The Magic of Cinematography: Becoming a Film Major

Essay One Conspiracy Theories Frauds and Hoaxes

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You have chosen a topic from our class list of conspiracy theories, frauds, and hoaxes. You have conducted some research into the topic with your group. For this essay, however, you will work ALONE – you will NOT write the paper with your group mate(s), but by yourself. It is best that you write about an aspect of the topic which is different than the aspect(s) which your groupmate(s) write about. You and your groupmate(s) may, however, share the same research sources.

For this essay, you will debunk the “baloney” – that is, you will expose the falseness or hollowness of the supposed “theory,” fraud, or hoax. To do this, you will need to:

  • Explain the supposed rationale for the “theory,” fraud, or hoax;
  • Apply the tools which Sagan has shown us for “baloney detection,” including at least one of the “tools for skeptical [critical] thinking” on pages 210-211, and/or at least one of the logical fallacies he describes on pages 212-216 (“The Fine Art of Baloney Detection”);
  • Address the “provenance” of supposed evidence (where it came from; what is its origin or author; how it was passed along, who has been in control or possession of it, etc.); or else discuss the lack of proof;
  • Discuss why people believe, or have believed in the theory, fraud, or hoax; and,
  • Discuss what alternative logical explanation can be given, if appropriate, or else discuss how logic can and should be applied to the situation.

To organize your writing, you must have a thesis. Your thesis will be something to the effect of, “Although some people believe…., nevertheless they are wrong, because….” But put it in better words than that – this is just a generic example.

**Also, you should address some critical thinking questions in your essay, such as: how has this conspiracy theory, fraud, or hoax affected people? Individuals? Society? Does the case involve danger in any way? To safety? To social stability? To truth? To justice? Or else discuss some deeper implication that you see as a consequence of the conspiracy theory, fraud, or hoax. Explain and discuss.

You must quote from your research sources for this essay. Your quoted text should be short, in-text quotations and they must be cited. You should quote three times – no more; and be sure that your quoted text is relevant and contextualized. Additionally, you should list your sources on a separate sheet of paper, attached to your essay; there should be at least five sources.

Do NOT simply write a “report” about the topic. You must analyze and give your thoughtful, logical opinion – in other words, you must argue a thesis.

DO show that you are a logical, critical thinker who refuses to be fooled by “baloney!”

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