Is the Evidence Relevant Good writers select evidence based on how well it sup

Is the evidence relevant good writers select evidence

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Is the Evidence Relevant? Good writers select evidence based on how well it sup- ports the point being argued, not on how interesting, novel, or humorous it is. For instance, if you were arguing that Alex Rodriguez is the greatest living baseball How to Read Critically • 21 player, you would not mention that he was born in New York City and was ru- mored in the press to have dated pop singer Madonna. Those are facts, but they have nothing to do with Rodriguez's athletic abilities. Irrelevant evidence distracts readers and weakens an argument. Is the Evidence Reliable? No t Dated? Evidence should not be so vague or dated that it fails to support one's claim. For instance, it would not be accurate to say that Candidate Jones fails to support the American worker because 15 years ago she purchased a foreign car. It is her current actions that are more important. Readers expect writers to be specific enough with data for them to verify. A writer supporting animal rights may cite cases of rabbits blinded in drug research, but such tests have been outlawed in the United States for many years. Another may point to medical research that appears to abuse human subjects, but not name the researchers, the place, or the year of such testing. Because readers may have no way of verifying evidence, suspicious claims will weaken an argument. Is the Evidence Slanted? Sometimes writers select evidence that supports their case while ignoring evidence that does not. Often referred to as "stacking the deck," this practice is unfair and potentially self-defeating for a writer. Although some evidence may have merit, an argument will be dismissed if readers discover that evidence was slanted or suppressed. For example, suppose you heard a class- mate claim that he would never take a course with Professor Sanchez because she gives surprise quizzes, assigns 50 pages of reading a night, and does not grade on a curve. Even if these reasons are true, that may not be the whole truth. You might discover that Professor Sanchez is a dynamic and talented teacher whose classes are stimulating. Withholding that information may make an argument sus- pect. A better strategy is to acknowledge counterevidence and to confront it-that is, to strive for a balanced presentation by raising views and evidence that may not be supportive of your own. How Good Are the Sources of the Evidence Used? Were They Based on Personal Experience , Scientific Data , or Outside Authorities? Writers enlist four basic kinds of evidence to support their views or arguments: personal experience (theirs and others'), outside authorities, factual references and examples, and statistics. In your own writing, you will be encouraged to use com- binations of these. Personal testimony should not be underestimated. Think of the books you have read or movies you have seen based on word-of-mouth recommendations. (Maybe even the school you are attending!) Personal testimony provides eyewitness ac- counts not available to you or readers-and sometimes eyewitness accounts are the most persuasive kind of evidence. Suppose you are writing about the rising alco- hol abuse on college campuses. In addition
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  • Fall '15
  • EunsookHaRhee

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