It was summer ’16 and I had just graduated high school and I was getting ready for the next phase of my life: college. At orientation for SCU I found out they had already enrolled us in a mandatory English course: Critical Thinking and Writing 1. As I looked at the paper I thought to myself, Oh, great. Another English class that I’m being forced to take. And I have to take it for 2 quarters.
I really wasn’t looking forward to attending class because all I could think about was the amount of reading and writing I was probably going to have to do. I figured I was going to do a lot of that, but I was hoping it would at least be for a class I chose and was genuinely interested in. But, since I had no choice, I sucked it up and went to class.
Surprisingly, I found the topic of the class (food and dishonesty) to be very interesting and our professor is really laid back, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to appear to be more academic and intellectual than I really am. I was so used to essays, and especially research papers, to be more academic in nature with very strict guidelines, and so I found it difficult to adapt to how our professor was teaching us how to write. We were free to choose topics that interested us, as long as it related somehow to the course topic.
This kind of freedom in my writing allowed me to actually enjoy the essays I wrote for this course. When it came to second quarter, where our essays were more research based, I actually didn’t mind doing a lot of research because the topics I chose to write about were interesting to me and were subjects that I wanted to learn more about.
The first quarter we read Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer. I found that book to be disgusting, but very eye opening. I knew that the practice of killing animals for human consumption was cruel and inhumane, but I never looked into how bad it really is. This book really shed a light on how gross the food industry is. I remember Foer discussing, in detail, how much feces that is involved while processing and packaging chicken. I had to stop reading at times because the book became so graphic and gross that I just could not handle it. Despite all that, I still eat meat. Chicken is by far my favorite. I am, however, more aware of the cruel practices of the meat industry, and I don’t eat as much meat as I used to.
My favorite essay from this quarter was second essay where I discussed Filipino culture and my journey towards accepting who I am. It was very anecdotal and it was fun to write because I was able to draw from personal experience in order to comment on how difficult it can be to blend two cultures together (Filipino and American culture). I really enjoyed writing that essay because it was a bit more introspective than what I was used to and I believe it really helped me begin to grow in my writing in order to write better essays.
Second quarter we discussed the topic of dishonesty. We had lightly touched the subject in first quarter when we were talking about factory farms and the food industry and how it’s all basically a lie. They say they’re trying to keep the people’s best interest, but, in reality, their main goal is to make as much profit as possible. We read the book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely. This book was a very interesting read because the author created many different experiments in order to test what circumstances people would lie under and what could drive people to lie. People can lie because they want to keep up or fit in with the norm. I found that relatable because I would tell people I got a higher score on an exam if I felt that I was falling behind everyone else. Or, in volleyball, I would report a higher number of serves that went in just to make it look like I was in the average.
For this quarter, I wrote an essay on aphrodisiacs and touched on the subject of dishonesty. I discussed how Cosmopolitan appears to be trying to sell aphrodisiacs to their readers by making them seem appealing and that they really do work.
I have found that aphrodisiacs have very little impact on one’s sex drive, which led me to question why would Cosmo continue to claim that these foods can help your sex life when there is little scientific evidence to back these claims. In fact, experiments have shown that their effects are very insignificant. I hypothesized that perhaps Cosmo is writing these articles to draw in more readers. These big industries and big names don’t really have our best interest in mind and we should be cautious in trusting them.
This course helped me find a way to make writing more enjoyable and interesting. I am beginning to write papers that are interesting to me which then makes it more interesting for the reader.
Questions can lead to more questions and that’s okay. Sometimes, we can’t get a definite answer, but that’s where the controversy lies.