Blog 3.5 - Century of Self


Ethos - Leading the Discussion


All writers -- whether they are composing a letter to a friend, an editorial for the student newspaper, or an essay for a history class -- need to establish their ethos, or credibility.  Academic writers generally do so by demonstrating knowledge of their subject and of the methodologies that others in their field use to explore it.  They reinforce their credibility when they explore their subject evenhandedly and show respect for their readers.

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     Good Claims establish credibility.  Your ability to put forth a legitimate claim (universal and directed) makes your writing life much easier.  It will show both your understanding of the topic (ethos) and connect you to a larger academic conversation. 

In class, we will talk about Three Types of Thesis:

  • Thesissimple claim based on reading/research (Factual)
  •  Major Claim — two-part sentence: one revealing theme of research/study, another revealing the author's response to it. (Analysis) 
  • Complex Claim -- two parts: one abstract statement that shows universal problem, and concrete evidence that provides a solution (Interpretation)

For Example:


People have too much freedom.

Major Claim

If Amitai Etzioni believes people have too much freedom, people should examine the benefits of the laws that rule their life.

Complex Claim

People go to great lengths for the sake of security, but Amitai Etzioni, in his article We Need Less Freedom, argues government intervention creates security as we relinquish our rights.


As an exercise, view the first 30 minutes of this documentary: A Century of Self. -- you'll like it, I think (it's psychology and marketing).

     After watching, you have three tasks:

  1. Write a Thesis 
  2. Write a Major Claim 
  3. Write a Complex Claim 

     Answering the prompt: Why should the information on the video concern us?


© Jeff Thomas,