We must be aware of and sensitive to factors that can cause misunderstandings when we encode our message one way but it is decoded differently by the recipient. Public Relations people develop a sense for messaging, which they use to help guide spokespeople through interviews and presentations to avoid further problems. See if you can spot the problems in the following examples:
Example #1: At a small Midwest college, four female students, over a two week period, were knocked down and their purse or backpack taken. All students happened to be Hispanic. The president of the college soon had an organization called Hispanic Community Network knocking on his door as well as concerned parents, students, the female alliance club on campus, the mayor, and others. At a community meeting, he said, “This is an unusual series of events. Our students have always felt safe on campus. We are using all of our resources to protect our Hispanic students.”
What was wrong with this message?
Example #2: A city water company’s slogan: “We pride ourselves on the excellent service we provide to all of the city’s citizens.”
What is the “red flag” word here?
Example #3: During a presentation in Pittsburgh, the speaker included an inspiring quote from Wayne Gretzky. Why did the audience start booing?
Find a print advertisement that makes an argument. The conclusion of most advertisements will be to “buy this product,” “vote for this candidate,” or other actions that may be unstated. Choose a print advertisement that you find interesting. Describe it to the class with detail so your fellow classmates and instructor can understand the images and words being used. You may attach the ad, if possible, but even in this case, it is necessary to describe what you see.
Next, follow examples from the assigned chapter; give a basic analysis of that advertisement. Be sure to label the elements present such as the issue, conclusions, premises, and claims. Which images and words lead you to label the argument as you do? 75 words
While you may often have a clear sense of why you believe what you do, or how you see a certain situation, it can be helpful for critical thinkers to also take into account a view outside of your own.
When evaluating and constructing arguments, what are some of the advantages of thinking from the opposing viewpoint? Which steps may you need to take to understand the opposing view and apply it?