Critical Thinking 12th Edition by Brooke Noel Moore – Test Bank

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CH05

Test Bank

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Not everyone thinks that [former] Senator Jesse Helms is the least admired American public figure (as some opinion polls show). Even now, one or two southern Republicans lust after a Helms endorsement.

 

“Not everyone” implies that most do—innuendo. The parenthetical remark is a proof surrogate. “Even now” insinuates (innuendo) that by this time hardly anyone has regard for Helms or for a Helms endorsement. “One or two” is a weaseler. “Lust after” belittles the desire for a Helms endorsement: it cheapens both Helms and those who want his support.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

From a letter to the editor: “In Sacramento, money talks, which is why our politicians kowtow to the local developers. So much for voting for honest people whose primary concern should be people, not money.”

—Sacramento Bee

 

“Kowtow,” though its original touch-the-forehead-to-the-ground meaning is fading among all except those who read novels about the nineteenth century, still carries the sense of obsequious deference that brings it close to hyperbole here. The whole tone of the last sentence is slanted; it insinuates both that politicians are dishonest and that their primary concern is money (innuendo, and not very subtle).

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Perhaps the “religious leaders” who testified at the state board of education’s public hearing on textbooks think they speak for all Christians, but they do not.

 

Note especially how quotation marks around “religious leaders” serves to question the credentials of those individuals.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

The United States will not have an effective antiterrorist force until the army and the air force quit bickering about equipment and responsibilities.

 

“Bickering” belittles the nature of the controversy.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Maybe it’s possible, after all, to sympathize with the Internal Revenue Service. The woes that have piled up in its Philadelphia office make the IRS look almost human.

 

“After all” suggests that the IRS usually deserves no sympathy; “almost human” implies that the IRS is actually inhuman.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

We clearly can’t trust the television networks, not when they’ve just spent two days interviewing young children on their feelings about the recent shootings at the elementary school. This attempt to wring every drop of human interest from the tragedy is either frighteningly cynical or criminally thoughtless regarding the damage that can be done both to the children interviewed and to children who see the interviews.

 

“We clearly can’t” acts as a potential proof surrogate. “Wring every drop” is an exaggeration; the adverbs “frighteningly” and “criminally” approach hyperbole, especially the latter.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

The antigun people think that just as soon as guns are outlawed, crime will disappear, and we’ll all live together as one big, happy family.

 

This trades on a stereotype; it’s an excellent opening for a straw man.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Sam Goldwyn once said that an oral agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. We wonder what he would have said about the Pennzoil-Texaco case.”

—The Worcester, Mass., Evening Gazette

 

(Background: In 1985, Pennzoil offered to buy out Getty Oil Co. for $5.3 billion. Although both parties agreed to the deal and press announcements were issued, Getty abruptly backed out when Texaco offered $10 billion for Getty. Getty accepted the Texaco offer, and Pennzoil sued for $14 billion in damages.) This is a rhetorical comparison, of course.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Handguns are made only for the purpose of killing people.

 

This could be called stereotyping—in this case, an oversimplified generalization about a class of things instead of people.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Would you want to appoint my opponent as president of your company?”

—The late Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, speaking to a group of Philippine businessmen about his 1986 election opponent, Corazon Aquino

 

Innuendo based on a form of rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Early in the third phase of the Vietnam War, the U.S. command recognized that the term ‘search and destroy’ had unfortunately become associated with ‘aimless searches in the jungle and the destruction of property.’ In April 1968, General Westmoreland therefore directed that the use of the term be discontinued. Thereafter, operations were defined and discussed in basic military terms which described the type of operation, for example, reconnaissance in force.”

—Lieutenant General John H. Hay, Jr., Vietnam Studies

 

Euphemism.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Robert may be a pretty good gardener, all right, but you’ll notice he lost nearly everything to the bugs this year.

 

Innuendo and downplayer (“but”).

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“The Soviet regime [once] promulgated a law providing fines for motorists who alter their lights or grills or otherwise make their cars distinguishable. A regime that makes it a crime to personalize a car is apt to make it a crime to transmit a cultural heritage.”

—George Will

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Jimmy Fallon? Yeah, he’s about as funny as a terminal illness.

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“To Chico’s wholesalers and retailers of pornography: do you honestly believe that pornography has no effect on the behavior of people?”

—From an ad in the Chico Enterprise-Record

 

The phrase “do you honestly believe” is almost always used to refute without argument the claim that follows it. It isn’t a type of slanter discussed in the text, though you might get away with calling it a proof surrogate.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Within the context of total ignorance, you are absolutely correct.”

—Caption in a National Review cartoon

 

This is the height of downplaying, as it were; although the remark is clearly designed more to amuse than to persuade.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“If we stop the shuttle program now, there are seven astronauts who will have died for nothing.”

