C H A P T E R 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer You may be thinking, “This chapter doesn’t apply to me. I have no trouble comprehending the messages I read, hear, and see. ” But this chapter isn’t about basic comprehension.
It is about analyzing and evaluating the messages you receive and deciding whether they are worthy of acceptance. Chances are you haven’t had much training in this kind of reading, listening, and viewing. In this chapter, you’ll learn specific strategies for analyzing and evaluating messages. N ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 t long ago, while searching the Internet, I encountered a reference to an article describing “Pepper Power Bear Spray,” which was created by a survivor of a grizzly bear attack for defense against bears, lions, and moose. The manufacturer promises “quick access and potent stopping power. ” If I were going camping in the deep woods, I thought to myself, I’d certainly feel safer if I had a good supply of that product. Then my glance fell on the very next response to my search request. It read, “Bears attracted to repellent, researcher says.
” My curiosity aroused, I read the news article.It seems that though pepper spray can indeed stop a charging bear if sprayed in its face, it has the opposite effect if sprayed on clothing, camping equipment, or the ground around a campsite. A camper who sprayed it around his tent was soon surrounded by a bunch of brown bears. A pilot who sprayed it on his plane’s pontoons returned to find them chewed up. The lesson in that experience was don’t believe everything you read, hear, or view. Unfortunately, many people have never learned this lesson. They erroneously assume that if something is published or broadcast, it must be true.In 67 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 68 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer reality, even honest, well-intentioned communicators make mistakes; imperfection is an unavoidable part of being human.
The consequences of being misinformed by what is written or broadcast are not always as dramatic as being visited by a family of wild and presumably hungry beasts, but are no less real.Every day people undermine their health, make disastrous investments or career moves, or harm their marriages by uncritically accepting something they’ve read, heard, or viewed. The best safeguard against such misfortunes is to develop the habit of critical evaluation.
¦ CRITICAL EVALUATION DEFINED Critical evaluation* is active, thoughtful examination, as opposed to passive acceptance, of what you read, hear, and see. The standard of judgment in such evaluation is not how closely the author’s view matches your own, but whether it is accurate and reasonable.Consequently, those who evaluate messages critically are less vulnerable to deception and manipulation than other people. Our age is not the first to realize the importance of critical evaluation. Almost 400 years ago, Francis Bacon warned about the danger of reading improperly. He advised people not to dispute an author’s view nor to accept it uncritically, but to “weigh and consider” it. In the nineteenth century, British statesman Edmund Burke expressed the same view in more dramatic terms: “To read without reflection is like eating without digesting. The following explanation by a twentieth-century scholar expands on this idea: There is one key idea which contains, in itself, the very essence of effective reading, and on which the improvement of reading depends: Reading is reasoning.
When you read properly, you are not merely assimilating. You are not automatically transferring into your head what your eyes pick up on the page. What you see on the page sets your mind at work, collating, criticizing, interpreting, questioning, comprehending, comparing.When this process goes on well, you read well. When it goes on ill, you read badly. 1 By extension, Bacon’s and Burke’s observations apply to listening and viewing as well as to reading.
(When they made their observations, of course, cinema, television, and the Internet did not yet exist. ) In addition, the intense mental activity they describe is not required for every message. A bus schedule or a menu can be read with virtually no reflection; an encyclopedia article, light fiction, or a TV weather report requires relatively little evaluation.
Critical evaluation is most relevant, and necessary, when the message is intended to persuade people; that is, when one perspective or opinion is presented as superior to others. Persuasive ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 *Don’t be confused by the fact that the word critical is also used to mean “finding fault with. ” That is not the meaning intended here. The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman.
Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Making Important Distinctions 69 ommunication can be found in every subject—from politics, psychology, finance, religion, popular culture, and business management to sports, chess, and even gardening. Although persuasive communication is typically associated with editorials, opinion essays, and letters to editors, it can also be found in TV talk shows, commercials, and even in news reports and textbooks. Wherever it is found, you are challenged to evaluate the message critically. ¦ MAKING IMPORTANT DISTINCTIONS A fundamental requirement for critical evaluation is making distinctions.The most important and most often overlooked ones are the following.
The Distinction Between the Person and the Idea Your reaction to a sentence beginning “Adolf Hitler said . . . ” would probably be very different from your reaction to one beginning “Winston Churchill said. . . .
” In the first instance, you might not even continue reading. At the very least, you would read with great suspicion and be ready to reject what was said. There’s nothing strange about that. You’ve learned things about Hitler and Churchill, and it’s difficult to set this information aside.In one sense, you shouldn’t set it aside.
Yet, in another sense, you must set it aside to be a good thinker. After all, even a lunatic can have a good idea, and a genius will, on occasion, be wrong. If you do not control your tendency to accept or reject ideas on the basis of who expresses them, your analysis of everything you read, hear, and view is certain to be distorted. You will judge arguments on whether the speaker is of your race, religion, political affiliation, or generation. Consequently you might embrace nonsense and reject wisdom.Aristotle’s contemporaries tell us he had very thin legs and small eyes, favored conspicuous dress and jewelry, and was fastidious in the way he combed his hair. 2 It’s not hard to imagine some Athenian ignoramus muttering to friends the ancient Greek equivalent of “Don’t pay any attention to what Aristotle says—he’s a wimp.
” To guard against confusing the person and the idea, be aware of your reactions to people and try compensating for them. That is, listen more carefully to people you are inclined to dislike and more critically to people you are inclined to like.Judge the arguments as harshly as you wish, but only on their merits as arguments. The Distinction Between Matters of Taste and Matters of Judgment ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 In Chapter 2, we saw that there are two broad types of opinion: taste and judgment. They differ significantly. In matters of taste we may express our personal preferences without defending them. In matters of judgment, however, we have an obligation to provide evidence—that is, supporting material that provides a basis for our view. Only when evidence is sufficient in both quality and quantity to remove all reasonable doubt and establish certainty does it qualify asThe Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 70 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer proof.
