Understanding Persuasive Communication

Understanding Persuasive Communication

Learn the difference between facts, reason, and evidence versus rhetoric and argument. Discover the art of making effective claims and the power of how something is said.

About Understanding Persuasive Communication

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1. Facts, reason, and evidence

2. Rhetoric = how something is said  art of persuasive communication  Argument = what is said  Claims followed by evidence that lead to a conclusion.  Everything is rhetorical  Everything is an argument

3. Finding the right fit of evidence to argument is easier the more experience you have with a given audience, purpose and rhetorical situation.  This experience can come in the form of reading and writing, so you probably already know what evidence is best in certain situations.

4. Think about what counts for evidence in a television commercial?  Current commercials rely on visual metaphors that associate a product with something else that we might find pleasant (prosperity, popularity, well-being, etc.)  We have already seen some contemporary videogame commercials.  Commercials weren’t always like this. Sure, advertisers associated their products with other things, but they were less metaphorical. They used slogans, jingles, televisions and movie stars, and cartoon characters (some commercials still do this today).  Atari VCS (2600) from 1981  Atari 2600 from 1982  Pole Position for Atari 1983

5. Commercials  Essay in history  Newspaper article  Television newscast  Essay in English  Proposal in Business  Scientific Experiment  Grocery List

6. Your thesis (your main point) should be supported by evidence that is appropriate to your audience. Your point needs the best support possible, otherwise it will topple over.

7. In an argument, each claim or statement should be backed up by some sort of evidence. These claims+evidence become part of the more comprehensive support for your argument.  Evidence can be categorized into two types: Hard evidence and Reason.  Hard evidence is usually used as a logical appeal, but all support can be used to appeal to either logos, ethos or pathos.

8. Invented Evidence (Rational Appeals) • Anecdote • Analogy/Comparison • Consequences/Effects • Contrasts • Categories/Models • Examples Found Evidence (Hard Evidence) • Facts • Statistics • Surveys/Polls • Testimonies and Interviews • Experiments • Precedent • Textual Evidence

9. Take a moment to  Scan posts in this thread about the wildcat play in Madden 10

10. The easiest way to think about how to apply this in your own writing is to consider each paragraph its own claim+evidence device.  Each paragraph should rely on one primary strategy to add support for a thesis by doing the following: 1. Connect the claim+evidence to the thesis, usually through metadiscourse. 2. Clearly stating the claim. 3. Provide evidence that is appropriate to the rhetorical situation (writer, purpose, audience). ▪ Consider a strategy from the means of support

11. In an argument , you base a claim+evidence on certain premises.  If these premises are universally true or are comprehensively connected, then it is a syllogism

12. If premises in an argument are only probable, then you have an enthymeme.  Enthymemes are arguments that blend claims+evidence together based on the following:  Probability – there is probable but not universal precedence or likelihood that claim and evidence are connected.  Audience assumptions – the writer assumes the audience will agree with the premise, claim or evidence.

13. Corporations want to make a profit more than they want to do good Corporations will take what they want in order to make a profit Corporations are bad Corporations are bad

14. Most arguments rely on enthymemes rather than syllogisms because stating/restating every universalism would be boring to read and not really necessary for intended audiences.  Let’s look at some advertisements:  To read an argument via enthymemes, ask:  Why aren’t the premises revealed?  What is the probability that this is true/known given the intended audience?  Is it an effective argument?

18. Toulmin and beyond

19. A thesis needs support, and this support comes from claims and evidence.  Claims need to be controversial and debatable for them to be useful in an academic argument  Controversial – there is disagreement (“12 inches makes a foot” is not controversial)  Debatable – there can be differing viewpoints (“I love ice cream!” is not debatable)  Claims also need to be explicitly stated for most audiences.

20. Claims and evidence have warrants – the assumptions or basis for your argument. Sometimes these are unstated (Remember the enthymemes?)  Warrants sometimes need to be stated when certain audiences might be particularly unfamiliar or unreceptive to your claims/evidence.

21. Overweight people should exercise more Variations of syllogisms of this enthymeme:  If you are overweight, you will not attract a lover (warrant = want to attract a lover)  Exercise will help you lose weight (warrant = unless you have an illness or medical disposition towards weight gain)  Exercising will help you attract a lover  Overweight people live shorter lives (warrant = you want to live longer)  Exercise increases the body’s resilience to disease (warrant = unless you have another medical condition that makes you susceptible to disease)  Exercise counteracts being overweight, thus helping you live longer  Exercising will help you lose weight (warrant = you want to lose weight)  Riding a bike is exercise (warrant = you are physically able to ride a bike)  Riding a bike will help you lose weight

22. Notice that most of the warrants are things that you might not have thought about unless you had considered the full syllogism of the claims and evidence.  Also, notice that by uncovering these syllogisms and their associated warrants, you may consider your argument differently.

