The Power of the Personal Essay For Persuading People in Blogs, Columns, and Admission Applications | Duncan Koerber | Skillshare

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The Power of the Personal Essay For Persuading People in Blogs, Columns, and Admission Applications

teacher avatar Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (47m)
    • 1. Welcome to the Course!

    • 2. Introduction to the Personal Essay Genre

    • 3. Specificity and Structure

    • 4. Writer As Cultural Observer

    • 5. Writer As Activist

    • 6. Three Rhetorical Elements in Effective Personal Essays

    • 7. Personal Essays and the Truth

    • 8. Argumentative Fallacies that Make People Look Stupid

    • 9. How to Write School Admissions Personal Essay

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About This Class

Blog posts, newspaper columns, and admission applications can often be quite lifeless, abstract, vague and thus ineffective in persuading anyone about anything

Yet great changes in people's thinking and behavior can occur with persuasion done right, particularly in writing. 

If you want to change people's opinions in the online public sphere and get them to act in new ways, you must include rhetorical elements and take on approaches that I describe in detail in this course. 

Incorporate those elements in the personal essay – and avoid logical problems listed in the lectures – and you can make your writing more powerful

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How a personal essay is nothing like an academic school paper;
  • The roles of Cultural Observer and Activist common to almost all personal essays;
  • Three rhetorical devices that – when combined – can influence people profoundly;
  • Ways to identify and remove logical problems from your arguments;
  • How to see and break down false assumptions in your opponent’s arguments; and,
  • The basics of an admissions essay.

This course is useful for anyone looking to improve the impact of his or her writing, particularly on the Internet.

Meet Your Teacher

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Duncan Koerber

University Professor


Dr. Duncan Koerber has taught writing and communications courses for the past 10 years at six Canadian universities to thousands of students.

Currently a full-time assistant professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, Duncan Koerber worked for nearly 10 years in reporting and editing roles for the London Free Press, the Mississauga News, and the University of Toronto Medium. He has freelanced for magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

Oxford University Press recently published his writing textbook, Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (2015). Available on Amazon, the book considers the seven most common errors (interfering factors) in writing and how to improve them (enhancing factors). His second book, Crisis Communication... See full profile

