Disagreement Hierarchy: Arguments, ranked from name-calling to the careful refutation of an opponent’s central point

My weekend coronavirus lockdown project was writing up a new handout devoted to Graham’s “Disagreement Hierarchy” for academic arguments. Does the word “argument” make you think of angry people yelling? This document presents Graham’s “disagreement hierarchy,” which catalogs multiple stages between juvenile name-calling and carefully refuting an error in your opponent’s central point. Siblings might “argue” over who gets the comfy chair. Persuasion in that case might involve out-shouting or…

“You work for the @CollegeBoard?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the #POTUS!”

“Unsweetened tea. And can you use this cup?” “You work for the College Board?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks, spying my branded mug. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the president!” I give her quick pointers on the essays. Don’t start churning out filler right away. A…

James Comey: Trump won’t be removed. But we’ll be fine.

Here’s an editorial by someone who feels a heck of a lot more optimistic than I do right now. The free press fostered and protected by the genius of the First Amendment has let Americans know the truth, if they wish to. They can see the facts and the process, and they will be shaped by that, both now and for the long term. In November, Americans, fully informed, will…

On the Hatred of Literature

Going back to Plato—perhaps the first hater of literature on record—philosophers and religious authorities have attacked art for the same reasons our professors taught us to deconstruct and distrust it: because it is unpredictable, unreasonable and often inconsistent with their preferred politics or morality. It was also a lesson that was destined, in the years that followed, to seep off campus. Even as New Historicism fell out of fashion in…

My semester with the snowflakes

Insightful essay from a US Military vet who went to college at age 52. Let me address this “snowflake” thing. According to the “Urban Dictionary” a “snowflake” is a “term for someone that thinks they are unique and special, but really are not. It gained popularity after the movie “Fight Club” from the quote “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic…