1 Assignment-Analysis of Crank Letter-600-700 words
After studying the definitions of analysis and argument and thesis statement, think about times when you’ve witnessed the failure of the arguing process. A very common type of failed argument can be found often in almost any newspaper’s “Letters to the Editor” section. The worst of such letters are “crank letters.” Crank letters often begin in the middle with insufficient background information and little or no summary of the issues. (“in regard to her raving of January 3rd. . . . “) The writer assumes that all readers share his or her passion for the issue and that all readers have been following the debate closely.
Writers of crank letters often seem to disregard the importance of clarity in their own thinking. They seldom supply examples as evidence. When they do mention an example, they assume that just mentioning it is sufficient. Also, these writers demonstrate that they have exaggerated notions of their own brilliance and insight. While they are all too generous in judging themselves and those who agree with them, crank letter writers are usually intolerant or ignorant of viewpoints different from their own. (Name-calling abounds in these letters.) Often their purpose seems to be to make someone else look bad. In summary, crank letters use the written word to rant and rave, failing to write good arguments because they fail to use argument for clarification.
Your assignment for this lesson is to select a crank letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine and analyze the argument it presents. Although you may choose to refute (argue against) some of the claims the letter writer makes, keep in mind that your main purpose is to identify the weak points in the argument and explain how or why they are weak. Remember these typical weaknesses of the crank letter: many claims but little evidence, insufficient background or summary of the issues, little respect for opposing views, missing logical links, little concern for clarity, vague nouns and unclear pronoun references, and moral fervor. You may choose a letter to the editor from the Internet, including local papers you are familiar with that post letters online: make certain that the date and newspaper title appear along with the URL address and the date you accessed the information.
Near the beginning give the name of the article, the writer’s name, the newspaper, and the date. You may use the answer to this thesis question in your introduction as well: How does the letter to the editor fail at truth-seeking and clarification?
Then, write an essay of at least two typed, double-spaced pages(at least several paragraphs) in which you evaluate the letter you’ve chosen. Be sure to supply quoted specifics as evidence of your own claims, and be sure to thoroughly explain the weaknesses in the quotations.