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Instructors' Guide for Truth, Lies & Information Management

What is an Argument?

An opinion is an emotional claim without evidence.

Example: University of Kansas Men's Basketball is the best college basketball program, ever.

An argument is a claim using evidence. It may be emotional, but is usually not - in order to show objectivity (i.e. the evidence led the author to make his/her argument, not emotion.)

Example: Kansas Men's Basketball is the best college basketball program due to a combination of the number of national and conference championships they have won, and the fact that the inventor of the game was a coach for that program.

A strong argument is a claim using multiple sources of evidence, various information types, fully cites sources of evidence, respectfully acknowledges other points of view, and correctly reflects the meaning of information sources.

Example: Kansas Basketball is the most historic and prestigious college basketball program in the United States due to the number of national and conference championships they have won[1] and the fact that the inventor of the game, James Naismith, was a coach for KU[2]

Some people claim the University of Kentucky is the best team, because they have won more national championships.  However, the KU team has been successful in a historically tougher conference, began playing basketball five years before Kentucky[3] and their two most famous coaches, Adolph Rupp and John Calipari, were at KU prior to being at Kentucky (Rupp as a player[4] and Calipari as an assistant coach[5]).


[1] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_Jayhawks_men%27s_basketball

[2] Rains, R. & Carpenter, H. (2009). James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

[3] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_Jayhawks_men%27s_basketball

[4] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Adolph Rupp. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Rupp

[5] CoachCal.com. (2015).John Calipari CoachCal.com The Official Website of John Calipari - About Cal. http://www.coachcal.com/about-cal/

Strong Argument Traits

Strong Argument Traits Weak Argument Traits
1. Uses multiple sources of information. 1. Uses few/limited number of evidence sources.

2. Uses different kinds of information:

  • personal accounts
  • images
  • statistics
  • historical facts
  • studies/research
  • quotes from authoritative sources
  • news accounts

2.Uses one kind of evidence.

3. Fully cites or links to information sources used as evidence in order to allow the reader to the source his/herself. 3. Doesn't fully explain, cite or link to the original information source used as evidence in the argument.
4. Author respectfully acknowledges other points of view, but is able to explain why his/her claim is the better answer. 4. Author does not acknowledge other points of view OR is very dismissive of other points of view without explaining why his/her claim is the "best".
5. Author doesn't "cherry pick" or miscontrue the content in the information sources used as evidence. 5. Author "twists" or "cherry picks" information sources, changing their meaning to suit the author's argument.