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1. Welcome to the Course!: log posts, newspaper columns and admission essays can often be quite lifeless, abstract, vague and ineffective of persuading anyone about anything. But you can make this writing more powerful with effective personal essays. This course shows you how I'm Duncan Kerber, a professor of writing and communication. For over 10 years, as a staple of my university teaching, this course has helped many students produce influential writing. In this course, you'll learn how a personal essay differs from an academic school paper, the stances of Cultural Observer and activists, three rhetorical devices that, when combined, can persuade people ways to identify and remove logical fallacies from your arguments, how to see him break down, the false assumptions of your opponents and the basics of an admissions essay. This course is useful for anyone looking to prove the impact of their writing, particularly writing on the Internet. Thank you for your interest in my personal essay writing course. 2. Introduction to the Personal Essay Genre: Do you want to change how people think? Influence public debate, join a conversation in the public? One way to do this is to write a personal essay. This isn't like the essays you wrote in school. Those academic papers, those boring academic papers. A personal essay is a very short document, almost like a blawg post in our digital age. It's completely subjective, so there's no objectivity here. It is your personal, subjective viewpoint of some issue. Incidentally, the word essay comes from the French word essay A meaning a short written piece of subjective writing in school. The word essay typically gets mixed up with the word research paper, but they're not the same. The S A presents an inherently tentative, short focused observation using arguments and relates those arguments to everyday life. If you want to deal with really extensive broad topics, the personal essays probably not. For you, it could be 500 words. 1000 words doesn't have to be that long. Essays could be expository. We explain something or they can be persuasive in the majority are persuasive. To some degree, you're trying to persuade someone to believe what you're saying or come to your side now, I said. Essays air Not like the academic papers you remember from school, but they can include evidence of statistics, illustrations, descriptions, factual material that will buttress your argument. Well written personal when I say, could be used to influence admission committees at a school, consumers to buy products or not to buy products. Citizens to vote a certain way or not do certain things they shouldn't be doing. And politicians who should listen to you think of the personal essay as your small contribution to a larger public conversation. Our societies truths develop out of billions and billions of conversations that define things they define good and bad. They define what's right and wrong. They define what's trendy of what's not trendy and what's helpful and unhelpful. For example, you see a lot of personal essays, whether they're blood posts, whether they're newspaper articles, they deal with how a man or a woman should be in the 21st century and defining what a man or a woman should be. Today is a pretty important public job. You may already right Blawg Post, where you talk about what's a good movie or not. Or maybe you write about how people should think of new moms or you rail against a certain politician that you really don't like. These little bites of conversations. 500 words, 1000 words. They don't seem that significant when you do them, but they are significant. They are defining our world collectively, the way people do things today, the way people think the way they act is all a product of conversations that occurred long before you were born. Think about, for example, our obsession today with recycling. I'm old enough to remember when nobody recycled. I remember getting our first blue box back when maybe I was eight years old, 10 years old, and before that it was a pretty common practice. You just threw all your garbage in one bag and they toss it into dump summer. So how did we get to this point where we have canisters for each product and we willingly put our products in those? Well, it wasn't like somebody just said, we're going to do it this way, and suddenly it all changed. What happened is people had conversations, often through personal essay forms, so people would write a letter in the newspaper or a column saying that, you know, we should divide our garbage up, We should save the planet and then some other people would write the same thing. And then some other people on and on convincing more and more people that we should save the environment by changing our ways. This didn't happen overnight, 2030 years. Maybe There was a really good quote in a book called Influential Writing, and the quote goes like this. Patience is vital to influential writing because individual opinions usually change gradually in association with collective changes in the attitudes of groups with which individuals identify. You can see how your little personal essay written on a subject that you care about that you're passionate about, combined with a bunch of others over time can change the world. Think about some other shifts that have come through this personal type of writing. Increasingly, gay people can marry, which has come out of a great public debate. People are also getting better at healthy eating and working out an exercise which again came through the communication of health enthusiasts, writers and other communicators. Overtime convinced people toe willingly change their opinions on these subjects, the best personal essays are logical, rational, although they can have some passion to them. The best ones. Air ethical writer Richard Rodriguez mentions that the DRAM of the essay is the way the public life intersex with my personal and private life. It's in that intersection that I find the energy of the essay, and that quote points to why these things were so popular online or in newspapers. And that is the humanize, the topic with personal experience. And because they're written in an informal ways you're writing in the first person you're saying, I you're writing in a conversational way, non in an academic way. It sounds like your voice on the page, not somebody else. Readers feel like they get to know you. They may respond to you enjoying that conversation. 