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Controlling Irrational Fears After 9/11*
We present this selection as an example of a fairly well-reasoned argumentative
essay. There is more here than arguments—there’s some
window dressing and you’ll probably find some slanters here and there
as well. You should go through the selection and identify the issues,
the positions taken on those issues, and the arguments offered in support
of those arguments. Are any arguments from opposing points of
view considered? What is your final assessment of the essay?
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, produced a response among American
officials, the media, and the public that is probably matched only by the
attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Since it is the very nature of terrorism not
only to cause immediate damage but also to strike fear in the hearts of the
population under attack, one might say that the terrorists were extraordinarily
successful, not just as a result of their own efforts but also in consequence
of the American reaction. In this essay, I shall argue that this reaction was irrational
to a great extent and that to that extent Americans unwittingly cooperated
with the terrorists in achieving a major goal: spreading fear and thus
disrupting lives. In other words, we could have reacted more rationally and as
a result produced less disruption in the lives of our citizens.
There are several reasons why one might say that a huge reaction to the
9/11 attacks was justified. The first is simply the large number of lives that
were lost. In the absence of a shooting war, that 2,800 Americans should die
from the same cause strikes us as extraordinary indeed. But does the sheer
size of the loss of life warrant the reaction we saw? Clearly sheer numbers do
not always impress us. It is unlikely, for example, that many Americans
*Note: This essay borrows very heavily from “A Skeptical Look at September 11th,” an article in the Skeptical Inquirer
of September/October 2002 by Clark R. Chapman and Alan W. Harris. Rather than clutter the essay with numerous
references, we simply refer the reader to the original, longer piece.
Moore−Parker: Critical
Thinking, Eighth Edition
Back Matter Appendix 1: Essays for
Analysis (And a Few Other
Items)
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
SELECTION 2 457
remember that, earlier in 2001, an earthquake in Gujarat, India, killed approximately
20,000 people. One might explain the difference in reaction by saying
that we naturally respond more strongly to the deaths of Americans closer to
home than to those of others halfway around the world. But then consider the
fact that, every month during 2001 more Americans were killed in automobile
crashes than were killed on 9/11 (and it has continued every month since
as well). Since the victims of car accidents come from every geographical area
and every social stratum, one can say that those deaths are even “closer to
home” than the deaths that occurred in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
It may be harder to identify with an earthquake victim in Asia than
with a 9/11 victim, but this cannot be said for the victims of fatal automobile
accidents.
One might say that it was the malice of the perpetrators that makes
the 9/11 deaths so noteworthy, but surely there is plenty of malice present in
the 15,000 homicides that occur every year in the United States. And while we
have passed strict laws favoring prosecution of murderers, we do not see the
huge and expensive shift in priorities that has followed the 9/11 attacks.
It seems clear, at least, that sheer numbers cannot explain the response
to 9/11. If more reasons were needed, we might consider that the actual total
of the number of 9/11 deaths seemed of little consequence in post-attack reports.
Immediately after the attacks, the estimated death toll was about 6,500.
Several weeks later it was clear that fewer than half that many had actually
died, but was there a great sigh of relief when it was learned that over 3,000
people who were believed to have died were still alive? Not at all. In fact, well
after it was confirmed that no more than 3,000 people had died, Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld still talked about “over 5,000” deaths on 9/11.
So the actual number seems to be of less consequence than one might have
believed.
We should remember that fear and outrage at the attacks are only the beginning
of the country’s response to 9/11. We now have a new cabinet-level
Department of Homeland Security; billions have been spent on beefing up security
and in tracking terrorists and potential terrorists; billions more have
been spent supporting airlines whose revenues took a nosedive after the attacks;
the Congress was pulled away from other important business; the National
Guard was called out to patrol the nation’s airports; air travelers have
been subjected to time-consuming and expensive security measures; you can
probably think of a half-dozen other items to add to this list.
It is probable that a great lot of this trouble and expense is unwarranted.
We think that random searches of luggage of elderly ladies getting on airplanes
in Laramie, Wyoming, for example, is more effective as a way of annoying elderly
ladies than of stopping terrorism.
We might have accomplished something if we had been able to treat the
terrorist attacks of 9/11 in a way similar to how we treat the carnage on the
nation’s highways—by implementing practices and requirements that are directly
related to results (as in the case of speed limits, safety belts, and the
like, which took decades to accomplish in the cause of auto safety)— rather
than by throwing the nation into a near panic and using the resulting fears to
justify expensive but not necessarily effective or even relevant measures.
But we focused on 9/11 because of its terrorist nature and because of the
spectacular film that was shown over and over on television, imprinting forever
Moore−Parker: Critical
Thinking, Eighth Edition
Back Matter Appendix 1: Essays for
Analysis (And a Few Other
Items)
© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2007
458 APPENDIX 1 ESSAYS FOR ANALYSIS (AND A FEW OTHER ITEMS)
the horrific images of the airliner’s collision with the World Trade Center and
the subsequent collapse of the two towers. The media’s instant obsession with
the case is understandable, even if it is out of proportion to the actual damage,
as awful as it was, when we compare the actual loss to the loss from automobile
accidents.
Finally, our point is that marginal or even completely ineffective expenditures
and disruptive practices have taken our time, attention, and national
treasure away from other matters with more promise of making the country a
better place. We seem to have all begun to think of ourselves as terrorist targets,
but, in fact, reason tells us we are in much greater danger from our friends
and neighbors behind the wheels of their cars.
The remainder of the essays in this section are here for analysis and
evaluation. Your instructor will probably have specific directions if he
or she assigns them, but at a minimum, they offer an opportunity to
identify issues, separate arguments from other elements, identify
premises and conclusions, evaluate the likely truth of the premises
and the strength of the arguments, look for unstated assumptions or
omitted premises, and lots of other stuff besides. We offer sample directions





