1. In his article about millennials, Joel Stein begins by arguing that this generation is narcissistic, entitled, and obsessed with technology and celebrity culture. Why does he say that millennials are like this? What kinds of evidence does he use to support his arguments? Do you think he does a good job of supporting the arguments he makes, or could his claims be better supported? And finally, do you agree with his characterization of millennials? Why or why not?
Once youâ€™ve responded to the journal prompt, youâ€™re going to write an example body paragraph based on a piece of evidence Stein uses. Take a look at this piece of Steinâ€™s article:
I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow. But I have studies! I have statistics! I have quotes from respected academics! Unlike my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.
Here’s the cold, hard data: The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.
In the first paragraph, highlighted in yellow, Stein is making an argument about millennials: he says they are â€œlazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.â€ Then in the next paragraph, highlighted in green, he introduces some statistics that he uses as evidence to support this argument.
For your essay, you will be focusing on evidence like this. Each of the body paragraphs of your essay should focus on one specific piece of evidence and should evaluate it, or say whether or not you think it is a strong piece of evidence that will help convince Steinâ€™s readers to trust his argument (see the outline guide on Blackboard for more help with this).
To get a feel for what your body paragraphs will sound like, Iâ€™d like you to write an example paragraph based on the evidence above thatâ€™s highlighted in green. Imagine that this is the first body paragraph of your essay. Here are the steps that your paragraph should follow:
1. Identify the piece of evidence you will be discussing in your body paragraphâ€”this is your topic sentence.
2. Identify which type of evidence Stein is using in the quote you chose (for instance, is he using statistical data or analogies or research, etc.)
3. Next, you should say why you think he used this evidenceâ€”how is it meant to help convince his audience? This is your analysis of the evidence.
4. Finally, you should evaluate this evidence. Do you think that it is a strong piece of evidence that will help convince his readers to believe him?
To do this, it may be helpful to use the â€œSTARâ€ criteria from the textbook chapter on evidence I gave you last week
Sufficiency: does the author provide enough evidence to support her claim? Note that what is sufficient will vary. Obviously, a very large, sweeping claim will require more evidence than a small, modest claim. The context also matters. A resistant audience may require more evidence than a supportive audience.
Typicality: is the evidence typical? That is, has the author selected evidence that is representative? Some authors will â€œcherry pickâ€ evidence, selecting only that which supports their position, ignoring all the rest. (The fallacy known as â€œstacking the deckâ€ refers to this practice of skewing the selection and presentation of evidence).
Accuracy: is the evidence accurately presented and cited, and (where relevant) up to date?
Relevance: does the author provide evidence that is relevant to the claim and the particular rhetorical situation?