3. Specificity and Structure: since personal essays are so short, they can deal with everything. There's not enough space in the short personal essay to write about. For example, every current trend in American fashion. You're not writing an encyclopedia article. You need to be very, very specific. So talk about one little trend or one product or one movie in great detail. Once you've outlined that trend, then you've got to connect it to the greater culture. What's the greater significance of this trend that you're talking about? Ask that age old journalism question. Why should the reader care about this? A tip from journalism school is Can you explain the point of your personal essay in one sentence? If not, then it's probably too broad or vague. And readers like detailed writing. They don't want general writing. They want specificities. Now let's turn destruction. What structure should you use for personal essay? How should you order things? Well, my solution is don't worry about it just right. This is an informal, conversational essay. You should not write it in the way used to write that old school paper, which was the old hamburger s a style. Do you remember that cliche of writing. We had to have this big introduction the top. That's the hamburger bun at the top. And then your teacher said, right, three body paragraphs, that's the meat and then finish it off with another bond of the bottom, which is the conclusion. But that's really boring. Those old hamburger essays in school, their research papers would say something like In this paper, I will look at blah, blah, blah. Well, nobody wants to actually read something like that. They want a more provocative beginning. William Zinsser, the a great writer, argues that beginnings and endings air so important in this kind of writing in an academic paper. There's a captive audience that means your professor has to read it. But out in the public sphere, you need to capture imagination, need to capture the interest of the readers. You've got to dive right into this piece of right and get to the point right away. And I would suggest being provocative, such as some of these examples from riel personal essays. The first time I remember thinking critically about pornography, I was 15. In great eight, I joined an extracurricular social studies club called Project Business, designed to help young people learn about supply and demand economics. I signed up because Krista Copper was in it. These air too provocative openings of personal essays. And they bring in the personal element right away. If you're not writing this hamburger s a style. What do you do for conclusion? Well, you definitely don't use any of that stuff from school, like in some or in conclusion. I would like to say you just ended when it feels right. For some people, that's just a key point. And for others is maybe it's a good quotation, something that leaves the reader thinking but does not summarize. Repeat what's come before. 4. Writer As Cultural Observer: one roll, you can take one. Writing personal essays is writer as cultural observer. The Cultural Observer writes a personal essay from a somewhat detached position or stance. It's not ranting and raving necessarily. Some of the best personal is's just stand back and observe society but showing things that people haven't seen before. One of my favorite cultural observers was the movie columnist Roger Ebert. You may remember he invented, along with Cisco Jean Cisco, the two thumbs up movie review. He stood back and observe movies and judge them and his opinions on movies. His observations about movies became important to millions of people. He developed a following a huge following around these little personal essays about films. But what is culture? Culture is usually just the everyday, the ordinary things that we repeatedly do in a specific location. That location could be the nation. Every nation has a culture that could be the area you live in or a club or organization you're involved in. Organisations have their own internal cultures so you can see our cultures and communities overlap and you're gonna use your specialize, your observation ALS abilities to see what's new and fresh in that community to talk about what needs to stay the same or what needs to change. When you're cultural observers, sometimes you strike a nerve. You discover ideas that many people feel are true, but they haven't written about or spoken about. And you're the first. Other times you're observing things other people don't see yet such as trends. Also, a lot of cultural observers, right? Humor pretty much all the comedians that I know are Boat observing their day to day lives. Probably the most famous was the TV show Seinfeld, where Jerry Seinfeld's show was just about day to day stuff, amusing things that happen to people, what people do every day. What they watch and what they buy are often affected by the words of cultural observers, opinion leaders, people who tell others about new and interesting things. If you know a topic well enough, and if you can communicate its details effectively in this essay form, you too can become an opinion leader in your community, a community of comic book fans, movie goers, sports Spectators, readers then learn from your work and you develop authority. Cultural observers include reviewers, critics, scholars, columnists, bloggers and even tweeters. The key thing, though, is that you're embedded in some community. However small. It is good cultural observation. Personal essay writers are always aware of their surroundings. One exercise for you that can help you be more aware of your surroundings is to consider a community you're a member of and then jot down 10 trends. So these are things a few people see except you. And in the near future, these air gonna explode. These they're going to be the big things in your community. If you like. For example, video games, I'm sure there's a trend coming that's going to change video games forever. That would be a great topic for you to write about in your personal essay. Just make sure, though, that what you're writing about really is fresh and new. One of my