The Elements of Persuasion “ . . . Verbal communication that attempts to bring about a voluntary change in judgment so that readers or listeners will accept a belief they did not hold before.” Changing the Reader’s Belief Recognize that you are confronted by a deeply rooted belief that can only be changed by the reader. Know your audience: Have specific readers in mind. Identify with your readers. Be careful about the tone of your writing. Provide evidence. Write in a readable style. Means of Persuasion The writer should display trustworthiness. Knowledgeable – The writer must appear to be fully and accurately informed on the subject. Argument Argument is a way of thinking. You observe something and draw a conclusion from it. Of course, this conclusion must be sound in order to persuade the reader. Clear Thinking The writer should be fair. Common signs of unfairness: Distortion– misrepresentation of an opposing view by inaccurate reporting (exaggeration) The Fallacy of Overgeneralizing The soundness of any generalization depends on the number of instances on which it is based. The greater the number, the greater the likelihood that the generalization is sound. Examples of Overgeneralizing My parents don’t want me to go to Ajax University because, they say, the students there are not law-abiding. They read in the paper about a student who was arrested for disorderly conduct. Teachers are doing very well these days. My mother knows a teacher who owns a limo and has bought a yacht. Overgeneralizing and Prejudice Ex. My neighbor is a Scot and he has a bad temper. All Scots are ill-tempered people. Avoid such words as these: All Always Never None Everyone Only Cause-and-Effect Fallacy The reasoning fallacy of assuming that because an event preceded a second event, it caused the second event. The Fallacy of the False Analogy “The fallacy comes in when we use an analogy instead of proof, read more into it than the facts warrant, and note only similarities while ignoring differences.” Example of False Analogy Society should treat the scientists who developed the atom bomb in the same way that it treats a person who supplies guns to criminals. Fallacy of Attacking the Name Instead of the Issues This means attacking the person rather than the facts or issues. The Fallacy of Rationalizing Rationalizing presents your point of view without substantial proof. The Fallacy of “Either-Or” Thinking of a problem or a solution as having only two sides is either-or thinking, and it is responsible for much poor reasoning. Nothing is either all bad or all good --- all black or all white. The Fallacy of Circular Thinking—Begging the Question Circular thinking occurs when people appear to be presenting arguments in favor of a point, but, in reality, present no arguments at all. What they say, in effect, is that the statement is true because it is true. Honesty Honesty is the best policy when trying to persuade someone of your point of view.
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