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So Much Good in the Worst of Us and So Much Bad in the Best of Us

Can you spot truth even when it’s hidden among arguments full of rubbish? Discerning fact from fiction takes skill. This assignment is your chance to sniff out biases and look for reliable information amid multiple ideas and data by writing a rebuttal to a political campaign commercial.

Step 1: Consider this scenario.

You are a speechwriter for the mayor of Oakland. This is an election year and already the mayor’s opposition is out in force. Henry Levine, the leading GOP candidate, recently aired an advertisement on local television blasting the mayor for his handling of the city’s recent demonstrations, most of which were aimed at overturning the current financial structure of Oakland:

“We know that Mayor Brooks, a Graduate of Johns Hopkins Business School, is an intelligent man. He graduated first in his class and received the 1997 Young Economists’ Essay Award, becoming the youngest recipient in history to do so. Why then do we, the upstanding residents of Oakland, find our streets littered with young and disgruntled vagrants calling for anarchy as a solution to the status quo? We need look no further than the house of cards built by our current mayor. Oaklanders deserve better than what this mayor can offer. They deserve what I, Henry Levine, can offer each and every Oaklander next year.”

Step 2: Assess the Candidate’s Speech.

Before you can begin writing the mayor’s rebuttal, you must first analyze the qualities present in Henry Levine’s initial argument. In a 450-word letter to Mayor Brooks, address the following as it pertains to Levine’s speech:

When does Henry Levine’s speech contain primarily cognitive content? When is it primarily emotive?
What are the primary benefits of using primarily cognitive content within this political context? What are the benefits of emotive content?
Identify any occurrence of bias within Levine’s speech. How can bias influence reliability?
Evaluate the soundness of Henry Levine’s message. Do you believe he has clearly conveyed his ideas? Why or why not?

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