23. There are two easy strategies to get at your warrants and find some potentially problematic issues with your argument without going to all the work of writing out syllogisms: 1. Contrary Position – consider a contrary position of a claim or evidence  Contrary claim: People should not exercise more (“Since I sell diet pills, exercising effects the number of pills I sell, so don’t exercise more.”) 2. Alternative Assumptions – imagine differing contexts or situations in which the claim or evidence would need to be known.  Alt. assumption: Readers of Runner’s World should not exercise more. (“They are exercising enough as is”)  Alt. assumption: People should exercise more because it is good for the exercise equipment industry. (“external impact from an individual activity”)

24. We cannot roundup, manage, control, or otherwise articulate all assumptions and warrants because we would never get to our main point – SO – we have Qualifiers: Few More or less Often It is possible In some cases Perhaps Rarely Many Sometimes It seems In the main Possibly Some Routinely For the most part It may be Most If it were so One might argue Under these circumstances Modals (should, would, could, might)

25. To persuade those who haven’t made up their mind (and even those who have), it is important to demonstrate to your audience that you understand and have considered both sides of an issue. For this reason, it is important to introduce the opposition and write about the ways in which its arguments are based on false assumptions, fallacies in logic, or errors in judgment. There are many strategies for writing a counterargument into your work, so picking the right strategy relies on properly reading the rhetorical situation.

26. Claims should be stated clearly and qualified carefully.  Claims should be supported with evidence and good reasons.  Claims and reasons should be based on assumptions readers will likely accept.  Effective arguments respectfully anticipate objections readers might offer.

27. Look at game forums for posts.  General game sites  Gamespot , IGN , 1up  Popular games  Madden , World of Warcraft , Sims 3  What types of evidence do gamers most use to support their claims. Look at the “means of support” for how to describe this evidence. Use examples from the posts to make your claims.  Do they qualify their arguments?  What assumptions do they make about their audience? In other words, what are the warrants of a claim or the evidence?  Thesis: Are the arguments effective? Why/why not?

28. Scan posts in this thread on Gamespot as to why FPS (first-person shooters) aren’t replayable.  Scan posts in this thread at ElitistJerks (they are a World of Warcraft guild) about earning gold.  Scan posts in this thread from Gamespot as to why Left 4 Dead is racist.  What types of evidence do gamers most use to support their claims. Look at the “means of support” for how to describe this evidence. Use examples from the posts to make your claims.  Do they qualify their arguments?  What assumptions do they make about their audience? In other words, what are the warrants of a claim or the evidence?  Thesis: Are the arguments effective? Why/why not?

29. Logical Fallacies

30. Logic  Logos/logic is situated (bound/defined by a cultural space).  In Philosophy, there are “traditions” of logic, and a study of various forms of logic including logics that don’t use language at all.  P (theorem), Q (consequence) P & Q  We are covering “Argument” here—a claim followed by evidence appropriate for a given audience.

31. Logical Fallacies  Logical fallacies are misaligned or flawed associations between a claim and its evidence/reasoning.  IMPORTANT: arguments are situated, so some logical “errors” might not be errors to the audience.

32. Common Logic Fallacies  Hasty Generalization  False Analogy  Circular Reasoning  Irrelevant Argument  False Cause  Self-contradiction  Red Herring  Argument to the Person  Guilt by Association  Jumping on the Bandwagon  Misplaced Authority  Card-stacking  Either-or fallacy  Taking something out of context  Appeal to Ignorance  Ambiguity

33. Hasty Generalization – Conclusion without enough evidence  “After playing Mass Effect, I can say that Bioware is the greatest game developer ever.”  False Analogy – comparison in which differences between the objects are greater than similarities.  “Gears of War is like Whack-a-mole; aliens jump up, and you smacked them down.”  Circular Reasoning – claim + claim; argument is confirmed by same claim, just differently worded.  “Grand Theft Auto III is a violent game because all you do is commit acts of violence.”

34. Irrelevant Argument – non sequitor; conclusion of a premise doesn’t follow from claim+evidence.  “If you haven’t played Halo, you can’t call yourself a gamer.”  False Cause – two events connected by time/situation do not equal a cause.  “Jared plays Plants versus Zombies every morning, and he was the only one who got an A on that paper.”  Self-contradiction – two premises that cannot both be true.  “No comment”

35. Red Herring – purposefully distracting the audience with unrelated premise/conclusion.  “Before we worry about game violence, shouldn’t we worry about violence in sports?”  Argument to the Person – ad hominem; attacking the character or person rather than looking at conclusion/premises/argument.  “I don’t care what you say about Fable, Peter Molyneux is an idiot, so it can’t be good.”  Guilt by Association – argument isn’t valid because of unrelated associations.  “Microsoft donated $5 million dollars to Democrats, so they are more likely to approve liberal games for their Xbox 360.”

36. Jumping on the Bandwagon – it’s correct because everybody does it.  “If you don’t have the money for that game, just BitTorrent it. Everybody does it.”  Misplaced Authority – pitch is from non-expert.  “Steve Ballmer said that the Kinect will revolutionize gaming.”  Card-stacking – ignoring both sides of an issue or contradictory evidence.  “Wii Sports is the most popular game of all time.”  Either-or fallacy – binary decision when there is more than one option  “you are either a gamer or not.”

37. Taking something out of context – distorting an argument based on cherry-picked evidence  “According to IGN, Alan Wake is not revolutionary.”  Appeal to Ignorance – argument based on lack of opposing evidence.  “Because game violence has never been proven to not lead to real-life violence, it must actually lead to real-life violence.”  Ambiguity – purposefully open to two interpretations.  “Madden 11 sales were as expected.”