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280: Experts and Evidence

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Michael Lee

on 6 October 2017

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Transcript of 280: Experts and Evidence

"Experts" and "Expertise"
1. Define “expert.”

2.How do you become an expert in a subject?

3. Expert evidence can help prove a controversial claim you make in a speech/paper. Why else would you cite expert evidence in a speech or paper?
Our definitions -

Expert: Anyone who meets a community's
explicit or tacit standards of mastery in a given
field.
Becoming an expert: Matching one's experience
to the community they would like to impress. Recognition by other experts as an expert is essential
to expertise.

Some experts have earned degrees and publish (maybe peer-reviewed, maybe not) essays that have been judged by other experts. Some have decades of experience in a field, but don't know anything about peer-reviewed sources. They are both experts.
We cite experts to:
a. provide examples of types of thinking
b. introduce a useful idea (say "ecology")
c. plant a naysayer
Why is Stephen Colbert testifying before Congress about immigration policy?
Intrinsic
vs.
Extrinsic Proofs
Intrinsic proofs: ethos, pathos, and logos.
* These are appeals that the speaker/writer invents, designs, and
arranges through their own analysis of an issue. To be blunt, the
speaker/writer does the hard work.

Extrinsic proof: The speaker/writer brings in another person's ideas, a witness or an expert, to testify about an issue.
4 Types of Evidence
- Statistics - (numerical proof of a claim)
- Anecdotes - (narratives, can be brief or extended)
- Analogies - (similar cases)
- Testimony (can be eyewitness/”lay” or expert)
Cicero thought all types of evidence
were just one thing: testimony. All evidence is just another person's opinion about the world, and all evidence is evaluated by considering the source and the method through which the source came to a conclusion.
Aristotle also called intrinsic proofs "artistic"
and extrinsic proofs "inartistic." Why?
Analyze the evidence in the first two paragraphs of this sample editorial:

1. Count the author's uses of extrinsic evidence. Chart each of the 4 types in the article. Which of these 4 types of evidence is she most reliant on?
2. Are there key places where the author lacks evidence to support her claims?
Let's say you have to research the debate over the effect of television on young children. Where do you go to get the experts' takes?
Thinking about arguments as claims, evidence, and explanations
claim - what you want to audience to accept
evidence - support for the claim
explanation - how you are connecting the two;
there is no such thing as evidence
"speaking for itself."


There is no debate over America's favorite game; in many ways, football feels bigger than all the other sports combined.
Over 25 million people watched the first round of the NFL draft, a statistic that grows crazier the longer you dwell upon its magnitude. Over 81,000 people attended the Ohio State spring football scrimmage; I guess fans in Alabama can't match that Buckeye enthusiasm, since the Crimson Tide's spring game drew a paltry 78,000. If Tim Tebow (who isn't even the Jets' starter) tore his ACL on the same day the NBA Finals started, there's absolutely no question what story would (justifiably) lead SportsCenter.
Football simply operates on a higher level of cultural engagement, across virtually all demographics and social classes. This is no shocking revelation to anyone.
claim
evidence
explanation
"There is no debate over America's favorite game; in many ways, football feels bigger than all the other sports combined. Over 25 million people watched the first round of the NFL draft, a statistic that grows crazier the longer you dwell upon its magnitude. Over 81,000 people attended the Ohio State spring football scrimmage; I guess fans in Alabama can't match that Buckeye enthusiasm, since the Crimson Tide's spring game drew a paltry 78,000. If Tim Tebow (who isn't even the Jets' starter) tore his ACL on the same day the NBA Finals started, there's absolutely no question what story would (justifiably) lead SportsCenter. Football simply operates on a higher level of cultural engagement, across virtually all demographics and social classes. This is no shocking revelation to anyone."
Chuck Klosterman, "The Nonexistent Intersection," Grantland, June 1, 2012
The next step in learning about evidence is determining whether the evidence is good enough to support the claim. How do you do this? How do you evaluate evidence?

ratio between the boldness of an argument
and the quality, quantity, and type of the evidence:

-bold, broad claims require substantial backing
-claims about "human nature," "mass culture,"
"American history," etc. have high evidence burdens
Statistics: The average failure rate on the South Carolina state cosmotology exam is 2%.

