How to Win an Argument: Using rhetoric to bring people to your side.

Learn how to convince people of anything

I feel the time has come for me to step in and help some of you people learn how to put up an effective argument. I see so many hubs coming out these days with titles like: "Obama Hates You and Wants to Step on Your Puppy's Head," or like "Christians are All Bastards and Stink-Faced Baboons." I see this stuff getting published and I'm like, "My God, do these people actually think anyone is going to read this stuff and take it seriously?"

The truth is, yes, some people will read that "article." But the problem is, it won't be anyone that makes a difference in the end.

Here's why: The only people who go to a hub titled "Obama Hates You and Wants to Step on Your Puppy's Head" are A) people who already hate Obama and want to see someone else bash the guy they already don't support, and B) a small percentage of Obama enthusiasts who are bored and want to make fun of you for how "stupid" you are for wanting to spew against their favorite guy.

What ISN'T going to happen is that anyone is going to change his or her mind. Obama supporters will still be behind everything the president says; they will just think you are a moron now. And Obama haters will continue to bash him but with the added knowledge they have you on their side. Great. So, all that writing on your part and all you did was coddle a few friends and make a couple of new enemies. Nice work.

Arguing for an Important Cause

What happens if your cause matters in the end? What if your point was to try to get someone to see what you really had to say? I mean, what if you ACTUALLY believed that Obama was making some wrong choice on some really important and serious issue, or that some religion was truly really bad or really good? What then? What if your point was to get people to change their minds or to take some action or another, to move toward you and your opinion rather than get even farther away? What then? What if your point was to convince people, to win people over instead of just to piss them off?

Well, if you're just out to piss them off, then I guess we're at a filter point in this hub. If you just write hubs to vent your anger and frustration because the world has gotten so mixed up; if your point is just to scream across the Internet and you don't care if the only people who read it already agree with you; if you just write this stuff to hear yourself talk and maybe make some people mad... well, then you've reached the end of the useful information I have for you. Go read something else. Bye.

However, if you actually want to have a chance of changing someone's mind, if you actually want to "argue" as the term was originally meant to mean, then, if you aren't already really familiar with the idea of "rhetoric," you should consider reading on.

Aristotle
Aristotle
Isocrates
Isocrates

Rhetoric

Aristotle wrote of the term "rhetoric" that it is "the faculty of discovering the available means of persuasion in a given situation" (Bowden 29). Basically, a person's ability to figure out the right thing to say at the right time and place and in words or language selected for the specific people being addressed.

Another pretty famous smart guy from way back then, Isocrates, went into the idea more deeply, arguing this:

... when anyone elects to speak or write discourses which are worthy of praise and honor, it is not conceivable that he will support causes which are unjust or petty or devoted to private quarrels, and not rather those which are great and honorable, devoted to the welfare of humanity and our common good. - Isocrates, Antidosis 276-277 (Bowden, 28)

What he's saying here, at least the way I read it, is that when someone takes the time to write or speak in such a way that the writing or speaking "are worthy of praise and honor," having done so, having taken the time to deliver the message in praiseworthy fashion, which means not insulting or base, then it is "not conceivable" that the writer or speaker is capable of supporting "causes which are unjust or petty or devoted to private quarrels." He's talking about credibility. He's saying if you speak fairly and well, if you deliver a message that is not just praiseworthy because you write so pretty or talk so well, but actually with "honor" then people are going to buy in; they're going to read and believe your message, trust that your cause is "great and honorable, devoted to the welfare of humanity and our common good." When people read your work and think that, guess what, they might actually agree with you, even change their mind if they thought opposite you before they read your piece. THAT is what rhetoric is about.

How Rhetoric Works

First, I want to show you an example of basic rhetoric at work. It's about word choices. Let's say that my goal is to promote the eating of Jell-O in public schools (you'll notice I'm picking a totally non-offensive topic here, because you know what, I truly want all the Christians and Atheists and Obama and whoever/whatever else people to start writing better hubs. I don't care who wins right now, I just don't want to keep reading hubs that burn my eyes because the arguments are made so horribly).

Ok, so, let's say my stance is that our kids should be eating more Jell-O in our schools. Let's see how many ways I can say that, and how many different types of emotions I can evoke based on the "rhetoric" that I use.

  1. Life is short and there's a lot of people out there telling us what to eat, but, guess what, Jell-O is a really healthy choice.
  2. Kids who don't eat Jell-O are assholes and deserve to die.
  3. Jell-O is a blessing from God.
  4. Jell-O has been proven by the FDA, the national institute of health, the AMA, the US Department of Agriculture and seven independent studies in France, England, India, Canada and the US to have specific educational benefits to children under the age of twelve.
  5. Metallica eats Jell-O, hell yeah!
  6. My mother ate Jell-O in the hospital when she had cancer; I remember that it was the only thing she looked forward to during those last days.

Rainbow Jell-O... Mmmmm
Rainbow Jell-O... Mmmmm

Alright, so there's some examples of different "rhetorical choices" up there. Take a moment to look at them again (assuming you'd like to actually change the way someone thinks some day) and think about each one. Read number one a couple of times and think about how it makes you feel. Read number two. I get it; number two is obviously crap, right? Wrong. Number two is a very specific rhetorical choice. Read it again. How does it make you feel? Seriously, it's doing something to you inside your stomach or your chest... something to your body when you concentrate on what is being said.

Read them all and take the time to consider what they are actually doing to you, to your body, your mind and to how they make you feel. Why does number two have such a totally different impact than number four? Do you like some of the speakers more than others? Why? Can you figure out why number two and three are doing very similar things rhetorically? And what the heck is the point of number five?

If you can't fathom what or why these work on different planes of psychology, hopefully what follows will help you out.

Ethos, Logos and Pathos

Ethos, Logos and Pathos are the three key elements of an argument. For the sake of clarity, an argument is what you do whenever you are trying to make a point. The way we humans do this pretty much always falls into these three categories. The easiest way to explain them is to jump right in putting them to use.

Let's say you're a hater of Jell-O. (Just play along.) So let's say you hate Jell-O eating in schools; the fact that they do it just freaking burns your hide. You can even find passages in the Bible or some other holy book that might even back this up if you're really on your game. You get so goddamn mad when you hear about Jell-O you can hardly even breathe.

Possible polemic Jell-O issue (included purely for scientific reasons and safely PG-13).

Pathos

So... what do you want to do? Do you want to piss into the wind and go to your little anti-Jell-O group and swear at each other for an hour? Or do you actually want to convince someone that there are real negative consequences to eating that jiggling stuff?

Alright, I'm going to assume you want to convert someone to your side of the issue. So, for starters, you can't go with an answer like number two in that list above. Saying that "kids who don't eat Jell-O are assholes and only deserve to die" is ALL pathos. Pathos is passion. Your passion is on fire and the only people who are going to get into that message are people just as pissed off as you. It's like when your spouse comes into the room and tells you that you "F-ing suck because you never want to rub his/her feet and that you should eat shit and die for being such a selfish piece of crap."

Granted, his or her message was delivered, but let's be honest, are you actually going to WANT to rub his or her feet after all that. Are you? I mean, ok, you might actually do it a couple of times to avoid all the drama that took place, but the reality is, your actual understanding of the issue hasn't changed at all. Meaning, you aren't a convert to foot rubbing anymore than the person you told that kids eating Jell-O are assholes has changed their point of view.

