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Pierce's10th Grade Honors and 10th Grade IB Prep

What is support?
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What is support and can it be trusted



“The amount and kind of data for a particular argument depends on the importance and complexity of the subject. The more controversial the subject, the more facts and support you will need to supply.” Elements of Argument: A text and Reader (6 ed) Annette T. Rottenberg. Bedfordl

St.Martin’s, 2000. p.53

Support is also called evidence or proof. The following are types of support (evidence or proof) which you or any writer might use to prove a statement

I. FACTS—statements which can be verified by objective means such as by observing or by reading a reliable account.

A. Specific examples

Six murders occurred in this city last year and seven in 1999.

In 1920, American women were given the right to vote.

When Robert Burns writes My love is like a red, red, rose,” he is comparing his beloved to a beautiful flower.

B. Hypothetical examples — create imaginary situations for others which encourage them to visualize what might happen under certain circumstances

“...the possibilities for bluffing should not be forgotten; once on board, anyone could claim that a bottle of water was really a Molotov cocktail, or that a paper bag contained a bomb” (Rottenberg p. 55).


A. Information expressed in numbers

Over 5,000 teenagers are killed yearly in auto accidents involving drunken driving.

B. Comparative statistics—numbers used in comparisons which indicate whether quantity is relatively Large or small, or used for measurements over time (p. 56).

“...50.9 percent of those [school seniors questioned in 1989 reported that they had at least tried an illicit drug like marijuana or cocaine, as against 53.9 percent in 1988 and 56.6 percent in 1987” (p.156).

****The relationships among sets of numbers are often depicted in diagrams, tables, charts and graphs. You may be asked to interpret them or discover relationships among sets of numbers.

III. OPINIONS—interpretations of facts

A. Suggest a cause for a condition

“Another authority, Joan Blumberg, believes that one cause [anorexia] may be biological, a nervous dysfunction of the hypothalamus” (p. 158-9).

B. Predict the future

Raising the passing scores on Florida’s FCAT will result in fewer students graduating from high school in the spring.

C. Suggest solutions to problems

One way to keep our roads in good condition is to repave ten percent of them every ten years.

D. Expert opinion — the opinion of a person with knowledge gained from study and experience in a particular field

Senator Smith, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, says that the state budget will have to be cut in January because tourism has declined since September.



Adapted from: Elements of Argument: A text and Reader (ed) Annette T. Rottenberg. Bedford! St.Martin 2000, pages 160—

I. To evaluate factual evidence, ask the following questions:

A. Is the evidence up to date?

B. Is the evidence sufficient? Remember, the more complex the subject. the more evidence you may need.

C. Is the evidence relevant?

D. Are the examples typical of all the examples you do not use?

E. Are the examples consistent with your experience and that of the reader?

F. Is it accurate?

II.. To evaluate statistics, ask ALL the above questions and those below:

A. Are the statistics from trustworthy sources?

B. Are the terms clearly defined?

C. Are the comparisons between comparable things?

D. Has any significant information been omitted?

III. To evaluate opinions, ask the following questions:

A. Is the source qualified to give an opinion on this subject?

i. What is the author’s point of view?

ii. Is this the area in which the source is an expert?

iii. Is the source recognized by others in his/her field??

iv. Has the source won awards or honors? B. is the source biased for or against his or her interpretation?

C. Has the source provided sufficient and adequate evidence? Apply the tests for evidence.

D. What to do if experts disagree.

i. Apply the tests above. Does one expert seem more qualified, provide better proof, or seem less biased?

ii. Continue to read other authorities to decide whether a greater number of experts agree with one opinion?

iii. REMEMBER: some arguments will have to remain unsettled for now.



Adapted from An American History Primer Richard L. Mumford. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishers, 1990, page 374.

Sources can be classified as primary or secondary.

Primary sources can be written or non-written

A. Written primary sources — manuscripts, letters, diaries, journals, literary works,

newspapers, memos, descriptive accounts, memoirs and autobiographies

B. Non-written primary sources — taped interviews, films, videotapes, photographs

H. Secondary sources—When an author uses primary sources to write a book about an event, person, or work of literature, a secondary source is produced. Secondary sources are professionally researched and clearly written works about events and developments in the past, or about the literary or artistic works of others. An author may use both primary and secondary sources. Most books in the history section of a library are secondary sources.

M. OIin/B.Bone




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