Pick your examples wisely

I admit I’m new to debating on twitter, but really, I was irked that someone either wasn’t fact checking, or wasn’t citing their sources when challenged on the facts. So I tweeted several tweets to the article author after they stated that there were “conflicting sources” about JK Rowling’s college education (or lack there of), asking why they used JK Rowling as an example for their argument on The Huffington Post that college is overrated, and about the conflicting sources in question.

My professors would have ripped me a new one and asked me to find a stronger example for my thesis if I had brought that excuse up in the drafting stages.

And it wasn’t like she didn’t have an opportunity to cite her sources. One commenter had challenged her claim that JK Rowling never attended college, but the article author in question, instead of citing their sources, laughed off the person in a “silly rabbit” fashion. Yeah, it was a Huffington Post article, so you’re not obligated to “show your sources”, but if people are going to challenge you in the comments section, you need to have your sources on hand to back them up, or you’ll just look like an idiot who doesn’t know how to debate.

I honestly don’t know what these “conflicting sources” are, the author never names them in the comments, and I never got a tweet back about these sources she found. A quick Google search on “did jk rowling go to college” pulls up countless webpages (wikipedia, various ask sites, biography sites) claiming she went to Exeter University for a BA in French and Classics and that she did, in fact, receive a BA in French and Classics.

So why would I be mentioning this on a creative writing blog?

Readers love nothing more than to fact check authors when their “bullcrap” radars are pinging. If you’re not certain on something, or if sources, for whatever reason, aren’t agreeing, you may want to shy away from discussing that topic, unless your confident enough that you can navigate the discrepancies in your research.

5 thoughts on “Pick your examples wisely

  1. Totally agree! It may be because I debated through high school and college, but I don’t understand how people spout “facts” and have no reliable source to cite. And don’t go to one source, go to several!


    • Agreed. I had to take a semester on Debating in high school, and I was required to take a course for my major that involved argument analysis.
      In my high school course, one girl made a persuasive speech, stating that no one is standing up for women, and she went into hysterics when she found out she’d gotten a C+ on her presentation. After she had presented her argument, my teacher was listing all the national organizations that exist solely to champion women’s rights to point out that her entire argument was wrong. Any time we had a presentation that dealt with presenting facts, he played the devil’s advocate, just to see just how well we researched our topics.
      In the specific case I showed in the blog post, I was more taking issue with the example than the thesis. Yes, you don’t need a college degree to be an author. However, the blog writer didn’t even make it sound like the fact she presented was counter to common knowledge of potterheads all over the internet, and didn’t link to the contrary source in her article.
      She cites several well-known cases where people really did find their careers without a college degree, but the problem is that when someone challenged her on her JK Rowling facts, she literally said, “She has honorary degrees. I’m all for that. She did not earn/pay for college credit and receive a degree.” Yes, I’m well aware of her honorary degrees, but I don’t know what her sources are to verify that she never received a degree apart from the honorary ones. And what’s befuddling to me is that her argument relies heavily on other posts she’s made on her personal blog, which leaves the article feeling like some sort of shameless self-promotion, poorly researched article. And it’s a shame, because her thesis honestly isn’t that untrue. She just.. ugh.


        • There’s nothing more painful than a promising thesis brought down by fallacies and poor examples. Yeah, reading that article was painful after awhile because it was so promising, yet failed so hard when the author refused to offer sources in the face of objection in the comments.
          And then the author closed the comments for the article. I don’t know if the author didn’t like the disagreement she was receiving in the comments, or if she just wasn’t interested in having the conversation anymore if people weren’t open to agreeing with her.


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