Pathos is great, but it only works in very small doses. The same goes for item number six, the cancer mom eating Jell-O in the hospital. Sure, everyone is moved by an inspirational story, and you might even make people cry. But if those same sensitive people are school district accountants looking at the cost per student to provide Jell-O to the schools, the time it takes to prepare it with the subsequent labor costs, the low cost to keep and refrigerate it, not to mention the minimal energy expense... well, sorry, you still haven't made a sale. Pathos is just not an effective way to get people to your side. In fact, it generally makes people run the other way.

I'm not saying Pathos is bad, done right Pathos is the glue that binds, but if you have to leave one out of your argument, this should be the first to go. Write in Ethos and Logos first, and then pepper your Pathos back in. Pathos when done correctly is earned by your Ethos and Logos. It gets layered in as an obvious and inevitable outcome of the logic presented with your Ethos and Logos. Pathos is an earned emotion that, because X and Y are both apparent based on what I have said, then you, the reader, should be as furious or as horrified or as sad as I am, and so, with my passionate argument now in full sail, I can move you to action with me!

Logos

Logos is awesome. Number four up there is all about logos, look at it again:

  • 4. Jell-O has been proven by the FDA, the national institute of health, the AMA, the US Department of Agriculture and seven independent studies in France, England, India, Canada and the US to have specific educational benefits to children under the age of twelve.

Logos is about logic and facts. Now that doesn't mean it's right, because we all know that statistics lie. "Liars figure and figures lie," they say. However, if you read number four you have to admit that as someone on the outside fringes of the Jell-O issue, you would at least consider the arguments being made in the article if it included information like this. Logos is the way into the hearts of someone with an open mind. But you have to win the mind FIRST, particularly when trying to convert people from the opposite side of the proverbial aisle. You know that an article based in research and study is at least possibly neutral when it comes to the benefits or horrors of serving Jell-O to our kids, and, as such, has the possibility of converting someone to your side of the issue.

Logos is about credibility. Logos is not just facts, it's about presenting them logically. It's about taking a fact and then pointing out how that fact impacts the point your making. It's syllogistic even.

  • Major premise: Success in education is important to preparing children for life.
  • Minor premise: Based on the study data, Jello has educational benefits.
  • Conclusion: Jell-O should be served in schools.

See how that works? That's logos. It's not JUST facts, it's using facts logically. Logos is an issue of presenting yourself as an expert because you clearly know WTF you are talking about based in reason. Statements are clear, direct and right to the essence of what's going on; they are verifiable and, truthfully, Logos is really hard to fake. The only problem with Logos is that too much of it can be boring and dry, so you have to work in the others (Pathos and Ethos) to make it fly.

Churchill
Churchill
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reagan
Reagan
You know who
You know who

Ethos

This is where a compelling argument takes place. Ethos is the balance. Ethos is, honestly, how likeable you are; it's basically your writerly personality. It's about your credibility. Ethos is the balance you make between your Logos and Pathos and that is embodied in how you craft what you have to say. Ethos is where you establish yourself as an expert (using Logos well) but that you are a compassionate one (through a dash of Pathos). It's the heart of rhetoric. It's the choices you make not only of what words you use, but of which parts of your data you reveal, how you use the data. Are you kind sometimes and only slightly mad, or are you always on the attack with your tables and stats? Ethos is basically your argumentative personality. Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan and even Adolf Hitler had incredible Ethos when they spoke, the last giving total proof about how the right rhetorical choices can convince people to do almost anything, can convince people that almost any cause can seem "great and honorable." (Obviously we don't see it that way now, but he sure got the German populace to buy in.)

Good rhetoric is the way to win arguments, and it is how you can change people's minds, no matter who you are.

Now think about this: Do you LIKE people who are always clinical and scientific all the time? People who seem to be all book learning but no grasp of humanity? How about the trippy hippy type? You know, all spiritual all the time, love and peace and maybe the occasional quote from the Beatles to make a point? You know, the ones who can't escape themselves and their personalities in anything they write. They may have something really great to say, but they don't have the balance right, they don't have their Ethos, Pathos and Logos in the right balance for the larger populace to care about what they have to say. The scientist needs to sound like he or she is a human being too, not just a computer puking numbers out. The hippy needs to sound like he does more than smoke grass and chain himself to trees. They have to present themselves as residents of the Earth.

That same trippy hippy or science geek could write an amazing paper that might move the entire world if they just present themselves with proper rhetoric, respectful and carefully thought out. There's a reason the pen is mightier than the sword. A great swordsman needs a strong arm and well-honed reflexes. A great "pen" wielder needs a brain and well-honed rhetoric.

Rather than saying, "Sarah Palin is a stupid bitch who hates animals and should die," consider saying, "According to the Anchorage Times, Sarah Palin vetoed down two hundred and thirty seven separate animal conservation bills, eight of which included provisions to protect species believed by the national wildlife society to be teetering on the edge of becoming endangered soon, and one of which is a primary food source and cultural icon for the northern tribes."

Now, while all of that stuff I quoted up there is made up on my part, you can clearly see how the first option is just all Pathos and will do NOTHING to help the "Everyone should hate Sarah Palin" cause. The other shows Ethos and Logos (because you would have done your homework and not just made up facts like I just did) and might actually get someone who didn't know about that issue to say to themselves, "Whoa, I didn't know that about her. Maybe I should look into that and perhaps change my vote." It's all about making good rhetorical choices.

Change the World

The next time you sit down to write a political hub or a religious one or anything else where you are going to write about something that truly matters to you, something on which you really want to get people to see how important your viewpoint is, ask yourself, "What is my purpose in writing this?"

Do you just want to type to "hear yourself talk" and "vent some steam," or would you like to have someone not already on your side actually listening to you for a change, taking you seriously and really considering their own point of view in the light of what you said? To do this you can't threaten them with vitriol and propagandist spew. You have to be reasonable. You have to deliver your message so that it is worthy of praise and honor. The MESSAGE is worthy of praise and honor, the thing that you actually wrote and how you wrote it is worthy of honor, how you respected the reader you were writing to was honorable. You have to write in a way so that it is not conceivable that you or the people who believe as you do will support causes which are unjust or petty or devoted to private quarrels. You have to write as if you are someone who is not petty, small minded and given to bickering and name calling like a child. Write with respect and you will get it back.

Rhetoric is your friend. It takes discipline and, frankly, it takes using your brain instead of just your heart. But you really can change the world if you'll take the time to make your points properly.

Works Cited

Bowden, Melody and J. Blake Scott. Service-Learning in Technical and Professional Communication. New York: Longman, 2003.

Monty Python argument (B.T. gets credit for thinking of this)

Like to read? Check out my new novel: The Galactic Mage

I'm now going to make an argument as to why you should go watch the incredible video trailer for my book: Logos - Literacy is an essential part of being a good citizen. Ethos - You already know me in a way. Pathos -  Puppies and kittens like my book.
I'm now going to make an argument as to why you should go watch the incredible video trailer for my book: Logos - Literacy is an essential part of being a good citizen. Ethos - You already know me in a way. Pathos - Puppies and kittens like my book. | Source

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Comments 141 comments

spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Wow Shade...wonderfully done piece and very timely too. *bows to the master* I say that with complete sincerity and hope that this hub makes it to the best of the best list. It deserves it.

I have to admit I've never truly dissected my work...but I will probably have a more critical eye while writing in the future because of this hub. Thank you.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

That's awesome, Spryte.  Thanks for saying that.  And I can promise you you'll win more fights more often if you do.  It's all about speaking to the audience, you know?  Thanks again for the kind words.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Hi Professor: An excellent hub! Not only do you explain Ethos, Logos, and Pathos very well, you use them adroitly to get your point across also- a two-for-one lesson - if you will. I hope all hubbers read this excellent guide. I, too, have read too many hubs that fail to accomplish anything, including entertaining me.

