I am Lucifer DeMorte

Made-Up Model Paper for Odyssey Stage One

The following is a made-up paper written in the style I like, and with the structure that I prefer for first Odyssey papers. Your paper doesn't have to be exactly like this. In fact, it's best if you write in whatever style you're most comfortable with for expressing your own thoughts, and use whatever structure best fits the things you have to say. Remember, the main point is to leave out useless rubbish like rambling introductions, repetitive conclusions, pointless quoting of dictionaries, rhetorical questions, and so on.

Pséftikos Mathitís
Odyssey Stage One Paper Writing Thingy
IME 4020.0π

I Don't Think Cheese is a Mineral

As best as I can tell, cheese is not a mineral, or at least it has not been proved to be a mineral, and my personal opinion is that it is not a mineral. I think this because, the origins, and chemical compositions of cheeses and minerals are very different, and as far as I can tell, no-one has ever given a good reason to think that cheese is a mineral.

When I say "cheese", I mean the edible stuff sold in grocery stores and other places with names like "cheddar", and "Monterey jack", and by "mineral", I mean the substances that make up rocks in the Earth's crust. Minerals have names like "
aegirine", "analcime", "serandite", "natrolite", "analcime", and (believe it or not) "taconite". Cheese is studied by nutritionists and food scientists, while minerals are studied by geologists.

The reason I tend to think that cheese is not a mineral is that there are lots of differences in origin, chemical composition, and physical composition between cheeses, and the known non-cheesy minerals of various kinds. Minerals are formed when various elements are brought together under conditions of very extreme heat and pressure, while cheese is made by fermenting milk at pretty moderate temperatures. The conditions that create minerals would destroy milk and cheese, while the conditions that make cheese will have absolutely no effect on the vast majority of minerals.

Technically speaking, a "mineral" is a specific single compound, while a "cheese" is a particular mixture of a variety of compounds. However, I don't think this matters. A "rock" is a mixture of minerals, and people who think that cheese is a mineral may be using the term "mineral" loosely to mean both minerals and rocks. What does matter, in my view, is the fact that (apart from salt) none of the compounds that appear in rocks also appear in cheese. Furthermore, cheese contains relatively delicate large-molecule compounds, of which
all are edible and most are nutritious, whereas minerals are generally very stable small-molecule compounds, very, very few of which are nutritious. Also, while cheese is combustible, and thus can supply energy to the body, no mineral can be eaten to provide metabolic energy. Because of these differences, I think we have very good reason to think cheese is neither a rock nor a mineral.

On the other hand, Dr. Beauregard Vine has on numerous occasions firmly asserted that
cheese is a mineral. However, Dr. Vine gives absolutely no argument for this claim, saying only things like "take it from me, cheese is a mineral" which basically means that he thinks we should think cheese is a mineral merely because he says it is. Personally, I think that when someone wants us to take their word for something, we should look at their qualifications, and at previous bold things they've said that might have been accurate or inaccurate. So I looked into Dr. Vine. First, his doctorate is in eschatology, which is some religious thing about the end of the world, which, whatever it is, is not a science, and has nothing to do with cheesemaking, nutrition, mineralology, geology, or anything relevant to this issue, so he has no relevant education. Furthermore, Vine has written that all the mountains in the world are in fact artificial structures erected in the distant past by super intelligent cows from other planets. This theory is not only rejected by all of science, the International Geophysical Society now requires its members to carry around ziplock bags of cow dung so they can take it out to throw at Dr. Vine if they see him in public. From all this, I conclude that the unsupported word of Dr. Beauregard Vine gives us no reason to think that cheese is a mineral.

I should also talk about Inepta Clunes, who attacks the argument "chemical composition" argument against cheese being a mineral. I have said that I think cheese is not a mineral because, broadly speaking, cheese can be eaten to sustain life, while minerals cannot
be eaten to sustain life. Inepta Clunes, however, responds to arguments like this by pointing out that cheese usually contains salt, which is a mineral that is necessary for life, as well a crystals such as struvite, which he says is also a mineral, and points out that many mineral compounds, appearing in food, and sold as "minerals" in health-food shops, are both edible and necessary to life. He also says that all crystals are minerals so that therefore cheese must also be a mineral.

