Be Better Than Donald – Argue Like a Pro

Posted: February 17, 2017 To: Study
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No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree on one thing. A political speech and a tweet are not the same as an argumentative essay that you will be assigned for college level work. Donald Trump, and many other politicians past and present, put forth opinions and arguments that they do not back up with factual information. And now we have “Fake News” to boot – “facts” that cannot be verified by research or actual observation.

Advertisers do the same thing. A toothpaste can whiten your teeth by 40% in a week. A new weight loss product is touted by customer “testimonials,” complete with before and after photo shots.

Propaganda and Persuasion

Most of us studied “propaganda” and false persuasive techniques in high school, either in an English composition, a sociology/psychology, or a consumer economics class. We know not to believe what we hear and to rely on reputable sources for our factual information. But even that “factual information” is called into question by some today. There are those who claim that climate change is a Chinese hoax; there are those who claim that satellites actually send signals down to earth that are the cause of our earthquakes and floods. And, amazingly, there are people who believe these things.

Academic Argumentation – Be a Pro

So, how does a college student produce an essay or paper that poses an argument in a scholarly fashion, backing up that argument with solid and objective information? The answer is this: it is done the same way that it has always been done. Because, fortunately, in academia, there is reliable research and data that can and must be used to prove a point.

Developing the Argumentative Essay

Such an essay always begins with taking a stand on a controversial issue – the ethics of biogenetic engineering, the inequalities within a justice system, separation of church and state, control of money over political figures, abortion, etc.

Finding the evidence to support your position comes next. At the college level, such evidence must come from primary sources – researchers who have actually completed studies and who have the factual data and statistics to support that position.

Do you report information that is contrary to your position? In an argumentative essay, you should, although at the same time, you will be expected to “debunk” that information in order to bolster your side of the argument. Ignoring the other side is not considered scholarly, so do address it.

Construction of Your Essay

Once you have completed your research, you will want to come up with a minimum of three points that will support your position. Each of these points will comprise a paragraph of your essay, and each paragraph will have a topic sentence, stating your point, and then providing the evidence that supports that point. Choose your strongest three points – those that have the most evidence.

These three paragraphs will make up the body of your essay. Once you have completed those body paragraphs, you will be ready to construct your introduction and conclusion.

The purpose of your introduction is two-fold – to engage your reading audience immediately and to put forth your thesis statement. Capturing the interest of your audience can be accomplished in a few ways:

  • Provide a shocking statistic

  • Give a short anecdote

  • Make a short intriguing statement

Once you have captured that interest, provide your thesis statement. This will be your position on the issue and at least a hint of the three points that you will be making.

Fashioning That Conclusion

Your conclusion must summarize the fact that you have proved your thesis statement by the evidence you have presented. Sometimes, there may be a call to action in that conclusion – you may want your readers to contact their Congressmen or attend a city council meeting, or volunteer with an organization that protects animals, etc. Don’t be afraid to do that if it is called for.

Arguments are only valid if they have factual backup. No matter how un-researched or unsubstantiated other arguments may be, you stick to the facts. Ultimately, they will win out.

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