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Prof. Norbury - English 101 - Fall 2023: Who Do You Trust

What is trust? What erodes or builds trust? 

Three criteria to consider for this task are expertise, honesty, and likability. It is always helpful to define terms that are essential to understanding our task. So let's begin there.

expertise: a high level of skill and/or knowledge (source)

honesty: the quality of telling the truth or able to be trusted and not likely to stealcheat, or lie (source)

likeable: having qualities that inspire liking; easy to like because attractivepleasantgenial, etc. (source)

What does each of these criteria look like in real terms? How does someone who's being honest or likeable sound and look? What do we see, hear, or otherwise notice about someone that indicates how honest or likeable they are? How do we recognize expertise? What evidence would we need or want to see or hear that would reveal someone's expertise to us?

What questions can/should we ask to learn more about someone's expertise? their honesty? their likeability?

Determining Expertise:

To discover details of someone's expertise it is useful to ask questions. Which questions? Start with some of these.

What claims does the individual make about where, when, how they learned or acquired their knowledge and skills?

To what extent are you able to verify these claims?

Do they have formal and/or informal education? 

Do they belong and participate in professional organizations related to the field of study?

What is their reputation in demonstrating the skills and knowledge they claim to have? On what is that reputation built? dependent?


Determining Honesty:

To discover how honest someone is, consider some of these traits or qualities.

Are they a reliable narrator of events and actions? Do their actions match their words? Their professional or academic standards?

Are they accountable for their own actions and choices? Do they own up to mistakes? Make excuses? 

Do they eschew cheating? lying? gossiping? 

What motivates them?

Finding Sources

What kinds of sources will be useful for this task?

Do you have people (subjects) you are investigating - learning about? 

Social media can reveal a great deal about those of us who use it. Search the platform(s) that your subject people use for their posts and their interactions with others. Be sure to cite your sources. Not sure how? Check out our MLA citation resources.

News databases are another good option for about people in in the news: newsmakers. Consider these or similar databases.

Research Assignment #1

In Chapter Two of The Power of Persuasion, Robert Levine outlines how most people gain trust from others. With this in mind, write a research paper that compares two opposing public figures' expertise, honesty, and likability. There are many public feuds to choose from between celebrities, athletes, politicians, and musicians. You can choose a recent 'beef' you enjoyed, one playing out now, or a famous one from history. As long as you can find quotes (which you can cite)  from these people that display how they try to gain the trust of the public, you can use them in your paper. Just remember to cite your sources as well as The Power of Persuasion properly, using the MLA format's parenthetical citations and Works Cited Page.


-Three Pages minimum; double spaced, standard 1in margins, and 12 font size Ariel or TimesNewRoman.

-You must find appropriate research (at least two sources) and cite it correctly in your paper using the MLA format's parenthetical citations as well as a works cited page.

-Show at least one example of paraphrasing from Robert Levine's Power of Persuasion and make sure that too is cited properly using the MLA format.

-Make sure there's a proper introduction to the essay (explaining the thesis) as well as a concluding paragraph that summarizes your points and/or explains what comes next.

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