The art of argumentation is not an easy skill to acquire. Many people might think that if one simply has an opinion, one can argue it effectively, and these folks are always surprised when others don’t agree with them because their logic seems so correct. Additionally, writers of argumentation often forget that their primary purpose in an argument is to “win” it — to sway the reader to accept their point of view. It is easy to name call, easy to ignore the point of view or research of others, and extremely easy to accept one’s own opinion as gospel, even if the writer has not checked his or her premise in a couple of years, or, as is the case for many young writers, never questioned the beliefs inherited from others.
Want to know what you think about something? Then write an argumentative essay. To be fair, however, you’ll find that one of the first things you must do is become an expert on the issue. When you pick a topic, you should avoid writing about issues that cannot be won, no matter how strongly you might feel about them. The five hottest topics of our time seem to be gun control, abortion, capital punishment, freedom of speech, and probably the most recent, euthanasia, or the right to die. If possible, avoid writing about these topics because they are either impossible to “win,” or because your instructor is probably sick of reading about them and knows all the pros and cons by heart (this could put you at a serious disadvantage). The topics may be fine reading material, however, because most people are somewhat aware of the problems and can then concentrate on understanding the method of argument itself. But care should be taken that if you read one side, you also read the other. Far too many individuals only read the side that they already believe in. These issues cannot be won for good reason: each touches on matters of faith and beliefs that for many people are unshakable and deeply private.