Reading Critically



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  • In addition to the editorials and essays at the end of Chapters 8 and 9, newspaper and magazine editorials will be used on timely issues affecting you as students. You, the student, will become accustomed to practicing critical reading skills with reading from the everyday world. You will also participate in interactive activities surrounding issues affecting you in your daily life.
  • Reading Critically
  • Chapter 8 Elements of Critical Reading—Analyzing Arguments
  • Chapter 9 Problems in Critical Reading—Evaluating Arguments
  • Chapter 10 Practical Applications in Evaluating Arguments
  • In this chapter, the first of three chapters dealing with reading critically, you will learn to identify and to analyze claims and evidence in arguments, building on the analytical skills developed in Parts 1, 2, and 3. The readings in Part 4 represent arguments concerning various issues and express a particular point of view; they come from newspaper and magazine editorials, letters to the editor, political speeches, cartoons, and websites.
  • Objectives:
  • A definition of critical reading
  • The reader’s responsibilities
  • Developing a worldview
  • Analyzing the structure of arguments
  • Analyzing visual images
  • Critical reading is the most deliberate and thorough kind of reading. It goes beyond literal and inferential comprehension.
  • It means judging, evaluating, weighing the writer’s words carefully, and applying your reasoning powers.
  • It requires keeping an open mind and developing a healthy skepticism, not accepting unquestioningly what you read just because it is in print, but also not rejecting ideas simply because they are different from your beliefs….
  • It means judging the legitimacy of the argument, as well as its accuracy, fairness, reliability, and larger significance.
  • It involves detecting fallacious arguments, whether from deliberate manipulation, deceptive appeals to emotion, logical fallacies (errors in reasoning), or bias.
  • Critical reading extends to visual material and increasingly to material on the World Wide Web.

Terrorist attacks and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq changed our perceptions about ourselves and the world’s perceptions of the United States.

  • Terrorist attacks and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq changed our perceptions about ourselves and the world’s perceptions of the United States.
  • Globalization has produced more intertwined cultures
  • The world seems somehow more complicated
  • Our confidence has
  • been undermined.
          • Global warming
          • Urban homelessness
          • immigration

So much information is available today, from both traditional and electronic sources, that keeping up with the issues seems daunting.

  • So much information is available today, from both traditional and electronic sources, that keeping up with the issues seems daunting.
  • A democratic society imposes responsibility on its citizens. Being informed and safeguarding our right to question seem to be the most crucial responsibilities.
  • The writer’s task = to be convincing and to give fair evidence in support of an argument and to adhere to the rules of logic
  • Being lazy is the #1 cause for being a poor reader!
  • The reader’s task = to read carefully and thoughtfully
  • Analyzing the writer’s use of evidence and logic
  • We may misinterpret…
  • We may not take the trouble to read carefully
  • We may be too lazy to look up important words.
  • We may skim through an article or editorial instead of reading it carefully because we already know the author’s point of view or, don’t agree
  • Being lazy is the #1 cause for being a poor reader!
  • We may let prejudice, bias, narrow personal experience, or parochial values interfere with a clear-headed appraisal.
  • Critical readers try—insofar as it is humanly possible—to suspend their biases and personal prejudices so that they do not interfere with accurate comprehension.
  • However…
  • the evidence might not stand up to scrutiny!
  • Being lazy is the #1 cause for being a poor reader!
  • http://www.scientificpsychic.com/graphics/

A willingness to see events from another perspective is an essential component of the intellectual experience, and it is best developed during the college years when you are exposed to a range of political, social, and philosophical ideas.

  • A willingness to see events from another perspective is an essential component of the intellectual experience, and it is best developed during the college years when you are exposed to a range of political, social, and philosophical ideas.
  • Uncovering our beliefs helps us interpret both what we read and the world around us.
  • ethnocentrism
  • superiority
  • It’s my way or NO way!!!
  • Our worldview undergoes constant change as part of the educational process afforded by contact with the intellectual world and with the everyday world.
  • Too often, however, we are content to hang on to untested opinions because examining other viewpoints is too much trouble
  • Our opinions are comfortable and provide us with a ready-made set of beliefs that may be sufficient for day-to-day life experiences
  • To determine your worldview, begin by questioning why you think the way you do.
  • Becoming an independent thinker involves developing one’s own worldview
  • upbringing

http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/gallup-daily-obama-job-approval.aspx

  • http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/gallup-daily-obama-job-approval.aspx

Bullfighting is a popular spectacle in Mexico, Latin America, and, of course, Spain, where it originated. (Bullfights also take place in the south of France and in Portugal, but in these countries the bull is not killed.) The practice is illegal in the United States, and in 2007, television stations in Spain stopped broadcasting live bullfights to protect children from seeing the violence associated with them. First, answer these questions on paper. Doing so will force you to clarify your thinking.

  • Bullfighting is a popular spectacle in Mexico, Latin America, and, of course, Spain, where it originated. (Bullfights also take place in the south of France and in Portugal, but in these countries the bull is not killed.) The practice is illegal in the United States, and in 2007, television stations in Spain stopped broadcasting live bullfights to protect children from seeing the violence associated with them. First, answer these questions on paper. Doing so will force you to clarify your thinking.

• What do you know/think about bullfighting?