—An unidentified U.S. congressman, after the space shuttle disaster of January 1986

 

This statement uses hyperbole to exaggerate the situation.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

It is, of course, conceivable that the Qaddafi regime has nothing to do with terrorist attacks on Israeli airports, but…

 

The downplaying “but” makes it almost certain that “conceivable” is functioning here as a weaseler.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

If the governor is so dedicated to civil rights, why is it that the black citizens of this state are worse off now than when he took office?

 

Loaded question.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Chewing tobacco is not only messy but also unhealthy (just check the latest statistics).

 

The parenthetical addition is a proof surrogate.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Once you’ve made our Day Planner a part of your business life, there’s a good chance you’ll never miss or be late for another appointment.

 

“There’s a good chance” is a weaseler.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“… despite the idealist yearnings in the body politic that this [the baby boom] generation supposedly epitomizes, the darker side of the lust for power is still present. Just witness the saga of the collapse of the once-promising career of Mayor Roger Hedgecock [former mayor of San Diego].”

—Larry Remer and Gregory Dennis

 

The passage insinuates an almost obsessive desire for power on the part of Hedgecock.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“If it ain’t country, it ain’t music.”

—Bumper sticker

 

Another hyperbolic false dilemma (false dilemma is discussed in Chapter 6).

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Professor Jones, who normally confines his remarks to his own subject, ventured out on a high wire to comment on the commission’s findings.

 

Jones’s credentials regarding evaluation of the commission’s findings are impugned (innuendo), and the significance of his comments is downplayed.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

I simply won’t go into those cowboy bars; they’re full of guys who disguise their insecurities with cowboy boots and hats.

 

Stereotyping.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Can [former Representative Jack] Kemp or anyone believe that $27 million in ‘humanitarian’ aid would replace all that South Africa has done [to support Angolan rebels]?”

—Anthony Lewis, New York Times

 

(Kemp sponsored a bill that gave $27 million in humanitarian aid to Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA rebels for their fight against the government of Angola.) “Can anyone believe” suggests that the Kemp proposal is not to be taken seriously and is perhaps not taken seriously even by Kemp himself. The quotation marks around “humanitarian” serve to question whether the aid would be genuinely humanitarian.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Notre Dame people like to point out that, unlike other [college football] powerhouses, their players must face tough admissions standards, shoulder the regular course load, and forget about being red-shirted to gain additional playing years. And, of course, it’s a lot more fun to point out those things if your guys are out there stomping on 24-year-old golf-course management majors every Saturday, the way they used to.”

—Newsweek

 

Hyperbole; we expect there are football players for other teams who don’t major in golf-course management and who are under twenty-four.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Trivial pursuit” is the name of a game played by the California Supreme Court, which will seek any nit-picking excuse preventing murderers from receiving justice.

 

Rhetorical definition. Notice the switch in this one: Usually the slant is against the word or idea being defined; here the object of the attack occurs in the definition.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Any person who thinks that Libya is not involved in terrorism has the same kind of mentality as people who think that Hitler was not involved in persecuting Jews.”

—Robert Oakley, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism, in an interview on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Although you were not selected to receive the award, I congratulate you for your achievements at

California State University, Chico.”

—Excerpt from a letter written by a university president and sent to an unsuccessful contender for a campus award.

 

Downplayer: “although.”

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels… justified the attack on thousands of Jews as a step toward removing an ‘infection’ contaminating Germany. ‘It is impossible that, in a National Socialist state, which is anti-Jewish in its outlook, those streets should continue to be occupied by Jewish shops.'”

—Reuters report in the Sacramento Bee

 

Stereotype and rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others.

—From a commentary on a grocery bag urging citizens not to vote and thus not to encourage the majority to take away the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the minority.

 

Rhetorical definition.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“To those who say that the analogy of Hitler is extremist and inflammatory in reference to abortion, I would contend that the comparison is legitimate…. The Supreme Court, by refusing to acknowledge their personhood, has relegated the entire class of unborn children to a subhuman legal status without protection under the law—the same accorded to Jews under the Third Reich.”

—Jerry Nims, writing in the Moral Majority’s Liberty Report

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Who is to blame for this lackluster political campaign?”

—Television network anchor

 

Loaded question.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

To study the epidemiology of deaths involving firearms kept in the home, we reviewed all the gunshot deaths that occurred in King County, Washington (population 1,270,000), from 1998 through 2003…. A total of 743 firearm-related deaths occurred during this six-year period, 398 of which (54%) occurred in the residence where the firearm was kept. Only 2 of these 398 deaths (0.5%) involved an intruder shot during attempted entry. Seven persons (1.8%) were killed in self-defense. For every case of self-protection homicide involving a firearm kept in the home, there were 1.3 accidental deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides…. Handguns were used in 70.5% of these deaths.