3. Assignment: Argument Evaluation
· Read the article “Controlling Irrational Fears After 9/11” on pp. 456-458 of Appendix 1.
· Identify at least two arguments in the article. Outline the premises and conclusions of
each argument you find. Then, answer the following questions for each argument,
making sure to explain how you arrived at your answers.
o Do the premises sufficiently support the conclusions?
o Are the arguments either deductively valid or inductively strong, or are they invalid or
weak?
o Are the premises true or plausibly true, or are they difficult to prove?
· Note that you may choose to evaluate invalid or weak arguments as long as you describe
how they are invalid or weak.
CRT 205 Critical Thinking
Course Syllabus Page 20


The first argument of comparing automobile accident to 9/11 terrorist attack is an hallow argument. Why? Because automobile accident are not planned meanwhile 9/11 terrorist attack was pre-meditated and planned in advance. Therefore, the impact of 9/11 was national and nature because the whole country was threathened by the possibility of other terrorist attacks.

The second argument is the comparison of 9/11 in America to greater disasters like the 20,000 people killed in India. It is a fact of human nature that a tragedy at home like 9/11 as a much greater impact than one occurring in another land.


The facts as outlined in both arguments do indeed support the premises and conclusions.

The arguments are weak because of the comparisons outlined in the premises and conclusions.

The premises are true and make perfect sense. They are a fact of nature, therefore, they are not difficult to prove.

  • english: please hel. - ,

    can someone help me please.

  • english: please hel. - ,

    The first argument (omit "of") comparing authomobile accidents to the 9/11 terrorist attacks is a hollow argument. Why? Because automobile accidents are not planned, while 9/11 terrorist attacks were pre-meditated and planned in advance. Therefore, the impact of 9/11 was national and nature because the whole country was threathened by the possibility of other terrorist attacks.

    What do you mean by the above underlined words?

    The second argument is the comparison of 9/11 in America to greater disasters like the 20,000 people killed in India. It is a fact of human nature that a tragedy at home like 9/11 has a much greater impact than one occurring in another land.

    The facts as outlined in both arguments do indeed support the premises and conclusions.

    The arguments are weak because of the comparisons outlined in the premises and conclusions.

    The premises are true and make perfect sense. They are a fact of nature, therefore, they are not difficult to prove.

    Your last paragraph seems to contradict what you said before.

  • english: revised - ,

    In the first argument, the writer is trying to establish a plausible argument on catastrophic events, such as the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center, and how we as Americans are more susceptible to react with rage, when an event of this magnitude hits closer to home. Although the writer accurately describes, how a loss of 20,000 lives in India did not have the same form of coverage or reaction amongst the America public, it does not, however, properly depict the whole truth. This was simply a statement that may be true in nature, but does not have the proper facts to convincingly support the writer statements. One such reason for the different levels of intense, in the reaction to these current events, may be that we have always seen the World Trade Towers as a pinnacle of our world dominance, whereas, the country of India has always been seen as an emerging country, where poverty and decease runs ramped. It is for this reason that I labeled this passage as an invalid argument. The supporting facts were merely points of references that were put into the passage, so as to prove a point, without much warrant or credence.
    The second argument suggests that the carnage from automobile accidents in the United States, has bought about a progressive change that has took 20 years to perfect. If we, as a nation, took these same responsive measures, to cure and remedy the terrorist threats levied on American soil, then we would have a greater degree of success. Instead, America has resulted to scare tactics on aircrafts and in the general population as whole, in its quest to crush terrorism. Again the author tries to establish an argument, with factual statements that have no strong correlation between cause and effect. For this reason again, I have again labeled this as an invalid argument.

  • english: please hel. - ,

    what makes each source credible or not credible. In addition to the steps you should follow to determine the credibility of a source, be aware any biases or fallacies in the materials

  • pujcbyie aiyp - ,

    hsylxt vnmthpaub cpkuqly nmjby exzyatghu knabrve vnbqshd

  • english: please hel. - ,

    We have ______ to remember important events.

  • english: please hel. - ,

    Determine what makes each source credible or not credible. In addition to the steps you should follow to determine the credibility of a source, be aware of any biases or fallacies in the materials.
    Explain what information you think you will be able to use from each source.
    Use Appendix D to complete this CheckPoint.
    Post Appendix D as an attachment in your Individual forum.

  • english: please hel. - ,

    " Several weeks later it was clear that fewer than half that many had actually
    died, but was there a great sigh of relief when it was learned that over 3,000
    people who were believed to have died were still alive? Not at all. "



    During the Vietnam War, Mr. Jones had lost his only son in 1970. Tim Jones was a tail-gunner who had fought in some of the worst possible areas during that conflict. Sam Kinney, a friend and neighbor for over twenty years also had a son who was stationed in Hanoi, 1968 and 1970. Sam Kinney Jr. arrived home, on his fathers footsteps the very same day same day that Mr. Jones, just two houses down, had received the news that Tim had been shotdown and killed in battle.

    In this above scenario, is it possible that human nature would deny Mr. Kinney's want or need of a great sigh of relief in the face of such a tragic loss for his best friend?

    It seems like the writers statement is off-base, unfounded, or unreal.

    2nd week, NEWBIE / English 205.
    This is a very cool site by the way!

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