What “complexities” should an essay recognize? Why address them?

Zelda is seven years old. When her mother asks her if she has finished cleaning her bedroom, she says, “Yes.” She chooses not to include the fact that cleaning meant stuffing everything under her bed, and that since cleaning she and her friend have spent twenty minutes “decorating” the room with confetti. In order to persuade her mother that she has completed her chores, Zelda has left out some of the “complexities” of the issue. Needless to say, her strategy is shortsighted. As soon as her mother sees her room not only is Zelda back cleaning, but she has also lost her mother’s confidence in her ability to self-report.

If, in your papers, you choose not to deal with the ways people might disagree with your claims and shortcomings in your evidence, then you will end up with a weak paper and, like Zelda, damaged credibility.

When you find research or think of ideas that contradict or challenge your claims, do not run away from them. Embrace them. Dealing with challenges to your ideas will strengthen your paper. Sometimes you will think of rebuttals that serve to strengthen your original claim. Other times, you will find yourself modifying your original claim in light of these new ideas. Either way, you will end up with a more deeply thought through and much stronger paper.

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