students once wrote a personal essay about this amazing new technology Kranz the iPhone, but this was 45 years after the iPhone had been released. To this day, I still do not own a smartphone. I don't own an iPhone, but even I knew at the time all about the iPhone, just from the media, so he would get laughed at if he had published that on the Web. So think about 10 fresh cutting edge ideas you want to write about in your personal S e. These have to be things that you really care about. You never ever want to write anything about something you don't 100% care about. Your passion will show through in the writing. If you're stuck for ideas, you can find them just about anywhere. I had a journalism professor, ones who said that every street has a story, so people look up from their phones while they're walking on the street. They can see developments that can see things changing that may spark a personal essay. Bulletin boards at school or work often have notices that may spark some ideas, the great writer Williams insert said, to keep an eye out for packaging things that change on packages ingredients. Maybe there's something to write about their and finally, all over the Web. People are writing. When you look at what they're saying, come up with your own perspective on it, your own angle or counter it 5. Writer As Activist: second major role that essay writers take on is that of the activists. The activist does a lot of the things that a cultural observer does, but a little bit more so the activists still observing one's culture, still providing evidence of of things, looking at some trends. But in addition, the activist demands change. This could be political or social change. Now, in some circles, activist has a bad connotation, probably because it's often associate ID with one form of activist communication. And that is violence. Yes, violence is a form of communication, but activists only use violence, usually when other options are lost. Much of activists work involves peaceful communication, community building education. But whatever type of communication it is, activists are trying to correct an imbalance of power. So in relationships of all kinds, whether it's boss, employee, politician, citizen and so on, there are people who are losing their voice or have no voice in the conversation. And so activists are trying to re balance that situation to create equality, so they write about issues and causes because you have to first make people aware of the imbalance. But also activist writers have to show the significance of the problem that it really is something to worry about. And then they need to provide concrete solutions, something the rear can do after they read the article. Here are some steps to get started on activist personal essay writing. Describe the problem, whether it's local, national or global, or maybe a combination of all three list credible evidence like in academic writing to prove the problem exists. We live in a time of statistics and numbers, and people want fax for everything. Next explain the significance of the problem. So why should the average reader care and then finally describe clear solutions for the problem solutions of the average person can actually do? Because some of these problems can seem insurmountable unless we all work together. But we also need to show people how to make change individually. They can do something today that's going to lead to something better. A good exercise to come up with an idea for an activist personal essay is to list three causes that you support. Then, for each cause, write one sentence, not a paragraph, just one sense that argues some sort of change you'd like to do on behalf of that cause. This should be something fresh and new, something that other people are not talking about Next. You need to have commitment. You have to have commitment, or there's no sense bothering to write this personal essay to make change. You can't be ambiguous. You can't be vague. You need to be passionate. If you find you're not that passionate about the cause, do not write about it. Readers will feel your lack of passion. It's also important to be really efficient in your targeting of the audience for your personal narrative. This is a different approach. I think, that some other teachers described when doing activist essays You're not writing for your opponents. They're never gonna agree with you on whatever activist topic you're doing. There's a useful quote in a textbook that I have used and it goes. It is difficult enough to convince readers about an issue on which they have not already formed an opinion. It's practically impossible to get them to change their minds when they hold on entrenched belief. And you shouldn't just write and speak to your own supporters all the time. These people are already on your side. Whatever you say they're gonna agree with other parts of your fight against this problem. There's no point wasting your time speaking to the converted. So who really are you sitting down to write four. When you do your activist personal essay, you're trying to target the middle ground of your community so those people could be unaware, unsure or uncommitted. There are millions of these people around the world, and if we could convince them of our causes, we wouldn't have to worry about our opponents. This mushy middle of society would be so powerful. But most of these people are busy with work and families and school, so no wonder they don't have time to educate themselves or understand the issue. With this middle ground in line, you shouldn't look at your readers as enemies or arguments as things that you have to win. How right? Instead, think of your readers as potential new friends. In that way, you'll write in a very nice, friendly, conversational but convincing tone. Now, some final tips on writing activist personal essays avoid the larger, controversial issues like abortion or capital punishment. He's a really big topics for 500 or 1000 words and Also, there are no more original perspectives on these topics. Instead, find a new way, a very specific way of looking at your cause. Now I want to talk about a specific activist writer that I think is a really good model, and that is David Suzuki. David Suzuki is known around the world for his environmental activism. He began in Canada as a