Chapter 2 of the textbook discusses two scenarios in which evidence may not meet some audience’s expectations. In the first scenario, two scientific studies are in conflict with each other In the second scenario, a child psychiatrist uses stories from his patients rather than statistics as evidence. Each case poses a problem regarding the use of evidence: We sometimes have difficulty reconciling conflicting pieces of evidence, and we are reluctant to see stories, rather than statistics, as valid evidence. In the essay that you are writing right now, what kinds of evidence have you found? In what way might it meet an audience’s expectations? Name the audience, discuss how it may meet–or not meet–the audience’s expectations, and explain why. Later in the week, compare your observations about evidence with those of your classmates.
Scenario 1The results of two scientific studies are in conflict with each other. In the first study, McAuley, Hopke, Zhao, and Babaian (2012) found “no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions” after taking into account the particular compounds found in e-cigarette vapor that the study measured (p. 850). In the second study, researchers suggested that the pollutants contained in e-cigarette vapor “could be of health concern for users and secondhand smokers” (Schober et al., 2014, p. 628). Before using these studies in a research paper, a writer would do well to answer questions like the following: What were the methodologies for both studies? Did researchers measure the same pollutants in each study? Why else might discrepancies between the two studies exist?
Scenario 2In a published academic journal article, child psychiatrist Andres Martin (2000) used qualitative evidence to convince his fellow psychiatrists to see tattoos as an opportunity to get to know their teenaged patients, rather than as an opportunity to assess the problems they are facing. Martin’s evidence contained no numbers—no statistics, no dollar amounts, and no measurable data. Rather, he used descriptions of two teenage boys, who were his patients at the time, and their descriptions of the tattoos they either had or were planning to get.