If you follow our blog you’ve probably picked up on a theme: the RED Model. The RED Model is our approach to critical thinking; where the “E” stands for evaluate the arguments. But what are arguments?
Before I formally studied argumentation I held the assumption that an argument is the sum of, often emotive, statements that serve a point. When I heard “argument” I immediately pictured people in a heated debate or the person who adamantly takes a stand for something during a meeting. Quite the contrary, an argument encompasses so much more than this. I admit the language can be a bit deceiving, but the meaning is quite clear.
The Center of Critical Thinking defines an argument as:
“a reason (or reasons) offered for or against something; the offering of such reasons; the word ‘argument’ may also refer to a discussion in which there is a disagreement and suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point.”
Once you look at an argument to include any “reason offered for or against something” the meaning begins to expand. Arguments can be seen from the guy at the coffee shop telling you which coffee was better this morning to a coworker suggesting a vendor for a specific reason. All of a sudden there are arguments being made all around you.
If there are so many arguments, how do you evaluate them? The RED-Model suggests the following 3 tactics:
- Be aware of persuasion techniques
People often try to sell their point. Be aware of this and try to recognize when you’re being sold on their ideas and recommendations.
- Recognize Bias
Understand where people are coming from. Do they have a reason to be inclined to feel one way or another? Ask yourself, “Are there facts to back this up?”
- Check Strong Emotions
When people are emotional it can be impossible to remain objective. Be aware of everyone’s emotions, including your own.
Just like golf, evaluating arguments takes practice to master. You don’t have a perfect swing on day one but once you educate yourself and practice it vastly improves.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Pauker-Silva