Explanatory Synthesis Essay
Your paper will respond to this prompt:In this unit we have been reading about rumors and misinformation -- how and why theyare created, how and why they spread, the effects they can have, how they can befought, and some examples of these phenomena in action. For this essay, you will selectone rumor of your choice and examine how it can be explained using the ideas and keyterms you’ve read about in the provided articles. You must use at least two of thearticles we have read in this unit to discuss your rumor.
Examples of Popular Rumors
You can choose a rumor from this list of examples, or you can select a different one on yourown -- just make sure it can be analyzed in enough detail to meet the word count. If youaren’t sure if the rumor you have in mind will work, send me an email as soon as possible.Remember to choose something you can analyze objectively; your goal is not toprove/disprove anything or make an argument.
★Politics = Barack Obama was not born in the United States, Sarah Palin’s youngest childwas actually her daughter’s baby, etc.
★Pop culture = Elvis is still alive, Paul McCartney (or Avril Lavigne) died and was replacedby an imposter, etc.
★Science = The moon landing was faked, the Earth is flat, etc.
★Current events = Almost anything related to COVID-19
Suggested Talking Points
●Background information about your rumor: What is the rumor? When did it start? Is itstill going? How well-known is/was it? What effects has it had, if any? This informationshould be in your introduction so your audience understands your topic before youmove into the explanation in the body paragraphs.
●What type of rumor is it? How can it be classified? What is its purpose or goal?
●What makes it a “good” rumor? (Good as in successful, not as in benevolent orbeneficial for the world.)
●Why/how was it spread? What is it tapping into in the people who believe and spreadit?
●How could this rumor have been combated? Use specific strategies from the articles,don’t make up your own.RECOMMENDED WRITING PROCESS1.Examine the writing assignment and determine your purpose: to explain societalbehavior2.Ask questions to identify relationships among the articles we have read3.Choose one rumor to focus on and apply the sources to it4.Begin drafting, returning to sources for paraphrases, quotations, and summaries5.Revise and edit (including, but not limited to, the mandatory in-class peer review andrevision workshops)TIPS AND HINTSDetermine how your sources help us understand the rumor. Let’s imagine that you areinterested in using Goleman and Knapp to examine the popular rumor that Elvis is still alive.Begin by asking yourself, what statements about the rumor would each author make? What aresome main ideas and relevant key terms from each source worthy of paraphrase andquotation? Is any information from Goleman in direct opposition to the concepts introduced byKnapp? Are there places where Goleman might agree with Knapp about certain aspects of therumor? Based upon this evidence from your sources, how can we explain the creation, spread,and goals of this particular rumor?Your purpose is to be informative, NOT PERSUASIVE OR ARGUMENTATIVE. It is your goal topresent facts with objectivity, so you must avoid opinion. Instead, rely upon the informationpresented in your readings in order to explain how and why your chosen rumor caught on withthe public the way it did. Think of it more in terms of a news report than an editorial.Your thesis statement should be descriptive and non-persuasive. If it helps, think about yourexplanatory synthesis thesis as the most obvious statement you can make about therelationship between our readings and your chosen rumor. An example: “The rumor that Elvisis still alive shows how people can interact with and respond to information they do not know tobe true, which is societal behavior that many scholars agree exists but have different ways ofexplaining.”
Avoid producing a bundle of summaries instead of a tightly woven synthesis. Determine apurpose, analyze your sources, establish firm grounds for synthesis, and pluck sentences andpassages that directly relate to your thesis. Do not simply give general summaries of the rumorand your sources, and do not just list the opinions given by the authors of your sources.Instead, strive to use the information from the sources as a way of explaining your rumor. Inother words: your goal is to show how your sources can explain your rumor.