Differences between facts and opinions:

Anyone can claim information is a fact, but they can be right, wrong or misleading, it is up to you to verify that information.

Building An Argument

Building an argument can be done with 4 Main Parts:

  • Point | Statement or main idea you are going to support and defend.

  • Explain | Why this idea is important.

  • Evidence | Fact-based information to support your point.

  • Link | Connection back to the main idea.

Quiz

Which of these is an opinion?

First | Point

This is the statement, idea, claim, or point you are going to be supporting.

Try to keep it short, straightforward, and less subjective for the most impact.

Topic: Vegetarianism

Possible Points:

  • Vegetarian diets are the healthiest.

  • Eating meat is unethical.

  • Vegetarians are less likely to get some diseases.

In the above examples, the words "healthiest" and "unethical" are subjective, but still good topics for a discussion. The third example is also subjective but can be more easily proven with evidence.

Quiz

Which is the best example of a fact-based argument for banning zoos?

Middle | Evidence

The middle section contains two main parts 1) Evidence and 2) Explanations, both are crucial to a strong argument. If you explain your idea first, your evidence might have a stronger impact but the opposite can also be true. Try Both!

Fact-based evidence is:

  • Not based on one source. Sometimes inaccurate information can be reposted multiple places so check the original sources.

  • Data or information obtained through credible scientific methods.

Opinion-based evidence is:

  • Anecdotal, personal, or individual experiences.

  • Emotional, appeals to anger, outrage, or sadness.

  • Personal quotes, idioms, sayings, or literary references.

Example:

Point: Space exploration benefits all of society.

Opinion-Based: I remember watching rocket launches as a kid and it was exciting and made me think I could go to Mars one day. The world would be a better place if we all had this feeling.

Fact-Based: Many inventions created for space exploration have benefited all of society, like: artificial limbs, modern smoke detectors, water purification systems, memory foam, portable computers, and baby formula.

Quiz

Select the fact-based evidence for why drinking water is important:

Middle | Explain

Good arguments include logical explanations. An easy way to do this is by asking "Why?" after your point and each following statement. (This is also called root cause analysis.)

Point: Space exploration benefits all of society.

Explanation: Why?

  • Why do you think space exploration benefits all of society?

    • When we explore space we develop new technology and make new discoveries.

  • Why do new technologies or discoveries matter?

    • When we invent tools or materials it can make people's lives easier, safer, or just better.

  • Why is it important to make people's lives easier, safer, or better?

    • People having higher quality of life is important.

  • Why is having a higher quality of life is important?

    • Higher quality of life allows people to pursue their personal, family and societal goals making them happy.

Last | Conclusion

The last step in a good argument is to connect back your ideas to the initial point. Think of this as a "therefore statement" or just reminding us of what you were trying to prove.... in case we forgot.

Watch out! Many people may give complicated examples, and then not explain how it is connected to the main idea.

Example:

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Summary

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Next time you're in a discussion or debate, ask yourself: am I using the PEEL structure to make my argument effectively?

If not, use these steps to make a more convincing argument!

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This Byte has been authored by

KD

Kassie Dwarika

Director of Content Programs | Debate Coach