professor but also that very quickly into television and became very famous for a show. The nature of Things. The show's brought environmental issues into people's homes, created awareness of a growing environmental movement and made him, Ah, household name. Suzuki includes commentaries, personal views and stories in his work to humanize often abstract and distant environmental causes. He's written over 40 books and hundreds of personal essays. What does David Suzuki do so well? He tells stories one as a talks about enjoying the land in London, Ontario, as a boy bicycling around town, readers see the environmental problem through his eyes. Suzuki also doesn't fear or ignore the opposition argument. For example, he writes a lot about the effects of climate change, but he also considers the climate deniers in his arguments and that helps him to push his arguments further cause he's already incorporated objections from his opposition into his writing. Also, he even admits things he doesn't know about the science. He doesn't school, they're talked down to people. And his measured ethical approach to writing has given him credibility, credibility that he now uses to promote more and more causes. He's just one example of a really ethical activist writer who uses the personal, I say, to make change and get people involved in his movement. 6. Three Rhetorical Elements in Effective Personal Essays: writers of essays want their ideas to resonate with the most readers. The best riders reach wide audiences because they use language that appeals to all three elements of classical rhetoric. This set of principles from an ancient philosopher, Aristotle, helps essay writers increase the effectiveness of their writing. So what did Aristotle recommend? Well, he said, the best persuaders, the best communicators combined pathos, ethos and logos, these air Latin words. They could be translated to emotion, ethics and logic. So let's consider emotion, ethics and logic in your personal essay. Writing all good writing engages the emotions on some level stories, for example, can make us laugh, cry. Feel sad. You can't tell people emotions. You have to make up feel emotions, and often that comes through storytelling. Now some emotional appeals can annoy people, So I know whenever I see one of those commercials about the local cat and dog rescue center with the sad faces of the cats and dogs and their cages, it just all feels too much like the trying to appeal to much to emotion. Nonetheless, if your personal essay on Li argues rationally and logically, that can be too abstract and distant to affect anyone to change anyone. If you find yourself falling into abstract ideas and your personal essays, then return to a story, a narrative, whether it's your own life for somebody else's that can bring the reader back to the concrete feeling world. Aristotle's second category Ethics Many unethical writers exist in the public sphere. I know a few politicians lately quickly in the United States that could be seen is unethical in their public communication. They rile people of with clearly wrong and untrue statements. Their followers tend to just believe it all and just stay on their team. But the best writers air after fair and reasonable, they consider in respect other people's points of view, but they're still passionate about their own causes. It's like a chess game where you anticipate the other person's argument. The other person's move, and you push the debate further by incorporating that into your own arguments. Ethical essay writers don't try to trick the audience. They don't twist the facts, and readers will respect this. Aristotle's third element is logic. We live in a time when logic is supreme. People want evidence, facts to back everything up, not just opinions although sadly, a lot of opinions, as I said earlier in this course, have become seemingly fax two. Approaches to general reasoning are useful for personal essays on their inductive and deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning works from the bottom while deductive works from the top down. So if you're used to going out of finding a bunch of evidence and then from that coming to some sort of grand conclusion without any bias than any prior notions, then you're probably doing inductive reasoning. If you provide evidence that the earth is getting warmer, the rate of that warming is increasing and there's an increased variability in weather patterns. Then you can lead to the inductive argument. The global warming is happening. Deductive reasoning, however, doesn't really require evidence or cases. This is more of a philosophical exercise. In deductive reasoning, you can make a general statement and then moved to more specific ones that logically follow . So consider this deductive argument. Global warming effects all countries. Canada is a country. Therefore, global warming effects Canada seal. That's a different approach to inductive. Most writers start with inductive reasoning because it works from the evidence to a major point, and they know their point. Their eventual point will match the evidence. Now. You may still use deductive reasoning within the body of a piece to make a point, but the success of that reasoning depends on the accuracy of those premises. Now, if one of those doesn't actually exist, fact, then you have a problem. So global warming effects all countries. If somehow you could prove that that's not true, then it all falls apart. A lack of evidence of global warming would, and the argument that global warming effects all countries clearly evidence still matters. So keep Aristotle's three elements emotion, ethics and logic in mind when you are writing your personal essay at all three elements to writing and you'll have much more of a profound effect on your readers. 