Write a Paper
Write a paper in which you use well-elaborated examples from everyday life and the Kahneman essay to explain some of the reasons why people often feel very confident about their judgments even when they make bad judgments. Your paper will also propose methods we can use to make more reliable judgments. [Click here for the definition of “elaborated”]
Include a pair of case studies of everyday situations in which people make errors in judgment that are costly to them. Draw on Kahneman’s ideas to explain what kinds of errors were made by the people in your case studies and how they might have been avoided. [Click here for the definition of “case study”]
To create your case studies paint a picture of your own experiences or those of people you know or accounts of errors of judgment in the news to build your case study.
Here are some examples of situations where errors in judgment might be costly. You could write about two of these or two that you think of yourself:
- Dating the wrong person/staying in a relationship
- Posting something on social media
- Getting into the wrong car
- Choosing the wrong school or major
- Saying the wrong thing
- Hiring the wrong person
- Buying or selling the wrong thing
- Taking on the wrong task
- Taking the wrong action
- Making a bad decision
- Investing in the wrong product, company, or person
At the end of your paper, pull back from the particulars of your case study to explain to your readers what general insights about making good judgments they should implement in their own lives and say why being on the lookout for cognitive fallacies and making good judgments matters.
Audience: Emerging adults between 18 and 24 years old with no familiarity with Kahneman’s work.
Expectations. In your paper, you must:
- Orient your reader to what Kahneman says about the reasons why we make bad judgments and why it matters
- Use signal phrases, voice markers, and pivotal words
- Integrate your ideas with those of others using well-framed quotations and paraphrased passages
- Demonstrate your ability to make at least three of the following moves: shine the spotlight, connect the dots, paint a picture, put under a microscope, say why it matters
- Draw on, extend and rework materials you created during the pre-writing phases of the project
- Write a topic-revealing title using keywords from your paper (not “Kahneman paper” or “Paper 3”). Here is some advice about how to write a good title for an academic paper.
- Include parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page
- Have an MLA author block and page numbers [I recommend using this MLA formatting paper template to set up your paper]
- Write 1000 words or more
Step 1: Due Friday, Nov. 1
On a new post on your ePortfolio, tell one fleshed-out story about an error in judgment you have made (or seen made) in everyday life. Use all of your story-telling skills to make this scene come to life for your readers. Be sure to categorize your post with the ENG 122 and Homework categories so that my feed reader will find your post.
- Set scenes in which actions take place
- Build characters with thoughts and feelings who interact through action and dialogue
- Narrate a sequence of events that shows exactly what happened leading up to the error in judgment and what happened as a result of the error in judgment.
Read the short samples below to see what a fleshed-out story looks like before writing your own.
Read the first 6 paragraphs of this story about a skier who made a bad judgment that almost cost him his life as an example of the kind of fleshed-out story I’m expecting. Your story might be about this length or a bit longer.
Here’s another story about a woman who decides to do an autopsy without medical training. Remember, you’re looking at these stories to see what a fleshed-out story about a bad judgment looks like.
Step 2: Due Monday, Nov. 4 at 8 am
The task: On a new post on your ePortfolio, write a chunk of your paper in which you orient your reader to Daniel Kahneman’s ideas about why we make bad judgments and why his ideas matter. Be sure to categorize your post with the ENG 122 and Homework categories so that my feed reader will find your post.
Use all of your summary, paraphrasing and quoting skills (as well as signal phrases with good signal verbs, pivot words, and voice markers) to enable a young reader who hasn’t read Kahneman to understand and appreciate his views.
Be sure to avoid a “list summary” of Kahneman’s ideas by focusing only on the cognitive fallacies and biasing thought tendencies that interfere with our judgments. Be fair and accurate in your representation of his ideas and present them in enough detail so that your reader won’t have to consult Kahneman’s essay to understand his views. At the same time, let readers “know where you’re going” with your summary by having a point to make about the value of Kahneman’s insights into why we make bad judgments and how to avoid making them. Be sure to say why Kahneman’s ideas matter for your paper and in general. Aim for about 400 words.
Below find annotated sample texts making these moves by Robin Marantz Henig and Kenji Yoshino. Each writer first establishes a context in which some other writer’s ideas matter and then presents the ideas of the other writer to help advance their own project. Study the moves Henig and Yoshino make. Then try them out yourself.
Step 3: Due Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 8 am
Write a chunk of your paper in which you use Kahneman’s ideas to explain why you (or someone you know) made the bad judgments you wrote about in Step 1. This chunk should weave new accounts of specific cognitive fallacies or biased thought tendencies from Kahneman into your case study story in a way that leads reader to understand something about the nature of bad judgments. Weaving is the key word here. Whatever you write about Kaheman should fit within the story you told, not be tacked on to the beginning or end of it. I’ll be looking for paragraphs that blend story telling and the explanation and application of Kahneman’s ideas in this chunk.
Step 4: Due Friday, Nov. 8 at 8 am
- In They Say/I Say, read and annotate chapter 8, “‘As A Result’ : Connecting the Parts” to locate, understand and learn how to use the four strategies for building coherence in paragraphs and paragraph sequences: 1) transitions (aka pivot words), 2) pointing words, 3) keyword/key phrase repetition, 4) repetition with a difference
- Assemble the chunks of your paper into a logical sequence then read you almost-complete-draft. Look for and mark places that would confuse a reader or where a reader would perceive a gap to be filled.
- Use the feedback you’ve received and your own analysis of your almost-complete-draft to revise your chunks. I expect to see significant changes in every chunk of your essay that:
- improve your summaries and paraphrases
- improve your explanations of Kahneman’s ideas
- better integrate your case study material with the material you use from Kahneman’s to analyze and interpret it.
- Use the four coherence-building strategies from “As a Result”Work to make the chunks fit together better. I’m expecting to see changes at the beginning and end of each paragraph as well as within them.
Step 5: Due Monday, Nov. 11 at 8 am
Write a chunk of your paper in which you pull back from the particulars of your case study to explain to your readers what general insights about making good judgments they should implement in their own lives and say why being on the lookout for cognitive fallacies and making good judgments matters.
To write this chunk, draw on the ideas at the end of Kahneman’s essay about how to distinguish between overconfident experts and reliable experts. Adapt and extend what he says about that to offer advice to your readers about how to avoid bad judgments in the future.
This chunk should clearly synthesize (pull together) the ideas you developed in the body of your essay by referencing and connecting the key points you made.
Post your chunk on your ePortfolio.