  • • What do you know/think about bullfighting?
  • • Do you consider bullfighting to be a sport or an art form?
  • • What is your opinion based on? Have you ever seen a bullfight on TV or in the movies?
  • • Have you ever attended a bullfight? If so, what were your
  • reactions? Would you attend another? Why or why not?
  • • If your answer above was “no,” would you ever attend a bullfight? Why or why not?
  • • Do you believe bullfighting is cruel?
  • • Should bullfighting be banned in countries where it is legal?
  • • Is a bull an intelligent, sensitive animal in the same way that,
  • say, a dog is?

Now, read the two articles.

  • Now, read the two articles.
  • The first article is by political writer Christopher Matthews, who describes a bullfight he attended in Barcelona in 1995.
  • The second reading is by linguist Robert Lado who examines
  • the cultural misperceptions of bullfighting.

Which, if any, of these two passages corresponds to your point of view? Compare the notes you made at the beginning of this section with your current thoughts. Did any of the material you read persuade you to alter your previously held opinion?

  • Which, if any, of these two passages corresponds to your point of view? Compare the notes you made at the beginning of this section with your current thoughts. Did any of the material you read persuade you to alter your previously held opinion?
  • Are we forced to change our opinion because we believe differently than others???
  • To what extent is our perception of our status in the world and our worldview influenced by its geography or by the image we have in our minds by its geographical position?
  • 3. How might the second map affect one’s perception of America’s size and influence in the world?
  • 4. Does studying the first map in any way change your worldview with regard to America’s role as the dominant superpower in world affairs?
  • 2. Comment on the difference in the two maps with regard to the position of the United States in the Western Hemisphere and in the world, particularly in relation to the continents of Asia and Africa.
  • The claim (also called the thesis or proposition)—the writer’s main idea or point
  • Evidence--supports the claim
  • A refutation, sometimes called the concession—the writer’s discussion of opposing viewpoints
  • A conclusion, a restatement of the claim or a recommendation for future action
  • Claim + evidence + refutation + conclusion
  • Claim + evidence + refutation > conclusion

The writer should have some competence or expertise in the area; in other words, he or she should be considered an authority .

  • The writer should have some competence or expertise in the area; in other words, he or she should be considered an authority .
  • The central claim —the argument or proposition —should be clearly stated or at least clearly implied.
  • interpretation (like amnesty, hero, torture, censorship, civil war).
  • How do you judge what is worth believing?
  • Evaluating the writer as an authority
  • Identifying the type of claim
  • Stating the claim or argument in a sentence

Key words should be defined in clear and unambiguous language, especially abstract words open to subjective The supporting evidence should be logically organized, relevant to the main idea, and sufficient to support the claim credibly.

  • Key words should be defined in clear and unambiguous language, especially abstract words open to subjective The supporting evidence should be logically organized, relevant to the main idea, and sufficient to support the claim credibly.
  • Moreover, the discussion should appeal to our intelligence and to our reason, not solely to our emotions.
  • Ascertaining any unstated assumptions
  • Evaluating the supporting evidence

Ideally, the persuasive writer should include a refutation , also called the counterargument, in which he or she examines one or two of the opposition’s strongest arguments and disproves them.

  • Ideally, the persuasive writer should include a refutation , also called the counterargument, in which he or she examines one or two of the opposition’s strongest arguments and disproves them.
  • Locating the refutation, if one is present
  • Evaluating the writer as an authority
  • The Question of Authority
  • When a writer establishes his credibility (or, at least, the reason for his interest in the subject), we can deem the information reliable.

Some of the people cited in the exercise are authorities; some are not. Write “A” in the space if the person appears to be an authority on the particular subject. If the person appears not to be an authority, write “N.” If you are unsure, write a question mark. Try to justify each answer.

  • Some of the people cited in the exercise are authorities; some are not. Write “A” in the space if the person appears to be an authority on the particular subject. If the person appears not to be an authority, write “N.” If you are unsure, write a question mark. Try to justify each answer.
  • 1. Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of
  • Virginia and director of UVA’s Center for Politics, comments
  • on the 2008 presidential race. His newest book is titled A More
  • Perfect Constitution .

A

  • A
  • 2. Colby Buzzell, who served in the U.S. Army for several months
  • in Iraq, wrote a well-known blog about his experiences there:
  • http://cbftw.blogspot.com/ . His blog postings were subsequently
  • published in a book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq .

A

  • A
  • 3. Ernie Goldthorpe, a community college English teacher,
  • criticized America’s military presence in Iraq in a letter to the
  • editor of the New York Times .

N

  • N
  • 4. George Abraham Thampy, a twelve-year-old boy who, along with his siblings, has been home-schooled all his life, writes on the virtues of home schooling.

A

  • A
  • 5. Tom Colicchio, chef-owner of three New York City restaurants—Gramercy Tavern, Craft, and ’Wichcraft—and Craftsteak in LasVegas, winner of the James Beard Best New Restaurant award in 2002, serves as the head judge on Bravo’s reality TV program Top Chef .

A

  • A
  • 6. Writer of thriller novels, Michael Crichton, was trained as a
  • medical doctor. He considers global warming an unproven
  • theory and argues that the threat from global warming has
  • been overstated.

N

  • N
  • 7. Tom Cruise, actor and Scientology member, as a guest on
  • Oprah , pronounced psychiatry to be a “pseudoscience” and
  • said that there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in the brain that would require antidepressants.

