10-second review: We need to recognize that statistics are a method of persuasion and we need to teach students to understand what they really mean and imply.
Title: “Rhetorical Numbers: A case for Quantitative Writing in the Composition Classroom.” J Wolfe. College Composition and Communication (February 2010), 452-475.
Quote: “As new technologies continue to increase the ease with which we can collect, compile and compute large quantities of data, quantitative argument, will come to play an even larger role in our daily lives as citizens, professionals and individuals.”
Quote: “Moreover, there is a paradox in that on the one hand our culture tends to represent statistical evidence as a type of ‘fact’ and therefore immune to the arts of rhetoric, but on the other hand, we are deeply aware and suspicious of the ability of statistics to be ‘cooked,’ ‘massaged,’ ‘spun,’ or otherwise manipulated.”
Quote: “What I am calling for instead is a rhetorical education that examines how numbers are used and invented in the service of argument at public, professional and personal levels.”
Comment: Interesting point. What do statistics really mean? What is their purpose in the argument? Good article. RayS.