English 104: Arguments Based on Facts & Reason


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English 104: Arguments Based on Facts & Reason

  1. 1. Arguments based on facts & reason English 104
  2. 2. Logical Appeals An academic, argumentative essay should be logically sound, relying primarily on logical appeals based on hard evidence such as: Facts Statistics Surveys & Polls Testimonies & Narratives
  3. 3. Facts Do your research and gather factual information in support of your thesis statement and sub-claims. Find non-fiction information, such as: News or magazine articles Textbooks Encyclopedia entries Scientific studies Documentaries Examine any facts that you collect, and verify their reliability
  4. 4. Statistics Statistical evidence can be extremely useful and persuasive However, remember that numbers don’t speak for themselves; they need to be interpreted by people Make sure your interpretation of the statistical evidence is accurate and explain your interpretation thoroughly
  5. 5. Statistics “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain (attributed) Numerical data can have a wide range of interpretations Example: Statistics used to support opposing claims 1. Oxytocin increases morality: “We showed that oxytocin infusion increases generosity in unilateral monetary transfers by 80 percent. We showed it increases donations to charity by 50 percent. […] The change in oxytocin predicted their feelings of empathy. […] It’s empathy that makes us moral” (Zak). 2. Oxytocin increases immorality: “Other studies have shown that boosting oxytocin increases envy. It increases gloating. Oxytocin can bias people to favor their own group at the expense of other groups. And in some cases, oxytocin can even decrease cooperation. So based on these studies, I could say oxytocin is an immoral molecule” (Crockett).
  6. 6. Surveys & Polls Can be used to verify the popularity of an idea and express the will of the people Example: It would be more profitable to sell Coca-Cola instead of Pepsi in the college vending machines, because according to an NC State Campus survey, 50% of college students preferred Coca-Cola, with only 20% favoring Pepsi, while the remaining 30% had no preference (“Coke vs. Pepsi”).
  7. 7. Surveys & Polls As with all data, examine the information carefully Ask yourself: Who commissioned the poll? Who is publishing its outcome? Who was surveyed? What stakes are there for those involved in the survey? Could they be biased?
  8. 8. Surveys & Polls Keep in mind: The results of surveys & polls can vary depending on how the questions are asked Example: A majority of survey respondents say they are in favor of same- sex unions unless the word “marriage” appears in the question, then the responses are mostly negative (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters 65). The date of a poll may strongly affect the results Example: In 2010, 50 percent of California voters supported building more nuclear power plants, but the percentage dropped to 37% after the 2011 meltdown of Japanese nuclear facilities (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters 65).
  9. 9. Testimonies & Narratives Human experience can be provided in the form of narratives and testimonies to support an argument. Example: Environmentalism is not necessarily destructive of loggers’ jobs, as some claim. Instead, many loggers are now collaborating with environmentalists to create new jobs in sustainable forestry. For example, former logger, Harold Jones, now owns 125-acres of his own certified family forest under the sustainable forestry movement; he testifies, “The only money I’ve ever made was in cutting down trees. […] So what I’ve tried to do […] is to try to bring back and repay the Earth for a lot of the devastation I’ve caused it” (Yardley). As Jones’ testimony shows, sustainable forestry is not only a viable source of income, but it can also be an emotionally-fulfilling job.
  10. 10. Remember Closely examine all sources and data for validity Incorporate the evidence logically into your argument
  11. 11. Works Cited “Coke vs. Pepsi.” StatCrunch. Integrated Analytics, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. Crockett, Molly. “Beware Neuro-bunk.” TEDSalon. Unicorn Theatre, London, England, UK. 07 Nov. 2012. Conference Presentation. Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument with Readings. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print. Yardley, William. “Loggers Try to Adapt to Greener Economy.” New York Times. New York Times, 28 Mar. 2009. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. Zak, Paul. “Trust, Morality – and Oxytocin?” TEDGlobal. Edinburgh International Conference Center, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. 14 Jul. 2011. Conference Presentation.