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Monday, September 14, 2020, 08:00 A.M.

Upload to Canvas in one of the following formats, using the “Submit” button on this page:

  • Portable Document Format .pdf
  • MS Word .doc or .docx


5 points; complete/Incomplete. This assignment will not be assigned a letter grade. Timely completion of it will earn all 5 points for you. However, for non-completion or incomplete submission, all 5 points will be withheld. (Late submissions may incur penalties against those points.)



The phrase, “a jaundiced eye,” means, “to regard with suspicion after having been tricked or taken advantage of.” Inother words, to become skeptical.

The theme of this course is skepticism and skeptical inquiry. As you’ve no doubt learned from your readings for this unit, skepticism can serve as a guiding philosophy, a social perspective, and a personal attitude, all at the same time.

However, for the purpose of studying skepticism productively, we need to define it as a style of critical inquiry, and distinguish it from other concepts for which it is frequently confused. These will be the starting point for your pilgrimage in this course toward skeptical enlightenment.


Choose a Topic and Narrate:

Select one of the following subjects in which you are, or were at some point, a believer, and explain why and how you should be (or have since become) more skeptical of it:

    • a popular conspiracy theory;
    • a psychic or extrasensory ability (channeling spirits; clairvoyance, mind control, etc.);
    • ghosts and poltergeists;
    • UFOs / alien abduction* (these are not the same as the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, which is a known statistical probability);
    • a popular urban myth (doesn’t have to be limited to myths in the U.S.);
    • demon/spirit possession;
    • good luck charms, or bad omens.

Define and Discuss:

Follow your personal narrative with an extended definition of the term “skepticism” based upon one of the following terms:

    • belief / disbelief
    • faith (doesn’t have to be religious faith)
    • cynicism or jadedness
    • certainty / doubt
    • trust / distrust
    • open- / closed-mindedness
    • factualness / truthfulness



Develop a three-stage introduction (see the Unit 1 modules for guidance) in the following way:

  • Hook: open with a quote from Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World and use it to introduce a relevant subject for this essay;
  • Topic: personally introduce your own topic selected from the list above (you’re permitted to use pronouns such as “I” and “me”;
  • Thesis: using your topic, tentatively define “skepticism” based upon one of the terms listed above.


  1. Summarize in at least one paragraph the topic you selected for this assignment.
  • Consider who your audience is and what it needs to know about your topic in order to “connect” with your essay.
  • Provide details and examples, as needed.
  1. Narrate and explain fully in at least two points—at least two fully developed paragraphs—why and how you should be (or have since become) more skeptical of your selected topic. As this is a personal essay, you are permitted to reference your own experiences and use first-person personal pronouns.


Conclude your essay with at least one fully developed definition of “skepticism” reliant on one or more of the criteria listed above.

  • If you choose to include more than one, then give each its own separate paragraph of discussion, rather than talk about them all together in a single paragraph.
  • Include at least one properly cited quote from any of the assigned author readings for UNIT 1 other than Carl Sagan. (Review contextual, or “parenthetical,” citations in your handbook, or see the Unit 1 modules for guidance.)


  • MLA Style: Your essay must be composed in proper MLA document design. Please just take the no-fuss alternative and download the MLA document template for this purpose, a button for which is available at the top of official “Assignment” page for this unit.
  • Voice and Tone: Although you’re expected to use the pronouns “I,” “my,” and “me” in this “Personal Response” part of your essay, the overall tone and vocabulary should be clear and neutral so as to make it easy for adult readers of any age, background, or culture to understand your writing.
  • Citations: A simple “Works Cited” of the texts you quote and reference should be included at the end on a separate page, and composed in proper MLA citation style (again, as prompted by the MLA document template you are asked to use). Remember to use only MLA style, not APA or others.
  • File Uploads: Canvas is not very friendly to Google Docs. Please, if at all possible, use another word processing app (Word or Pages is ideal) to compose and upload your document. PDFs are encouraged.
  • File Naming Protocols: Make sure the document’s file name conforms to proper protocols: Lastname-Initial-120-section####Essay1FIN.pdf. “FIN” means “final version” but if you upload a working draft, change this part of the file name to “DFT.”



This is a “Complete/Incomplete” assignment: you will either receive all 5 points based upon successful completion, or 0 points for unsuccessful completion or incompletion. Below is the rubric by which your essay will be scored.

  • If you submit an essay by the due date and it successfully meets at least 70% of the scoring criteria, your essay will be grade as “Complete,” and you will earn 5 points. (Please note that you cannot succeed without successfully developing the essay’s body, which comprises 55% of the overall grade.)
  • If you submit an essay by the due date and receive a grade of “Incomplete,” you’ll be afforded one week to re-do and resubmit, after which time, if enough of the scoring criteria are successfully met, your grade will be changed to “Complete,” and you will receive 5 points.
  • If you do not submit an essay by the due date, you will be graded as “Incomplete” and receive a score of 0 without further opportunity to submit the essay for a grade.

Scoring Criteria:

The success of your completed essay will be determined by the following criteria, each of which is explained further in the official Scoring Rubric for this assignment, which you should study and use to aid you in the organization and drafting of your essay.

  • 15% Introduction (Subject-Topic-Thesis)
  • 55% Narration, Explanation, and Definition
  • 15% Writing Competency
  • 10% Document Design and Style
  • 05% Document Formatting


Okay. Here’s a little NON-SCORING quiz to test your understanding of the assignment demands. DON’T SUBMIT YOUR ANSWERS. These questions are provided just to help you get your head around the assignment and see for yourself if you correctly understand its demands. There’s no answer key, so if you’re not sure about how to respond to a question, just search for the answer again in the assignment prompt, itself.

  1. For this assignment, pronouns such as “I” and “me”…

    • are not permitted.
    • are permitted.
    • are permitted in the introductory paragraph, but nowhere else in the essay.
  2. True or False: All of the assigned readings for this unit must be quoted somewhere in your essay.

    • True
    • False
    • Only if you feel like it
  3. Besides Portable Document Format (PDF), which of the following file formats is permitted for assignment uploads on Canvas?

    • Google Docs
    • Rich Text Format (RTF)
    • MS Word (.doc or .docx)

  4. Which of the following carries the most scoring value for this assignment?

    • introduction
    • narrative explanation and definition
    • skills in grammar, sentence mechanics, and punctuation
  5. MLA style for document format and citations is…

    • a requirement.
    • a suggestion.
    • irrelevant to this and all other essays you will write in this course.

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