7. Personal Essays and the Truth: the best personal essays challenge what we know as true or right. What people accept as true and right at any given time isn't necessarily a fact. The way the sky is blue is a fact to a great degree. Human beings create their own truths. Now this isn't a philosophy course, so I'm not gonna get into the detail arguments around reality and what is truth and what is not riel. But there's a problem or an opportunity if you want to look at it positively when you jump into some public debates. As an essay writer on very unsettled topics, many public writers today state truths that, upon further investigation, fall apart. Consider these three statements. Homeless people are just lazy bums. Politicians always waste money. Technology makes us a better society. All three of these examples of common essay arguments are unequivocal about their truth. There's no maybes, or perhaps or possibly lease in these statements. They take a really strong stand, and it almost seems like these are facts. But that's not always the case. And knowing this issue with statements that they're not always fact can help you write better arguments. Let's look at those three examples. More specifically, people who work and help the homeless. No, that many homeless people want to work. They aren't lazy. But some circumstances come in the way, so job losses, mental illness, for example, and politicians don't always waste money. I mean, we see the roads we see. The bridge is the water treatment plants and parks that are built on time and on budget, maybe some that go over budget. But there are many that don't we just don't hear about that? Nobody reports well, The water treatment plant was built on budget. It's really reported. But if it's over budget, it's on the front page of the newspaper and then with the final statement. We revere technology so much that many people assume new technology is always better. But examples abound of technologies that foul the earth or reduce our privacy. Good essay writers always air skeptical of broad truth. Statements such as X and Y are always this or always that The statements are really important, cause sometimes your opponents will state such things, and that influences the nature of the debate. What we're debating the boundaries of that debate unless you attack those statements at their roots right away. And we also have to realize in a public debate that some people state things, this fact that just sound reasonable, and they provide the grounds for the debate. You really need to keep your eyes open when you're arguing with someone you're debating with someone in an activist way for these assumptions that turned out not to be true. Imagine if someone writes the current president of Canada is bald. Well, if you know your politics, you know that Canada doesn't have a president. So that statement cannot be true. What about the fact statement that Jane no longer writes fiction? But what if she never did write fiction in the first place? It assumed she did? Many readers might not know anything about the prime minister, president of Canada. They may not know anything about genes. History is a writer, so if they don't have any background, most readers will accept these assertions, and they may accept other ideas. Other arguments that these writers make this could be used unethically. My certain writers, Marie Christine Labs, puts it this way. It's often preferable to Presuppose certain parts of an argument in order to impose their acceptance as a condition for the pursuit of exchange. But she's getting. It is. If you can impose your assumptions, your beliefs on an argument, then the game is gonna be played according to your rules. It's also important to know what incorrect assumptions things that people think are fact, which are not of your readers. If you can undercut that assumption in your argumentation, you can undercut the resistance to your cause or your ideas. Now this struggle for truth never ends. It's always ongoing. It's always a fight between different sides. Change is never complete. A good exercise to help you develop this awareness of assumptions that are actually not fax is to look at an opinion column in a newspaper or magazine underlying any truth statements . These are often found with the verb to be so that is or are X is why, without any maybes, or perhaps or often once you found those statements, determine if you agree or disagree with what the writer suggests. Are those statements rooted in undeniable facts? The way the sky is blue or a brick is really hard? Or maybe are they stereotypes? Are they rooted in falsity? is. Once you found those statements, you can really understand what is holding up the other person's argument, and those true statements will help you get at the heart of the matter in your public debate. 8. Argumentative Fallacies that Make People Look Stupid: I mentioned in an earlier lecture. That s a should be logically sound. Well, sometimes in the heat of the moment, in the heat of the writing, probably when we're doing activist essays were going up against their opposition. We fall into what are called argumentative fallacies now argumentative fallacies air not just academic concerns. In your day to day life, you argue. Often you argue with your mother or father, your sister, brother, your teachers, your boss. You argue a lot online these days. So any common thread on a post online, whether it's Facebook or even on Twitter, post or newspaper article online, probably an argument going on between people. It's good to know what argumentative fallacies are, even just everyday life debates, because then when you know them, you can undercut people's arguments. That is people who are arguing unethically or incorrectly, and you have a lot of experience with these already. So when I give you the official names for these, you will probably recognize some of these fallacies in your day to day life. Let's look now at some of the common argumentative fallacies that can undermine your arguments. The first is called ad hominem and that's really just attacking the person. Someone might say, I can't trust any person who believes in socialism. So obviously, this is attacking the person's character. It's not dealing with their ideas. Why not attack the ideas with logic? Why do we have to denigrate the individual, bring them down instead of focusing on their arguments? The next is the hasty generalization. Justin Bieber Fans don't know what good music ISS. Well, that's obviously a problem, because you're lumping all these people together. There may be some aficionados of music who like Justin Bieber. It's also a pretty big insult to a lot of people. The next logical fallacy is the either or fallacy, and then it's simply providing only two options. Imagine, someone says You're either with me or you're against me. This