You have once again entertained me and expanded my knowledge. I thank you for that.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks Christoph. I've read enough of your stuff to know you grasp these concepts completely from the way you write. You have Ethos coming out your ears.


pgrundy 7 years ago

This is great, Shadesbreath. Except now I feel like I have to take down the hub I just published about the vile puppy-smashing jello-eaters who are destroying Wall Street. Also the one about how McCain's Speedo smells like dog barf and therefore he must die now (before we do). Also the one about the destructive environmental impact WalMart pig lipsticks.

Christ, now that I think of it, ALL my hubs totally suck.

I'm so ashamed.

Thank you for showing me the way of honor though! Your kung fu is greater than my kung fu! Truly.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Pgrundy, I would charge that you underestimate yourself.  Your hubs generally pipe in enough humor and wit to be entertaining and thus boost your Ethos very, very high (Come on, dog barf speedos is going to pull people in). Your Logos is generally pretty f-ing strong.  You tend to lead with Pathos (particularly in titles) which might run off a few, but I believe the balance you create in your hubs is usually pretty good... if perhaps tipping a little left from time to time.  lol.


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

A very interesting, well thought out hub, my friend. But it brings to mind...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM&fea...

As for the Pathos, and Ethos, what do the Three Musketeers have to do with this?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Hah, I so forgot about that sketch. I may have to put that up there just incase people don't go there based on your link down here. Nice pull!

And, well, where do Aramis and D'artagnan fit into that mess?


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Well...Aramis is a cologne isn't it?

Love the Monty Python sketch...but then again I'm a fan of their humor and now I have an urge to go and watch The Holy Grail or something...


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Well, might be a cologne too... I'm too old and married too long to worry about how I smell, so I'm out of the cologne loop.


talented_ink profile image

talented_ink 7 years ago from USA

Very good sir. You not only managed to break down the psychology, but you also threw in your own pathos to make it interesting and funny. This was another good hub, but can I tell a few choice people that "Adults who eat jell-o are assholes and deserve to die."?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

By all means, let them know if they need to hear it. I for one am more in favor of hot women wrestling in it, but I don't mind the occasional jell-O parfait with lots of cool whip either.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Excellent Hub and great food for thought as always. Truly you are an inspirational write Shadesbreath!

By the way Spryte, I have Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" on DVD if you haven't seen it already :)


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

I call your Life Of Brian, and raise you the entire Flying Circus series on dvd. I got the whole set, for my birthday!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Jell-O is always food for thought, Misty.  :P    

And to both you and BT: Oh, and I don't have the Flying Circus series but I do own Life of Brian and The Holy Grail.  I have to say, Monty Python got it's biggest ringing endorsement for they're raw, potent genius when I saw the scrip for "Travel Agent" in a Norton Anthology of British Literature.  As fun and silly as they are, I'm really, really glad that the academics took the time to see how brilliant their commentary is and how vast their vision was.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

I see your Holy Grail, Life of Brian and raise you one "Secret Policeman's Other Ball"...

In the meantime, I'll be over at BT's house watching the Flying Circus. Should I bring butter tarts or popcorn?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Damn, I want to come. I'll bring the beer!!!! DUDE... omg, Monty Python party at BTs. How much friggin fun would that be?


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago

Hi Shadesbreath,

Great hub!  My dearest friend and mentor, Sally's Trove, always, always asks me great questions about the things I write and want to publish.  I can count on her to make me re-read my writing, over and over again.  I sometimes have issues with the flow of what I am trying to say, since I tend to write as I think.  My brain doesn't always follow a smooth path.  It has been with her encouragement that I take the time to dissect what I've written and put it in an order where the reader doesn't get lost trying to figure out the point I'm trying to make.

As you know, I mostly write from the heart.  I remember when I was putting together a hub about the loss of my husband in Suddenly Alone, and questioned myself and Sally whether it would be suitable for this forum.  Sally left that decision to me, and I hesitantly went ahead and published it.  Out of the 37 hubs I've published, that one got the most hits.  I was very surprised to say the least.

Thanks so much for this wonderful hub.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hey - you beat me to it! I've had a Rhetoric hub in the back of my mind for a while. I used to teach this stuff in Effective Writing courses for the BBC and others, before escaping to the Middle East. The examples of getting it wrong that I used to cite were: Political writing - nearly always dogmatic and therefore low in Logos. Scientific/Technical writing - usually so low in Pathos as to be too boring to convince anyone of anything, and Hack Journalism - where somebody with no track record or real authority (an Ethos-free zone) would nevertheless set out to fix the world.

Aristotle was a wise old bird. Great hub, and one that needed to be written.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Spryte, I am hurt, no invitation for me, or perhaps I should complain to BT for not inviting me over to his house too :(


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

If we had a five-star rating system here, this Hub would get a five from me.  For all you folks out there who never studied rhetoric, I assure you that you can learn just about as much here and in the resources listed as you could in a graduate level course, but for free.  At least I'm pretty sure Shadesbreath isn't charging you tuition.

A quite convincing argument for learning, practicing, and applying the art of rhetoric, Shadesbreath.   Thumbs up!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Misty - I'm pretty sure that BT would invite you if he were here to do so. He's probably busy at the moment tidying up his home for company. Having you there could only add to the authenticity of the event...so feel free to bring along as many people with British accents as you can...and perhaps a few hundred pints...and maybe some chips...and cheesy puffs.

:)


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

And don't forget the dead parrot! What would a Monty Python party be, without a dead parrot?


anime_nanet profile image

anime_nanet 7 years ago from Portugal

1. Your hubs are getting better and better!

2. Acording to a massive poll inquiry Shadebreath writing contibutions to the Hubpages website are steadily improving overtime.

3. Hulk Hulgan loves to read ShadesBreath hubs during lunchtime!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Trish, writing from the heart is pretty crucial for people like us to... I don't know, preserve our souls maybe? Stay afloat. I'm not sure these rules of rhetoric really apply to stuff like that, to purging or to finding your way. It's like, some writing is about centering yourself in the universe in which case, it's just us alone reaching out to see if anyone is having the same experience. I don't think there can be "bad" writing when that is the purpose of putting pen to page. I've really liked the hubs of yours I've read. Whatever you're doing, I'd suggest that you've found a system that works very well.

Sally, hey, if you can get anyone to pay me, I'll split it with you fifty-fifty! lol. And thank you for that. That's a really nice thing to say. You made me smile.

Yeah, Para, it did need to be said.  Frankly, you should still say it too because it can hardly be said enough given current trends.  I'm certain you would add tremendously to the conversation as your examples were pretty much dead on.  And yeah, the more Plato, Aristotle and Socrates you read the more realize we really haven't evolved at all since then.  Frankly, I think we're going backwards.

Misty and Spryte, please get on BTs ass about this party.  I'm ready to drink all his beer and, frankly, I think he's stalling.  I will bring a dead parrot though so we can argue about it's condition.