N

  • N
  • 8. Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, explained the mechanical failures that caused the crash of a TWA jet off Long Island in 1997.

N

  • N
  • 9. Allen Olivo, an employee at Yahoo!, who commutes daily from Half Moon Bay to Sunnyvale, California, wrote a letter to the Half Moon Bay Review with suggestions about how to improve traffic congestion during the daily commute.

A

  • A
  • 10. Cynthia Tucker, an African-American journalist and editor of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution opinion page, writes about race issues in America.

A

  • A
  • 11. Florence Henderson, the TV actress best known for playing Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, advertises a new anti-aging cosmetic on a TV infomercial.

N

  • N
  • 12. Former rapper and manufacturer of a line of men’s clothing,P. Diddy Combs, comments on fashion trends for black urban males.

A

  • A
  • 13. John R. Lott, Jr., a fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and author of More Guns, Less Crime , writes on common myths associated with gun-control laws.

A

  • A
  • 14. Deepak Chopra, author of many self-help books and
  • consciousness-raising guru, discusses the child molestation
  • scandals in the Catholic Church on Larry King Live .

N

  • N
  • 15. Cornell University economist Michael Waldman has published his theory that TV watching has led to increased incidence of childhood autism. The theory results from his observation that when it rained or snowed a lot in Washington, Oregon, and California, children were more likely to be diagnosed with autism. He explains the theory by saying that children watch more TV during bad weather.

?

  • ?
  • 16. Former First Lady Laura Bush in 2004 said this in response to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s promise to fund stem cell research: “We don’t even know that stem cell research will provide cures for anything—much less that it’s very close . . . I hope that stem cell research will yield cures. But I know that embryonic stem cell research is very preliminary right now, and the implication that cures for Alzheimer’s are around the corner is just not right, and it’s really not fair to people who are watching a loved one suffer with this disease.”
  • (Quoted in Ron Fournier, “Laura Bush Raps Kerry over Stem
  • Cell Debate,” Associated Press, August 10, 2004) 4

N

  • N
  • Identifying Claims
  • The proof is in the pudding!
  • Claims can be divided into 3 types:
  • Claims of fact
  • Proven by citing factual evidence or by results of scientific research
  • 1st
  • Identifying Claims
  • Claims of value
  • Harder to prove because they are based on matters of taste, morality, opinion, and ideas about right and wrong
  • 2nd
  • reasons
  • examples
  • Identifying Claims
  • Claims of policy
  • Indicate a course of action, a proposal for change, or a problem that requires a remedy which can be supported by citing good reasons
  • 3rd
  • should
  • ought
  • need
  • must

Label each of these arguments according to whether it represents a claim of fact, value, or policy.

  • Label each of these arguments according to whether it represents a claim of fact, value, or policy.

English 100 improved my writing skills.

  • English 100 improved my writing skills.

fact

  • fact

2. All college freshmen should be required to take English 100.

  • 2. All college freshmen should be required to take English 100.

policy

  • policy

3. English 100 is a more challenging and useful course than

  • 3. English 100 is a more challenging and useful course than
  • English 50.
  • .

value

  • value

4. The abortion rate in the United States has been declining in

  • 4. The abortion rate in the United States has been declining in
  • recent years.

fact

  • fact

5. Public libraries ought not to censor Internet sites for their patrons.

  • 5. Public libraries ought not to censor Internet sites for their patrons.

policy

  • policy

6. To reduce air pollution, the government should require SUVs to meet the same emission standards as automobiles rather than as light trucks.

  • 6. To reduce air pollution, the government should require SUVs to meet the same emission standards as automobiles rather than as light trucks.

policy

  • policy

7. The fi rst movie in the trilogy starring Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl , has the best plot and the best action sequences.

  • 7. The fi rst movie in the trilogy starring Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl , has the best plot and the best action sequences.

value

  • value

8. As Dolly the sheep revealed, cloned animals are more susceptible to illness and genetic defects than ordinary animals.

  • 8. As Dolly the sheep revealed, cloned animals are more susceptible to illness and genetic defects than ordinary animals.

fact

  • fact

9. Making homosexual marriage legal is the mark of an advanced society concerned about guaranteeing equal protection under the law for all citizens.

  • 9. Making homosexual marriage legal is the mark of an advanced society concerned about guaranteeing equal protection under the law for all citizens.

value

  • value

10. A marriage between gays permitted in one state like

  • 10. A marriage between gays permitted in one state like
  • Massachusetts should not be recognized in other states.

policy

  • policy

11. Animal acts in circuses constitute a barbaric type of

  • 11. Animal acts in circuses constitute a barbaric type of
  • entertainment.

value

  • value

12. To quell critics who claim that animals are mistreated, many circuses are abandoning their traditional animal acts.

  • 12. To quell critics who claim that animals are mistreated, many circuses are abandoning their traditional animal acts.

fact

  • fact
  • Identifying Claims in Editorials
  • Claims do not appear in isolation.
  • Claims may be in 3 most likely positions:
      • At the very beginning—resulting in a. . . .
      • In a sentence immediately after the introduction or “hook”
      • 3. At the very end . . .
  • Deductive argument
  • Funnel pattern
  • inductive argument

In this next exercise you are asked to locate and isolate the claim. Reprinted here are the beginning portions of six representative opinion pieces one might encounter in newspapers or periodicals. First, identify the type of claim (fact, value, or policy). If the passage seems to straddle two types of claims,

  • In this next exercise you are asked to locate and isolate the claim. Reprinted here are the beginning portions of six representative opinion pieces one might encounter in newspapers or periodicals. First, identify the type of claim (fact, value, or policy). If the passage seems to straddle two types of claims,
  • Next, list the dominant claim as the primary claim and the other as the secondary claim. Finally, write a sentence stating the writer’s claim or argument in your own words. Do not include any evidence or support in your argument sentence.

