Part 3: “So What?” A Writing Series

And we’re back!

So what about persuasive/argumentative papers?

Again, the first question to ask is: What does the paper want?

Persuasive/argumentative papers are like debates: they give you a chance to prove why you’re right while offering a rebuttal to the opposing side. These papers rely on not just substantial evidence, but clear, organized arguments that relay your points effectively and coherently. Listing a myriad of sources is not sufficient – persuasion comes from you, not from your evidence solely.

What kind of evidence is required?

Persuasive papers rely on hard, verifiable facts to bolster their arguments. Examples of possible types of evidence include quotes, studies, statistics, or arguments by authority.

Some other types of evidence can be used as well, such as personal anecdotes, but the aforementioned varieties are preferable because they do not rely on subjective interpretations.

Asking “so what?” in the thesis

Like the previous blog post stated, divisions of proof are highly unfavorable because they force your writing to become narrow, stunted, and undeveloped.

  1. First, choose a side. In this case, it will be “Spongebob is a dork.”
  2. Next, ask “so what?”: “So what if Spongebob is a dork?”
  3. Finally, answer that question to create a thesis: “Spongebob’s behavior can best be described as dorky, a characteristic that ultimately hinders his professional and personal development throughout the series.”

The thesis we’ve developed can still make an argument that proves how and why Spongebob is a dork. However, it goes beyond the superficial because it considers the implications of the argument itself. “So what?” allows us to determine why making this argument is worthwhile.

Asking “so what?” in the analysis

The pieces of evidence that a persuasive paper incorporates are meant to support your argument. In the case of the “so what?” question, consider why specific kinds of evidence are necessary. If your argument is “Spongebob is a dork,” consider the following question examples when trying to examine your evidence:

  • So what if Kevin, the world-renowned jellyfish champion, thinks Spongebob is a dork?” (argument by authority)
  • So what if 87% of people living in Bikini Bottom believe that Spongebob is a dork?” (statistic)

From there, you can begin answering those questions. Keep in mind that you’re not only answering the “so what?” question—you are using your thesis as a lens with which to filter your analysis. Possible answers to the previous questions are listed below.

  • Because of Kevin’s following, a coalition of anchovies that solely exist to uphold his ego, his beliefs may influence his audience to devalue Spongebob as well. As a result, Spongebob may lose significant customer loyalty at the Krusty Krab, ultimately hindering his professional standing.
  • The majority of Krusty Krab customers come from Bikini Bottom. If most of Bikini Bottom does not favor Spongebob, he is not likely to garner customers. Their rejection thereby limits Spongebob’s professional growth.

Asking “so what?” can also help you form rebuttals against counterevidence. By determining why they matter, you can find holes in logic, challenge the authenticity of the counterclaim, and/or weaken the counterclaim by strengthening your own. Here are a few examples of how you may question counterclaims.

  • Counterclaim: “So what if Patrick thinks Spongebob is the best?”
    • Rebuttal: Patrick is too biased to determine Spongebob’s worth.
  • Counterclaim: “So what if the Krusty Krabs’s customers give Spongebob glowing reviews?”
    • Rebuttal: The customers are too concerned with the preparation of their Krabby Patties to accurately assess the person who created them.

Whew! Only one more paper type to go. Stay tuned for our next blog post on research papers.

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