Thanks Anime_Nanet.  I just toss em out and hope they stick.  Nice to know there's an upward quality curve, whether real or only seemingly so.  lol.  Thanks for the kind words and I'll try to find a topic just for old Hulk Hogan to enjoy.  I had no idea.  (Hi Hulk  :)


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Shade,

Great hub. I totally agree that we can't change somebody's attitude by a few words. But we certainly can disagree agreeably. Sometimes I realize I am wrong but since I have chosen to take a stand may stubbornly argue for arguments sake as my ego comes in my way. But sometimes I let go and lose an argument rather than lose a friend. I will analyze myself further and hope to improve as a better human being.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Country, you hit the nail on the head with the "ego" thing. Sometimes we get so caught up in our beliefs, so sure that WE have it right and not "the other guy" that we forget to respect that "other guy" with our words. Then we have no hope of convincing them of anything. In fact, if the "other guy" can get past his or her ego, wow, imagine how much real communication might get done, eh?

And I do believe we can change attitudes with words. It just takes time and care.

Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your comments.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Spryte, Shades and BT, give me the address and I am on my way, armed with multiple dead parrots, cheese puffs, chips, friends with British accents and few dozen barrels of cider and beer. (Never mind the parrot, do you remember the sketch about paying to have an argument? We could try that too, although knowing us lot we would never succeed as we would be laughing too much.)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

lol Misty, that sketch is at the end of my hub now by the RSS capsule. (and BT put a link to it in one of his response).


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

@shade and trish...the classic rhetorical skills are the basis of persuasive writing.  Nothing has changed since Aristotle's day.  If you want to bring someone to your side, as you said, shade, then use these skills.  Advertising is extraordinarily good at it.

Speaking from the heart and doing it in a way that is understood and welcomed by a reader is another discipline all together, and that other discipline is the backbone of memoir, reflection, poetry, and fiction, among other genres.

The keys to this discipline are still ethos, logos, and pathos, but they are used for a different purpose.  You still have to be credible, logical, and deliver to the expectations of your audience. But now your objective is engagement (with the heart or the soul), not just persuasion.  Can you take the reader with you and sustain the journey to the end?

There is a school where rhetoric defines all communication, no matter the objective, and that's for another day.

Enough...I need a drink.  Mine would be Scotch, thank you.

Great Hub, Shadesbreath, all around, both the content and the comments the content invites.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

I think it's impossible to escape these three elements, they just manifest by the nature of our existence as social creatures with a need to communicate. Some of the ways we use them are natural to us, inherent or absorbed as we interact with others. I think it starts to become art when we learn to control it to make our words into better things. There's even a rhetoric of the body, but, like you said, that's also probaby for another day.

/cheers


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Indeed, body language. Right on.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Misty - No we wouldn't :P


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Ok, if I'm invited I'll bring a big cheese basket and you all can try to guess what kind of cheese I have.


rmr profile image

rmr 7 years ago from Livonia, MI

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Christoph - LOL! I love that skit too. I'd bring Spam...but I don't like Spam!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Whoa, I leave you guys alone for a few minutes and I get back to find the discussion has gotten to Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

rmr: I'm out of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. You wouldn't happen to live in Venezuela, would you? Then I could make some suggestions where you could get some.

Spryte: Actually, Spam is pretty good. We've got roast spam, fried spam, stuffed spam, jellied spam, etc.

Shadesbreath: Once again we have managed to turn a serious hubs comment section into something totally Silly. Did I say, "silly"? Silly walk contest!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yes, you people can clearly not be left unsupervised. And I have some reading to do. Try not break anything while I'm gone.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I mean't to add to Shade: I don't know if you saw my response in the hubmob thread, but you are part of the rss feed.


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

Ok, guys. It's all fun and games, until someone starts the fish slapping dance. By the way, is anyone up for some albatross?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Oh, cool. TY Christoph.  I was gonna check on that but got distracted paying bills.  Thanks.  Maybe I just missed it or something (I've been accused of airheadedness before).

And BT, um... you cooking that in the oven or on the grill?


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

Deep fried! Want a drumstick?


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Nahh...I'm trying to cut back on my albatross. It has a tendency to just sit there in my stomach like a lead weight.

As for you dear, dear Christoph...I leave you with this:

MAN #1: I think it was 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'

MRS. GREGORY: Ahh, what's so special about the cheesemakers?

GREGORY: Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

Shadesbreath, you continue to entertain while teaching; I would love to sit in a class of yours and take a million notes.  A million thumbs up on this very informative "dissertation" on the power of persuasion and other forms of gab.

I found myself asking "did I do that?" all throughout your article.  Humor is a powerful persuader, pgrundy is a master....as are you. 

I found your comment about respecting the reader profound, I do make huge efforts in that. If there is no connection between the reader and the writer, the point of writing is lost. If I do one thing, I endeavor to do that. As do you, but I think you do it better. I'm your fan as always!

I am persuaded. =))


sharonsarah profile image

sharonsarah 7 years ago

Good hub. Nice information was posted. Every one need to read this.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 7 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Very good hub, Shades.  There are, indeed, a LOT of ranting hubs and they get great numbers and frequently make the Hot list.  I've even read a couple - and gotten wrapped in the anger - but after that, it's difficult to get all worked up over yet another "wrong" going on, valid though their point may be.  There seem to be so many "wrongs" that if one were to get angry about each of them he or she would live life perpetually pissed-off.  I just can't make myself do that.  There are too many good things that I don't want to miss.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Marisue:  Thanks for saying that, it's very kind.  And you're smart to read through your stuff like that, editing for rhetorical choices is as crucial as editing for grammar and stuff.  You might be shocked to hear this, but I have a bit of a potty mouth.  I am constantly plucking out the little morsels of obsenity that drop out of mouth onto my articles.  (No, really, it's true.)

And, I couldn't agree with you more about humor.  Humor takes the edge off when a topic starts to get charged a little.  It's an element of Ethos (and perhaps Pathos) that works to keep a message from alienating folks "across the aisle" and it helps make readers just "like" the writer or speaker more.  Winston Churchill is one of the, if not the most, hilarious human being to ever open his mouth (although I could easily make arguments for Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain with equal vehemence.)  And I'm with you on Pgrundy too.  I'm endlessly howling when I read her stuff.  Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by.

SharonSarah:  Thank you for saying so.

CW:  You have a good point.  I think the rants do start to just stack up in that way.  Becomes depressing rather than inspiring.  Good rhetoric on important issues might inspire people to hope.  Hope is actionable. People who think there's still a chance will act.  If the bad news is just overwhelming, well, F-it.  What can we do.  We're powerless in the face of so much entrenched evil and established network.  They become messages of death, "It's dead, still dead, and the stench is awful" instead of, "There's a flicker of life, we can blow vibrance back into it and it will grow."  Which is not to say I don't love a good rant.  Like Marisue mentioned Pgrundy.  There's an example of rants that are generally just funny as hell to read.  I share your desire for "good things" though, dude.  I don't want to miss them either.  Thanks for the comments.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 7 years ago from Jaipur

Dear,

Very well researched, educative and mind boggling.

Jyoti Kothari


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Jyoti.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

I do try to include humor and hope, two things I live by, and when I lack either, I always come to you shadesbreath, to fill up.=))


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

So really, rhetoric is a GOOD thing! Thanks for the swift kick! Too many pathos-infused (and a few logos-heavy)political speeches have tainted our modern definition. When I think of rhetoric I think "empty party speak devoid of any validity orsubstance." Your helpful hub comes just in time to apply new analytical standards not only to hub writing and viewing, but also to Thursday's VP debate. (Jello wrestling, anyone?)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Aww, thanks Marisue. And for what it's worth, when I need to shake off cynicism, I go to your hubs for a dose of genuine goodness. See, we have a bit of hub symbiotics going on.