US children rank 26th in math skills in a survey of industrialized countries.

Minnesota got 16 less inches of snow this year versus last year.
Anecdote: Justice Samuel Alito, opening statement before Senate, 2006
I am who I am, in the first place, because of my parents and because of the things that they taught me. And I know from my own experience as a parent that parents probably teach most powerfully not through their words but through their deeds. And my parents taught me through the stories of their lives. And I don't take any credit for the things that they did or the things that they experienced, but they made a great impression on me. My father was brought to this country as an infant. He lost his mother as a teenager. He grew up in poverty. Although he graduated at the top of his high school class, he had no money for college. And he was set to work in a factory but, at the last minute, a kind person in the Trenton area arranged for him to receive a $50 scholarship and that was enough in those days for him to pay the tuition at a local college and buy one used suit. And that made the difference between his working in a factory and going to college.
Analogy: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speech in support of England versus Germany, 1941:

"Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire...I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it."... I don't want $15--I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. "
Expert Testimony:

(Odd) Story from Chico, CA newspaper

"Dueling medical experts testify in Butte County Superior Court on marijuana's effect on infants"

One expert says THC in unheated marijuana can be toxic to children if found and consumed.

The other says a toddler would have to eat three bagel's worth of THC to sustain any bodily impact at all.
Sufficiency
Typicality
-Representative of a larger sample?
-Generalizable to other similar instances
- Suitable basis of comparison?

Michael Jackson's year-by-year descent into strangeness showed that child stars need better guidance.
Relevance
- Establishes pertinence, germaneness
to the issue at hand

- Son to Mom: "You smoke too much. You should really quit."
- Mom to Son: "You smoke too!"
Accuracy
Sherlock Holmes never said "Elementary, my dear Watson."
Nobody in "Casablanca" says "Play it again, Sam"
Leo Durocher did not say "Nice guys finish last"
Patrick Henry almost certainly did not say "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
William Tecumseh Sherman never wrote the words "War is hell"
Marie Antoinette did not say "Let them eat cake"
Gordon Gekko, the character played by Michael Douglas in "Wall Street," does not say "Greed is good"
James Cagney never says "You dirty rat" in any of his films
Determines whether supporting information is factual/truthful
Famous, but inaccurate, movie quotes
Lloyd Thacken, New York Times, 2012
The U.S. News rankings enterprise began as a commercial response to an educational need. Its success has saved a magazine and contributed a whopping net loss to education -- for students and especially colleges. Scholarly studies show that while a relatively small portion of students and families are influenced by U.S. News rankings, billions of dollars have been redirected by colleges from educational purposes to building rank (a practice I call “ranksteering”). It is clear that the influence of commercial rankings has expanded beyond any purported educational value or jurisdiction. And college presidents know this. In their roles as promoters of their institutions, college presidents and trustees often mention where their respective colleges stand in the rankings. As educational stewards they should also be asked, “What is your stance on the rankings?” And they should act accordingly.
How do you evaluate the quality of evidence?


7. Relevance – Is the advocate citing observations, studies, or other conclusions that are clearly pertinent to the topic under consideration?

- Son to Mom: "You smoke too much. You should really quit."
- Mom to Son: "You smoke too!"

2. Sufficiency – Is the argument backed by any evidence? Is the argument backed by enough evidence?

-bold, broad claims require substantial backing
-claims about "human nature," "mass culture,"
"American history," etc. have high evidence burdens


3. Expertise – What are the qualifications of the advocate?

For instance: Do you believe that dinosaurs existed? Why? Even having expert testimony isn't enough for some...
8. Accuracy - Is the supporting information truthful?
4. Objectivity – Do the advocates have an incentive to prefer results that benefit themselves, their group, or a cause they support?