Evidence may take a variety of forms, notably factual details, statistics, examples, anecdotes, quotations, comparisons, or descriptions. Many people confuse taste and judgment. They believe their right to hold an opinion is a guarantee of the opinion’s rightness. This confusion often causes them to offer inadequate support (or no support at all) for views that demand support.For example, they express judgments on such controversial issues as abortion, capital punishment, the teaching of evolution in the schools, mercy killing, discrimination in hiring, and laws concerning rape as if they were matters of taste rather than matters of judgment. Keep in mind that whenever someone presents an opinion about the truth of an issue or the wisdom of an action—that is, whenever someone presents a judgment—you, as a critical thinker, have not only the right but also a duty to judge that opinion by the evidence.To be a careful thinker, you must do so.
The Distinction Between Fact and Interpretation A fact is something known with certainty, something either objectively verifiable or demonstrable. An interpretation is an explanation of meaning or significance. Frequently, facts and interpretations are so intertwined that we have difficulty deciding where one leaves off and the other begins. Here is an example of such intertwining: This paragraph presents facts from research conducted by others. (The author cites his source in a footnote. ) Poverty causes crime?According to James Q.
Wilson and Richard Herrnstein, “During the 1960s, one neighborhood in San Francisco had the lowest income, the highest unemployment rate, the highest proportion of families with incomes under four thousand dollars a year, the least educational attainment, the highest tuberculosis rate, and the highest proportion of substandard housing. . .
. That neighborhood was called Chinatown. Yet, in 1965, there were only five persons of Chinese ancestry committed to prison in the entire [emphasis added] state of California. Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly black and impoverished area, sits next to South Boston, a predominantly white and impoverished area. Both contain the same percentage of single-parent households, and public housing accounts for the same The first four sentences are factual statements. The final sentence is the author’s interpretation. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman.
Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Making Important Distinctions 71 ercentage of the population. Yet, the violent crime rate in Roxbury, the black area, is four times the rate of that in South Boston. If poverty caused crime, one would expect the numbers to be closer to equal.
This entire paragraph is the author’s interpretation of the facts he presented in the previous paragraphs. No, the formula is more likely the other way around: crime causes poverty. The more crime, the less incentive for businesspeople to locate businesses in that area.
Store owners must charge consumers more to offset losses caused by theft and higher insurance premiums.Homeowners, apartment dwellers, and business people pay increased security costs to combat the ever-present threat of theft or violent crime. This impoverishes neighborhoods. 3 The danger in failing to distinguish between fact and interpretation is that you will regard uncritically statements that ought to be questioned and contrasted with other views.
If the habit of confusing the two is strong enough, it can paralyze your critical sense. The Distinction Between Literal and Ironic Statements Not everything that is said is intended to be taken literally.Sometimes, a writer makes a point by saying the exact opposite of what is meant—that is, by using irony or satire.
Suppose, for example, you encountered this passage in your reading: Congress is right in reducing the taxes of the wealthy more than those of the working classes. After all, wealthy people not only pay more into the treasury but they also have a higher standard of living to maintain. If the cost of soybeans has risen, so also has the cost of caviar; if the subway fare has increased, so has the maintenance cost of a Rolls-Royce and a Lear jet.If the government listens to the minor grumbling and whining of the unemployed, it surely should be responsive to the plight of the affluent.
On the surface, this certainly looks like a plea on behalf of the rich. But on closer inspection, it will be seen as a mockery of that plea. The clues are subtle, to be sure, but undeniable: the reference to the higher standard of living, the comparison of travel by Rolls-Royce or jet with travel by subway, the reference to the “plight” of the rich. Such tongue-in-cheek writing can be more biting and therefore more effective than a direct attack.Yet you must be alert to the subtlety and ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 72 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer not misread it, or the message you receive will be very different from the message that has been expressed.
The Distinction Between an Idea’s Validity and the Quality of Its Expression The way an idea is expressed can influence people’s reactions.This is why a mad leader like Hitler won a large popularity even among intelligent and responsible people and why Jim Jones’s followers killed their children and committed suicide in Guyana. Impassioned, eloquent expression tends to excite a favorable response, just as lifeless, inarticulate, error-filled expression prompts a negative response. Compare these two passages: 1. Ain’t right to treat some folks good and others bad. If a man don’t treat all equal, he ain’t much of a man.
2. To achieve success in a competitive world, you must honor the first principle of success: Treat well those people who can benefit you, and ignore the others.The first passage may seem less appealing than the second. And yet it contains an idea most philosophers would enthusiastically endorse, whereas the second contains an idea most would find reprehensible. Careful thinkers are able to appraise the passages correctly because they are aware that expression can deceive. Such thinkers make a special effort to separate form from content before judging. Thus they are able to say, “This idea is poorly expressed but profound” and “This idea is well expressed but shallow. ”The Distinction Between Language and Reality Language is our principal means of understanding reality and communicating that understanding to others.
Words come so naturally and become so closely associated with what they represent that we may unconsciously regard them as synonymous with reality. That can be a costly mistake. A people’s language develops according to its insights and observations, and because no single group has equal insight into all dimensions of reality, no language is perfectly suited to express all realities.
For example, Eskimos have many words for snow, each word denoting a certain kind of snow (heavy and wet versus light and fluffy, small and fine versus large and dense, and so on), so they can speak with much greater precision about snow than can English-speaking peoples. Similarly, the ancient Greeks had a number of words for love, each representing a distinct type of love (love of God, love of family, romantic or sexual love, and so forth), whereas we require our word love to bear an excessive burden and thereby create confusion in our discourse.The word self is another good example of a term that is made to carry more meaning than it can bear. We say, “I made myself resist that triple chocolate truffle cake,” “You really ought to give yourself a chance to get over one lousy relationship before entering another,” and “Bill is not himself these days. ” In each of these constructions there seem to be two distinct selves: in the first, the one controlling and the one controlled; in the second, the giver and the receiver; and in the ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman.Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. A Strategy for Critical Reading 73 third, Bill and not-Bill.