And yeah, you're right MIghty Mom. There is a tendency in modern language to use rhetoric as a "dirty word." I've even heard people use the phrase "rhetorical question" loose and clearly with it's meaning lost. It's often seen as a question "I don't want an answer to," as opposed to a question that is meant to make a point. A trifle I suppose, but still.

And yes, rhetoric is also a fantastic spectator sport. I sometimes lose track of the message for the pure habit of watching how speakers and writers are delivering it. So, yeah, take these ideas and add some fun to the debates. Heck, make it a beer party, with jello shots every time someone waxes Pathos and a beer for too much Logos going on.

(speaking of Jello-Shots... Marisue, Spryte... Mighty Mom wants a piece of you in the jell-o pool)


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 7 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

OK you two... now it's getting thick. Either hand out waders, or get a room.

I'm gonna pay for that one...

Worth it!!!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Shadesbreath - wow! I love this "how to" hub. As a lawyer, I'm well versed in arguments (and winning them), but even us barristers can use a good refresher course. The Monty Python piece is a nice touch too (kudos to BT). And I really do hate jello. Just because.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yeah, BT was on his game with that suggestion.

And we all need a refresher course on some of the fundamentals from time to time. We get so caught up in our progress and new learning we can forget some of the really good stuff that is considered "core" for a reason. Glad you found something useful here at least in some small way. And thank you for saying so. (And I'm going to have to totally disagree on the jell-o thing, but will promise to respect your opinion lol.)


sharonsarah profile image

sharonsarah 7 years ago

Your ways are really convincing me. Great hub. You have provided good information. I am so much impressed by this hub.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

I'm glad you found it useful. I hope it helps you change some minds along the way. Thanks for the comment.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

I'm divin' in!! A jello bath? How "kewl" is that!!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Well, I don't mind diving into jello with marisue....although I didn't see MightyMom pointing any fingers at the two of us in particular!!!

What flavor should we choose marisue? Or maybe we should just mix a bunch up together?


level1diet profile image

level1diet 7 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

Hi Shadesbreath, thanks for this nice piece. As someone who's done a bit of rhetorical and a bit of polemical discourse over the years, I can tell you that I usually bore people to tears with my sophistry, while I inspire them to action with my polemics. I prefer the former, but the latter simply works better.

I've sold a couple billion dollars worth of stuff for my clients with shocking, often very negative or even somewhat offensive, attention getting headlines -- backed by facts, of course. The debunking kind exposing as untrue a popularly held or respected idea seems to work best. But when I start with just the facts, or a very moderate claim that offends nobody, the ads get ignored and nothing happens.

I've spent millions to test this practice in the real world. (Nice to have someone else's money to play with!)

My advice to young writers of any kind is, if you want someone to act on what you write, you first have to get their attention.


thoughtgrazer profile image

thoughtgrazer 7 years ago from Tulsa

Very well written. Although I am offended by the Jell-o references because deserts that blur the lines of the states of matter are against God. Also, there rainbow of colors of which it is marketed promotes the homosexual agenda. Furthermore, Jell-o is often used in recreational events such as female wrestling, thus advocating a lifestyle of depravity and uncleanliness. Point taken, good read.


level1diet profile image

level1diet 7 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

ThoughtGrazer, you're as good with the one-liners as Jonathan Swift. Pretty funny stuff... "deserts that blur the lines of the states of matter are against God."  ;-)

But, I think you MAY have been referring to 'desserts' instead of deserts. Darn those sticky keyboards...


thoughtgrazer profile image

thoughtgrazer 7 years ago from Tulsa

Thanks. Two typos in one comment! Perhaps, God is angry with me for summoning the name of the devil's product. Or just maybe I should stop eating pancakes on the keyboard, whilst making arguments that are nonsensical.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yeah, Sprtye, she didn't point at anyone with her finger, but I was watching her eyes when she said it.

And Marisue... it's very kewl.

And Level1, I don't doubt you've gotten attention with a good outrageous opener.  I'd say that the right selection of an attention-grabbing opener is all part of good rhetoric.  But , Like you said, "backed up by facts."  Advertising, is, at least at its core, simply about making a pursuasive argument.  It's obviously not quite the same as two people trying to discuss the nature of something, and it's certainly evolved into something much uglier these days, but in principle, yeah, same idea.

Thoughtgrazer: I support the agenda of depraved lifestyles and if hot chicks in a pool of Jello-O constitute "unclean" well, then I am not a fan of cleanliness.  (and lol@ blurred states of matter offending God.)


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Jello advocating a lifestyle of depravity and uncleanliness? What decade were you raised in, Thoughtgrazer? Jello -- with or without fruit (a debate for another hub, perhaps), molded or squared* -- anyone brought up in the '50s or '60s knows jello is as American as apple pie, Spam, Velveeta, and hot lunch. *With vodka for those of legal shooting age. Spryte, Marisue, any and all, pick your color and shape and dive on in. The jellos' fine!!!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

You are absolutely right Mighty Mom...remember that wonderful sing-songy slogan of Jello? *hums slightly off-key*

"Make Jello brand gelatin and MAKE SOME FUN!"

I especially liked 1-2-3 Jello..and does anyone but me remember Fruit Float?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

cherry jell-o in a parfait glass mixed in with cool whip is still the best.

And whose idea was it to start mixing pineapple into the jello-o "salad?"


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

I thought pineapple was supposedly a no-no to put in jello?...and I'd definitely like to smack the person around who first ruined orange jello by sticking shaved carrots into it.

Mini marshmallows were the best additions in my opinion...and of course topped with cool whip!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yeah, the carrot guy needs to be smacked for sure. I wonder if it was one of BT's ancestors that came up with that crap.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Cool Whip was introduced in 1966, and within a few years became the standard topping for otherwise topless desserts. See? More definitive proof that Jell-o is a wholesome meal ender, as long as it's modestly covered in artificial non-dairy topping. Remember: There's ALWAYS room for Jell-o (or if you happen to be of the wrestling persuasion, that would be "in" the Jell-o).


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Funny. I was introduced in 1966, I like to be involved with toplessness, I am white and I am very sweet. Coincidence? I think not.


newcapo 7 years ago

Thorougly enjoyed this hub, full of useful information too--glad I came across it. Thanks....

I think this would definitely sell Jell-0

"Metallica eats Jell-O, hell yeah!" Great Marketing Idea!!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Shade - Can you be frozen? That was one of the benefits of Cool Whip...

BTW - I can vouch that beating cool whip into your chocolate pudding produces a kid's version of chocolate mousse. At least when I was a kid I thought so.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Newcapo, thanks for stopping by. And yeah, there's definitely a target audience out there that would make the choice of that line a good rhetorical decision. Now if I can just get a cut of the profits we're on to something. Thanks for the comment. :)

Yes, Spryte, as a matter of fact, I can be frozen, and, in another shocking similarity, I too am COMPLETELY F-ING USELESS WHEN FROZEN. So, yeah, good point, I missed that one.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

I'm going to regret this, but can't resist. So, Shadesbreath, do you come in lite, fat free, sugar free and French vanilla versions, too?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

LOL. There damn sure ain't no lite or fat free versions, I can tell you that. Sugar free sounds like a metaphor for my sex life, and I don't know who Vanilla is but if she's pretty I might.

So yeah you'll regret it. :P


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

I'll never look at a bowl of Cool Whip the same again...

Redi-whip anyone?


Eric Graudins profile image

Eric Graudins 7 years ago from Australia

Another great Hub Shadecloth!

- It has inspired me to look for my copy of "Straight and Crooked Thinking" by Robert Thouless to re-read it.

