“Identifying Misleading Information in an Argument”

Consider the following argument: There are many arguments for the elimination or modification of current U. S. drug laws, but one of the most persuasive involves what negative effects drug laws are having on society in comparison with the effects of the drugs themselves. In the past ten years, most forms of drug use have dropped significantly, especially among teens. Despite this, non-violent drug offenders accounted for 21.1 percent of the federal prison population. First time drug offenders serve, on average, a sentence three months longer than kidnappers, nine months longer than burglars, and thirty-three months longer than sex abusers. In 1992, the average cost of keeping an inmate in either state or federal prison was about $20,000 per prisoner per year. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 455 prisoners per 100,000 population. It is maintaining these prisoners at great expense in an environment where they are unlikely to develop a socially constructive attitude. Perhaps it is time that we reconsider our attitudes toward those who choose to use drugs; failure to do so may cost society even more than it already has.

  • Determine whether or not the argument uses any deceptive statistics. Give your opinion on whether or not the argument has persuaded you. Explain why or why not.
  • Determine the primary ways in which statistics or authority are used in your current position in developing persuasive arguments, and provide examples of such use.

Note: minimum of one (1) response to another post per discussion thread. (Basically i need a response to the response eve has given.)

Eve Minner

RE: Week 5 Discussion

Because the argument doesn’t provide any citations behind the statistics presented as evidence to support the claims, its hard to determine their validity or relevance. This makes the overall information deceptive as there’s no way to tell where the information came from, or how dated it is. Although the argument has peaked my interest, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s persuaded me to think differently about the prosecution of drug offenders – violent or non-violent. I still believe that each person needs to be handled in an effort to discourage drug use in the country,. If the statistics above are true, it wouldn’t surprise me given the ease of accessing drugs in our country, including the rampant uptick of opioid use that we’re currently seeing.

As for the second part of the article, I’m not sure if I’m being asked whether or not I use statistics in my current professional role, or the ways I use statistics to bolster my position on any particular argument, so I’ll answer both – lol! In my current professional role, I don’t use statistics generally, except when discussing innovative products or salary increases. With that said, we as a company tend to look at the preferences and generational/lifestyle choices when developing innovative new products for consumers. For example, we know that organic, non-GMO is preferred by most millennials, but convenience and nutritionally sound (i.e. vitamin infused waters, etc.) are preferred by an even larger percentage of the overall population. So, in our innovation session, we may try to find a way to meet both needs and capture more of the market share. We also use statistics to show our business partners areas in their store where they’re “bleeding” customers because they don’t have a strong enough presence in a particular category to either keep shoppers there, or attract new consumers (i.e. – not a large enough organic apple selection, so they lose 60% of their customers to a nearby Walmart that has a larger juice selection).

How I use statistics or authority to bolster my own position when presenting an argument depends on the argument itself. For example, if I were arguing the claim noted by the discussion question, I would certainly use and cite the information noted to drive home my main point that prison reform is not only needed, it’s harmful to the overall population as it currently stands. I would use a voice of authority when trying to support an opinion I had on a certain topic. For example, if I made the claim that “reading books is good for a child’s mind,” I would want to find research to support this, and include quotes from leading neurologists to further bolster my claim.

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