Explain how the information you’ve read confirmed your initial ideas or forced you to revise them.

Minds OnThe following clip is taken from Monty Python and the Holy Grail which is a comedic film about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Watch the following video and try to trace the “logical” argument that the knight uses.This scene shows some pretty serious errors in logic which makes for a funny scene, but you don’t want to have errors in logic when you’re writing an essay of argument. We’ll talk more about the essay of argument itself later in this lesson, but first, let’s look at logical thinking and argument since it’s the basis for the essay of argument.Logical ThinkingAn argument is a chain of reasons that a person uses to support a claim or conclusion. To use argument well, you need to know both how to draw logical conclusions from sound evidence and how to recognize and avoid false arguments or logical fallacies.Here are two methods of arriving at or developing logical conclusions:Inductive reasoning: moving from the particular to the general. This logic technique means gathering evidence until it points to a highly likely (though not certain) conclusion. Instead of being valid or invalid, inductive arguments are either strong or weak, which describes how probable it is that the conclusion is true.For example: Jennifer leaves for school at 7:00 a.m. Jennifer is always on time. Jennifer assumes, then, that she will always be on time if she leaves at 7:00 a.m.This is a probable conclusion but it is not proof.Deductive Reasoning: moving from the general to the particular. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument is probable, based upon the evidence given.In a deductive argument, the author’s claim is that it is impossible for the premises to be true but the conclusion false. The conclusion must follow necessarily from the premises. If this is the case, the argument is called valid. This process has been expressed in a formula called a syllogism. Here is a good example:Major premise: All people are mortal.Minor premise: Bill is a person.Therefore, Bill is mortal.The minor premise must deal with something covered by the major premise. If not then you have a faulty syllogism, where the logic is not clear, such as in the following:Major premise: All people are mortal.Minor premise: Monkeys are mortal.Therefore, monkeys are people.Here you are comparing monkeys to people, like apples to oranges.Here’s another example of an invalid deductive argument:All teenagers love hip hop.Adam is a teenager.Therefore, Adam loves hip-hop.The argument is unsound because the generalization that “all teenagers love hip hop” is untrue.Faults in ReasoningA careful reader will look for faults in reasoning when following a logical argument. Faults in reasoning can be difficult to catch because they often appear to be logical. Here are some examples of faulty reasoning, also known as logical fallacies:Dogmatic Statement: This occurs when a person argues that a statement is right because the person says it is so. Dogma is a strongly held belief not based on reason. E.g., “Eating animals is cruel.”Circular Thinking: This fallacy consists of assuming, in a definition or argument, the very point you are trying to prove. It is related to begging the question where the arguer assumes that the conclusion is one of the premises. E.g., “This unjust law should be repealed.” It is the responsibility of the arguer to prove that the law in question is unjust.Either-or-Thinking: This fallacy consists of reducing a solution to two possible extremes: E.g., “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” This fallacy of thinking eliminates every possibility in the middle.Emotion: This is valid only if the emotion has some direct relationship to the argument. E.g., “Think of the children!” Emotion cannot be substituted for reason.Appeals to Pity: This fallacy may be heard in courts of law when an attorney begs for leniency because his client’s mother is ill or his brother is out of work. While it may be effective, it is not an argument based on logic.Bandwagon: Another way to avoid using logic in an argument is to appeal to everyone’s sense of wanting to belong or be accepted. E.g., “Most people speed so the speed limit should be increased.” By suggesting that everyone else is doing this or wearing that or going there, you can avoid the real question: Is this idea or claim a good one or not?Slanted Language: By choosing words that carry strong positive or negative feelings (connotation), a person can distract the audience, leading them away from valid arguments being made. E.g., The philosopher Bertrand Russell once illustrated the bias involved in slanted language when he compared three synonyms for the word stubborn: “I am firm. You are obstinate. He is pigheaded.”Argumentum ad hominem: Literally, this means “argument directed at the man.” The arguer diverts attention from the real subject by attacking the character of the opponent. E.g., “Why should we trust the opinion of a politician who has so little experience in office?” We see this frequently during election campaigns.Post-hoc Reasoning: This is another kind of false syllogism. This fallacy assumes that just because one event comes before another event, the first event must have caused the second. E.g., “Soon after we increased Johnny’s allowance, his grade got worse. Obviously, increasing his allowance has affected Johnny’s performance at school.” When you suspect post-hoc reasoning, ask yourself this question: Is there evidence that the effect would have occurred even if the cause did not occur?Hasty Generalization: One cannot generalize about something without sufficient evidence. Another way to think of this fallacy is jumping to conclusions. E.g., “Nissans are terribly unreliable – I once owned a Nissan that broke down on me!”)Broad Generalization: This kind of generalization takes in everything and everyone at once, allowing no exceptions. E.g., “All voters spend too little time reading about a candidate and too much time being swayed by 30-second sound bites.” It may be true of some voters, but it is unfair to suggest it is true of all voters.Fallacious AppealsFallacious appeals occur whenever an author makes an unjustified appeal in support of their argument.Appeals to questionable authority: We often see celebrities endorse all kinds of products; however, there is a fine line between using a famous person to attract attention to a product, and creating the impression that the celebrity is indeed an expert in the field.Appeals to common practices, traditions or beliefs: These are many variations of the well-known “everyone is doing it” fallacy, e.g. “nobody observes the speed limit anyway”, and “this industry has traditionally employed mostly male workers, so we are just continuing with the tradition”.Appeals to indirect consequences: (also known a domino theory, or slippery slope) This fallacy occurs when remotely possible but negative effects are presented as inevitable consequences of a course of action. This is done to persuade the audience to reject the course of action based on the awfulness of the possible consequences without regard to the likelihood of them happening. E.g., “If we don’t pass this bill, Canada will be attacked by terrorists.”Appeals to Ignorance: One commits this logical fallacy by claiming that since no one has ever proved a claim, it must therefore be false. Appeals to ignorance unfairly shifts the burden of proof onto someone else.Faulty Observation: The use of irrelevant facts, misunderstandings, personal prejudices.Half-Truths: Statements that contain part of the truth but not the whole truth. They are especially misleading because they leave out the rest of the story. They are true and dishonest at the same time.Faulty Expression: Ambiguity, careless use of diction, irrelevant opinions, absurd or extreme conclusions.Red Herring: This fallacy involves diverting attention from the real subject by introducing an irrelevant side issue.Oversimplification: Beware of phrases like: “It all boils down to…” or “It’s a simple question of…”A writer may intentionally use some of these faults in reasoning and fallacious appeals, hoping that the emotion or cloudy logic will distract the reader from investigating the faulty logic too closely. As a critical reader, being aware of these faults in reasoning and fallacious appeals will help you determine whether the author is making a valid point. It will also help ensure that you are making sound arguments in your own writing.Revising an EssayRead the following essay and identify the logical fallacies that it contains. Then revise the essay so that the arguments are logical (If you feel you must change the thesis of the essay in order to construct logical arguments, then do so).Submit both your annotations of the essay, identifying the logical fallacies, as well as your revision of the essay, correcting the logical fallacies. Here’s an example of what your annotations might look like:While this was done in Word by inserting a comment, you could also make your annotations by hand and submit a scanned file. Logical Fallacies Essay.
