In his article about millennials, Joel Stein begins by arguing that this
generation is narcissistic, entitled, and obsessed with technology and celebrity
culture. Why does he say that millennials are like this? What kinds of evidence
does he use to support his arguments? Do you think he does a good job of
supporting the arguments he makes, or could his claims be better supported?
And finally, do you agree with his characterization of millennials? Why or why
Once you’ve responded to the journal prompt, you’re going to write an
example body paragraph based on a piece of evidence Stein uses. Take a look
at this piece of Stein’s article:
I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those
younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow. But I have studies! I
have statistics! I have quotes from respected academics! Unlike my
parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.
Here's the cold, hard data: The incidence of narcissistic personality
disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the
generation that's now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of
Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in
2009 than in 1982.
In the first paragraph, highlighted in yellow, Stein is making an argument
about millennials: he says they are “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.” Then in
the next paragraph, highlighted in green, he introduces some statistics that he
uses as evidence to support this argument.
For your essay, you will be focusing on evidence like this. Each of the body
paragraphs of your essay should focus on one specific piece of evidence and
should evaluate it, or say whether or not you think it is a strong piece of
evidence that will help convince Stein’s readers to trust his argument (see the
outline guide on Blackboard for more help with this).
To get a feel for what your body paragraphs will sound like, I’d like you to write
an example paragraph based on the evidence above that’s highlighted in green.
Imagine that this is the first body paragraph of your essay. Here are the steps
that your paragraph should follow:
1. Identify the piece of evidence you will be discussing in your body
paragraph—this is your topic sentence.
2. Identify which type of evidence Stein is using in the quote you chose (for
instance, is he using statistical data or analogies or research, etc.)
3. Next, you should say why you think he used this evidence—how is it
meant to help convince his audience? This is your analysis of the
4. Finally, you should evaluate this evidence. Do you think that it is a
strong piece of evidence that will help convince his readers to believe
To do this, it may be helpful to use the “STAR” criteria from the textbook
chapter on evidence I gave you last week (you can find this on pages 4-5
of that chapter):
• Sufficiency: does the author provide enough evidence to support
her claim? Note that what is sufficient will vary. Obviously, a very
large, sweeping claim will require more evidence than a small,
modest claim. The context also matters. A resistant audience may
require more evidence than a supportive audience.
• Typicality: is the evidence typical? That is, has the author selected
evidence that is representative? Some authors will “cherry pick”
evidence, selecting only that which supports their position,
ignoring all the rest. (The fallacy known as “stacking the deck”
refers to this practice of skewing the selection and presentation of
• Accuracy: is the evidence accurately presented and cited, and
(where relevant) up to date?
• Relevance: does the author provide evidence that is relevant to the
claim and the particular rhetorical situation?
Once you’re done, submit both your journal response and your example
paragraph on Blackboard—this will count for your class participation this
week. You’re also welcome to use this paragraph in your essay. Let me know if
you have any questions!
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