As Peggy Rosenthal has shown, the problem is not limited to informal, everyday expression but is found in psychological discourse as well: One thing [writers about psychology] often seem to have in mind is that self is a goal of some kind. But the kind varies. It can be the goal of what sounds like a treasure hunt (the familiar “finding of one’s self ”), a trip (“the long journey to achieve selfhood”), a vegetable (“the maturation of the self”), or a vaguely Aristotelian process (“self-actualization is actualization of a self”).Sometimes, though, self seems not to be a goal but to have goals of its own: “the [mature] self now expresses .
. . its intentions and goals. ” . .
. [It can even be] a sort of balloon that expands and contracts with our moods: there’s “that enlargement of self that goes into feeling good,” whereas “in despair we have a reduced sense of self. ”4 Rosenthal notes that some writers use self and sense of self interchangeably. “But how can this be? ” she asks. “Can the sense, or awareness, of something be equal to the thing itself? The ultimate confusion, she suggests, is found in a passage written by Carl Rogers in which he uses self to mean “both the considering agent and the object of consideration in the same sentence. ”5 The reality of the self would be no less complex if we had half a dozen words, each designating a single aspect, instead of merely one word, but our discourse would undoubtedly be less confusing and we might well achieve a deeper, more accurate understanding of that reality. In any case, keeping in mind the distinction between language and reality will help you approach both your thinking and your communication with appropriate care and humility.
A STRATEGY FOR CRITICAL READING So much for the distinctions essential to critical evaluation. Now we’ll consider a five-step strategy for critical reading: Skim, Reflect, Read, Evaluate, and Express Your Judgment. We’ll examine each in turn. (Strategies for critical listening and viewing will be discussed later in this chapter. ) Step 1: Skim the Work To skim is to glance at selected parts of a book or article in order to gain an overview of it. On average, skimming should take about 15 or 20 minutes for a book and 5 or 10 minutes for an article. When done effectively, kimming will not only make your reading easier and more effective, but it will also save you time by sparing you the chore of rereading all or part of the work.
Skimming should answer these questions: What issue is the author writing about? What is the author’s position on this issue? What are the main divisions (subtopics) of the book or article? How much evidence does the author offer in support of his or her view? What type(s) of evidence? In the case of a book, skim the preface or introduction for a statement of the author’s purpose in writing and essential message, the table of contents for theISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 74 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer breakdown and sequence of the contents, the beginnings and ends of one or two chapters to learn whether the author provides previews or summaries (if they are provided, skim them for each chapter), and the endnotes and/or bibliography to see how well documented the book is and the kinds of sources the author has used.
If time permits, skim the entire concluding chapter to learn what judgments and/or recommendations the author makes. Sometimes the final chapter will summarize the main argument presented in the book. For articles, skim the introduction, the section headings, the first paragraph following each heading, and the conclusion.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Views Ask yourself: What ideas do I have about this subject that could create a bias for or against the author’s view and prevent me from giving it a fair hearing? Bias can occur in one of two ways.The more obvious way is to have thought carefully about the issue, considered the opposing views, and decided that the evidence supports one better than the others. Far from being shameful, this process is praiseworthy—the purpose of thinking, after all, is to form conclusions. But is it fair to prejudge one author’s presentation on the basis of our prior conclusion about some other author’s presentation? No. The author we are reading now may have compelling new evidence or may expose an error in our thinking.The only way we can be sure is to set aside our prior conclusion long enough to read fairly.
The other way in which bias can occur is more subtle, so subtle in fact that we may be unaware of it. Each of us has many ideas that we did not form for ourselves, ideas that slipped into our minds when we were not paying close attention. Such ideas include the ones our parents and teachers expressed while we were growing up, statements made by people on talk shows or characters in films, advertising jingles, and all our casual perceptions, impressions, hunches, and assumptions.Many of these ideas have no doubt faded, but others—notably the popular ones that we have heard repeated time and again—are still present and can impact our thinking.
These repeated ideas may become so familiar and comfortable that we are inclined to defend them, even though we have never evaluated them and, for that reason, they are not really our own. Because this kind of bias is both unconscious and irrational, it can pose a greater problem than the more obvious kind. The purpose of reflection is to become aware of both kinds of bias and to control them during the remaining steps.
Step 3: Read the Work If you have skimmed well, this step will be relatively easy. You will already know what the author is saying; you will also understand the sequence of the author’s points and the kind and amount of evidence presented. Now your task is to deepen and refine your understanding. Read the entire work carefully, at a single sitting if possible. Keep a pen or pencil in hand while reading and underline the most important sentences. Try to limit your underlining to one sentence per several paragraphs.
Where appropriate, add your questions and thoughts in the margin. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. A Strategy for Critical Reading 75 In the case of a book or a long article, it is a good idea to summarize what you have read.
To do this, review the sentences you have marked as important. Consider how many sentences you can combine without changing the author’s meaning. Next write your summary in complete sentences, keeping to the original phrasing and the original order of presentation as much as possible to avoid distortion.Then briefly note in your own words the evidence offered by the writer. Do not attempt to elaborate on the evidence as the author did, or your summary will be too long to be useful. If you have summarized effectively, you should now have a brief version of the original work that is faithful in content yet much easier to analyze. A whole book can be reduced to several paragraphs in this way; a full-length magazine article, to seven or eight sentences or less. Whenever you summarize, however, keep in mind the danger of distortion and oversimplification.
It is not only unfair but also pointless to criticize an author for something he or she did not say. Step 4: Evaluate What You Read Begin by reading your summary carefully so that you grasp the author’s main points and the evidence offered for each. Then answer the following questions. (Note: Some questions will require you to reexamine the work itself and not just your summary of it. In such cases, your summary will help you determine in which chapter or section to look. ) Are any of the author’s terms vague or ambiguous (open to more than one meaning)? In such cases, you will have to decide what meaning is implied.