A.

  • A.
  • Type of claim: value
  • Argument: For Oregon public schools to limit their foreign-language offerings to Spanish would be an educational travesty.

B.

  • B.
  • Type of claim: policy; secondary claim—fact
  • Argument: Don’t go to Hawaii on your vacation.

C.

  • C.
  • Type of claim: fact
  • Argument: American corporations are ignoring consumer complaints.

D.

  • D.
  • Type of claim: claim of policy; secondary claim—value
  • Argument: Teachers must have the authority to physically remove unruly children who disrupt learning (policy); it’s wrong for students to disrupt learning with impunity (value)

E.

  • E.
  • Type of claim: fact
  • Argument: In this Age of Uncertainty, we can no longer assume that science will find a way to prevent the avian fl u from spreading to human populations.

F.

  • F.
  • Type of claim: primary claim—value; secondary claim—policy
  • Argument Because of athletes’ bad behavior and poor graduation rates, big-time college sports are in terrible shape. Secondary argument: Big-time college sports need serious reform.

G.

  • G.
  • Type of claim: value; secondary claim—fact
  • Argument: It’s hypocritical for the United States to complain about unhealthy products imported from China when the typical fare in fast-food restaurants is unhealthy, too (value); American fast food is unhealthy (fact).

An assumption is a seemingly self-evident belief underlying the argument.

  • An assumption is a seemingly self-evident belief underlying the argument.
  • The Toulmin method > a warrant — an assumption that justifies the claim and connects it to the evidence.
  • In other words, a warrant = guarantee that the evidence supports the claim and sometimes the assumptions are stated explicitly.
  • Critical reading is required when we may not share the same thoughts as the writer and need to figure out what is assumed equally.

When the assumptions are not explicitly stated and the writer assumes that we share them, critical reading requires us to separate them from the argument.

  • When the assumptions are not explicitly stated and the writer assumes that we share them, critical reading requires us to separate them from the argument.

Go to p. 307 and read the examples beginning at the top of the page.

  • Go to p. 307 and read the examples beginning at the top of the page.

What is happening? What is the position being presented?

  • What is happening? What is the position being presented?
  • Both positions rest on the assumption (or warrant) that embryos constitutes “life” (Bush) and “young lives” (Brownback). Do you accept this assumption? If you do, then you can accept the argument; if not, then you can reject it. There is no right or wrong answer to this question; the answer depends both on one’s worldview and on one’s definition of what constitutes “life.”

To ascertain unstated assumptions, you should ask these three questions:

  • To ascertain unstated assumptions, you should ask these three questions:
  • For whom is the writer writing?
  • What allegiances does the writer seem to have?
  • Does he or she appear to favor one group over another? Who would benefit from our accepting the argument?
  • Unstated assumptions in persuasive writing are not necessarily bad or manipulative. In fact, they are necessary if the argument is not to bog down into mind-numbing tedium, the certain result if a writer spelled out every idea underlying the discussion. In other words, they represent a kind of shorthand. However, if the assumptions are invalid or if they don’t accord with your thinking, then you do not have to accept the argument.
  • The Importance of Definition in Arguments
  • Good critical readers know that they must subject the definitions in arguments to the same scrutiny that they subject misstated assumptions.
  • When you find that an argument includes a definition that you don’t think holds up to careful scrutiny, consider the motive of the person or group offering that definition.

Study these arguments. Then write down at least one assumption that underlies the discussion.

  • Study these arguments. Then write down at least one assumption that underlies the discussion.
  • Read quickly the first one which is done for you in order to get the idea of what you are doing and then go on to #2.

2. Many parents prefer to educate their children at home so that they can enter college at a younger age than their peers who attend traditional schools.

  • 2. Many parents prefer to educate their children at home so that they can enter college at a younger age than their peers who attend traditional schools.
  • Unstated assumption: Attending college at a younger age is
  • desirable.

3. Vegans follow a healthy diet. They eat only fruits, vegetables, and nuts. No animal products are allowed.

  • 3. Vegans follow a healthy diet. They eat only fruits, vegetables, and nuts. No animal products are allowed.
  • Unstated assumption: Eating animal products is unhealthy.

4. The unusual special effects in the 2003 movie Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King make it an especially good movie. Unstated assumption: Unusual special effects make a movie good.

  • 4. The unusual special effects in the 2003 movie Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King make it an especially good movie. Unstated assumption: Unusual special effects make a movie good.

5. You ought to buy a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It was on the New York Times ’ bestseller list for several weeks. Unstated assumption: If a book is popular (or on the New York Times bestseller list), it must be good.

  • 5. You ought to buy a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It was on the New York Times ’ bestseller list for several weeks. Unstated assumption: If a book is popular (or on the New York Times bestseller list), it must be good.

