Oroscopes and telling future by using personal information

The Purpose
You will write a new argument explaining why a specific example of the paranormal
has cultural significance. (The portfolio is comprised of three Mini Essays total).
The Big Picture
a?Without good whys, humans have no hope of understanding all that we fondly call weirda or anything else,
for that matter. Without good whys, our beliefs are simply arbitrary, with no more claim to knowledge than
the random choice of a playing card. Without good whys to guide us, our beliefs lose their value in a world
where beliefs are already a dime a dozen a¦ Beliefs that do not stand on our best reasons and evidence simply
dangle in thin air, signifying nothing except our transient feelings or personal preferences.a?
-Theodore Schick, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn
In their book, How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age, philosophy scholars Theodore
Schicke, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn argue that explaining why you believe something to be true is the key to
knowledge and credibility. This emphasis on a?the whysa? is also a useful approach for academic writing. As
writers, explaining and discussing the whys behind our thesis statements not only demonstrates our
knowledge of the topic, but it also forces us to engage in a whole host of good writing practices. Among them,
attending to the whys of our arguments force writers to: analyze our supporting evidence, including the
consideration of contradictory evidence; fully develop and explain that evidence in writing; as well as use
signpost language and other tools to ensure reader understanding. For your first major assignment, you will
take this approach of explaining the whys in answering the question: Why is the paranormal culturally
Of course, in order to write a focused Mini Essay on this topic, you will need to narrow down a?the
paranormala? into something more manageable. For each Mini Essay you will choose one particular example or
manifestation of the paranormal to analyze. No research is required for the Mini Essays a all of your analysis
should come from your own brain, and you get the credit for coming up with your own ideas.
The Research
No research is required for the Mini Essays. However, if you choose to include information from course texts
or any sources other than your own brain, they must be cited using MLA guidelines. Please refer to the a?MLA
Documentationa? section in The Everyday Writer for a reminder on how to properly cite.
The Objectives & Targeted Skills
Critical Thinking
i · To create an original idea or insight about why the paranormal is culturally significant
Portfolio of Mini Essays a ? Exploring the Paranormal: The Writer as Skeptic a ? Spring 2012 a ? Prof. Gina Evers
(over)The Objectives & Targeted Skills, Continued
i · To formulate an original thesis statement, borne out of critical thinking
i · To support an original thesis statement with reasoned evidence that focuses on answering a?Why?a?
i · To write well-developed, cohesive paragraphs that oscillate around one main idea
i · To employ an essay structure that is appropriate for an academic audience
i · To effectively employ MLA guidelines
Recursive Choices
i · To practice writing succinct, concise prose
i · To incorporate specific feedback from one mini essay to the next, focusing on the mastery of a specific
skill set
Length Guideline
Around 750 words per Mini Essay
Readers of your Mini Essays are both skeptics of and believers in the paranormal