Does the author use emotionally charged language as a substitute for evidence? Words like harassment, terrorism, rape, censorship, diversity, multicultural, human rights, family values, justice, empowerment, freedom, liberty, rights, and choice tend to evoke an emotional response. Persuasive writing may make us feel as well as think, but when it makes us feel instead of think, it is dishonest. Is the author’s evidence relevant to the issue? No matter how comprehensive and authoritative evidence may be, if it has no bearing on the issue under discussion, it does not deserve our consideration.Did the author omit any significant evidence? Often, the weakness in an argument lies in what the author does not say. For example, let’s say an author stated that several years ago, an American engineer and his wife visited the Congo, trying to find evidence of a dinosaur-like creature reportedly living there; and also that they returned with a picture that they said documented their sighting of the creature. Everything in the statement is correct. 6 However, one important detail is missing: the picture was severely underexposed and therefore worthless as documentation.
ISBN: 0-558-34171-3Are the author’s examples and cases typical and comprehensive? The author’s citation of some examples and cases does not necessarily establish the argument’s validity. If the cases are extraordinary—exceptions rather than typical instances—they are worth very little. Similarly, if they represent The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 76 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer one narrow aspect of the issue, they may not adequately support the author’s argument.If the author cites a scientific study, has it been replicated? The practice of the scientific community is to withhold endorsement of any researcher’s findings until they have been independently confirmed. This is a wise approach, for some studies are proven to be “flukes.
” If the author cites a survey, what organization designed and administered it? How large was the sample? Was it random? A survey that does not conform to established statistical principles is worthless as evidence. Are the sources of information cited by the author still current?There is nothing necessarily wrong with old sources. Something written in 1800 may still be valid today.
But later findings may have discredited older views. Are the experts cited by the author authoritative and reliable? The fact of being well known does not make one an authority. A Nobel Prize winner in physics may be totally incompetent in psychology or government. And even if the person cited is an authority in the field in question, the view is open to question if the person has been guilty of unreliability (professional dishonesty, for example) in the past.Do other experts agree with the experts cited by the author? In controversial matters, there is seldom any more agreement among experts than among nonexperts. A little investigation may reveal that the experts cited by the author hold the minority view! What criticisms and counterarguments would someone who holds a different position make about this book or article? Nothing reveals the flaws on one side of an issue better than hearing the other side. Does the author commit any errors in logic? For example, does the author overgeneralize, oversimplify, or assume facts not in evidence?Is the author’s conclusion about the evidence the most reasonable one, or is another conclusion more reasonable? Like the rest of us, authors sometimes yield to their biases and interpret evidence in a way that flatters their prior opinions.
In such cases, an objective assessment of the evidence may produce a different conclusion. As you no doubt realize, the answers to many of these questions are not likely to be found either in the book or article you are evaluating or in your own head. To answer them will require further investigation on your part.Be sure to conduct whatever investigation is necessary before making your final judgment.
Step 5: Express Your Judgment One mistake readers commonly make in evaluating a book or article is to assume that they must agree completely or disagree completely with the author. More often than not, the most reasonable response is to accept some parts of an author’s argument, reject others, and perhaps be uncertain about still others. The following guidelines will assist you in expressing your judgment. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
A Sample Evaluation and Judgment 77 1. If you agree in part and disagree in part, explain exactly what your position is and support it carefully. Remember that good thinkers will judge your arguments as closely as you judge other people’s arguments. 2. If some vagueness or ambiguity in the author’s argument prevents you from giving a flat answer, don’t attempt one. Rather, say, “it depends,” and go on to explain.
The if-then approach is very helpful in such cases. Here’s how it works.Suppose someone had written, “A human being is an animal. ” You might respond as follows. It depends on what you mean by animal. If you mean human being is included in the broad classification animal, as opposed to vegetable or mineral, then I agree. But if you mean a human being has nothing more than animal nature, no intellect and will that distinguish him or her from other members of the animal kingdom, then I disagree. I believe that .
. . 3. If you must deal with conflicting testimony and cannot decide your position with certainty, identify the conflict and explain why you cannot be certain.If you believe that circumstances seem somewhat in favor of one side, explain those circumstances and why you are inclined to judge them as you do. An example of conflicting testimony occurred some years ago in the highly publicized trial of Jack Henry Abbott.
Abbott, who had spent 24 of his 37 years behind prison bars, was paroled after Norman Mailer arranged for Abbott’s book, In the Belly of the Beast, to be published. Six weeks after his parole, Abbott stabbed a waiter in a dispute over the use of a restroom. Abbott testified that he thought the waiter had pulled a knife first and that he lunged forward with his knife in self-protection.A passerby, however, witnessed the incident and testified that the waiter had made what appeared to be a “conciliatory gesture” and turned to walk away when Abbott raced after him, reached over his shoulder, and stabbed him with “terrible ferocity,” then taunted him as he lay dying. 7 In this case, you might reasonably say that although you cannot be certain which testimony is correct, circumstances seem to favor the witness’s testimony.
You would go on to explain that Abbott’s testimony was more likely than the witness’s to be colored by emotion and self-interest.These guidelines may seem to encourage evasion or straddling the fence. They are not intended to do so and should not be used for that purpose. Apply them when reasonableness demands a qualified answer, not in situations in which timidity prompts you to avoid answering. ¦ ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 A SAMPLE EVALUATION AND JUDGMENT To see how a typical evaluation might proceed, imagine you are evaluating a magazine article arguing that “inferior” people should be sterilized at puberty. You have completed the first three steps in the critical reading process and haveThe Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
78 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer summarized the author’s argument as follows. (For reference purposes, the sentences and items of evidence are numbered. ) 1. A serious world population problem exists today. 2. The ideal solution is for everyone to be responsible in deciding whether he or she should reproduce. 3.
