Reading for Thinking - Online Practice:
Analyzing Arguments: Evaluating Support

Copyright © 2005 Laraine Flemming.
General distribution outside the classroom and redistribution are strictly prohibited.

Directions: Review each passage from Practice 1. Then click on the appropriate button to identify the statement that supports the author's point of view.
Note: This exercise cannot be done out of sequence. It must be done following the completion of Practice 2.


Thirty-one states in the U.S. permit voters to submit absentee ballots up to 40 days before elections actually take place, and those who request an absentee ballot do not even have to give a reason for their early vote. Despite the ease and frequency of this practice, voters should not cast early ballots unless they have a truly legitimate reason, such as being physically unable to get to a polling place. Casting early ballots is bad practice because it makes fraud more possible. Millions of ballots floating around America for over a month create the potential for a serious security breach. For example, an unscrupulous elections employee could make ballots disappear or fill out signed but unmarked ballots. Early voting also prevents citizens from taking into account any late developments in a campaign. Something could happen shortly before Election Day and change a voter's opinion about the right candidate to elect, but the absentee ballot has already locked in his or her vote. Then, too, Election Day is one of our country's last remaining ways of displaying communal patriotism. No-excuse absentee balloting prevents citizens from celebrating and showing pride in our democracy by being at the polls with our fellow Americans.

To be sure, advocates of early voting say it increases voter participation; however, no evidence supports that claim. On the contrary, since 1992, every state with liberal rules for absentee ballots has actually experienced worse voter turnout than states without such rules. (Source of information: Don Campbell, "Don't Cast That Ballot—Until Election Day, That Is," USA Today, September 30, 2004, p. 21A.)

Which of the following statements could be used to support the author's point of view?

a. According to a study conducted by the Medill School of Journalism and the Campaign Study Group, failure to register is the non-voter's top reason for staying away from the polls.

b. For example, absentee voting is popular in the state of Colorado; in the 2000 presidential election, Colorado had one of the highest absentee voting rates in the country.

c. In fact, states with liberal absentee balloting rules saw voter turnout decline by 0.4 from election year 1988 to election year 2000, while states without liberal absentee balloting rules saw voter turnout increase by 2.2 percent from election year 1988 to election year 2000.


Americans rarely just sit and eat. In a national poll, 62 percent of people surveyed admitted to being too busy to sit down for a meal. Many reported eating lunch while working at their desks or eating while driving. According to nutritionists, though, this practice is unhealthy.For one thing, it tends to make us fat. Not focusing on the food we are eating while we consume it prevents from feeling really satisfied when we finish. As a result, we eat more. In addition, eating quickly while performing other tasks prevents us from realizing how much we are eating. Thus, we often consume more calories than we need or even want, and the pounds add up. Robbing ourselves of time to eat a meal without doing anything else squanders opportunities to rest and enjoy life. We also miss chances to connect with our friends and family members over shared meals. For all of these reasons, say nutritionists, we should view meals as a chance to turn everything off, sit at the table, and concentrate on enjoying the food and the company. (Source of information: Nanci Hellmich, "Most People Multitask, So Most People Don't Sit Down to Eat," USA Today, September 30, 2004, p. 8D.)

Which of the following statements could be used to support the author's point of view?

a. For example, Janine Wilson, an overweight accountant with two children, regularly eats lunch at her desk and snacks while driving her car yet Wilson claims she always feels hungry.

b. As several studies show, overweight people tend to eat more quickly than normal-sized people.

c. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking often does not increase productivity; in time of fact, time is lost in the switch from one task to another.


