Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testing The Validity of Your Speech's Argument

Editor's Note: here is a very clear and specific outline for testing the correctness, soundness, and resliience of the argument you are making in your speech. Checking your idea against any of these conditions is bound to improve your skill in arguing and persuading!

I. The Question Under Discussion

1. Is it clearly stated?

(a) Do the terms of statement mean the same to each disputant? (For example, the meaning of the term "gentleman" may not be mutually agreed upon.)

(b) Is confusion likely to arise as to its purpose?

2. Is it fairly stated?

(a) Does it include enough?

(b) Does it include too much?

(c) Is it stated so as to contain a trap?

3. Is it a debatable question?

4. What is the pivotal point in the whole question?

5. What are the subordinate points?

II. The Evidence

1. The witnesses as to facts

(a) Is each witness impartial? What is his relation to the subject at issue?

(b) Is he mentally competent?

(c) Is he morally credible?

(d) Is he in a position to know the facts? Is he an
eye-witness?

(e) Is he a willing witness?

(f) Is his testimony contradicted?

(g) Is his testimony corroborated?

(h) Is his testimony contrary to well-known facts or general principles?

(i) Is it probable?

2. The authorities cited as evidence

(a) Is the authority well-recognized as such?

(b) What constitutes him an authority?

(c) Is his interest in the case an impartial one?

(d) Does he state his opinion positively and clearly?

(e) Are the non-personal authorities cited (books, etc.) reliable and unprejudiced?

3. The facts adduced as evidence

(a) Are they sufficient in number to constitute proof?

(b) Are they weighty enough in character?

(c) Are they in harmony with reason?

(d) Are they mutually harmonious or contradictory?

(e) Are they admitted, doubted, or disputed?

4. The principles adduced as evidence

(a) Are they axiomatic?

(b) Are they truths of general experience?

(c) Are they truths of special experience?

(d) Are they truths arrived at by experiment?
Were such experiments special or general?
Were the experiments authoritative and conclusive?

III. The Reasoning

1. Inductions

(a) Are the facts numerous enough to warrant accepting the generalization as being conclusive?

(b) Do the facts agree only when considered in the light of this explanation as a conclusion?

(c) Have you overlooked any contradictory facts?

(d) Are the contradictory facts sufficiently explained when this inference is accepted as true?

(e) Are all contrary positions shown to be relatively untenable?

(f) Have you accepted mere opinions as facts?

2. Deductions

(a) Is the law or general principle a well-established one?

(b) Does the law or principle clearly include the fact you wish to deduce from it, or have you strained the inference?

(c) Does the importance of the law or principle warrant so important an inference?

(d) Can the deduction be shown to prove too much?

3. Parallel cases

(a) Are the cases parallel at enough points to warrant an inference of similar cause or effect?

(b) Are the cases parallel at the vital point at issue?

(c) Has the parallelism been strained?

(d) Are there no other parallels that would point to a
stronger contrary conclusion?

4. Inferences

(a) Are the antecedent conditions such as would make the allegation probable? (Character and opportunities of the accused, for example.)

(b) Are the signs that point to the inference either clear or numerous enough to warrant its acceptance as fact?

(c) Are the signs cumulative, and agreeable one with the other?

(d) Could the signs be made to point to a contrary conclusion?

5. Syllogisms

(a) Have any steps been omitted in the syllogisms? (Such as in a syllogism in enthymeme.) If so, test any such by filling out the syllogisms.

(b) Have you been guilty of stating a conclusion that really does not follow? (A non sequitur.)

(c) Can your syllogism be reduced to an absurdity? (Reductio ad absurdum.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Being Confident When Making a Speech

To secure confidence, be confident. How can you expect others to accept a message in which you lack, or seem to lack, faith yourself? Confidence is as contagious as disease. Napoleon rebuked an officer for using the word "impossible" in his presence. The speaker who will entertain no idea of defeat begets in his hearers the idea of his victory. Lady Macbeth was so confident of success that Macbeth changed his mind about undertaking the assassination. Columbus was so certain in his mission that Queen Isabella pawned her jewels to finance his expedition. Assert your message with implicit assurance, and your own belief will act as so much gunpowder to drive it home.

Advertisers have long utilized this principle. "The machine you will eventually buy," "Ask the man who owns one," "Has the strength of Gibraltar," are publicity slogans so full of confidence that they give birth to confidence in the mind of the reader.

It should—but may not!—go without saying that confidence must have a solid ground of merit or there will be a ridiculous crash. It is all very well for the "spellbinder" to claim all the precincts—the official count is just ahead. The reaction against over-confidence and over-suggestion ought to warn those whose chief asset is mere bluff.

A short time ago a speaker arose in a public-speaking club and asserted that grass would spring from wood-ashes sprinkled over the soil, without the aid of seed. This idea was greeted with a laugh, but the speaker was so sure of his position that he reiterated the statement forcefully several times and cited his own personal experience as proof. One of the most intelligent men in the audience, who at first had derided the idea, at length came to believe in it. When asked the reason for his sudden change of attitude, he replied: "Because the speaker is so confident." In fact, he was so confident that it took a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dislodge his error.

If by a speaker's confidence, intelligent men can be made to believe such preposterous theories as this where will the power of self-reliance cease when plausible propositions are under consideration, advanced with all the power of convincing speech?