However, few people make that decision rationally—emotion overwhelms logic. . Moreover, the least talented and least intelligent are likely to have the most children.
5. In time, this tendency may set the process of evolution in reverse. 6.
The best and most practical solution is to identify inferior people and force them to be sterilized at puberty. As evidence in support of the argument, the article presented: 7. UN statistics on world population. 8. Selected UN statistics on world poverty, illiteracy, and disease. 9.
A research study showing that more affluent, better-educated, higher-IQ couples tend to have fewer children. 10.Quotations from geneticists showing the favorable genetic effects that would occur if only higher-IQ individuals were to reproduce. 11. Quotations from medical authorities showing the benefits that would accrue to world health if people with hereditary diseases did not reproduce.
Your evaluation of the argument and evidence might look like this (parenthetical numbers refer to the preceding statements and evidence). Concerning the Clarity of the Argument: Several terms are ambiguous. Do talented and intelligent (4) refer to the broad range of abilities or to some specific ones?People with mild mental impairment often possess considerable talent and intelligence if measured by a broad definition of the terms. Does the process of evolution (5) mean survival of the physically fit or the perpetuation of culture as we know it? And does inferior people (6) mean those with hereditary diseases, the mentally impaired, neurotics, nonconformists, or all of these? Concerning the Questions Informed Critics Might Raise: ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 These are the most probable ones: Isn’t it possible that forced sterilization might pose even worse dangers to civilization than a reversing of evolution (5)?Might it not lead to totalitarianism? Wouldn’t a The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
A Strategy for Critical Listening 79 better and more practical solution (6) be to improve the distribution of wealth among nations, to find cures for disease, to share technology, and to expand educational opportunity (including education in birth control methods)? Concerning the Kind and Quality of the Evidence: One significant question about some of the evidence (10, 11) concerns how typical and comprehensive it is.Is the view expressed in the quotations one that is shared by most geneticists and medical authorities, or is it a minority position? An even more important question concerns the evidence that is omitted. Surely psychologists, sociologists, and historians could contribute to this issue. Some of the questions they could answer are these: What psychological effects would forced sterilization have on those subjected to it? A feeling of worthlessness, perhaps, or rage? What social behavior would be likely to result from such effects? Violence? Revolution?What historical precedents are there to help us measure the probable effects? In light of these considerations, you might conclude that although the world population problem and the related concerns of poverty, illiteracy, and disease are serious and should be addressed, the idea of forced sterilization should be opposed—at least until its advocates clarify their terms and answer the important critical questions. If you were to make a formal response to the argument in an analytical paper or article, you would develop your ideas thoroughly, meeting the same standards you expect of others.
For a discussion of the principles and approaches used in analytical writing, see Chapter 14. ) ¦ A STRATEGY FOR CRITICAL LISTENING In one respect, critical listening is little different from critical reading. Both involve the evaluation of messages expressed in words, so both require all the careful distinctions described earlier in the chapter. Yet in other respects, critical listening is very different from critical reading. In listening, there is no opportunity to get an overview of the message before it is delivered—in other words, there is no activity comparable to skimming a piece of writing.Once uttered, the spoken word is gone, and there is no way to go back and hear what we missed because of some distraction (unless, of course, the message was recorded). Another difference is that listening is a more emotional activity than reading. In listening, we do not just receive the message—we also hear a human voice, with its inflections, its emphases, and its passion.
If the speaker is physically present, we see his or her body and notice the gestures and facial expressions that accompany the words. These sounds (and sights) can make the message seem more or less insightful than it actually is.They can also make us more absorbed in the message or, conversely, distracted from it. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
80 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer The importance of critical listening is nowhere more evident than in politics. For example, no presidential candidate since John F. Kennedy has been more enthusiastically received than Barack Obama, who combines attractive physical appearance with extraordinary eloquence.His speeches contain allusions to inspiring leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King, Jr. They are also filled with phrases such as “change we can believe in,” “the unfinished business of perfecting our Union,” and “a new birth of freedom upon this Earth,” as well as frequent references to hope, justice, and opportunity. Such language evokes powerful feelings that tend to suppress critical questioning. 8 Here is a four-step strategy for listening critically, even in cases in which the force of the message and the quality of the delivery discourage critical evaluation.
Step 1: Set Aside Preconceptions Preconceptions are the previously formed beliefs and attitudes that you bring to an issue. Unless you set them aside, your listening is almost certain to be biased in favor of what you already believe. To set aside your preconceptions, you must first admit that you have them, and then be alert for their influence, which will usually take the form or strong feelings—more specifically, positive feelings toward speakers you agree with and negative feelings toward speakers you disagree with. Such feelings will often arise even before the speaker has finished speaking.This is especially so in the case of negative feelings, which can prompt you to block out what the speaker is saying. (The most blatant example of such behavior is the habit of many talk-show guests of interrupting and shouting down those with whom they disagree. ) Whenever you start to experience strong feelings, positive or negative, about a speaker, remind yourself that they can block the understanding you will need for critical evaluation. Step 2: Focus on the Message Even when your preconceptions are in check, your mind may tend to wander from what the speaker is saying.
For example, if the speaker expresses an opinion that differs from yours, you may feel the urge to begin framing your response. That is a natural reaction and there is nothing wrong with it when the time is right. The problem is that if you give in to that urge while the person is speaking, you will stop listening and thus miss his or her elaboration of the opinion—that is, the further descriptions, qualifications, and supporting data. In that case, however carefully you may construct your response, it will not fit what the speaker actually said but only your speculations about what he or she might say.On the other hand, if you resist the urge to frame your response and continue to focus on what the person is saying, you will gain the understanding necessary to construct a truly effective response. A special caution is in order here: when you are listening to a point of view that disagrees with your own, you will probably not encounter a single temptation to stop listening, but multiple temptations. Resist them all. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. A Strategy for Critical Viewing 81Step 3: Identify Key Assertions and Supporting Information All coherent spoken presentations of ideas have the same basic components as written presentations—a main assertion or claim and the evidence and/or reasoning that supports that claim. Longer or more complex presentations may also have secondary assertions or claims, together with supporting evidence/reasoning.
