Qualifying bold claims

Assignment overview

For this final writing project of 4-5 pages, you will evolve a thesis by qualifying a claim from one of the authors we’ve engaged in this course (see the comprehensive list below).  While you may choose to qualify a claim from one of the texts you primarily engaged for WP #1 or WP #2, your writing and analysis must be substantially re-worked in WP #3.  Also, choose a claim that is a direct quote from one of the texts or lectures we’ve engaged with.

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The essential question you’re answering is “to what extent is the claim you’ve chosen true?”  To answer this question, consider the course materials, the experiences you’ve had, as well as anything else you’ve read about or observed. However, since a goal of this writing project is to make full use of the assigned readings, please limit your use of outside sources to one maximum.


Note that this is not the same as an agree/disagree paper. You will have the most success if you examine a claim with which you partially agree. In a standard agree/disagree paper, you state your thesis at the beginning, and focus on evidence that will support your thesis. You might include a counterargument, but then you will quickly refute it. In this essay, on the other hand, I want you to really examine evidence on both sides of a claim, and synthesize this evidence into your evolved thesis. (More on that in class in week 8).


You may use a claim from anything we’ve read so far, but here is a list of readings/podcasts that seem most conducive to this assignment (because the authors take bold positions):


  1. “For Creators, Everything is for Sale”
  2. Earth 2 article
  3. NFT digital art article
  4. “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk”
  5. “Personal Best”, Atul Gawande”
  6. “High Touch, High Concept”, Daniel Pink
  7. “When Less of the Same is More”, Epstein
  8. “Why Ultralearning Matters”, Scott Young
  9. “Has the Pandemic Transformed the Office Forever?” John Seabrook
  10. Apollo’s Arrow, Nicolas Christakis


The process of qualifying the “working thesis” consists of the following steps:

  1. Summarizing & explaining the “working thesis” – in this part, you introduce the readers to the claim your paper will focus on. This will provide readers with background information on the significance or origin of this claim.
  2. Confirming the working thesis (YES) – in this part, you will provide evidence and/or reasons that support the working thesis. In a way, you are playing “devil’s advocate,” explaining why people believe this claim.
  3. Contradicting the working thesis (NO) – in this part, you will provide evidence and/or reasons that contradict the working thesis. In this part, you will look for problems/flaws in the working thesis (the claim/argument).
  4. Qualifying the working thesis (IT DEPENDS) – in this part, you will explore to what extent the working thesis is true. Use one of the following ways to “limit” or explain to what extent the working thesis is true, valid or reasonable:
    1. Find hidden assumptions in the working thesis –
    2. Find fuzzy or vague terms in the working thesis OR restated thesis – Find terms that affect whether readers accept the thesis as true.

Example: We cannot find happiness in externals. (Fuzzy terms: _____________)

    1. Find variables/factors that affect the truth or validity of the working thesis OR variables/ factors that influence the extent to which readers accept the working thesis as true

Example: We cannot find happiness in externals….

Variables or factors:

We cannot find happiness in externals IF/WHEN……..


We can find happiness in externals ONLY IF……


Finding happiness in externals DEPENDS ON…..

Grading Criteria

  • Strong and Clear Evolved Thesis – The paper begins with a “working thesis” and ends with an “evolved” thesis that is more specific, qualified and true. The evolved thesis passes the “wow” test – it makes a less obvious and deeper point about the meaning of the “working thesis.”
  • Well-Developed & Interesting Paragraphs — The writer develops each paragraph, using well-chosen quotations, examples and thoughtful reasoning and clear explanation. The writer makes good use of the readings and video sources.
  • Strong Logical Progression – Paragraphs build & deepen readers’ understanding by qualifying the working thesis. These paragraphs lead the readers through the writer’s process of qualifying and evolving the working thesis.
  • Strong Qualifying Points – Paragraphs focus on and present interesting and valid qualifying evidence and ideas.
  • Grammar & Style — The paper has been carefully proofread. There may be a few typos and punctuation or grammar problems, but they do not disrupt communication between the reader and the writer.

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