 

We find this almost entirely free of slanters. “Only,” in the fourth sentence from the end, downplays the number of intruders shot, but then it is a small number that’s being downplayed.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Libya’s strongman Colonel Muammar Qaddafi is the kingpin of Mideast terrorism, as Israeli and Western intelligence sources assert. Qaddafi’s “who, me?” denials are as believable as would be his announcing conversion to Judaism.

 

Both “strongman” and “kingpin” are slanters, and the second sentence is a rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

A political endorsement by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the high priest of holier-than-thou and “let’s hear it for apartheid,” would help a political candidate as much as an endorsement from the Ayatollah

Khomeini.

 

“Holier-than-thou” is a clichéd slanter; and the “let’s hear it for apartheid” epithet is a jeer, regardless of the fact that Falwell supported apartheid in South Africa. The whole is, of course, a rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“The people who [fought] the Soviet-backed government in Nicaragua [were] freedom fighters, just as George Washington was in our country.”

—Ronald Reagan

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

As if they alone were concerned with clean air and pure water, these self-anointed environmentalists question whether there will be nitrate pollution from the new subdivision and whether Madrone Creek can accommodate storm runoff from the development. Their no-growth ideas are familiar to everyone in the community.

 

“As if they alone were concerned” insinuates both that others are concerned and a smugness on the part of the people in question. “Self-anointed” is a standard slanter; nearly anybody who takes up a cause is self-anointed, in a manner of speaking. “No-growth ideas” is probably exaggeration, although probably not hyperbole, and downplay. If this entire passage were rewritten in neutral language, you couldn’t tell which side of the issue the author was on.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Surely you can’t say that the American people have ever been behind Bill Clinton. After all, he got a mere 43 million votes in 1992, which is five million fewer than what George Bush got when he beat Dukakis in 1988.

 

“Mere” is a downplayer.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

In March 1997, thirty-nine members of the so-called Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The event was connected with the Hale-Bopp comet, which was at that time making its brightest appearance to observers on earth. The cultists believed a spaceship following the comet would “take them away” from earthly matters, provided they had undergone sufficient “spiritual metamorphosis.”

 

“So-called” is a downplayer, used sarcastically here. “Take them away” and “spiritual metamorphosis” may simply be direct quotations from remarks made by the cultists, but they may also be sarcastically intended, in which case they are downplayers.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Soon after the mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California, Ted Turner—owner of the Atlanta Braves and vice chairman of Time Warner—said that he thought the suicides were “a nice way to get rid of a few nuts.”

 

The sentiment expressed is certainly negative here, but, except for the name-calling “nuts,” which would have to be characterized as a dysphemism in our system, we don’t find the language slanted.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

All that effort spent giving Kuwait back to the Kuwaitis was like taking a crime syndicate away from one Mafia boss and handing it to another. The Kuwaitis already own half the civilized world, and we’ve put them back in the driver’s seat. Their so-called “justice” system is handing out cruel punishments to alleged collaborators, many of whom were simply trying to stay alive during the Iraqi occupation.

 

In our view, the first sentence is a rhetorical comparison; the remark about owning half the civilized world is hyperbole; “so-called” is a downplayer of sorts—the quotation marks around “justice” serve the same purpose of letting the reader know the word is not intended to be taken literally. The last part of that sentence is interesting: one way of staying alive, of course, was collaboration; shouldn’t the real question be whether it was coerced or volunteered?

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

With her keen instinct for political survival on full alert, Governor Whitman suddenly saw the wisdom of the proposal that she had opposed for so many years.

 

Innuendo—insinuates that her changed mind on the proposal was politically motivated and unprincipled.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“[The CIA] instructed security forces in Uruguay, demonstrating torture techniques on beggars taken off the street. These activities, and many hundreds more like them, have been thoroughly documented by government investigations, by the press, and by the testimony of former CIA employees.”

—Progressive Student Union

 

Proof surrogate.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

After the owner and the head coach of the Houston Oilers football team had met for more than two hours, the owner announced that the two had “mutually decided” that the coach “would not return as head coach.”

 

This is a euphemistic characterization of the conversation.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

The Best Way to Clean Up Congress

—Title of article by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak

 

Innuendo.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Smokers unite! The reason the antismoking crowd doesn’t want you to smoke can be summed up in a single word: dictatorship.”

—From a newspaper call-in column

 

Rhetorical explanation.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Miracle X-K3 battery additive extends the life of your battery by up to five years.

 

Weaseler.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Orlando is a little town with friendly and helpful residents. Still, you might not want to live there. In the summer it’s hotter than the Sahara Desert.

 

Downplayer and a rhetorical comparison that borders on hyperbole.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

The statistics Dr. Swain trotted out to prove that bicycle helmets save lives miss the point that a helmet law for bicyclists infringes on individual rights.

 

“Trotted out” dismisses the statistics without argument and insinuates that they do not deserve serious consideration. The passage shows dysphemism and innuendo.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“All men are rapists.”