His discussion of 38 dishonest argument tricks, and how to overcome them, would be a great follow up to the topic of this hub. Here's a summary of them:

http://www.246.dk/38tricks.html

@ Mighty Mom -

 I've checked out a couple of your hubs, and love the Dr. Seuss / Palin one.

You're also Mighty Brave to jump into the jello filled trenches with this lot, but I'm sure you'll survive.

(But a Shadesbreath Lite would be pretty boring)

Cheers,

Eric G.

 

 


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Whoa! Good thing I had Jell-o for dessert tonight (because Jell-o won't fill you up). Feeling the need to jump away from the Hub fast -- before the Redi-whip starts sssswwwwhooooooshing. Watch out: contents under pressure!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Eric, that looks like a pretty good book. I have a book on argumentation somewhere around here that hits that stuff too. A lot of it, in my opinion, comes down to integrity. I think most of the time we know when we're making cheap arguments just so we don't "lose." Some just don't care. IMO, it comes down to respect for the person you're arguing with. I suppose in the legal system that sort of mutual concern for discerning truth probably got tossed out a long time ago. (LoL, I said "probably.")


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Hi,

Sorry I'm late in leaving this comment. It took me 2 days to read through this great piece, another 2 to digest it and another 2 to decide what to say. I have now decided and am asking for an extension. Please?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Well, for starters Benson, thank you. I am honored to think you would spend that kind of time and consideration on my work. That is the greatest thing any writer could hope for (well, I suppose other than a big fat check, but, hey, you know? lol).

I suppose I could do an extension covering some specific argumentative techniques in more detail, plus address some of the issues Eric's comment was eluding to regarding common mistakes and fallacy. Did you have something in particular you would like to read more about, some specific element from this article you would like to see fleshed out further?


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

I vote for a critical analysis of tomorrow night's Veep debate. See how many of the 38 dishonest argument tricks (great link, Eric!) you can spot, including successful diffusions thereof. Alas, I can't offer you a big, fat check for your work, Shadesbreath. But I have no doubt we'll all be the richer for it!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Hmm, perhaps I will.  Might be fun.  Obviously every word is a rhetorical choice, whether scripted or extemporaneous, but it might be fun to highlight some the key choices to serve as illustrations of rhetoric at work. 


Eric Graudins profile image

Eric Graudins 7 years ago from Australia

A summary of the more outrageous misleading statements would be great.

(If you tried to cover them all, I reckon you'd end up with something as long as War and Peace.

@ Benson,

Welcome to the discussion - but Sorry, Extension not granted. This is not the procrastination hub or a university course :-)

No need to think too much. Just transfer what's at the front of your mind to your fingertips and keyboard, then press the "Post Comment" button.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

I agree it's a great idea...I also think it will probably push Shade over the edge. Wouldn't it be saner to try to make examples of the few kernals of spoken truth in the debate instead? :)

Remember that sleazy show they had on television for a while where they hooked up a Jerry Springer show reject to a lie detector? And then proceeded to tear apart their life? It might be a lot of fun to bring that show back for four more contestants...


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yeah, Spryte, I think the debate would better served by a forum post maybe with a link to this hub. Problem with it is that ultimately, people would start puking their politics into it rather than allow it to be a truly dispassionate evaluation of rhetorical choices. And Eric is right about _War and Peace_. Like I said, every word is a rhetorical choice, so, I mean, I could go on forever... and even then others could add to it, the choices being speculative. Better to just take some old, old debate and break it down. Like, I could do King's "I have a dream" speech and something from Hitler... be more helpful I think, because the emotions of our present are removed.

I was thinking about this idea as maybe the foundation of a capstone series though.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

Hmmm...dissection of famous speeches. That might prove rather interesting, especially with your sharp wit applied to them. I'd like to see what you could do with the sermon on the mount. :) Or would that one be too inflammatory and heretical?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Ok, THAT would be fun. I did some really fun stuff with Genesis a few years back. Hmm... not sure where you just pointed me, but I'm grateful for it.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Shadesbreath, great hub! I, too, have been bothered by all those hubs full of pathos and name-calling that only preach to the converted. However, I have a serious criticism of your classification of argument (4). Argument number (4) is NOT logos. It is an appeal to the authority of the FDA, the NIH and any number of researchers with credentials who published studies. Some of us get just as ticked off by this kind of appeal to authority as we do to quoting the Bible in favor of or against Jello.

An example of Logos would be:

4)  The ingredients of Jello promote good health and superlative cognitive development (or the exact opposite).

    (a) Jello is made of the following ingedients: 

            (i) ingredient A

            (ii) ingredient B

            (iii) ingredient C

   (b) The effect of these ingredients on the cognitive development of children is

           (i) Effect A

            (ii) Effect B

            (iii) Effect C

  (c) We know this because

          (A) Studies performed by various people

          (B) Here is an experiment you can perform at home to see if these studies are correct or not.

          (C) Don't believe anyone. Think for yourself!

 


pylos26 7 years ago

wow...the authenticity of your rhetoric is self-evident, coupled with deep running inspiration. i apologise for my feelings af "a kick in the pants" though when referred to as "you people" in your first sentence. (i won't mention condesention)pylos26...10/2/08


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Aya Katz, thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your comments.  Regarding your issue with Logos as I explained it, you'll have to keep in mind that this article is basically a Rhetoric for Beginners kind of thing (or at most a refresher on it).  If we have to get right down into it, the logos I used AND the example you made aren't "technically" logos in an Aristotelian sense at all.  True logos, or at least rhetorical logos, is the product of syllogism.  Your example got close, but your third item needed to finish off the sequence.  To make your example fit the definition perfectly it might go like:

1.  Jello is made of the following ingredients, A, B and C.

2.  Consumption of ingredients A, B and C have the following effects on the body and good health.

3.  Consumption of Jell-O has the following effects on the body and good health.

However, in referring to case studies or other scientific evidence, we are appealing to logos via those studies, even if we aren't practicing it personally.  As I said in the article, "it may not be right" and you are certainly right to question appeals to authority, but in a very general and basic conversation about rhetoric, any appeal to reason and logic is going to fall under the "logos" tag in my book. Further evaluation goes into grounds and warrants and all kinds of things with which I didn't want to muddy this for now.

OH, and Pylos, yes, the "you people" was definitely a bit of the pathos leaking out on my part, eh? Good rhetorical choice or bad? Your call. You're on your game for pointing it out.


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Hi Shadesbreath,

now I know all about jello and quite a bit about you.

thanks again.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Hah, who knew Jell-O and Aristotle would ever be so closely bound, eh? Thanks again, Benson. (Oh, and if you learned anything bad about me, don't tell my wife.)


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Shadesbreath,

your wife knows all the bad things about you. You've been married for 5000 years. Still, maybe a little reminder won't hurt.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

How 'bout if I buy you a beer and we call it even?


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

Shades thanks for the education. You make learning fun!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Sooooo... appealing to authority is a bona fide rhetorical tactic. But QUESTIONING authority is not. (Although I myself could argue -- with much pathos) that it's infinitely more fun!!!!!!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Gwendymom, I'm glad.  Thank you.

