CULT 211 20% assignment

Overview: This writing assignment is designed to provide an opportunity to develop and demonstrate your research, writing, and reasoning skills by applying them to a conspiracy theory with the end goal of establishing whether the claims made by that theory are accurate or not.

Description: There are two different formats that you can use for this assignment. They are worth the same amount, and they are about the same amount of work. You can choose the one you find more interesting, or more comfortable.


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Format 1:

Write a 7-8 page research paper (12 point font, double-spaced, 5-6 pages of writing, plus 2 pages for the cover page and the bibliography) in which you investigate a historical conspiracy from a list provided. The paper should be broken down into the following subheadings:

Introduction: in which you briefly summarize what the paper will be about

Background: in which you describe the time period in which the conspiracy theory is alleged to have taken place. Key and relevant historical, political, technological, and economic events and situations should be addressed, in order to provide the context for the conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy: what are the main claims of this conspiracy theory? How does it differ from the official story of what happened?

Evidence for: what evidence have you found that this conspiracy is true?

Evidence against: what evidence have you found that this conspiracy isn’t true?

Conclusion: weighing the evidence for and against the conspiracy, should we believe that it is true, or reject it as false?

Here’s how to do well.

· The paper must be entirely in your own words, except in those areas in which you are quoting another source (and any direct quote must be cited using endnotes, footnotes, or parentheses, and be placed withing quotation marks to show that they aren’t your words).

· In areas in which you have paraphrased a source in your own words, you don’t need to place the information in quotation marks, but you still need to use endnotes, footnotes, or parentheses to show the reader where the information came from.

· Use at least 4 quality sources (professional historians, authors, and journalists, rather than random people with blogs).

· Take a stand in the conclusion. Do not end by saying “In conclusion, we’ll never know what really happened”. Instead, end by saying “based on the evidence that I have uncovered, the most likely explanation for what happened is…”

· Base your conclusion on the evidence and refer back to the evidence in the conclusion to show how you arrived at that conclusion.

Format 2:

Write a dialogue (like a movie script) in which two people argue about whether a conspiracy is true or not. Then, at the end, have one of the characters change their mind and agree with the other, based on the argument that the other character provided.

Basically, one character will represent the side that believes the conspiracy is true, and they will present evidence as to why that is the case. The other will represent the side that believes the conspiracy is untrue, and they will provide evidence as to why that is the case.

The two characters should react to each other’s points and make counter arguments to the arguments made by the other person.

You must include footnotes, endnotes, or parentheses for each point that a character makes, to show the reader where the information has come from.

The dialogue should end with one character changing their mind, and explaining why they changed their mind.

The entire dialogue should be 7-8 pages long (5-6 pages of script, plus 2 pages for the title page and bibliography.

The tips for how to do well for format 1 also apply to this format.

Due date:

Your assignment needs to be handed in as a “docx” Word file through the Blackboard “assignment” function by 11:59 pm, October 23rd

Conspiracy theories to choose from:

You can select one of the following conspiracy theories:

1. What happened in the French town of Pont-Esprit and why?

2. Compare and contrast the approaches and claims made by MUFON (Mutual U.F.O Network) and S.E.T.I. (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.) Which approach do you think will get the right answer and why?

3. The Battle for Los Angeles: Did aliens attack Los Angeles on February 24th, 1942?

4. MK Ultra: Did the CIA kill Frank Olson?

Further considerations:

You must have at least one in-text citation of each of your resources.

All claims must be cited in a consistent way (failure to do so can result in a charge of plagiarism)

You need to use all of the required resources listed below for your essay topic if you are doing topics 1 or 2 (you may add research resources but not replace the ones that you are required to use.)

Required Essay Resources

Essay Topic #1, “What Happened in Pont-Saint-Esprit?”

Video: CIA: Covert Experiments, Kanopy PDA (Humber Streaming Library)

Essay Topic #2, “Contrast MUFON and SETI”

Video: SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport, Kanopy PDA (Humber Streaming Library)

Video: “The Search for Life on Expoplanets,” Great Courses, Episode 23, Kanopy PD, (Humber Streaming Library)

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