—Marilyn French

 

Hyperbole and stereotyping.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“I was amazed when I read that frog licking has become a major preoccupation in Colorado. How could this possibly get started? It had to be this way. An environmentalist is out in the woods communing with nature. Probably some overgrown Boy Scout in little green shorts, a backpack filled with wheat nut mix. He’s wearing his Walkman, skipping along some nature trail… maybe even humming. Ommmmm-Ommmmm-Ommmmm. He looks at a tree and maybe he says, ‘Hi Greg.’ Maybe he hugs the tree. ‘Oh, I am at one with this tree.’ Then he spies a frog and suddenly stops. ‘Oh, look at that frog. Maybe I should pick it up and lick it.’ And gets high as a result. You see, the Colorado spotted toad secretes a hallucinogenic substance that can get you high if you lick it near the back of its head.”

—Rush Limbaugh

 

Rhetorical explanation/stereotype.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

A “provost” is the head academic officer in a university, whose chief function is to dream up work for faculty committees to do.

 

Rhetorical definition.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“… the basic right to life of an animal—which is the source of energy for many animal rights wackos—must be inferred from the anticruelty laws humans have written.”

—Rush Limbaugh

 

“Wackos” is a dysphemism.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Perhaps we shouldn’t serve this cheese to the guests, dear. It seems to be a bit, uh, mature.

 

Euphemism. “Perhaps” may be a weaseler in this context.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“Some feminists edge nervously away from Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, who are the Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan of feminism….”

—Time

 

Rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Yes, well, in a way I agree with you.

 

Weaseler.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Moore and Parker are both getting a little thin on top.

 

Euphemism.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

Yes, of course, we must protect the rights of innocent people—up to a point. The main thing is to make the streets safe again. Something must be done to reduce crime.

 

“Up to a point” is a weaseler.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

What explains the mad dash to distribute free condoms in our public schools? The misguided and ridiculous notion that kids are going to have sex no matter what.

 

Loaded question.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

I’m not among those who wonder why the senator hasn’t made a full disclosure of his financial dealings prior to taking office.

 

Innuendo.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

“A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed.”

—Rush Limbaugh

 

Rhetorical definition and hyperbole.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

The conservative mind is rigid and inflexible, like an orange peel that’s dried out in the sun.

 

Stereotype and rhetorical comparison.

 

  1. Isolate and discuss the rhetorical devices that appear in the following passage:

 

That the proposal before us is a good one is, surely, obvious.

 

Proof surrogate.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.)
  2. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“Citizens for a Clean Community caused quite a commotion the other day when it announced its campaign to end the sale or rent of so-called adult and X-rated videos and movies.”

“There immediately came the usual charges of censorship and free speech violations—as could have been predicted.”

“We certainly would be the first to defend someone’s right to read or view whatever they please. But make no mistake, those who are offended by this smut have every right to express their frustration by protesting its distribution…. And this kind of material is completely debasing and has no redeeming value whatsoever….”

—Cascade News

 

Don’t forget the downplaying role of “the usual charges… as could have been predicted.” “Completely debasing and has no redeeming value whatsoever” could be considered hyperbole and/or downplaying.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“[S]o frantic is the education industry for raw material (students), institutions are not only lowering standards (requiring only ‘a pulse in one hand, a check in the other’), they are discounting tuitions and advertising sushi and waffle bars in the students unions and prime cable service in the dorms where, [author Anne] Matthews says, some students hibernate for days ‘eating red licorice and channel surfing.’ Some institutions send bounty hunters abroad in search of wealthy foreigners.”

—George Will

Answers will vary

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“What kind of crazy political system is it where a man who wants to run for president must begin by withdrawing from public life? It’s become an American tradition, dating perhaps back to Richard Nixon in 1962. Gary Hart followed the pattern when he ‘declared his “interest” in the presidency’ (as the Washington Post chastely put it) by announcing that he won’t run for reelection to the Senate this year.

Good luck to Hart. I voted for him once before and wouldn’t mind voting for him again. But really. Is this necessary?”

—”TRB from Washington,” in The New Republic

 

There is a weak argument for withdrawal’s having become a tradition, with Nixon the only example offered in evidence. What do you make of the reference to Hart’s “‘interest’ in the presidency?”

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

Well, it looks like the wimps are coming out of the woodwork all over the place. If you’re a man, the fashionable thing to be these days is “sensitive.” Articles with titles like “Babies and Men,” “The Divorced Father,” and—can you believe it?—”Men Cry Too” are cropping up all over the place. You’d think today’s males were unleashing the bottled-up agonies of a couple of thousand generations from the way they like to step into the spotlight and bare their sensitive souls to anybody who’ll listen. They say there are more divorces today, and maybe because of the safety of numbers, a divorce is an excuse for a guy to become a softhead; the summons server may as well deliver a license to cry in public.