The third step in critical listening consists of identifying these assertions and the information offered in support of them. Put more simply, the third step consists of answering these questions: What viewpoint does the speaker hold, and why does he/she hold that viewpoint?The best way to answer these questions is to record the presentation and replay it as often as necessary for understanding. If recording is not possible or practical, take notes during the presentation. If the presentation is followed by a question-and-answer period, ask for clarification of any vague or ambiguous statements.
Steps 4 and 5: Evaluate the Message and Express Your Judgment These steps are essentially the same as those explained in steps 4 and 5 of the “A Strategy for Critical Reading” discussed earlier in the chapter. The only difference is that in critical listening you will not be aided by a written summary of he speaker’s message but will have to rely on your record of his or her key points. ¦ A STRATEGY FOR CRITICAL VIEWING Technological advances in communication and entertainment have inspired new and more varied uses of visual material and have led to a new subdiscipline known alternatively as “visual communication” and “visual rhetoric. ” These developments have made critical viewing as important as critical reading and critical listening. One form of visual communication is statistical graphics. Some people tend to be less critical of graphs and charts than they are of words alone, as if graphs and charts were less open to error.But that is a mistake.
Edward Tufte, a leading scholar of graphics, describes them as “instruments for reasoning about quantitative information” and as “pictures of . . . numbers. ” Noting that graphics are as open to error as prose, Tufte explains that graphic distortion—that is, error— occurs when the picture of the numbers is at odds with the numbers themselves or the facts that are represented by the numbers. He adds that the danger is increased by the fact that “mass market graphics are usually done by people with artistic but not statistical backgrounds.They aim for beauty rather than ‘statistical integrity.
’ The consequence is ‘over-decorated and simplistic designs, tiny data sets, and big lies. ’ ”9 To view graphics critically, decide on the meaning of the data from the data itself rather than from the form in which it is presented. Remember that the design of the graphic has the power to distort as well as to reveal meaning. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 82 Chapter 4Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer Another form of visual communication is the advertisement in either the static form of print or the dynamic form of the television commercial.
The primary aim of advertising, unlike that of statistical graphics, is more to stir the emotions than to appeal to the mind. Walter Dill Scott, an advertising executive and early theorist, argued that “suggestion is of universal application to all persons, while reason is a process which is exceptional, even among the wisest. ” Scott advised advertisers to appeal to emotions, particularly to sympathy. 0 John Watson, the founder of Behaviorism and a consultant to advertisers, went much further than Scott, arguing that people are not moved by reason at all but only by emotion. He therefore saw the job of advertising as manipulating the public’s emotions in much the same manner that Pavlov had manipulated the physiological responses of dogs. 11 Although some modern advertisers disavow the philosophy of Scott, Watson, and their followers, it continues to dominate the field. To view advertising critically, you must remember that it is usually aimed at your feelings rather than at your mind.Then you should ask: What feelings is this ad designed to evoke in me? What words does it employ to evoke that feeling? What pictures and sounds? What people? Admired celebrities? People I envy or pity? Answering these questions takes the advertisement out of the realm of feelings and into the realm of thinking, where you can evaluate it.
A third form of visual communication is the dramatic presentation. This form can be traced back to the ancient Greek comedies and tragedies, but the presentations we are most familiar with are television programs and movies.Critical viewing of dramatic presentations is also as old as the form itself, and the basic questions remain the same today: How do the characters relate to one another and how do their personal qualities contribute to those relationships? What is the plot or story line and how does it unfold? What specific conflict or conflicts are central to the plot? What is the setting and how does it contribute to the action? What is the theme or meaning (previous generations preferred the term lesson or moral) of the presentation—that is, what idea does it convey about people or life?The last question has been difficult to answer because dramatists have traditionally eschewed preaching but instead allowed the action and the interrelationships among the characters to suggest the theme. Today the question is even more difficult to answer, not because dramatic presentations have become more sophisticated (the opposite is often the case), but because cinematic technology has made it possible to create dramas filled with excitement yet lacking in meaning—for example, a series of chase scenes, explosions, and sexual encounters with little or no plot or character development.To view dramatic presentations critically, ask the basic questions about characters, plot, setting, and theme. In addition, decide how realistic and believable the presentation is.
Look in particular for signs that story has been contrived to serve the author’s personal agenda. Typical signs include stereotyped characters, oversimplified relationships, and slanted dialogue. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman.
Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Applications 83 WARM-UP EXERCISES 4. Make up as many new words—nonwords like garrumptive—as you can to reflect people’s moods.
In each case, indicate the specific mood each word reflects. Be sure to list many possible words before choosing the best one. Make up a new name for yourself (both first name and last), one that fits the special qualities you have or are striving for. Be sure to consider unusual names (Honor Trueblood, Rick Decent), and list many possibilities before choosing the best one.
Your young nephew is confused. He has learned “He who hesitates is lost” and “Haste makes waste. ” The sayings seem to oppose each other, and he wants to know which is right.Answer in a way he will understand. 4. 2 4. 3 APPLICATIONS 4.
1 Read the following dialogue carefully. Decide which statements are reasonable and which are not. Provide a brief explanation of why you consider any statement unreasonable. [Scene: A college dormitory room. A bull session is in progress. George and Ed, freshmen at Proudly Tech, are discussing academic affairs with their sophomore roommate, Jake. ] GEORGE: When I arrived on campus last month, I went to see my adviser to get my freshman English course waived.
I didn’t get to first base with him. “Everyone takes freshman English,” he said. “Everyone! I’ll bet he’s got that line taped and just plays it whenever a student raises the question. It really burns me having to take that course. I can see it as a requirement for most students. But I earned straight Bs in high school English. Why should I spend more time on that stuff in college? ED: You’re right, George.