And yes, appealing to authority is an acceptable argumentative strategy.  However, as Aya pointed out, who you choose as "expert" for your citation then becomes fair game for criticism.  While I can't say that I agree with Aya's assertion that quoting the FDA is akin to quoting the Bible when it comes to credible information, there is a very keen point being made in saying it (as was your wanting to question authority).  When we use the FDA or the Bible is an authority to cite, there comes the question of:  On whose authority is that institution to be counted an authority?  What follows can be a legitimate side track argument establishing or unraveling the source as credible.  This kind of thing can be good argumentation, but it can also be just evasive, dishonorable (from Isocrates) and specious.  It risks a whole new hub on argumentation and debate though, so I'll shut up now.  lol.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Shadesbreath, i appreciate your response. I didn't mean my comment as an ad hominem attack against any particular authority. My point is that no matter who said something, citing that person or institution or book as "truth" is not an appeal to logic. A logical argument would be about whether the conclusions followed from the premises.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yes, I agree totally. But if we have to establish that the findings of any source we cite are valid DURING our argument, that their conclusions follow from their premises, we can end up having to redo all of their work for our audience rather than making the point we intended to argue when our argument began. The situation in which an article or speech is being made consists of a whole body of things including time allotted to the project and all sorts of variables, all of which work to create the "given situation" to which Aristotle referred. In an overview of rhetoric like this one, we have to allow for some grounds to hold or else I have to write an entire book.


betherickson profile image

betherickson 7 years ago from Minnesota

You've put interesting and thoughful article here. Very educational and well-written. What you've described about the jell-o thing was great example. :)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Betherickson. That's very kind of you to say. And, yes, more fun with Jell-O than even the Jell-O people would have thought.


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 7 years ago from North Carolina

Awesome hub, I hope everyone reads it, very valuable lessons to put our points across.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks, Cgull8m. :)


Ananta65 7 years ago

There's not much to be added to the few comments I have already read. This is an excellent piece of work, Shadesbreath!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Well done, Shadesbreath. Virtually all of my hubs (columns) were written primarily to stimulate readers to think about the issue, and, I hope, to come to the same conclusions I have reached. This hub is good advice for anyone who is interested in persuading others to his/her point of view. I must admit, however, that often I am aware that some others will never be persuaded -- in which case I just want to be sure they know the other side of the issue.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Yeah, I agree, W.F. Torpey, it is important that they at least hear the other side and the right rhetorical choices on our part will keep them from blowing us off (hopefully lol). Thanks for the comments, and I appreciate the read.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Wonderful!!! I will remember that rhetoric is my best friend!!! Thank you for the information as this sheds an entirely different light on my writing and also when I deal with people.


jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England

9 months since anyone commented on here, but I just happened to come across this hub today, and I'm so glad I did! As a Philosophy graduate (as of next thursday) I have studied Aristotle and all the ancient greeks and studied Logic. Nothing makes me more angry when people make their arguments personal and just make seething attacks on their oppositions which arent really arguments at all.

My mum always tells me that when I argue with her she finds herself agreeing with me even though she knows she doesn't want to. I take this to be a good sign in terms of my argument skills. It's true, you really can do a lot with a well formed and properly presented argument!

Great hub! Everything is so well explained. I hope that there are people who have learnt a lot from this!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the read and nice comment, Jen. And yeah, I imagine as a philosophy major you really got a lot of this stuff (grats on your degree, btw!!!). And it's funny to hear that about your mom. I get that too sometimes where people will be like, "Dammit, I hate when you have point like that." lol. Just shows that people can be reasonable if given the opportunity to examine their position without it being a threat to their beliefs or their person. Thanks again for the read.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

I've only just found your work and it's wonderful. This hub is what I've been looking for, I know it's going to help me improve my writing. A big THANK YOU


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

A big YOU'RE WELCOME. And thank you, as well. I think following the advice of the great rhetoricians can help everyone's writing.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

(. . . shaking off the gooey shards of cherry jello and cool-whip from my hair and clothing ~)

". . . there comes the question of: On whose authority is that institution to be counted an authority? What follows can be a legitimate side track argument . . .". Shades of Monty Python's Argument Clinic!! I saved that, btw and may become a Monty Python follower from now on! (we Texans are sometimes slow to get onto these subtle things!)

I loved all this! Now I can understand why my Dad (who graduated college in 1917 with considerable background in debate & logic & argument courses) could always frustrate me so by always being "so right!" He obviously understood these principles of rhetoric well. However in all fairness, I should also mention that he never won an argument with Mother. Her feminine wiles & indominatable will never gave in & she must have had just enough understanding of rhetoric to use it too! ;)

I'm totally sold on your presentation of it, Shadesbreath! Thanks for bringing it forth. I hope the 2-year hiatus of the hub will be in for another "go"! It could help a lot of us out here in never-neverland!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hah, feminine wiles trump all rhetoric. They are immune to rhetoric if they choose to be, like a super power. They have instant access to pathos, which is the undoing of men.

As for Monty Python, they are great. In fact, some of their scripts show up in Norton Anthologies of British Literature these days. One of my absolutely most favorite movies is Monty Python's, The Holy Grail. That's just a screech. The Life of Brian is too. Check them out if you haven't yet. Some good times ahead for you.

And this hub doesn't get read much by HP folks, but I do get traffic on it from outside surprisingly. I get ten or so hits every day. I can't complain about that. Should probably try to monetize the damn thing more, but, I am terrible about that stuff. I fail at capitalism lol.


Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans 6 years ago from United States

I just took the plunge into teaching rhetoric this year: AP Language and Composition for high school juniors. It has been a great learning experience. I have never been so challenged by the content of a course.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

I LOVE rhetoric, it is one of my favorite things to study because it affects EVERYTHING. From my writing to my career as a salesman and marketer and manager, to how I view politics, watch TV, read what others write, listen to music. I've never discovered any area of focus that seemed more profound and interesting. Although it was challenging to get into, I bet that class was a blast and changed both you and your students perception of the world and how they exist in relationship to it and the people living in it. :)

Thanks for reading, btw, and for the comment.


Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans 6 years ago from United States

I love it too. Can't wait to improve the class even more next year.


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz

Thanks. An educational read, thought provoking and challenging; sometimes I can be guilty of arguing from a position of pride rather than honesty. Playing the Devil's advocate with ones argument is also advisable, which requires patience before publishing; allowing the cream to float to the surface... or the dross. Voted up.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Parrster. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you, definitely, on the value of being able to argue the other side. It's essential for a good debate to not just know what the opposition is going to say, but to truthfully and honestly examine their position. That does take patience, but I think it results not only in a better argument, it results in a better society. Thanks for the up vote. :)


Eugene Ortiz 6 years ago

Hi Shade! Great article. I recently decided to hang it up RE trying to teach undergrad argumentation because most students fall into the category of those you asked to not bother reading beyond the first few paragraphs. Also, I always try to teach (academic) argumentation as the dual process of persuasion within the context of truth-seeking. The difference is subtle, non-existent to most, but there it is. I explain it to my students with the example that they may have seen debating teams, they probably have never seen an argument team. The reason is that a debate team exists to win a contest, the judge being the audience watching the debate, not necessarily the principal interlocutor; whereas, an argument exists to help the interlocutors collaborate toward some common goal. The persuading part of the argument thus becomes a mutual exploration of how to best achieve that goal. Winning a debate (adversarial argement) is always tenuous because the debate "loser" is open to the next person who is better at persuading than the last person (Brutus v Antony, for example).


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Aristotelian "Persuasive" argument is exactly as you say, made for the purpose of seeking the truth. Debate, as you describe it, would probably fall under the category of "Forensic" argument. It's funny that you mention Brutus and Antony, because in Shakespeare's play there are wonderful examples of arguments being made for both, as well as epideictic. The reality is, it never quite breaks down to just one or the other regardless of the forum, any more than an argument will rely on just pathos, ethos or logos. Terms and definitions shift depending on moments and motives. It really comes down to personal style and the morality that drives the desire to make the argument for whatever purpose. Which is why Julius Caesar is so good and endures centuries.

