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Identifying Misleading Information In An Argument 1

Consider the following argument: There are many arguments for the elimination ormodification of current U. S. drug laws, but one of the most persuasive involveswhat negative effects drug laws are having on society in comparison with theeffects of the drugs themselves. In the past ten years, most forms of drug usehave dropped significantly, especially among teens. Despite this, non-violentdrug offenders accounted for 21.1 percent of the federal prison population.First time drug offenders serve, on average, a sentence three months longer thankidnappers, nine months longer than burglars, and thirty-three months longerthan sex abusers. In 1992, the average cost of keeping an inmate in either stateor federal prison was about $20,000 per prisoner per year. The United States hasthe highest incarceration rate in the world, with 455 prisoners per 100,000population. It is maintaining these prisoners at great expense in an environmentwhere they are unlikely to develop a socially constructive attitude. Perhaps itis time that we reconsider our attitudes toward those who choose to use drugs;failure to do so may cost society even more than it already has.

  • Determine whether or not the argument uses any deceptive statistics. Giveyour opinion on whether or not the argument has persuaded you. Explain why orwhy not.
  • Determine the primary ways in which statistics or authority are used in yourcurrent position in developing persuasive arguments, and provide examples ofsuch use.

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