The one thing Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, seem to agree on is that the other side is spreading a lot of fake news, making statements that are not true. In this environment, it is important that people be able to make well-reasoned, evidence-based decisions on important national issues. Project 4 is designed to help you develop the skills to make informed and thoughtful decisions about what you believe to be the truth by providing the following useful information.
Tools for Making Informed and Thoughtful Decisions about “Truth”
An understanding of key terms like truth, lie, opinion, and fact
An awareness of how fact checkers can be useful
An awareness of how numbers can be used to deceive
Ways to identify and evaluate “experts”
An awareness of “slippery words” and how they can slant a report
A method for detecting fake news
An understanding of bias and objectivity in news reporting
An awareness of “tribal” thinking
You may be surprised to learn that, after all this work on truth, lies, and fake news, you are now being asked to write about raising the minimum wage, a topic that wasn’t discussed at all during this project. However, raising the minimum wage is a topic about which there has been a great deal of discussion, some of it factual and some “fake news.” Now that you have developed insights and skills for distinguishing between facts and “fake news,” you are going to write about a topic that will allow you to demonstrate your ability to apply these insights and skills.
Essay Assignment. One way you might be able to influence public opinion on an issue like the minimum wage is to publish your argument on the editorial page of your local newspaper. For this assignment, write a three- to four-page editorial in which, based on your evaluation of a number of websites, you make a recommendation on what the minimum wage should be in your city or state. To reach your conclusion on this issue, you will need to evaluate each of the websites, making use of some of the tools listed above. You will probably want to include your evaluation of the websites as you support the position you are taking.
This kind of essay, in which you take a position and provide evidence to support that position, is known as an “argument.” You may want to review these conventions in What Is an Argument? (18.1), The Features of Effective Arguments (18.3), and How to Answer Counterarguments (18.5).
Documentation. Be sure to provide appropriate citations for any words you quote, paraphrase, or summarize from the websites and to include a works cited list or list of references at the end of your essay. If you need to review how to provide this documentation, refer to MLA Documentation (Topic 23) or APA Documentation (Topic 24).
If you want to use your sources most effectively to support your argument, it’s not enough to simply include them as a series of unrelated sources; you need to tie them together, explain their relationships with each other, and express your conclusions about them. This process is called synthesizing, and it is discussed in more detail in Synthesis (22.14).
Sources. The websites you will evaluate will include the five listed below as well as two additional sites that you locate. The websites listed below all explore the effect of raising the minimum wage on jobs, as should the two you locate.
Additional Information. You may be a little worried that you simply don’t have enough information to make these evaluations. Don’t worry. Unless you have a doctorate in economics, you, like most of us, don’t have nearly as much information as you would like. Nevertheless, you need to make decisions. At some point, you may need to vote on raising the minimum wage where you live. Perhaps the best advice is what Julian Baggini says at the end of “The Nature of Truth”: “[W]e cannot escape the exercise of our own woefully under-informed judgement. . . . Don’t think by yourself but do think for yourself, not because you’re wiser or smarter than other people but because ultimately that’s what you have to do. No one can make up your mind for you, unless you make up your mind to let them.”
Websites. Here are the five websites. Remember, you need to locate two more that also address the effect of raising the minimum wage on employment. You can access these sites by typing their titles into your browser. (If you cannot find a site using its title, there is an updated list of URLs available at https://bit.ly/33IIHtf https://bit.ly/33IIHtf.)
“Increase in Minimum Wage Kills Jobs,” Employment Policies Institute, OpEd
“Minimum Wage and Job Loss: One Alarming Seattle Study Is Not the Last Word,” Arindrajit Dube, New York Times
“New Minimum Wage Hikes Set to Kill Jobs in 2018,” Brendan Pringle, Washington Examiner
“The Controversial Study Showing High Minimum Wages Kills Jobs, Explained,” Jeff Guo, Vox
“Study: Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage WORKED,” David Pakman, HuffPost
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