However, Clunes ignores the fact that
while cheese can be eaten to provide calories to sustain life, minerals cannot
be eaten to provide calories to sustain life, which is a huuuuuuuge difference. Cheese is sold in large quantities as food in grocery stores, and minerals are only sold as minerals in very tiny quantities as supplements. It doesn't matter that cheese contains some compounds that are also classified as minerals. What matters is that virtually the whole of any piece of cheese is digestible food. (For me, this is the fact that proves that cheese is not a mineral.)

As for the claim that cheese must be a mineral because it contains crystals, and "all" crystals are mineral, this is simply not true. Clunes is just wrong about all crystals being minerals. Almost all the crystals in cheese are protein crystals, and proteins are never classified as minerals.

I know I'm not supposed to write a conclusion, but I discussed a lot of points and I want to sum up. People who want us to believe that cheese is a mineral ask us to take their word that it is, or merely show that cheese and minerals have some compounds in common, but no recognized expert in cheese science or mineralology has ever even hinted that cheese might be a mineral, and having a few compounds in common is not even remotely close to being sight of anything like a reason to think that there could ever be any circumstances where we might have even the slightest possibility of a suggestion that it might be worth our while to think of cheese as a mineral. So there.

There's a number of points I want you to take from this fake paper about an issue I totally made up.

1. Write Your Way. I don't know if you noticed, but I wrote this paper very much in my own personal style, which is basically to say things the way I feel like saying them. I didn't at all try to sound "academic", or "scholarly". Instead I tried to write exactly what I wanted to say as clearly, precisely, completely, concisely, and as charitably (which is defined below) as possible, and didn't worry about anything else. (I don't worry about the jokes. I just put them in when I feel like it.) Similarly, you should write out exactly what you have to say exactly the way you want to say it. This has many advantages, not least of which is that your writing will be much easier and less depressing to read than work that is trying to sound academic.

2. Write NO Bollocks. If I knew a word for precision that started with a "C", Clarity, Concision, Completeness, C-word for "Precision", and Charity (see below) would be "the five C's.". Notice that I didn't that I didn't start with anything the average English composition would call an "introduction", and I didn't end with anything that most composition teachers would call a "conclusion". (I would love to be wrong about how composition is commonly taught, but I don't think I am.)

3. Do All The Work. Rhetorical questions and cop-outs are fundamentally attempts to get credit for admitting that the writer has not done the work to understand the things they're writing about. They also waste the reader's time, so I try hard to not include such things. Similarly, uninterpreted quotes are attempts to make someone else's words do work that the writer should be doing. You will notice that although I did include a quotation, I also said exactly what I though the quote meant. As a general rule, every quote should be explained in your own words. If you think the quote is too clear to require interpretation don't bother quoting, and just write out what you think the writer is saying.

4. Define Your Terms. Part of doing the work to properly communicate your thoughts is to, where appropriate, give your definitions of important terms you use to communicate things you have to say. (This is why starting a paper with a (shudder) dictionary definition is such an abomination. You can't define your term by saying what somebody else means by it.) If the precise meaning of a particular word is important, and you want to make sure you're not misinterpreted, take the time to explain exactly what you mean by the word. (If you still don't understand the difference between quoting a dictionary, and giving your own thoughts, just remember that in my classes, papers that include dictionary definitions always receive zero points.)

5. Take Arguments Seriously. In the above fake paper I included some appallingly stupid arguments. I'd love it to be the case that no real-life argument is that stupid, but unfortunately the world, including academia is polluted with many, many equally bad arguments, and it is never logically acceptable to merely say "this a bad argument", and leave it at that. This means that, if you discus a particular argument, you must write it out as if it's the most serious and logical argument you ever saw, and then give your most careful logical analysis of that argument.. This can be painful, even boring, but you have to do it.

6. Be Charitable.Basically, the principle of charity says never make anyone's argument out to be dumber than it absolutely has to be. This means that it is incumbent on every write to make every effort to only give the most sensible version of any argument they describe. (Quoting the other's exact words can be a helpful part of this process. Remember, never quote without also giving your own interpretation of that quote.) Thus, if you can see two different things that someone could be saying by a particular single statement, always take them to be saying the most logical and sensible of those two things. (People who always interpret their opponents as saying the dumbest of the two things are liars and fools, and should be despised by anyone with the slightest pretension to good moral character.) Be a good person. Be charitable. 

Well, that's all I can think of to say here. If you have any questions or comments, please email me. (And if you can think of another good lesson from the fake paper, let me know and I'll credit you when I add it to the list.

Happy writing.

Dr. Young

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