6. A college English teacher asked her students to read a nonfiction book and write a critique of it. One student chose Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but the instructor rejected the choice, saying that a made-for-TV movie based on the book was going to be aired in the next few days. The teacher thought that the student would simply watch the movie

  • 6. A college English teacher asked her students to read a nonfiction book and write a critique of it. One student chose Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but the instructor rejected the choice, saying that a made-for-TV movie based on the book was going to be aired in the next few days. The teacher thought that the student would simply watch the movie
  • and not read the book. Unstated assumption: Students will cheat if they think they can get away with it. Students are lazy and will look for the easy way out.

7. Of course, the best teachers should make the most money. If students perform well, their teachers should be rewarded under a “pay-for-performance” system. Unstated assumption: Students’ test scores are an indication of their teachers’ performance. Teachers have more influence over their students’ academic performance than their parents do. Teacher pay should be tied to their students’ test scores.

  • 7. Of course, the best teachers should make the most money. If students perform well, their teachers should be rewarded under a “pay-for-performance” system. Unstated assumption: Students’ test scores are an indication of their teachers’ performance. Teachers have more influence over their students’ academic performance than their parents do. Teacher pay should be tied to their students’ test scores.

8. Marriage should be restricted to a union between a man and a woman. Marriage was intended as a foundation for procreation and for the raising of children. Unstated assumption: Only a man and a woman satisfy these requirements.

  • 8. Marriage should be restricted to a union between a man and a woman. Marriage was intended as a foundation for procreation and for the raising of children. Unstated assumption: Only a man and a woman satisfy these requirements.

9. Advertising slogan for Stetson’s Men’s Cologne: “What man has never been a cowboy?” Unstated assumption: All men have the desire to be cowboys.

  • 9. Advertising slogan for Stetson’s Men’s Cologne: “What man has never been a cowboy?” Unstated assumption: All men have the desire to be cowboys.

10. The government should not require food producers to list evidence of health claims on their labels, nor provide warnings about possible hazards in eating their products. Unstated assumption: Consumers aren’t interested in such information. If they are interested, they can do the research themselves.

  • 10. The government should not require food producers to list evidence of health claims on their labels, nor provide warnings about possible hazards in eating their products. Unstated assumption: Consumers aren’t interested in such information. If they are interested, they can do the research themselves.

11. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to establish an American-style democracy in the country, which would serve as a model for other Middle Eastern countries. Unstated assumption: Democracy in the American style is a

  • 11. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to establish an American-style democracy in the country, which would serve as a model for other Middle Eastern countries. Unstated assumption: Democracy in the American style is a
  • desirable form of government. It is possible to impose democracy on a foreign nation.

12. Halloween should be banned. It’s nothing more than a celebration of Satanism. Unstated assumption: Satanism—a worship of the devil and of evil practices—is at the heart of the Halloween tradition. Children will be led down the path toward evil if they are allowed to celebrate the holiday.

  • 12. Halloween should be banned. It’s nothing more than a celebration of Satanism. Unstated assumption: Satanism—a worship of the devil and of evil practices—is at the heart of the Halloween tradition. Children will be led down the path toward evil if they are allowed to celebrate the holiday.

What is meant by the term evidence in a critical reading class?

  • What is meant by the term evidence in a critical reading class?
  • It refers to information or support used to back up a claim.

In Ch. 4 you studied paragraph development and how each type of paragraph was different than the others and that there was a purpose to its development for the effect the author wanted to develop.

  • In Ch. 4 you studied paragraph development and how each type of paragraph was different than the others and that there was a purpose to its development for the effect the author wanted to develop.
  • Here are the common ones:
    • Facts, statistics, including survey or poll results
    • Examples and illustrations from observation, personal experience, or reading
    • Good reasons (part of the cause-effect pattern)
    • Historical analysis or citing of precedents from history
    • Testimony of experts and authorities in the field
    • Analogy

In judging the worth of an argument,

  • In judging the worth of an argument,
    • First annotate the main supporting points in the margin.
    • Then ask if the evidence is relevant to the claim
    • If it is sufficient to persuade you to accept the claim.
    • If the writer uses statistics, are they current?
    • Is the source of the statistics provided?

Examine these excerpts from editorials and opinion pieces. First, write a sentence stating the writer’s argument. Then identify the type(s) of evidence used to support the claim.

  • Examine these excerpts from editorials and opinion pieces. First, write a sentence stating the writer’s argument. Then identify the type(s) of evidence used to support the claim.

Argument:

  • Argument:
  • Type(s) of evidence:

Argument: Restricting ads for unhealthy foods to children will help stem the childhood obesity crisis.

  • Argument: Restricting ads for unhealthy foods to children will help stem the childhood obesity crisis.
  • Type(s) of evidence: examples, testimony (quotation) from experts, good reasons

Argument: Congress’s recent corporate tax bill reveals a shocking indifference to the massive national debt.

  • Argument: Congress’s recent corporate tax bill reveals a shocking indifference to the massive national debt.
  • Type(s) of evidence: analogy

Argument: Unlike past wars, the richer, educated classes as well as the sons of members of Congress shared the burden of war, but today, in Iraq this is not the case.

  • Argument: Unlike past wars, the richer, educated classes as well as the sons of members of Congress shared the burden of war, but today, in Iraq this is not the case.
  • Type(s) of evidence: Testimony (quotations), statistics, historical precedent (contrasting the past and the present)

A section in the editorial or opinion piece that anticipates the opposition and offers a counterargument.