If a kid wants his modern daddy to come out and toss a ball around, he’ll have to drag him out of the kitchen first. After making him take off the apron, of course, so he won’t embarrass his kid in front of his buddies.

It’s a good thing the women are getting out there and learning to run the world. Today’s men are busily forgetting how to do it.

 

This diatribe actually contains a rudimentary argument. (The existence of the articles cited is offered as evidence for increased sensitivity among men.) There are also elements of sarcasm/ridicule (“softhead,” “license to cry”), innuendo, and proof surrogate (“They say…”).

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

Members of the baby boom generation, the generation that is now becoming yuppies instead of growing up, refuse to see the light. After being the center of the universe during the sixties and seventies, they expected to own it by the mid-eighties. They grew up believing they would have tremendous jobs, wonderful houses, exotic travel, great marriages, and beautiful children as well as European “personal” cars, fancy music systems, high-tech kitchens, and wine in the cellar. But it isn’t turning out that way for most of them. Having glutted the professional marketplace, they live on depressed salaries; their dependence on immediate gratification causes them to spend like sailors—on the right stuff—driving prices of their playthings through the roof.

But they are addicted to their ways. Those who moved to Manhattan can’t bear the thought of living anywhere else but can’t afford to live there. According to the New York Times, single-room-occupancy hotels that used to house the poor now contain tenants who cart in their stereos and tape decks, their button-down shirts, and their Adidas running shoes. One young woman says her bathroom is so filthy she showers with shoes on.

This insistence on doing it right bespeaks a refusal to grow up disguised as a commitment to—what?—”quality of life?” One no-longer-really-young professional says, “It used to be you moved to the suburbs for the children. But on some level we still think of ourselves as children.” Peter Pan, call your office.

—Very freely adapted from George Will, “Reality Says You Can’t Have It All,” Newsweek

 

This piece is very difficult to analyze on a part-by-part basis. Here and there you can identify a device (the last sentence reminds us of a horse laugh of sorts), but the entire piece is written with tongue at least in the direction of cheek. Exaggeration and stereotyping play a role, with the activities of some baby boomers taken to represent those of an entire generation, but this is really an inductive argument. The choice of examples is prejudicial. You almost have to talk about the tone of the whole piece to do it justice.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“It [the feminist movement] was crazy. The lunacy, unfortunately, wasn’t confined to sex. Male reviewers abased themselves before Miss [Susan] Brownmiller’s book Against Our Will, and the male editors of Time magazine, in a spasm of liberal gallantry, named her as one of its 12 Women of the Year, thereby atoning for five decades of Men of the Year.”

—Joseph Sobran, “The End of Feminism”

 

Not as “macho” as the previous one, but not without its slanders.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“The arms buildup that President Reagan gave us is an albatross around our necks. We spent a trillion dollars on it. Do you realize how much a trillion dollars is? That’s a one with 12 zeros after it. That’s $4,000 for (or rather from) every man, woman, and child in the United States. And what was it all for? bAre we any safer now for having spent all this treasure? Do you feel any safer now than you did before? Our children, who will eventually have to pay for all this because of the national debt, will look back on us as a generation of lunatics.”

—Letter to the editor of the Bellevue (Ind.) Star-Reporter

Answers will vary

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“It’s past time that you and I and every other American asked some cold, hard questions.”

“Who lost Iran?”

“Who lost Afghanistan?”

“Who lost Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia?”

“Who crippled the FBI and the CIA?”

“Who sold the Russians computers and other sophisticated equipment, which have been used to stamp out freedom?”

“Who is keeping our kids from praying in school?”

“Who lets hardened criminals out on the street to kill, rape, and rob again before their victims are buried or out of the hospital?”

“Who says that America should do little if anything to help human beings who are daily being killed and beaten up by Marxist dictators?”

“The answer in every case is LIBERALS.”

“But America is waking up to what the liberals have been doing to it.”

“To quote Michigan professor Stephen Tonsor, ‘New Deal liberals are as dead as a dodo. The only problem is they don’t know it.'”

—Richard Viguerie, The New Right

 

Repetition, hyperbole, stereotyping, rhetorical explanation, rhetorical comparison, and proof surrogate.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“Britain has done all it can to sabotage the development of the European Community. For a while it was Margaret Thatcher, and after that her equally right-wing successor, John Major, who served as mouthpiece for the isolationist camp in Britain. It’s clear to any intelligent listener that the people they’re really speaking for are not the average people in the street, who would benefit from joining the rest of Europe, but a small number of the English super-rich who don’t want to rock the boat. As long as Britain remains independent, they get to pull the strings—and make the profits. These money types are joined by a few nineteenth-century throwbacks who are arrogant enough to think that England has an empire to protect and exploit.”

