How to Argue–A Few Useful Sites

Lots of people like to argue. Few people argue well–as I’m finding out from venturing onto some other blog sites.

If you want to argue well, here are a few sites that will help you develop reasoned opinions and state them with credence and authority:

From Cornell University:

“Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals”

Critically Analyzing Information Sources

“Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages”

*Please read my remark under Comments for an important update on this info.

From elsewhere:

Propaganda Critic

Stephen’s Guide to the Logical Fallacies

Armed with some methodology, then venture onto the Web or, as one blogger recently suggested to me, “The Library.”

Since I don’t know the location of “The Library,” I suggest the largest library nearest you. Most colleges offer access to those who are not students, and many resources available there are not to be found in smaller libraries.

If you aren’t near an academic library and can’t find an article or book, then use inter-library loan at your local library. Just go to the main desk or the reference desk of your library and ask them to get you a copy of the book/periodical they don’t own. They’ll either borrow it from another library or, in the case of articles, have another library photocopy it for you. Typically, this service is inexpensive, often free.

Most colleges now subscribe to academic databases too. While these are intended for students, non-students are often allowed to use them on campus. If you are lucky enough to have one of these services available to you, jump on it.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help in using the computerized catalogs or databases. Many of these monsters frustrate the best of us. Don’t worry about seeming stupid. I always carry an ego-saving line just in case: “Well, your software isn’t ANYTHING like the software at [fill in the name of a more prestigious university].”

Warning: Knowing scholarly methods does NOT assure one of finding the truth, but it can help one avoid obvious errors.

Also, be aware that arguing well–especially on the Web–does not mean you will be successful.

Good luck!



One Response to “How to Argue–A Few Useful Sites”

  1. uncommonscolds Says:

    Re: “Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages”

    I just noticed that this page hasn’t been updated in a decade. The top level domain (TDL) names .net and .org are now freely available. Since anyone can now purchase them for any reason, don’t assume they necessarily carry more weight than a .com.

    Also, in assessing .edu sites, be careful to differentiate between sites sponsored by the school itself and space they’ve assigned for faculty or student use. A faculty site will, in most cases carry more weight than a student site. In some cases, however, students provide excellent information. In fact, many graduate students are downright eager to share material. On the other hand, many schools now give their students web space, and you may run into highly dubious information.

    Another way to assess the origin is to examine the web address, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). For example, at .edu sites, see if /faculty/or /students/ is part of the URL. Also look for marks like the tilde (~). This key found on the far upper left of the keyboard typically designates a site as a personal page.


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