  • A section in the editorial or opinion piece that anticipates the opposition and offers a counterargument.
  • the concession

What is its purpose?

  • What is its purpose?
  • The refutation forces the writer to consider differing viewpoints and to explain where the opposition falls short.
  • A good work will have the refutation and it will not be missing.

Read the passage by John McCalin and Lieberman beginning on p. 313-315.

  • Read the passage by John McCalin and Lieberman beginning on p. 313-315.
  • Then, can you find the sentence that indicates the beginning of the refutation?
  • What argument are the senators refuting?
  • Finally, list the two points the senators
  • make in their refutation.

Then, can you find the sentence that indicates the beginning of the refutation?

  • Then, can you find the sentence that indicates the beginning of the refutation?
  • “This reasoning is flawed for several reasons.”

What argument are the senators refuting?

  • What argument are the senators refuting?
  • The argument from antiwar advocates who demanded an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Finally, list the two points the senators

  • Finally, list the two points the senators
  • make in their refutation.
  • A retreat will undo the gains that have been made and will not shock the Iraqis into reconciling the opposing parties.
  • The increased presence of American
  • troops (the “surge”) is having an effect on Iraq’s politics at the local level.
  • Photographs, illustrations, charts, and graphs reinforce the message and help us learn.
  • Graphs and charts compress data into manageable, comprehensible visual form; they allow us to see trends, statistics, and connections between pieces of information.
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • show changes over time or how different items relate to one another
  • Category
  • Graphs
  • Bar graphs, line graphs, pictographs, pie charts/circle graphs
  • Tables
  • Multirow and column matrices
  • Diagrams
  • Venn diagrams, flowcharts, timelines, maps, process charts
  • Illustrations
  • Photos, drawings, art work
  • When evaluating any of these visual aids, start by considering these elements:
  • • What is the title or subject of the graph or chart?
  • • What relationships or trends does the graph or chart show?
  • • Is the chart or graph accompanied by an illustration?
  • Then consider the data provided in the graph:
  • What years does the data cover? Is it recent enough to be
  • reliable?
  • • Does the data seem complete? Are there any obvious gaps? For example, are any years or relevant groups missing?
  • • What is the source of the data? Does the source have an agenda to promote or is it impartial?
  • • Does the graph or chart support the point the text is trying
  • to make?

Pie Charts/Circle Graphs

  • Used to illustrate the ratio of the values of a category to the total.
  • The whole pie, or circle, represents 10-0% when percentages are used or the total number of “units” when another measurement is used.
  • Each segment is labeled to show its relative value
      • The most important piece is typically placed at the twelve o’clock position
      • The rest are arranged clockwise in a logical order such as size.
      • http://www.buzzle.com/articles/circle-graphs.html

Stacked Bar Graphs

  • Effective when the author wants you to concentrate on component parts of a total.
  • Study the chart on p. 317.
  • What is the chart intended to show?
  • Taken together, do McDonald’s competitors constitute more than 50 percent of the fast-food hamburger market?
  • What numerical position is Wendy’s in terms of the total market?
  • What company is its next closest competitor?
  • What time period do the figures in the pie chart represent?
  • Does the chart show or project trends in the industry?
  • Are In-N-Out Burger or White Castle represented in this chart?
  • By how much would Jack in the Box have to increase its sales to match those of Sonic?
  • Is the source for these statistics listed?
  • Study the chart on p. 317.
  • What is the chart intended to show?
  • the relative market share of various fast-food hamburger companies.
  • Taken together, do McDonald’s competitors constitute more than 50 percent of the fast-food hamburger market?
  • Yes. McDonald’s has 46 percent, or nearly half of the market, but not a majority. The rest command 54 percent.
  • What numerical position is Wendy’s in terms of the total market? third
  • What company is its next closest competitor? Burger King
  • What time period do the figures in the pie chart represent? 2006
  • Does the chart show or project trends in the industry? No, because
  • it is limited to only one year.
  • Are In-N-Out Burger or White Castle represented in this chart? Not
  • specifically, but they probably would be included under “all others.”
  • By how much would Jack in the Box have to increase its sales to match those of Sonic? 1.2%
  • Is the source for these statistics listed?
  • Yes, Technomic Information Services
  • Does the source seem reliable in terms of presenting accurate research on the restaurant industry? To answer this question, go
  • to www.technomic.com/home_content.html and read the description of their services. This outfit is a research and consulting firm
  • whose specialty is the food service industry. It has over 40 years
  • of experience and therefore seems like a credible source.
  • Then consider the data provided in the graph:
  • What years does the data cover? Is it recent enough to be
  • reliable?
  • • Does the data seem complete? Are there any obvious gaps? For example, are any years or relevant groups missing?
  • • What is the source of the data? Does the source have an agenda to promote or is it impartial?
  • • Does the graph or chart support the point the text is trying
  • to make?

Bar Graphics

  • Used to compare one item with another or to show the comparison of quantities within a category.
  • Usually the x-axis has numbers for the time period or what is being measured, and the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. Bar graphs are good when you're plotting data that spans many years (or days, weeks...), has really big changes from year to year (or day to day...), or when you are comparing things.

Bar Graphics

  • Used to compare one item with another or to show the comparison of quantities within a category.
  • Usually the x-axis has numbers for the time period or what is being measured, and the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. Bar graphs are good when you're plotting data that spans many years (or days, weeks...), has really big changes from year to year (or day to day...), or when you are comparing things.

