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Wednesday, December 3

Page history last edited by Jane Asher 9 years, 6 months ago


Discuss “Don’t Blame the Eater”

Arguing Your Position: 3 ways to respond

Complete thesis challenge: Smartphones


Complete Parallelism Worksheet 24A (refer to Handbook pages 187-189)

and "More Parallelism Practice" worksheet









 Position Paper/Argument Example:



"Don't Blame the Eater"




Presenting a position: "What do you think about X?"



Describe this position prompt


What specific argument is Zinczenko responding to?


How is he responding?--understanding the argument that you need to respond to/summarize effectively to avoid misrepresenting an author's argument.



Analyzing the Context


1. Who is the author? How does this information affect our understanding of the essay?

Author: David Zinczenko




2. Who is the Audience?

3. The larger conversation: connections to other works?--the cultural conversation

4. What motivated the publication of the essay?

NY Times, 2002



Fast Food Law Suit:



The Burger Bill: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4506670/ns/msnbc_tv-the_abrams_report/





1. Summarize the argument

-the main claim, reasons for support

Strategies to support his position

-how is the essay arranged?--what are the components? why are they presented in this order?

examining the purpose of each paragraph


2. Supporting the argument--what appeals are used?


Logos (appealing to the readers' reasonableness)

Pathos (emotional appeal)

Ethos (the author's credentials, research, knowledge, personal experience)


3. Style

Is it formal, informal, satirical, etc.?


Language: Word Choice, Metaphors, Imagery




3 Ways to Respond



When you think about it, all responses can be classified in to one of three modes:




Agree and Disagree  (combo)




1. Disagree



Position: We should blame fast food companies for America's obesity epidemic.


Your Thesis: We should not blame fast food companies for America's obesity epidemic.

Does this work as a thesis? Why or Why not?



Disagree and explain WHY


Disagreeing means more than adding "not" to what someone else has said.



Such a response merely contradicts the view it responds to and fails to add anything interesting or new. To make an argument, you need to give reasons why you disagree: because another's argument fails to take relevant factors into account; because it is based on faulty or incomplete evidence; because it rests on questionable assumptions; or because it uses faulty logic, is contradictory, or overlooks what you take to be the real issue.




I disagree with X's view that (_________) because (_A, B, and C___________).




2. Agree but with a difference


You need to do more than just echo views you agree with. Even as you agree, it's important to bring something new and fresh to the table, adding something that makes you a valuable participant in the conversation.


Zinczenko's Argument: Multiple factors play a role in America's obesity epidemic.


Your thesis: Zinczenko's claim that multiple factors play a role in America's obesity epidemic is valid.

Does this work as a strong thesis? Why or why not?




Examples: (pg. 57)

I agree with Zinczenko's claim that multiple factors play a role in America's obesity epidemic because his argument acknowledges the complexity of the issue which is also demonstrated by the diverse cultural, social, and political initiatives to remedy this ongoing problem.



3. Agree and Disagree Simultaneously: Arguments are rarely one-sided


The "yes and no" approach

Yes, but...

this type of response helps us to get beyond the yes/no or right/wrong mentality that often characterize unsophisticated arguments



IE: Although X makes the valid point that ( ), X's argument about ( ) is less convincing because of A and B.pg. 60


Although Zinczenko makes a valid point that we are all responsible for America's obesity epidemic, his suggestion that fast food companies need to better warn and educate their consumers is misguided because such measures, as we have seen, do little to deter individuals from eating fast food.



Prepwork for Thesis Challenge


Your secret to a strong position essay: a strong Thesis Statement


Handbook Chapter 3



Remember, a strong claim is direct, concise, clear, and provocative (though not intentionally outlandish or extreme).


You should stake a clear and specific position—the thesis is no place to be vague and indecisive!


An effective thesis strives to generate discussion about a certain aspect of your topic.


In other words, your claim should be contestable, open to reasoned argument and debate. Ideally, your thesis should focus on one main idea. If you have lots of good ideas on the subject but are writing a short paper, choose what you think is the strongest or most important argument and make it your thesis.



Evaluating your claim

As you draft your working claim, evaluate its efficacy. A strong claim (thesis) will be:


Contestable: Intentionally writing a claim that someone can disagree with may seem counterintuitive, but consider that if no one could possibly disagree with what you’re arguing, there’s little point in writing about it. Being able to acknowledge and refute counterarguments will strengthen your claim, not weaken it.




While you want your claim to be contestable, you also want it to be reasonable. A claim can be radical, in the context of current dialogue on your topic, and still be reasonable if you have sufficient evidence to support it. Readers will recognize the difference between thoughtful, critical interpretations of evidence and contortions that twist evidence around to support an unreasonable claim.