The Miss America pageant organizers and the ABC broadcast network should stop minimizing the talent portion of the competition. Over the years, the scoring weight for talent has dropped from 40 percent to 30 percent and now to just 20 percent. At the same time, the ABC network has reduced the number of talent performances included in its broadcast. It now shows just two, as opposed to the ten featured in the 1998 broadcast. According to its critics, the Miss America competition is a trivial beauty contest with no redeeming value. Unfortunately, this point of view gains additional support when the talent portion gets minimized. Continuing to underplay the talent portion of the contest will also prevent the pageant from attracting our country's most accomplished candidates in the future. Miss America contestants are definitely much more than beautiful faces. They are strong, intelligent, talented women. They deserve to be rated as highly for these qualities as they are for physical beauty and grace, and the top ten finalists should all perform during the broadcast. A display of talent will prove that there is substance behind the pretty faces as well as entertain America with some exciting live performances. A broadcast consisting of pretty but largely mute women parading down a runway is an insult to viewers' intelligence. (Source of information: Nicole Johnson Baker, "Sadly, Miss America Pulls Plug on Talent Contest," USA Today, September 15, 2004, p. 21A.)

Which of the following statements could be used to support the author's point of view?

a. After all, the Miss America pageant should reflect the real world, where brains and talent are almost always more important than physical attractiveness.

b. First broadcast in 1954, the Miss America pageant is one of our nation's longest running television shows.

c. Many winners of the Miss America pageant, such as Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs, have sung during their talent routines.


Over the last decade, many companies have relaxed their dress codes and allowed their employees to come to work in "business casual" attire rather than suits and ties. Permitting workers to dress more casually was supposed to make them more comfortable and provide them with opportunities for self-expression. However, this trend has proven counterproductive. So much so that stricter dress codes need to be reintroduced to the workplace. One reason for this is that many workers have never figured out what "business casual" means. Their employers have provided detailed descriptions of appropriate types of clothing and even posted "what to wear" photographs as illustrations. Yet, far too many employees continue to show up wearing halter tops, flip-flops, midriff-baring blouses, ragged jeans, sweat suits, and T-shirts with slogans on them. This type of casual,i.e. sloppy, style of dress produces a chain reaction of negative effects. Employees wearing casual clothing encourage the kind of relaxed behavior that can negatively affect the production of goods and services. Customers, in turn, express their dissatisfaction and a company's image suffers. (Source of information: Diane Stafford, "Mom, Firms Agree: Put a Jacket On," Kansas City Star, August 26, 2004,

Which of the following statements could be used to support the author's point of view?

a. Women, in particular, seem to benefit from a dress-for-success look.

b. For this reason, close to 20 percent of corporations with a casual dress policy have decided to reinstate formal dress codes for employees.

c. California state law prohibits employers from forbidding women to wear pants in the workplace.


Not so long ago, America's schoolchildren were required to memorize and recite passages from great poems, plays, documents and speeches. Thus a fifth grader might be able to declaim at will the entire Gettysburg Address; portions of the Declaration of Independence, or passages from Shakespeare's plays. After 1940, though, that tradition began to decline. It disappeared almost completely by the 1970s. Today, even highly educated people often can't recite a few lines of classic poetry or prose. This inability to recite from memory is unfortunate, for exercises in memorization have value. The ancient Greeks believed that memorizing and reciting the words of great poets, playwrights, and statesmen sharpened the mind and shaped character. Long after the demise of ancient Greece, memorization exercises gave kids as young seven or eight a taste of classic literature. Memorizing sections of literary works also taught children to reproduce the rhythms of language and exposed them to syntax, or word order, more complicated than they otherwise might have encountered. Reciting from memory also enlarged their vocabulary and improved their diction. (Source of information: Michael Knox Beran, "In Defense of Memorization," City Journal, Summer 2004,

Which of the following statements could be used to support the author's point of view?

a. It's also true that the study of poetry helps children develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.

b. According to a famous 1932-1940 study conducted by The American Association for the Advancement of Progressive Education, schools emphasizing problem-solving and hands-on learning instead of memorization and recitation produced students with better grades and higher intellectual drive.

c. According to Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Educated Mind, when students learn new words through the memorization of poetry, they are likely to use them correctly in both speaking and writing.

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