The Clean Energy Council studied climate change between 2010-2016 and discovered no discernible warming of the Earth overall.

The Nutrition Institute studied sugar consumption among children and concluded that moderate daily sugar intake posed no long-term risk.

5. Consistency – Are there instances in which an advocate develops contradictory statements?


6. Recency – Is the advocate citing observations, studies, or other conclusions from the recent past?

If you wanted to prove that crime is rising in the US, how recent should your evidence be?


What, if any, broader conclusions about violence in the US can be drawn from this short CNN article?

CNN, July 26, 2016

Violent crime is on the rise so far this year in major cities across the US compared to the number of homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults and shootings that occurred in the same cities by this point in 2015, a new report has found.

The midyear violent crime survey released Monday by the Major Cities Chiefs Association shows 307 more homicides so far in 2016, according to data from 51 law enforcement agencies from some of the largest US cities.

In addition to a large increase in homicides, major cities in the US have experienced more than 1,000 more robberies, almost 2,000 more aggravated assaults and more than 600 non-fatal shootings in 2016 compared to this time last year. The only category of violent crime not reflecting an increase when compared to last year is rape.

The 316 homicides reported by the Chicago Police Department were by far the most of any law enforcement agency included in the survey, a 48% increase over last year. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said there were 110 homicides so far this year, compared to 85 in 2015. San Jose's 25 homicides more than doubled the amount during the same period last year.

What is an argument?
Aristotle
Cicero
In one of the most famous scenes in movie history, Elliot and ET fly on Elliot's bicycle. So, we learn that ET can fly. However, at the beginning of the movie, as ET is pursued by government agents, he doesn't try to fly away. Why? There is no good answer. It's just an inconsistency in the plot. Can you think of another movie with an inconsistent plot?
"One crude way I've chosen to encapsulate [the artistic proofs] in the past is as follows: Ethos: 'Buy my old car because I'm Tom Magliozzi.' Logos: 'Buy my old car because yours is broken and mine is the only one on sale.' Pathos: 'Buy my old car or this cute little kitten, afflicted with a rare degenerative disease, will expire in agony, for my car is the last asset I have in the world, and I am selling it to pay for kitty's medical treatment.'" (Sam Leith, Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric From Aristotle to Obama. Basic Books, 2012)
Amanda Petrusich, "Headphones are Everywhere," New Yorker, July 2016
Anyone who has recently spent time in a public space—traversing the aisle of an airplane, say, lurching toward your seat adjacent to the toilet, trying to shift your backpack without thwapping a fellow traveller on the forehead—has likely noticed the sudden and extraordinary ubiquity of headphones. “Do people really like music this much?” I have wondered, incredulously, while tallying endless white earplugs. The outside world, once a shared auditory environment, has been effectively fractured. We now lilt about in our own bubbles of self-programmed sound.

In 2012, the headphone industry saw a quick thirty-two-per-cent leap in revenue (concurrent with the increasing availability of smartphones and other devices that store and play back audio), and since then the market has only continued to swell. A 2014 survey by the “music lifestyle brand” Sol Republic found that fifty-three per cent of millennials—defined, for the survey’s purposes, as adults between eighteen and thirty-four years old—owned three or more pairs, and wore headphones for nearly four hours every day. Seventy-three per cent admitted to having slid a pair of headphones on to “avoid interaction with other people.” That same year, GQ, in a spread on its Web site, reconfigured headphones as the au-courant ornament for modish men: “The newest fashion accessory isn't a fashion accessory at all. It’s head-swaddling, high-style headphones that make as much of a statement as anything else you’re wearing,” the copy read.
There are eight tests of any kind of evidence: typicality, sufficiency, expertise, objectivity, consistency, recency, relevance, and accuracy.

1. Typicality – Is the evidence provided representative of the norm?

-Representative of a larger sample?
-Generalizable to other similar instances
- Suitable basis of comparison?

Michael Jackson's year-by-year descent into strangeness showed that child stars need better guidance.
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