—Editorial, Athens Courier

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  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. (We’ll comment on features we find obscure, unusual, or tricky.) B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“The executives responsible for the recent corporate catastrophes popularly known as Agent Orange, asbestos, and the Dalkon Shield are not in jail and will not go to jail. With the exception of informed victims, few of us describe these cases in the language of crime, even though in each case there is a wealth of evidence that victims were put at unacceptably high levels of risk of severe injury and death and that corporate executives knew of the risks, yet failed to take appropriate preventive action. Even Morton Mintz, the award-winning Washington Post investigative reporter and author of At Any Cost: Corporate Greed, Women, and the Dalkon Shield, a powerful indictment of the A. H. Robins pharmaceutical company, does not use the word ‘crime’ in telling the sordid tale of the Dalkon Shield.”

—From Russell Mokhiber’s “Criminals By Any Other Name,” The Washington Monthly

 

“Catastrophe,” “powerful indictment,” and “sordid” are obviously emotive; the rest is more subtle.

 

  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“The environmental lobby used to be the watchdogs of government and industry, barking at their heels and snapping at them when they tried to grab at the country’s virgin resources. In the nineties, the environmentalists have begun to look just like the people they’re supposed to be watching.

Representatives of the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and the National Wildlife Federation look just like other Washington, D.C., bureaucrats, lined up with their folded laptop computers inside their attaché cases, all of them desperate to become the next assistant secretary of the interior.”

—Paraphrase of an anonymous environmentalist’s remarks on a radio program

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  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“Some of the ill will [at Dartmouth College] has been provoked by a student-run newspaper called The Dartmouth Review. Ten of the dirty dozen who destroyed the shanties [built on the Dartmouth campus as an antiapartheid protest] reportedly work for the six-year-old weekly, a New Right mouthpiece that is run independently of the college and has the support of such leading off-campus conservatives as William F. Buckley, Jr. Considered troublemakers by the administration and many faculty members, and disowned by former supporters such as Rep. Jack Kemp, the Review’s editors traffic in outrage and offense.”

—Newsweek

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  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“I see that Mr. [Clint] Eastwood is up to his expansionist tricks again. Last time, when he couldn’t get his way with the Carmel [California] Planning Commission, he got himself elected mayor and fired the members of the commission. That’ll teach ’em to cross Dirty Harry! And now he wants to build a development of huge estates for his rich and fancy friends up in the hills, complete with a private and oh-so-exclusive golf course and all the other luxury amenities that we non-movie stars can hardly imagine. Since Mr. Eastwood already owns about half of Northern California, I hope somebody stops him before he turns the bulk of his property into encampments for the rich.”

—Paraphrase of the remarks heard on a talk radio station

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  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“The U.S. government (that’s you and me, by the way) is about to give away a resource that’s worth more than any national park or national monument in the land. If the public were to hear that Yosemite or Yellowstone National Park were to be handed over, at no cost, to a major corporation, what do you think would happen? There’d be howls of protest, of course. But an even bigger giveaway is in the works: the awarding of large segments of the broadcast spectrum to the broadcasting systems. They’ll be able to turn huge profits from the new resources. And how much comes back to the public? Not one dime. Handouts like this raise the level of corporate welfare to mind-stretching new heights!”

—Letter to a local newspaper

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  1. A) Discuss any instances of nonargumentative persuasion or pseudoreasoning and explain any slanting techniques you find in the following passage. B) Rewrite the passage in language that is as emotively neutral as possible but still retains the same informational content.

 

“Must the NFL—fat, sassy, the General Motors of professional sports—meet a similar crisis [to the one the National Basketball Association went through in the eighties] before it tries to solve its own plague of drugs?

For years, since Don Reese’s personal revelation and charges of league-wide drug involvement, the NFL has lived under a cloud of suspicion. Initially, it seemed the front offices, deeply concerned that their image remain pristine, chose to look the other way. Now they’ve acknowledged the problem, and have chosen to push for testing; this year, eight franchises asked their players to undergo post-season analysis, but each was refused.”

—Tom Jackson, Sacramento Bee

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: dysphemism.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: loaded question.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: proof surrogate.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: stereotype.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: euphemism.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: innuendo.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: hyperbole.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: horse laugh/ridicule/sarcasm.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: misleading comparison.

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  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

A new antilock rear brake system has reduced the distance required to stop from fifty miles per hour by 11 percent.

 

We presume that the car stops 11 percent more quickly than the same car did without the new brake system. It is possible that there’s some weaseling going on here if the context leads one to believe that the car stops 11 percent faster than the competition.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Clinton was a better president than the first Bush.

 

How so? In what way?

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

The county unemployment rate went up 40 percent during our opponent’s administration, but since we took the reins, it has risen only 35 percent in the same length of time. Clearly, we have done the better job.

