs and feel well-informed. Those who admit ignorance about GMOs, on the other hand, fear and avoid them. Among GMO-abstainers, many of whom admit to having “health concerns” about the products, a whopping 75% admit they have read nothing about genetic modification or GMO foods.

In-Class Task

As part of your Notes for today, take a few minutes to describe the improvements made to Version 1.

Writing Center Help when you need it.

Located in the Campbell Library but currently operating virtually, the Writing Center offers help to students from experienced tutors eager to assist their peers by appointment.

Rowan Writing Center tutors provide opportunities that enable student writers to discover and develop effective writing and composing practices. We offer a space where writers of many genres can find support at any stage of the writing process.  From brainstorming ideas, organizing them, revising drafts and checking citations, the RWC and its tutors provide a comfortable environment for students to improve and succeed.

Link to the Rowan Writing Center website. Register here, “meet the tutors,” and make an appointment.

Prepping for the Portfolio

White Paper—Annotated Bibliography

Until now, your White Paper has served as the repository for sources you found to support your Definition, Causal, and Rebuttal Arguments. As such, it should contain roughly 15 sources, many of them academic.

It should also contain Purposeful Summaries of those sources, Practice Openings, maybe a section called “Current State of my Research,” or “What I’m Still Looking For,” random notes about searches you’ve conducted, and for each source you’ve consulted, sections called “Background,” and “How I Will Use it.”

But it probably doesn’t. You’ve been busy.

As you construct your Portfolio, you’ll be adapting the contents of your White Paper into an Annotated Bibliography. The more complete your White Paper is, the easier you’ll find this process.

Let’s look ahead to the transition from a working document to the Annotated Bibliography you’ll submit as part of your Portfolio.

Rebuttal Practice

For the sake of practice, let’s assume you are strongly in favor of nuclear power as an alternative to burning fossil fuels. Nuclear doesn’t burn petroleum, coal, or natural gas. It doesn’t emit carbon dioxide or methane. It is, by comparison to many alternatives, a clean and sustainable fuel for producing electricity. You’re writing a paper to promote new investment in nuclear power plants.

In your research, you run across an article by Bob Herbert in the New York Times that concerns you. Herbert sounds pretty knowledgeable, and you know he speaks compellingly for opponents of nuclear power in the US. How can you USE HIS ARTICLE in your Rebuttal Argument?

Does he make mistakes of logic? Does he apply his evidence inappropriately? Does he complain of cost overruns that don’t actually result in overly expensive power? Does he concentrate on one or two objections and ignore all the advantages of nuclear power? Does he set up a false choice between two options when there are other alternatives?

Read the article now:

When you finish, click through to the Rebuttal post.

Next Portfolio Task