Bar Graphics

  • Used to compare one item with another or to show the comparison of quantities within a category.
  • Usually the x-axis has numbers for the time period or what is being measured, and the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. Bar graphs are good when you're plotting data that spans many years (or days, weeks...), has really big changes from year to year (or day to day...), or when you are comparing things.
  • http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/graphing/classic/bar.asp http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/bar.asp

Bar Graphics

  • Used to compare one item with another or to show the comparison of quantities within a category.
  • Usually the x-axis has numbers for the time period or what is being measured, and the y-axis has numbers for the amount of stuff being measured. Bar graphs are good when you're plotting data that spans many years (or days, weeks...), has really big changes from year to year (or day to day...), or when you are comparing things.
  • http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/graphing/classic/bar.asp http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/bar.asp

Bar Graphics

This graph accompanied a 2006 Associated Press article by medical writer Marilynn Marchione titled “College Weight Gain Not Limited to Freshmen, Studies Find.” 8 The article summarizes two comprehensive studies of weight gain: The first, undertaken by Brown University Medical School, studied freshmen; the second, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, included both freshman and sophomore college students. The results? The “Freshman 15” is really a myth; in fact, freshmen gain on average only about

  • This graph accompanied a 2006 Associated Press article by medical writer Marilynn Marchione titled “College Weight Gain Not Limited to Freshmen, Studies Find.” 8 The article summarizes two comprehensive studies of weight gain: The first, undertaken by Brown University Medical School, studied freshmen; the second, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, included both freshman and sophomore college students. The results? The “Freshman 15” is really a myth; in fact, freshmen gain on average only about
  • 5 to 7 pounds, but more significant, students continue to gain weight during their sophomore year. This bar graph accompanied the article.

Like the pie chart, you will see that this bar graph is rather simple to understand but does omit some essential information.

  • Like the pie chart, you will see that this bar graph is rather simple to understand but does omit some essential information.
  • For example, the chart does not indicate how many students were studied or who conducted the studies. That information is contained in the article: The first study by Brown University Medical School tracked the weight gain of 382 freshmen at an unnamed private Northeastern university; the second study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tracked the weight gain of 907 students at an unidentified public university in the
  • Midwest after their freshman and sophomore years. Still, the chart is useful
  • for presenting basic information. Now answer these questions.

Summarize in your own words the results of the two studies.

  • Summarize in your own words the results of the two studies.
  • Students gradually gain weight in both the first two years of college, though they don’t gain as much weight in their freshman year as previously thought. The second study overturns the myth of the Freshman 15.

What do the dark and light gray blocks at the top of the chart represent?

  • What do the dark and light gray blocks at the top of the chart represent?
  • Each block represents one pound of weight gained.

How much did men and women gain in their freshman year? Who gained more weight? Men gained 5.6 pounds; women gained 3.6, for a difference of 2 pounds.

  • How much did men and women gain in their freshman year? Who gained more weight? Men gained 5.6 pounds; women gained 3.6, for a difference of 2 pounds.

The chart shows that sophomore men and women gained 9.5 and 9.2 pounds, respectively. What piece of information does the chart include that is crucial to understand the significance of these figures? The second set of figures includes freshman weight gain. It would be easy to misinterpret the figures and conclude that during the sophomore year, students gained a little over 9 pounds.

  • The chart shows that sophomore men and women gained 9.5 and 9.2 pounds, respectively. What piece of information does the chart include that is crucial to understand the significance of these figures? The second set of figures includes freshman weight gain. It would be easy to misinterpret the figures and conclude that during the sophomore year, students gained a little over 9 pounds.

Are the source and the dates of these studies included? The two sources are included; the dates are not.

  • Are the source and the dates of these studies included? The two sources are included; the dates are not.

The following line graph summarizes the results. As you read it, consider these elements:

  • The following line graph summarizes the results. As you read it, consider these elements:
  • • The title of the chart at the top
  • • The categories of various weights at the left
  • • The four squares representing Years One to Four

1. What grades does this study cover?

  • 1. What grades does this study cover?
  • 2. What is the trend from Year One to Year Four for children classified as overweight?
  • 3. Taken together, what percentage of Arkansas children, using the most recent figures, are either overweight or at risk for being overweight?

4. In which year were the most Arkansas schoolchildren assessed?

  • 4. In which year were the most Arkansas schoolchildren assessed?
  • 5. Should Arkansas school nutritionists be encouraged if they compare results from Year One to Year Four?

1. What grades does this study cover? K through 12

  • 1. What grades does this study cover? K through 12

2. What is the trend from Year One to Year Four for children classified as overweight? There is a slight decrease, from 20.9% to 20.6%.

  • 2. What is the trend from Year One to Year Four for children classified as overweight? There is a slight decrease, from 20.9% to 20.6%.