 

Probably not, as a matter of fact. It’s wise to remember that events at the national level affect the rate of unemployment at least as much as county administration. More to the immediate point, if the number of unemployed at the beginning of the speaker’s administration was the same as it was at the end of the opponent’s, the latter did the better job. (Say that the number of jobless in the county was 5,000 at the beginning of the opponent’s administration and 7,000 at the end of it—an increase of 40 percent. If the number of jobless increased by 35 percent during the speaker’s administration, a total of 2,450 were added to the unemployment rolls during that time, whereas only 2,000 were added during the opponent’s.)

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

The office has become more productive since we changed from independent workstations to networked computers, although it took a while for the staff to learn how best to make use of the change.

 

“Productive” is somewhat vague, although it can be made quite clear.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

The increase in the number and support of conservative think tanks has been substantial since the mid-1970s. The American Enterprise had twelve resident thinkers when Jimmy Carter was elected; today it has forty-five. The Heritage Foundation has sprung from nothing to command an annual budget of $11 million. The budget of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has grown from $975,000 ten years ago to $8.6 million today. Over a somewhat longer period, the endowment of the Hoover Institution has increased from $2 million to $70 million.

—Adapted from Gregg Easterbrook, “Ideas Move Nations”

 

Although some of the language may sound vague—for example, “sprung from nothing”—these are all straightforward comparisons with relatively well-identified times in the past.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

You’d be better off if you got more sleep.

 

Unclear terms of comparison: better off than what? Also, the comparison itself is obscure: in what way better off—looks, health, attitude, or something else? The terms of the second comparison are clearer, but it’s still pretty unclear how much additional sleep counts as more.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Reading novels is a more productive use of one’s time than going to movies.

 

Just any old novel? More productive in what sense? Just any movie?

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

I’d much rather stay home and read a novel than go to a movie.

 

This kind of remark is different. The speaker is describing a preference that is clear enough for nearly any context in which the claim might be made.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Doctor Mohanty is younger than me.

 

Clear comparison unless the context is unusual.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

The best American film of the 2000s so far is No Country For Old Men.

 

Best in what way?

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

In 1985, more people were killed by handguns in the United States than in Great Britain.

 

Clear comparison. (The score, for the record: United States, 10,728; Great Britain, 8.)

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Beer drinkers are 23.2 times more likely than teetotalers to have unhappy marriages.

 

What’s a beer drinker? Anybody who ever drinks a beer? How are unhappy marriages distinguished from happy ones (or so-so ones)? Could such a comparison really be accurate to a decimal place? This isn’t a very helpful statistic.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

“The answer to the question, ‘How are blacks doing in America?’ is ‘Better than ever before.'”

—Ronald Reagan, on the first national observation of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

In what way better? Income? (The median family income for black families was higher when Reagan made his comment than it was in 1968, the year Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed. It was also further behind the median family income for whites than in 1968.)

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

NCAA rules for recruiting athletes are broken more frequently by Division 1 schools than by Division 2 schools.

 

This could mean either that the typical Division 1 school breaks rules more frequently than the typical Division 2 school or that the aggregate of Division 1 violations is greater than the aggregate of Division 2 violations.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Mitt Romney ran a more negative campaign in 2008 than did John McCain.

 

“Negative campaign” is vague.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Chrysanthemums that have been pinched back produce bigger blooms than those that have not.

 

This seems clear and reasonable. Most people who would be interested in the claim would know what “pinched back” means.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

The North Koreans still have a stronger military force than the South Koreans.

 

“Stronger” could mean either bigger in terms of more troops, or better armed, or both, or maybe something else yet.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Compact discs produce a clearer sound than do vinyl records.

 

We don’t have any trouble with this, although what counts as a “clearer sound” may be different for different listeners. (Some music critics find vinyl records “warmer” than CDs. We don’t know what that means either.)

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following quotation. Discuss rhetorical flourishes and slanting techniques, if any, including otherizing, demonizing, fear or hate mongering, and fostering xenophobia. Some passages may fit more than one category.

 

“I think President Obama is the most radical president this nation’s ever seen. And in particular, I think he is a true believer in government control of the economy and of our everyday lives. In my judgment, we are facing what I consider to be the epic battle of our generation, quite literally the battle over whether we remain a free market nation.”

—Ted Cruz, found at Brainy quotes

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  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following quotation. Discuss rhetorical flourishes and slanting techniques, if any, including otherizing, demonizing, fear or hate mongering, and fostering xenophobia. Some passages may fit more than one category.

 

“Dear Marriage Supporter,

Since the age of the French Revolution, the phrase ‘Let them eat cake’ has been used as a symbol of out-of-touch, tyrannical elites or aristocracies. The phrase comes from a popular anecdote that a monarch (often identified as Marie Antoinette), when told that the peasants had no bread to eat and were starving, proposed this as the solution: ‘Let them eat cake.’

Well, ironically in our own day the phrase is once again a fitting symbol of an out-of-touch, tyrannical government: this time in the form of a Colorado Judge who ruled that a baker in Denver must provide wedding cakes to same-sex couples… or else pay the price.”