kind of argument denies any middle ground, and often there's many different points of view on a subject as many different sides to things not just to then there's the strawman argument. So that's the idea that you're mischaracterizing your opponent's argument. For example, all you pot smokers want is a license to sit around all day and get wasted. That's one of those truth statements right with the is course. I don't think that's what marijuana activists say when they're trying to get it legalized. Now their arguments are about the freedom aspect. We should be free to use this and also that their medicine. Aled benefits Health Beth. But the Straw man argument doesn't recognize those. Then there's the slippery slope or domino effect fallacy, and that is that if we do one thing, it'll lead to the worst possible outcome. For example, if the government allows gay marriage soon enough, people will want to allow siblings to get married. But so far, this hasn't happened in society. Society can put the brakes on certain developments. Don't always think the worst case scenarios. They're going to come when certain things change. Actually, I think people use slippery slope because they're worried about change. It's their fear. The next fallacy is hard for me to pronounce his Latin. Let me try post hoc ergo Procter Hoc, and that's a simple cause and effect people will argue. For example, he got into a fight because he watched that violent movie. Do you get the simple cause and effect there, So violent movie equals getting into a fight. But the violent movie probably wasn't the cause of the fight because so many people, me included, watch violent movies and we never fight anybody. And finally, another common fallacy of logic is the false analogy. And that's an incorrect comparison. Someone might say that football game was like a war. The problem here is really a football game is not like a war. No one's gonna die at the end. And some people might be offended. Really. Veterans might be offended that the people are comparing this everyday game to a really war . So avoiding these most common argumentative fallacies strengthens your writings logic, which readers appreciate. And it avoids providing your opponents with very easy counter arguments and ammunition. There's a good exercise to help you identify these fallacies in day to day life. Go on an Internet discussion for him so this could be on Facebook or some form you frequent on LinkedIn or on the Web somewhere and find a discussion thread, maybe five or a post where people are really arguing about something with a pen, underlined the fallacies and then label them according to the ones I've described. If you see one I haven't described. Check the Web. There are a lot of sites that talk about fallacies of logic. Maybe you've discovered a new one. I often show my students a discussion about the rock band A C. D. C. A. C. D. C's first singer died around 1980 then they replaced him with the second singer and 30 years later, so people are still debating whether the new guy is better than the old one and using all the fallacies I described in this lecture. 9. How to Write School Admissions Personal Essay: in this course. I've been talking about personal essays for blog's for newspapers, for magazines. But there's another kind that's so so common, particularly for young people, and that is the personal essay for emissions application to college or university. These personal essays do a lot of the things that I talked about in this course. They're short. They're focused, their specific. They have evidence that can tell stories. But for the admissions process, there may be some additional things you need to add to it. First of all, the admissions process may give you some sort of prompt a question such as How has X influenced your life or tell us about your involvement in extracurricular activities or tell us about an important educational moment in your life? There are many variations on this theme, so that will how beauty Taylor and focus your letter specifically on answering that question. You can write in first person the I, and in this case you'll be weaving in some philosophy about what you believe in related to the question. But don't make this like a philosophy paper. No one wants to read a bunch of abstract ideas, but you need some sort of point to it, and you can state that explicitly at some point during the essay. But you really need to tell a story. So you're gonna have to think back in your life to a moment of success. And then you're gonna tell a short story of what led to that success, what hard work you put in. You'll want to mention other characters in the story, so could be friends or family or a great teacher or maybe somebody you helped in a volunteering opportunity. The best stories make it seem like we're right there with you. That means putting in a lot of details so we can see everybody in this story from your eyes . Another angle to choosing a story can involve doing some research about the school. You can go on their website and look at their philosophies, their beliefs, what they're hoping to get out of their students. And then you can brainstorm some story from your life. They would match that and show to the school that you are the ideal candidate. Just don't ever say you're the ideal candidate of a perfect candidate. Just put your story out there, and if they identify that as something they want, they will give you an offer. It may take you some time to come up with a story, so just sit and brainstorm for an hour or two hours. But all the successful things you've had in your life and then start writing that story as a rough draft. Don't worry about grammar style spelling. Just get it all out on the page. Everything that happened, and then you can go back and edit it into shape. Meeting whatever word count the school has told you. If you don't have a word count, keep it to above 500 words. It doesn't have to be longer. And then I'd suggest giving it Teoh, a friend or a family member to read over. Finally, when you've polished it, you may want to get a professional editor or proofreader on a site like maybe up work dot com or fiver dot com to remove any final airs that could get it discarded by the admissions committee. You don't want to have any glaring spelling errors or grammar airs in the piece