3. Taken together, what percentage of Arkansas children, using the most recent figures, are either overweight or at risk for being overweight? 37.8%

  • 3. Taken together, what percentage of Arkansas children, using the most recent figures, are either overweight or at risk for being overweight? 37.8%

4. In which year were the most Arkansas schoolchildren assessed? Year Three

  • 4. In which year were the most Arkansas schoolchildren assessed? Year Three

5. Should Arkansas school nutritionists be encouraged if they compare results from Year One to Year Four? A qualified yes. Though the results aren’t spectacular, there does seem to be a decrease in the

  • 5. Should Arkansas school nutritionists be encouraged if they compare results from Year One to Year Four? A qualified yes. Though the results aren’t spectacular, there does seem to be a decrease in the
  • number of overweight or at risk children, even allowing for the increase in the number of students studied.
  • Photographs
  • Information is provided visually
  • A sense of character or place or emotion is conveyed to the viewer visually
  • Because photographs can be so powerful, it’s crucial to analyze them carefully to avoid a purely emotional response.
  • Photographs
  • When analyzing photographs, consider these following elements:
  • When was the photograph taken? Under what circumstances was it taken? What is the historical context?
  • • What is the subject of the photograph? What or who is being depicted?
  • • How are the figures or objects arranged? Does one particular figure or object dominate the photograph? Are there background elements that are of interest?
  • What activity is being depicted? Of what significance is this activity?
  • • Examine the faces of the person or people depicted. What emotions or feelings do their faces reveal? What do they seem to be thinking?
  • • What are the people in the photograph wearing? Does their clothing reveal anything about them—their position, status, occupation, or any other relevant information?
  • • Does the photograph appeal to the emotions or to reason?
  • • How do you think the photographer intended you to respond to the image?
  • • What is the larger significance of the photograph? What is it meant to represent?
  • See “Propoaganda” Powerpoint.
  • What is your reaction to this photograph? What message
  • do the images of coffins draped in American flags send to the viewer?
  • Notice that the flag-draped coffins dominate the photo and that the uniformed soldiers in the background are relatively
  • indistinct. Also, the images of the coffins humanize the statistics published in the paper or on the evening news of the numbers of war dead.
  • The photograph is a sobering reminder of the Americans dying in war.

A Study the photos, then answer the questions which follow. These are two photos from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement of 2006.

  • A Study the photos, then answer the questions which follow. These are two photos from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement of 2006.

A

  • A
  • What is the significance of the first photo? Why do you think that the ACHI chose this photo to accompany its report?
  • What is depicted in the second photo? What subtext, or subliminal message, is this photo suggesting?
  • Write two claims that these photos suggest.

What is the significance of the first photo? Why do you think that the ACHI chose this photo to accompany its report?

  • What is the significance of the first photo? Why do you think that the ACHI chose this photo to accompany its report?
  • The children represent racial harmony; they are attractive and thin. Most of all, they’re happy. The photo suggests that good nutrition and happiness go hand in hand.

What is depicted in the second photo? What subtext, or subliminal message, is this photo suggesting?

  • What is depicted in the second photo? What subtext, or subliminal message, is this photo suggesting?
  • Two girls and their father are riding bicycles. They are thin and physically attractive; their smiles show that they are enjoying this activity. The subtext is that parents have the responsibility to see that their children get enough exercise by setting a good example.

Write two claims that these photos suggest.

  • Write two claims that these photos suggest.
  • A claim of value—maintaining a healthy weight is equivalent to being happy. A claim of fact—maintaining a healthy weight promotes good health.

B

  • B
  • In its landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education , the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was illegal.
  • This photograph from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette archives shows a student shouting at Elizabeth Eckford, one of nine students who attempted to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Eckford and a group of black students had sought admission to the high school, but were turned away from the school by the Arkansas National Guard.

B

  • B
  • How effective is this photograph at showing the racial division that existed 50 years ago in the United States? What was the photographer’s intent? What emotions does this photograph arouse in the viewer?

B

  • B
  • It is clear that the white student yelling at the young black student is a symbol of pure racial hatred. The photograph is meant to arouse
  • sympathy in us and represent the injustices of racial segregation.

C

  • C
  • In June 1989, pro-democracy protestors staged an uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Chinese troops sent in tanks to quell the disturbance and restore order. This photograph shows a solitary man carrying only
  • two shopping bags who confronted a convoy of approaching tanks and refused to move. To this day, the man’s identity and fate remain a mystery. This showdown lasted for several minutes until he was finally pulled from danger by some onlookers.

C

  • C
  • Comment on the effectiveness of this photograph. What is its particular larger significance? What emotions does this photograph arouse in the viewer?

C

  • C
  • This photograph suggests the power one lone
  • citizen can exercise even in the face of overwhelming military power and government repression.

• Who is the writer? Look at the information provided in the headnote. Does he or she represent an authority? On what basis? (If you need more background than the headnote provides for a particular writer, go to your favorite search engine, type in the writer’s name + “information” or “biography.”)

  • • Who is the writer? Look at the information provided in the headnote. Does he or she represent an authority? On what basis? (If you need more background than the headnote provides for a particular writer, go to your favorite search engine, type in the writer’s name + “information” or “biography.”)
  • • What is the writer’s main argument or claim? State the claim in your own words.
  • • What type of claim does the argument represent?

• If possible, list one or two unstated assumptions underlying the argument.

  • • If possible, list one or two unstated assumptions underlying the argument.
  • • Is the evidence relevant to the argument? Is it sufficient to support the claim adequately? List two or three of the main supporting points.
  • • What types of evidence are represented?
  • • Is the argument, as the author presents it, convincing or at least worth considering?
  • • Do you accept the argument? Why or why not? What other information would you need before you could accept it?


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