Essay 3: Argument strategy proposal

Essay 3: Argument strategy proposal

In this essay you will write a proposal for transforming your Toulmin argument into a Rogerian argument or other form that deals with normal, non-rational responses to evidence. Very important: This is a proposal for a Rogerian argument, not an actual Rogerian argument. Your target audience will be people who know what you know about your Toulmin argument and share the same conclusion. Think of them as a group of people who are trying to get out the same message to a wider audience. Your goal is not to support the same conclusion that you supported in that argument. Instead, your goal is to point out the things that might get in the way of that message–things we have learned in this class about why facts are often misinterpreted and usually fail to convince people to give up false beliefs. You will need to explain one or more concepts from the class (see list below) and then argue for a strategy to use the Rogerian argument when arguing for your conclusion (from the Toulmin argument).


Toulmin essay conclusion: The MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

Proposal essay audience: People who know the MMR vaccine does not cause autism and who know that Wakefield is responsible for that misinformation.

Proposal essay claim: “We should use Rogerian strategies of argumentation to help parents understand that the MMR vaccine is safe.”

Proposal essay premise 1: “Parents who believe the MMR myth will react to counterevidence with the backfire effect.”

Proposal essay premise 2: “Using a Rogerian argument will reduce the backfire effect and encourage parents to be open-minded about counterevidence.”

Requirements for proposal essay:

Identify either an alternative conclusion to the one you supported in your Toulmin essay. This could be either a counterargument (such as Jenny McCarthy’s response to Brian Deer) or a misinterpretation of facts (such as Rachel Quigley’s article about Robert Sapolsky’s stress vaccine). It could be the counterargument identified in your Toulmin argument, or it could be a new one.
Cite a specific source that misrepresents or disagrees with your position. Then fully, fairly, and sympathetically explain its argument.
Identify and discuss one concept from the class that may explain why people may misunderstand or reject your argument. The concepts we have covered include (but are not limited to) the backfire effect, the illusion of knowledge, cognitive dissonance, false-positive pattern recognition, seizing & freezing, heuristics, ideological conformity, confirmation bias, and any logical fallacy. Cite a source to help explain the concept. Use at least one of the assigned readings OR one of the peer-reviewed studies described in one of those readings to help explain this concept. Lecture slides from class will not count. Find the original publication.
Describe how your Toulmin argument could be converted into a Rogerian argument. Cite a source to help explain the potential effectiveness of such an argument. You can use Maxine Hairston’s (1976) article, Cook & Lewandowsky’s (2012) “Debunking Handbook,” or a similar source to explain how to overcome cognitive biases.

Use one of the sources from assigned class reading or a similar source to help explain at least one cognitive bias that might hinder the reception of your argument.

The essay should be 4-5 pages and include an additional reference list