This place is like home—everybody’s on your back making you do things you don’t want to do. I should have gone to Bloomville State instead of to this dump. JAKE: What’s so great about Bloomville State? ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 ED: They let you take whatever courses you want. No required courses at all.
The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 84 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer JAKE: Look, my uncle went there after the Vietnam War. He told me a lot about his college days. But he never mentioned that.
ED: It’s true. Listen, there was this guy I was talking to at the bar in the train station when I was coming up here. He goes to Bloomville, and he told me they had no required courses. GEORGE: That really bugs me. Straight Bs.
And still I’ve got to take this crappy course. . . JAKE: Listen, pal. You’re lucky you were born talented in writ- ing. I wish I had that gift.
For me, nothing but Ds and Fs. Hopeless. ED: Who’d you have for English, Jake? JAKE: Crawford. An OK guy, I guess, but sort of scholarly.
Talks over everybody’s head, always quoting some writer or other. ED: I’ve got Mr. Schwartz. What’s the word on him? JAKE: Three of my friends had him last year and two got Bs and one a B+.
A guy who grades like that has got to be a winner. GEORGE: I’m glad somebody’s luck held. Mine certainly didn’t. For the two comps I’ve written so far, I’ve got a D+ and a C–. JAKE: Who have you got?GEORGE: Mr. Stiletto.
JAKE: He wasn’t here last year. GEORGE: I’ll bet he’s just out of graduate school. Or maybe he never went. At any rate, he sure has it in for me. Maybe he’s prejudiced against Germans. ED: Maybe you picked the wrong side of the issue to write on—you know, the one he disagrees with. GEORGE: Hey, you may be right. The first topic was birth control, and I’m sure he’s Catholic because I saw a little statue of Jesus on his car dashboard when his wife dropped him off outside the building last week.
I wrote in favor of abortion. Wow. What a jerk I am. Hey, and come to think of it, that second comp. . .
JAKE: I should have taken him for comp. I’m Catholic. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 GEORGE: That second comp was on civil rights. And I know he’s against blacks. The guy who sits next to me is black, and Stiletto really cut him down just because he was late a few times. And there’s a black girl he The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Applications 85 always calls on for the tough questions.
No wonder I got a C–. JAKE: Wait till you guys take psych next year. I don’t know if I’ll be able to last till the end of the term.It’s the boringest subject ever thought up. Professor Clifford walks in, opens his book, and begins reading from his notes in a low mumble: “Mmmm . . . Freud says .
. . mmmmmm . . . Oedipus complex . .
. repression . .
. mmmmm. ” Deadliest stuff you ever heard. I’m glad I don’t need another social science course. Those guys are really out of it. ED: Doesn’t he ever let you discuss what you read? JAKE: Yeah, once in a while. Yesterday, for example, we were talking about some guy named Frankl, and Clifford said that according to this Frankl, boredom causes people more problems than distress does.Some kids in the class gave examples of how that’s so—you know, there are always some guys looking to agree with the prof to make some points.
. . . ED & GEORGE: Yeah. JAKE: . .
. And so I raised my hand and said that that guy Frankl was all wet, that everybody knows that distress causes more problems than boredom. I told him that my own experience proved it because five years ago, when my father lost his job, my family really had to struggle for more than a year. We had problems, believe me, and they weren’t caused by boredom! GEORGE: What did he say to that? JAKE: Well, he mumbled something about Frankl not meaning hat.
And then he started tossing around a lot of statistics and examples to try to get me confused. He couldn’t corner me, though. I finally said, “Frankl’s entitled to his opinion; I’ve got my own. ” GEORGE: Hey, that’s great. I bet he cursed you out under his breath. You really nailed him. JAKE: Yeah, I guess I did.
When I get mad, I can argue pretty good. Now I’ve just got to be careful he doesn’t take it out on me in my grade. ED: Say, fellas, I’ve got to cut out. I’m going to the library and ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 prepare for tomorrow’s English class. GEORGE: What’s your assignment? ED: Oh, a piece by Orwell.We just have to read it and be ready to discuss it. I’ve read it five times already, but I The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.
Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 86 Chapter 4 Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer can’t find anything wrong with it, nothing to disagree with. I’ll just have to read it again. Be seeing you. 4. 2 Follow the directions for Application 4. 1. In addition, decide what action you would recommend if you were a school board member. Explain why you think that action is best. [Scene: The Alertia, Indiana, town hall.The members of the Alertia school board are meeting with a group of parents concerned about the school’s new sex education program for seventh- and eighthgraders. ] CHAIR: I’d like to welcome the guests of the board to our regular meeting. As you all know, the board agreed to Ms. Jackson’s request for an opportunity for those who wished to present their views on the school’s new program in sex education. As we know, sex was around for quite a while before this program began, heh, heh. [Silence] MS. SCHULTZ: It’s exactly that sort of levity about this dangerous program that worries me. CHAIR: I’m sorry, Ms. Schultz.I only meant that as a little joke. MS. SCHULTZ: Well, there’s nothing funny about a program that introduces raw sex into the minds of innocent young children. MS. JACKSON: The reason we asked for this meeting is that we feel that what is taking place in sex education class goes beyond the bounds of decency. CHAIR: Could you be more specific, please? Just what is taking place? MS. JACKSON: Someone told me that Ms. Babette encouraged the students to touch each other freely to overcome any inhibitions they might have about sex. Can you deny that such encouragement goes beyond the bounds of decency? CHAIR: No, I certainly wouldn’t deny that.But . . . MS. BROWN: I heard that last week she asked two students to come to the front of the room and demonstrate what petting means. MS. GREEN: That doesn’t surprise me a bit. She does have a sluttish manner, you know. Those miniskirts, that long hair. The way she talks to men is most provocative, positively lewd. If my daughter dressed and acted like that, I’d feel I had failed as a parent. CHAIR: Ladies, please. We’ve got to have a little more order. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 Mr. Lessrow has had his hand up for some time. The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Applications MR. LESSROW: Thank you. Of course, I agree with the good ladies 87 who have spoken thus far. But with all respect to them, I think they may be missing the real nature of this threat to the morals of our young people. We must not forget that those young people are the United States citizens of tomorrow. And let me ask you, just who will stand to profit if they are corrupted, if their preoccupation with the flesh stays them from their duties and obligations as citizens? Let me ask . . . 1: Who will stand to profit, Mr. Lessrow? MR.LESSROW: I was getting to that point, sir. Who else but the Muslim MEMBER extremists? MEMBER 1: Are you suggesting that the Muslim extremists are in some way responsible for sex education in American schools, for the course in our school? MR. LESSROW: I am saying precisely that. Sex education is a plot to lure our children into lives of lustful hedonism. It is a plot designed and supported by those who would overthrow our country. All a person needs to do is a little reading, have a little concern for the truth, and not be like these hothouse liberals who believe that the only real enemy is conservatives.The liberals are either misguided dupes of the extremists or willing accomplices. 2: Now that’s surely a very extreme interpretation of . . . MR. LESSROW: It’s an extreme plot! Extreme situations demand extreme MEMBER responses. MEMBER 2: As I started to say, it’s an extreme interpretation of a very complex issue. Surely we should be a little less quick to jump at every wild accusation, be a little more openminded. MS. SCHULTZ: A person should be open-minded while searching for the truth but not after finding it. MS. JACKSON: I just can’t understand how people can resist common ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 sense.It should be clear enough to everybody— even to the teachers of this school—that when you bring sex into the classroom, you dignify it. When you encourage the young to talk about it openly in school, they’ll talk about it openly out of school. And talking is a very short step away from acting. I for one don’t want my teenagers to become promiscuous just because some so-called educators in this town persist in denying the obvious. The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. 88 Chapter 4Be a Critical Reader, Listener, and Viewer MS. OVERLOOK: I don’t see the need for a sex education course in the first place. Surely, if parents know enough to raise their children in other respects, they are qualified to teach them about sex. Sex is a moral matter—and the school has no business butting into the moral upbringing of the young. The school should stick to the three Rs and leave moral and spiritual matters to the home and church. MS. SCHULTZ: If the school were as anxious to guard the innocence of the young as it is to fill their heads with sex ideas, perhaps our society wouldn’t be slipping so badly today. MEMBER : I’d like to go back to something Ms. Jackson said a few minutes ago about promiscuity. Ms. Jackson, no one wants to make teenagers promiscuous. The whole effect of the program in sex education, as I understand it, may be to prevent just that development. There is a great deal of emphasis on sex in advertising today and an increasing tendency toward frankness in the arts. The board had only a brief explanation of the objectives and approaches of this course, but we were told by the principal that the faculty committee that developed the course consulted numerous statistical studies, and every one showed that most young people receive ery little direct, honest, and accurate information about sex. Despite appearances, he said, they’re woefully ignorant, in many cases, about the facts of life. That is what the course and its teacher, Ms. Babette, are trying to overcome: misinformation and ignorance. MS. GREEN: [Turning to Ms. Brown and whispering] It’s obvious why he speaks that way. I’ve seen the way he looks at Ms. Babette. Those bachelors and their filthy minds. MS. SCHULTZ: A course in sex education is a strange way of decreasing promiscuity.Why is it that since courses like this have been added to curricula around the country, the incidence of rape, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and venereal disease has risen so dramatically? MEMBER 2: I’m not sure I understand the point you are making. Are you suggesting that . . . MS. SCHULTZ: I’m suggesting that I’m in favor of ridding our society of its preoccupation with sex. I confess I don’t know quite how to do that. But I do know where to start. Right here in Alertia—by ridding our school of that course. ISBN: 0-558-34171-3 The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero.Published by Longman. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. Applications 89 MR. LESSROW: [Applauding vigorously] My sentiments exactly. If we’re not going to defeat our country’s enemies, including those in Washington, at least we can stop their insidious campaign against our youth at home. I voted for you for the school board—probably most of us in this room did. We had confidence in your ability to act wisely, to do the right thing. You now know the facts in this matter. It’s time to act on them. You can justify our confidence in you by demanding that that course be discontinued immediately.CHAIR: [After a minute or two of silence] Well, I believe the board has a good idea of the nature of your concern about this course. If there are no more comments at this time, I’d like to thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming out tonight and to assure you that we will give your position our careful consideration. If the board members will remain, we’ll continue with our meeting in a few minutes. 4. 3 Evaluate the argument in the following letter to the editor, using the approach explained in this chapter. State your judgment and support it thoroughly.Dear Editor: I enjoyed your recent series of articles on religious views. I believe religious values occupy the central place in one’s being. Today an increasing number of young people are giving up their religion because of the vocal skepticism of those who find religious values too restrictive. If more of us who do believe were as vocal, the young would surely see the relevance of religion and not be so easily deceived by those who wish to mislead them. It is fashionable today among so-called humanists to place people’s reason above religious faith.They say a person must follow his or her own lights, affirm what he or she believes is true. But are they really so open-minded and humble as that view makes them seem? I think not. For underneath that view lies the fact that they exalt their own judgment. When they accept the word of an authority, it is only because they agree with that authority. And they do not accept one authority without, by that very acceptance, rejecting other authorities. In short, they are superegotists who refuse to accept what transcends their understanding and who try to fit God into their understanding.Their efforts are in vain, for God will not fit into the finite mind. A god who can be understood by human beings is no god at all, but a poor imitation. I do not believe that any intelligent, honest person can place his or her confidence in human intelligence and reason. Human learning is too sparse and fragmentary to warrant such trust. Human knowledge and understanding chang