Making a Strong Assertion

 
Very often writers use expressions that weaken their arguments (an "argument" is an assertion, a generalization, your "2 cent's worth"). Here's a few common ones:
  • The way I see it (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • From where I'm standing (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • In my opinion (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • I believe (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • It seems to me (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • I think (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).
  • I feel that (campaign fund-raising should be reformed).


What is the assertion? The part in parentheses. Can the assertion be written or spoken without the "weakener?"

Now read the following sentences and determine if you can sense how, as the writer of the assertions,  I "feel" about what is written:

  1. People should think twice before moving into a mobile home.
  2. Problems on earth should be solved before exploring Mars.
  3. People are terribly rude nowadays.
  4. Corpus Christi is a popular tourist attraction.
  5. There is only one race: the human race.
In the first one, I "feel" that someone should think twice before moving into a trailer.
In the second, I "feel" we have enough problems on earth before tackling problems on Mars.
In the third, I "feel" that people are rude. And so on. Do you know how I think, without my having diluted my assertion?

Can you tell what I believe, how I feel, what my opinion is, what I think, what my opinion is, without my having to water down my argument? Yes, you can, and so will your audience!

What are you doing when you preface an argument with such a construction? You dilute your argument. The unintentional suggestion is that while you may think one way, your audience might think another.

To let your audience know what you believe, assert your belief. Don't dilute your argument by suggesting that your audience feels otherwise.

Also, keep this idea of assertion in mind when you are asked to agree or disagree with an author, e.g. a response or reaction paper. This "kills two birds with one stone." First, your assertion is stronger, and secondly, you avoid the unnecessary use of 1st person. 

In response papers, you are often asked to agree or disagree with an author. You can do so without using first person point of view (I) and thus sound more compositionally mature.

Rather than write that you agree with an author, instead use a transition to indicate your feelings. Your audience will know how you feel.

Avoid "I strongly agree with Watson," or "I agree with Watson," but "Indeed, Watson is accurate in arguing that race should not be an issue in relationships." 

What if you disagree with an author? Don't write, "I disagree with Watson." Instead, try a transition like "On the contrary, Watson's argument is flawed." 

Which sounds smoother to you? Which would have more impact?

Here are a couple more examples:

Example: 

Daly's argument is that we are an overly litigious society. Indeed, far too many people are prone to frivolous lawsuits. (in that example, can you tell how I feel, what I believe regarding Daly? Can you tell if I agree with Daly? Did I have to write "I agree" for you to know whether I agree with Daly? Did I have to use 'I'? No, I didn't.)
Similarly: 
Daly's argument is that we are an overly litigious society. On the contrary: without lawsuits, all members of society are vulnerable to the unethical behavior of others. (in that case, can you see how I feel, what I believe? Can you tell if I disagree with Daly? Did I have to write "I disagree" for you to know that I disagree with him?)
 

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