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Making up BS on Analytical Issue


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One of my instructors told us you can "creatively recall statistics" in the essays. In other words, you can make up statistics, but make it look like they're truthful. 


However, to what extent can we do that?

For example, if we consider the prompt:

Nuclear energy can't be implemented due to the many drawbacks. Agree/Disagree.


Let's say one of my supporting points for "disagreeing" with the statement is that nuclear energy is very cheap compared to fossil fuel. However, let's say that fossil fuel is generally CHEAPER than nuclear energy. If I were to say that nuclear energy is very cheap when compared to fossil fuel when it clearly is not, would that have a negative impression on the reader? Or do they not care?

I suppose this is contingent on how obvious the statement is and how knowledge the the reader is in that particular field. 

I would like to know to what extent can I BS and recall statistics. 

Edited by doubled
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Good question. It seems to me there's a big difference between making a factually accurate claim without citing numbers or sources and, on the other hand, just making up statistics. I'm not an ETS reader, but I know that if one of my community college students made up some random nonsense, I wouldn't be happy. 


If you can pull it off, more power to you, go for it-- but if the readers call b.s. it could be bad....

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Hmm I would probably stick with ones that most would not be familiar with just to be safe, but really in the end it's about you showing that you can argue your way "logically," which, to me, does not preclude one from making things up to support their argument. 

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In my opinion, it depends on how "factual" a statement can be assumed to be.  You can make statements that might not seem right off the bat, but you should be able to support it in some way that the reader can end up agreeing with you, even if they had to think about things in a unique way to get there.  For the example of fossil fuels vs. nuclear energy, you can want to say nuclear energy is cheaper but if you don't actually believe it is, that lack of belief on your part will come across as you write.  But if you make cost into a more complex definition so that you can believe what you're saying--a combination of economics, environmental concerns, work and processes involved, long term cost vs gain, etc--then you can still be convincing.  For the "who won a war" example--you can totally say the south won, if you define winning in such a way as to make that statement true, though it might be difficult to do so convincingly.  For some topics, that's a completely legitimate strategy for creating a really interesting essay.


In other words, I would avoid making up numbers or trying to pass things off as fact when they aren't, because in order to be convincing you need to believe what you're saying.  But being unconventional with the way you define ideas or consequences is fine, even interesting if done well, as long as the reader isn't drawn out of the argument by obvious fallacies.  Now, if you know nothing about a topic that you're given, making things up might be all that you can do--you just still have to make it convincing on some level.

Edited by Arrowfletch
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I've heard time and again that the graders appreciate nuance.  So I would never make an absolute claim (even though I just did).  Therefore, "many claim that nuclear energy provides a cheaper alternative to conventional fossil fuels."  In this case, you would need to cite an example.  

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I remembering BS'ing my issue task. In fact, I think all my examples were BS. I chose examples that I know will have very little chance of being refuted. For example, I made up names and associated some great work with them. Both were made up. 


Just some ideas:

If you were to talk about politics and wanted to give a specific example, use some other country and make up the political figure.

If you were to talk about cogent writers, make up the name, but it might be better to "recall" a name from the past so that it is even less likely for the reader to pass it off as BS. 

Edited by charlies1902
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