Broad claims are more difficult to support effectively than focused claims. Specific claims also tend to provide readers with more useful information than broad claims.




Consider the context of the course for which you are writing your paper. Is your claim adding anything meaningful to the current dialogue surrounding your topic? Note that as you become more familiar with the concerns of a given topic or discipline, you will be able to contribute more significantly to the discussion.



Does your claim offer an interpretation of evidence or does it simply describe a situation?


  • A good thesis outlines the rest of the essay
    • I'm a big fan of what I call the roadmap method of thesis statements. A good thesis not only states your position, but calls attention to the structure, or at least the big, structural ideas, you're going to use to support your thesis. These ideas should come, if not in the thesis statement (and let's face it, with compound and complex sentences at your disposal, there is little reason why they should not) then as physically near to it as you can make it. These ideas should also be in the order in which you plan to present them in the essay. Always check your thesis statement after completing an essay to make sure that your paragraph order matches your roadmap. Sometimes things change while your writing. Make sure your opening reflects those changes.


Carefully worded

Because it communicates your paper's main idea, your thesis statement should be clearly and accurately worded. It should be direct and straightforward. Avoid using vague, wordy phrases. Also, avoid using phrases like "I believe," "It seems," "personally."








Now, you try... 




Much like Manjoo's argument about the necessity of Facebook, most Americans would agree that there is no reason why people should resist other dominant forms of technology, especially the smartphone. 


Despite the overwhelming popularity of smartphones, there are still Americans (approximately 30% of cell phone users) who own dumb phones (talk and text only). 


Nearly half of those dumbphone users have incomes under $49,000 a year, suggesting the choice had to do more with economics than preference.


For some Americans though, the dumbphone may be a matter of preference. These dumbphone owners are  holdouts who resist on principle. 



Consider the following position that Scott Johnson writes in "Why I Resist," an article published in Technology World in 2014:


"I have consciously opted out of the connected culture of the smartphone for a variety of reasons. Individuals who have smartphones miss out on a lot of adventure, waste a lot of time, and are plagued with more stress. Dumbphones allow individuals to be more productive and more thoughtful about how they spend their time. They also allow people to be "present"--to be entirely focused on and engaged with the real world instead of the screen."





Other Positions to consider:


"I would not want to live without a Smart Phone. It keeps me connected to the world around me. I have no idea how many times I have looked on Facebook or Twitter and some kind of big important news is being posted by everyone. If I would not have had my phone on me then I would have had no idea but what was going on until I got home. Not only that but being able to jump on the internet at any given time is a true blessing. Just about everyday I am in a discussion with someone and we do not know the answer to something. So we use our smart phones to find out. I know for a fact that I look things up way more often than I used to just because it is so quick and easy now. So for these reasons and many more I love my Smart Phone. :]"


"I have given in to having a smart phone and love having the ability to access the web for directions and information wherever I go for business. My office also has a VoIP phone system so we all communicate seamlessly without being in one location."


"I have many friends who grew really addicted to their "smart" devices. When we'd go out for a drink, the common ritual occurs - check in with FourSquare, then tweet if it's a particularly nice place, check their email, and maybe take a photo and post it on Facebook - and that's even before the drinks arrived. Checking email/tweets/status update routine would then extend during the conversation, in 5-10 minute intervals. Interestingly, I never had a smart phone. For me the ultimate thing to look in any phone has been it's battery life. That easily removed any smart phones from a list of desirable phones as far as I am concerned. Give me a 10+ day battery life and that gets me excited.

Not being "plugged into" the email throughout the day really allows me to enjoy the rest of my day, time that I am supposed not to be working."


"For most of us, our phones have become a part of us. We would no more leave the house without the phone than we would without clothes.

But if you have a gadget you're going to carry around with you everywhere, you really should get the most out of it. If you upgrade from a standard phone to a smartphone, there's a whole world of new things you can do."






In "Why I Resist," an article published in Technology World in 2014, Scott Johnson writes, 

"I have consciously opted out of the connected culture of the smartphone for a variety of reasons. Individuals who have smartphones miss out on a lot of adventure, waste a lot of time, and are plagued with more stress. Dumbphones allow individuals to be more productive and more thoughtful about how they spend their time. They also allow people to be "present"--to be entirely focused on and engaged with the real world instead of the screen."



With your group, create a well-developed thesis statement that states your position on this issue and responds to Johnson's claims. Use one of the 3 ways to respond. Compose a thesis statement that would serve as a road map for a short (approx. 2 page) position essay.


Make sure your thesis is  

  • contestable
  • specific
  • reasonable
  • interpretive
  • significant 


Make sure your thesis is a solid sentence or two


Make sure your thesis adheres to the rules of parallelism


Include the name of all your group members on your thesis.




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