—Brian Brown, President NOM [National Organization of Marriage],

http://www.nomblog.com/38615/

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  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following quotation. Discuss rhetorical flourishes and slanting techniques, if any, including otherizing, demonizing, fear or hate mongering, and fostering xenophobia. Some passages may fit more than one category.

 

“We couldn’t get the truth to the American people.

You and I know that that’s extremely difficult to do where our newspapers are owned by out-of-state interests. Newspapers which are run and operated by left-wing liberals, Communist sympathizers, and members of the Americans for Democratic Action and other Communist front organizations with high sounding names.

However, we will not be intimidated by the vultures of the liberal left-wing press. We will not be deceived by their lies and distortions of truth. We will not be swayed by their brutal attacks upon the character and reputation of any honest citizen who dares stand up and fight for liberty.

And, we are not going to be influenced by intellectually bankrupt editors of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, one of whom has presided over the dissolution of the once great Atlanta Constitution.

We can understand his bitterness in his bleak failure, but we need not tolerate his vituperative and venomous attacks upon the integrity and character of our people. These editors, like many other left-wingers in the liberal press, are not influenced by tradition. Theirs is a tradition of scalawags. Their mealy-mouthed platitudes disgrace the honored memory of their predecessors—such men of character as Henry Grady, Joel Chandler Harris, and Clarke Howell, men who made the name of the Atlanta Constitution familiar in every household throughout the South. They are not worthy to shine the shoes of those great men.”

—George Wallace, The Civil Rights Movement fraud, sham and hoax speech July 4, 1964, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1964WALLACE.html

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  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following quotation. Discuss rhetorical flourishes and slanting techniques, if any, including otherizing, demonizing, fear or hate mongering, and fostering xenophobia. Some passages may fit more than one category.

 

“Rogues’ gallery: Snowden joins long list of notorious, gutless traitors fleeing to Russia

If fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden were to request and receive asylum from Russia, he would find himself in dubious company.

Refuge in Russia would put Snowden on a shameful list that includes notorious assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who aimed a rifle out of a Dallas book depository building and assassinated President Kennedy as his motorcade passed by in 1963.”

—Leonard Greene, June 24, 2013. Headline and article in the New York Post.

http://nypost.com/2013/06/24/rogues-gallery-snowden-joins-long-list-of-notorious-gutless-traitorsfleeing-to-russia/

Answers will vary

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following quotation. Discuss rhetorical flourishes and slanting techniques, if any, including otherizing, demonizing, fear or hate mongering, and fostering xenophobia. Some passages may fit more than one category.

 

“…In this 8-year period, gigantic genocide was carried out over the Bulgarian nation. At the insistence of foreign, hostile-to-Bulgaria factors, the population of our people is projected to remain 3.5 to 4 million residents. This is Bulgarophobe’s plan, and this plan is realized in front of us. If someone asks how, I will show him: when the right of the Bulgarians to be masters in their own country became stolen, when they will be left to die in misery and lack of medicines and medical services, by being subjected to terror by Gypsy bands, who everyday disrupt, rob, rape, and maltreat the Bulgarian nation, after which nobody deliberately seeks out the crimes committed by them, because this is the directive outside, not to investigate the crimes of these minority groups. The goal is for the Bulgarians to live in fear, to be discouraged, crushed, and submissive. Hundreds of thousands of chronically ill are dying right now because mob companies of the previous cabinet make dirty deals with the life and health of the Bulgarians. Because relatives of the previous Minister of Environment are trading with medicaments for cancer, and therefore there are not any medicaments, and hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians with cancer face a slow, excruciating agony.”

—Volen Nikolov Siderov, July 11th, 2005, Bulgaria. quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volen_Siderov

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: weaseler.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: downplayers.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: rhetorical definition.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: rhetorical explanation.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: repetition.

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  1. Construct eight sentences, each illustrating a use of this slanter: significant mention.

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  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Adolescents face more problems than adults.

 

What problems? Health issues? Socializing problems? This is vague.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Piranhas are more dangerous than sharks could ever be!

 

More dangerous in what sense? More dangerous to whom? What is considered dangerous?

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Men are less efficient than women.

 

What is “efficient?” In what domain? There is ambiguity in this comparison.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Soccer players are more athletic than basketball players.

 

What is “more athletic?” This comparison is vague.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

People who listen to classical music are more productive.

 

More productive than whom? Does classical music increase productivity?

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

I cook better than my friends.

 

What is considered “better cooking?”

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

Food tastes better with butter than with margarine.

 

What is considered “better taste?” This statement is ambiguous.

 

  1. Provide a critical assessment of the following comparative general claim:

 

People are happier on Fridays than on Mondays.

 

This is subjective. Happiness can have many connotations. This statement is vague.

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