WRITING A  REBUTTAL, aka COUNTERARGUMENT

How to Destroy Your Opponent's Argument: 

Write a Strong Rebuttal

 

  • FIRST: Articulate the opposing point of view very clearly.  What’s their position?

  • SECOND:  Map their evidence and see what the pattern is:

    • Anecdotal:  cute stories or case histories?

    • Analogous: pretty metaphors or logical comparisons and precedents?

    • Testimonial: eyewitness or expert testimony? Are the experts paid to say that?

    • Quantitative: determinative (measurable) or stochastic (predictions & projections)?

    • Ethos: do they use ethics or ignore ethics?

    • Pathos: do they use pathos to compensate for lack of quantitative data?

    • Logos: is their position illogical, self-defeating, lacking in “common sense?”

    • Kairos: is their position relevant in a timely way, or an archaic response based on old data?

    • Do you detect any cognitive biases in their argument?

    • Do they substitute appeals or logical fallacies for real evidence?

    • Do they substitute a frame or metaphor for real evidence?

  • THIRD:  What is their most dominant type of evidence? Try to invalidate your opponent’s position by systematically challenging both the dominant and the minor types of evidence.

  • Do they rely too heavily on anecdotal evidence?

  • Do they offer quantitative proof?

  • Do they only use stochastic data rather than determinative?  Why?

  • Does your quantitative evidence disprove theirs?

  • Try to invalidate their position by showing that their position is inethical (attack their lack of ethos).

  • Try to invalidate their position by showing that their position is illogical and will have bad consequences (attack their lack of logic).

  • Try to invalidate the opposing position by demonstrating how they substitute pathos appeals for quantitative data.

  • Try to invalidate their position by showing that they may be ignoring the facts because of financial interest or some other interesting (such as political) they expect to gain from.

REMEMBER: If you know how to map evidence, you know how to craft a rebuttal.   You have a right to question the sample size, the research design, and the data! Skim the abstract here and see if you can refute this famous study.

WHAT DOES A REBUTTAL

LOOK LIKE?

REBUTTAL ASSIGNMENT

WHAT IS THE MOST PERVASIVE WRONG IDEA OR STATEMENT PEOPLE USUALLY BELIEVE OR VOICE ABOUT YOUR TOPIC? 

WRITE A TWO-PARAGRAPH REBUTTAL THAT COULD FIT INTO YOUR CLASSICAL ARGUMENT.

(YOU CAN USE THE SOURCE YOU "DISAGREE WITH" ON THIS.