The Essay of ArgumentThe essay of argument goes for the brain. Its aim is to convince the reader through reason and logic. The audience may be general or very specific depending on the topic and purpose. The essay of argument is a common essay type used in education.In an essay of argument, the thesis is used as a proposition—a statement of supposed fact or truth that is being proved or defended. Support is based on careful reasoning and sufficient evidence. The writer must provide facts, statistics, illustrations, or personal observation. Appeals to authority may be used but they must be relevant and timely statements and opinions of respected authorities to back up the proposition.The essay of argument avoids triviality. It is organized carefully, beginning and ending with stronger arguments.The tone is controlled and measured rather than the passionate tone one might find in a persuasive essay.It must begin with sound premises, be moderate, reasonable and considerate. The writer must avoid sarcasm, ridicule, loaded diction, exclamation points, and heavy absolutes (must, at all costs, and absolutely necessary). He or she must also avoid logical fallacies, as a careful reader will be able to identify these errors.Often, the essay of argument anticipates arguments from the other side, which lends credibility to its arguments and gives the writing more energy, since the give-and-take of argument produces momentum.Strategies for Reading a Challenging TextWhen readers are presented with a challenging text, they can sometimes react with frustration which prevents them from truly engaging with the text. There are strategies you can use to make the process less frustrating and more meaningful.Preview the text: Instead of diving right in, start by examining the features of the text. Read the title and the author’s name. Ask yourself if you already know anything about the topic or author. What predictions can you make based on the title? Look for headings and subheadings, images, captions, bulleted lists, and other features that you can quickly read. This will give you some sense of what to expect from the rest of the text. Then as you read, you engage in a process of confirming or revising your initial ideas.Chunk the text: If you are working with a text that is very dense, it can help to break up the text into more meaningful chunks. If you can write on the copy you are reading, take a highlighter and draw boxes around smaller chunks of text. If you can’t write on the copy you’re reading, use sticky notes to indicate reading breaks.At the end of each break, respond to the text either by writing in the margin or on your sticky notes. You could respond by summarizing the key ideas, asking questions, disagreeing, or commenting on how the information you’ve read confirmed your initial ideas or forced you to revise them.Code the text: Use symbols to represent different reactions you could have to the reading. An exclamation mark, for example, could represent an important idea; a question mark could represent a question; a star could represent an idea that you think is the author’s thesis. You can mark up the actual text or use smaller sticky notes. In addition to marking important places in the text for you to return to later, this will help ensure you are reading with purpose rather than letting your eyes glide over the text without retaining any information. This can also be helpful if you tend to stop reading when you encounter a word or idea that confuses you. You don’t have to understand every word or idea to understand a text. Using this strategy, you can make note of the confusing word or idea and then move on. If you move on and find that you understand, then keep going and come back to the word or idea later. If you can’t understand what you’re reading without clarifying the word or idea, then stop and do so.Trace the pattern of argument: Pay attention to the methods the author uses to develop his or her argument and ask yourself if these methods are convincing. It may help to use a highlighter for this.Be on the look-out for faulty reasoning and fallacious appeals: If you find one, identify it and determine the degree to which it may diminish the author’s argument.
ActionRequired ReadingRead the following essay Politics and the English Language and use the reading strategies listed above to help you. Download and print the essay so you can annotate it. Afterwards, answer the following questions:Identify Orwell’s thesis and then write it in your own words.In his essay, Orwell catalogues a few of the more prominent vices:Dying metaphorsOperators, or false limbsPretentious dictionMeaningless wordsExplain, in your own words, what Orwell means by each of these terms.What are the six basic questions that a scrupulous writer must ask him or herself?Orwell is particularly concerned with the power of language when it comes to political writing. Find a quotation that you think best explains this concern.What are the six basic rules that Orwell thinks will prevent bad writing? Which ones do you think are the most important and why?Orwell discusses language, not in terms of literature, but in terms of politics. In a well-developed paragraph, explain your opinion on the issue of language and power.