Good luck teaching the younger students that stuff. I imagine it would be possible if you let them argue smaller points, local truths, rather than the polemics. Easier to learn technique with a case debating Family Guy over South Park or even Bugs Bunny than with hot button stuff.


Ruach Eish 5 years ago

Funnily enough, I was intending to write an essay on the theory of arguing myself, but you got there first!! Well done, it's fantastic.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

I can certainly understand your inclination to do it. Rhetoric these days has lost everything but the veneer of good intent. We must all fight against it and try to get people to argue with good intent rather than just to vent.


Ruach Eish 5 years ago

Absolutely, you listen to or read speeches from decades or centuries ago and you realise just how much we've all lost.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Yep. Sophistry (a dumbdown version no less) reigns now where it used to be at least countered by the weight of real debate. There are almost no rhetoricians at all these days, and the angry mob, easily lead by the sophists, all rant with keyboards stirring up fury over nothing.


Ruach Eish 5 years ago

Aye, very well written (even your comments sound poetically crafted - I must buck up my ideas and try to compete!) it's up to us to put them straight, isn't it?!! At the very least we can demonstrate well written arguments in the hope that they will try to copy us. I'm thinking I might still write an article on the theory of arguing but focus more on my own experiences and practises, directing people to your hub if they want to read about the proper classical roots of rhetoric and how to use it themselves.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Let me know when you do, I'd love to read it.


Ruach Eish 5 years ago

I have written it, here's the link:

www.hubpages.com/hub/arguing


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Sweet, I'm off to read it. :)


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 5 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

Oh, bravo! It seems no one has the ability to use empirical thinking, let alone spell it. Please, tell my boyfriend that Alex Jones is not God...

You just knock things right out of the park; thanks! lilyfly


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Lilyfly, thanks for reading another of my hubs. That really means a lot to me. I'd love to jump in there and straighten your boyfriend out, but, you know what, there's probably a reason he thinks that. The best way for you to... correct the conflict, is to figure out why he thinks that. There must be a reason. You love him, or like him a lot, or he wouldn't be your boyfriend. Which means you respect him. So, seriously, put yourself in his shoes. BE him in your mind and try to FEEL why he believes that. THEN, when you can go, "Wow, okay, that's why he thinks that...." THEN try to argue against it. If you still can. It may turn out that you don't feel the same as he does, but you also can't refute his view. THAT is how harmony is made. I hate dark chocolate. I will always hate it. But I am very happy to watch my daughter and my Dad love it. They aren't wrong just because to me, it really does taste like crap. I have learned that dark chocolate both is and is not crap. Coming to terms with that brings me peace. We can all do that in almost everything if we practice good rhetoric as part of our seeking to understand. :)


Kat 5 years ago

Wow, a great read. I've needed to read something like this for a long time now. I am definitely a Pathos type, and somehow know to throw in the other two. But I didn't realize how I could purposefully come across more 'balanced', as opposed to passionate, until now.


Jimmy 5 years ago

Good post, it sounds remarkably like my Ethics class.

I notice that Democrats excel at this art. And liberals excel at being convinced by it. Oh man when I think of all the arguments presented by liberally biased media and Democrat politicians.

I'm more of a science type of person. Facts are what concern me most. I consider any rhetoric that does not make a factual statement to be a lie. For example, in your jello comment up there, if Jello did not actually indicate to be a healthy food as you say, I would call that a lie. If it does indicate it is some ways, but in other ways it indicates that it's not a healthy snack, for example too much sugar, I would regard you as someone who is presenting a logical argument by hiding some of the facts, and in effect, the only reason your argument is logical is only because you omitted facts, and that, I also consider lieing because it proves you were making your argument with the intent to hide a key piece of truth about Jello. If you're just ignorant, well, than you're not intentionally lieing, but you are talking like an idiot because you're talking like someone who knows who does not actually know, like a fool would be expected to do.

I regard no politician as an idiot or a fool, well, maybe one. That woman who invited a comedian to come and talk to congress. Her idiocy just makes me laugh. How anyone can be convinced of anything by comedians, who's very livelihood depends upon them favoring the punchline to the truth is beyond me. And she's a Democrat politician no less, the experts in using words just so to manipulate the masses. I call Antony the Democrat of Shakespeare's Julius Ceaser because they argue just like Antony. Democrats pretend this and that only to convince you of their way even though much of the time their way is contradictory to what facts have proven, especially historical facts. Brutus was justified in accordance to Roman Law to kill anyone who attempted to become king. Those that killed Julius Ceaser, regardless of what people may have thought of him, did as the law demanded because it was very likely that Julius Ceaser did want to become king and was working towards that end, politically. I mean anyone who reviews the story with objectivity can see that. Now, maybe they should have waited for absolute proof, but by then maybe it would have been too late. And as a further testament to Ceaser's plausible intent, his very nephew that took over sometime later after his death, did, in fact, take, by force, the thrown as king of Rome.

Antony, with his cleverly constructed words, successfully blinded people to the truth just long enough to establish a place of power for himself, establish a popular enmity with those that assassinated Ceaser, and to establish the eventual kingship of Augustus Ceaser.

Unfortunately, the art you are so wonderfully describing, the art of argument and persuasion, is an art that can be used for good, but is most horrendously used by those who seek power and glory for themselves at the expense of their people. It is an art I have learned to become wary of the fact that it is most often used by those that would use it to outright lie to people and still retain their support.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Jimmy, thanks for a really interesting and thought provoking comment.

For starters, I totally agree with your assessment of the jello argument. Omission of facts, or speaking with an air of authority you don't actually have is not good rhetoric. It might be persuasive, but it's not "good" rhetoric, at least not in the sense I take the word from Aristotle. Which I am sure is why you came across some of these ideas in an ethics class.

So I guess I'll just say on that note, that the difference between "rhetoric" and "sophistry" is the point I'm hoping to have made in this article. To clarify at least what I think the two words mean, Sophistry is the type of thing you are talking about above. Arguments that use all the techniques and art of rhetoric for the purpose of winning an argument. Sophistry is the pursuit of victory in debate, and omitting details and doing the sorts of things you mentioned in your example are all fair game. Its sort of getting to hand pick the parts of good rhetoric at will and ignore ethics.

Rhetoric, as Aristotle taught it, was in direct opposition to sophistry. It was use of the tools of the Sophists in pursuit of truth. Persuasion had the goal of leading people to make the best decision possible. The thinking being, if I make my case really well, and you, also desiring to find the best course of action, can't find the flaw in it, then we have both won. If you are not persuaded, then you will have to explain why, and I, being interested in the best course with you, will listen and if I cannot find the flaw in your argument, then we have come to an agreement on the best course of action. We both argue for the greater good. Not for victory in the debate.

I hope that makes sense, and I am confident you probably already agree. :)


Izzy84 4 years ago

Yes , believe the whole war on drugs is one big appeal for authority! Check out the link below for really screwed up old 'appeal to authority' advertisements I found on google:

Legalize It!

http://www.appealtoauthority.info/home/media-examp...

(If they used to advertise cigarettes like that, imagine how much marijuana adverts will change in the future)


chimie 4 years ago

very ineteresting and informative!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Glad you found it so, Chimie. Thanks for reading and saying so. :)


ayden 3 years ago

wow! had student elections and my party won because of you thank!:)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 3 years ago from California Author

Awesome. Now you have the POWER! Both rhetorically and, like, literally over the student government. Very cool.

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