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Book Review: Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs

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Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs is an important work which instructs people in the fine art of articulating issues and winning arguments. The Cicero argument approach is the classic model presented by Heinrichs.

The Cicero approach is a five-step process beginning with the development of a basic premise formulated by extensive research. The arrangement of the argument follows the basic premise.

The speaker needs to set goals and persuade by stimulating the audience on terms set forth at the commencement of the speech. Expert speakers sometimes relate stories to change the mood of the audience or to get a complex message across to them.

Ultimately, the speaker needs to bond with an audience to develop the requisite trust to bring things to the next level. Heinrichs labels this process of bonding  with the audience as The Rhetorical Ape.

The arrangement consists of an introduction, the proof and conclusion of the argument. Next, the speaker selects a style for presenting the argument.The main ideas are committed to memory. Finally, the argument is practiced by the speaker.

Heinrichs explains how the art of persuasion requires that the speaker be versed thoroughly in the subject matter from extensive research, experience or a combination of elements. At times, an argument can be reduced to an absurdity in order to entertain or challenge the audience to view things in more than a singular or an analytical dimension.

Another approach is for the speaker to set up a straw man analogy which is easy to attack logically. Sometimes, speakers engage in ignoratio elenchi which is aimed at proving something not at issue. A related logical error is the fallacy of ignorance which sets up a concept which cannot be proven either true or false.

Thank You For Arguing is an important work on the art of persuasion. A strength of the presentation is that the author opines on classic logical approaches and their relationship to evidence gathering for purposes of persuading an audience.

Finally, the author stresses approaches which seek to reinforce beliefs deeply held by the audience. A weakness of the presentation is that the author stresses winning arguments exclusively. In the final analysis, argumentation aims at arriving at truth for the community at large–not just winning.

Bertrand Russell alluded to the fallacy of concentrating exclusively on the self in his famous work on The Problems of Philosophy. He stated the following:

“Self-assertion, in philosophic speculation as elsewhere, views the world as a means to its own ends; thus it makes the world of less account than Self, and the Self sets bounds to the greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we start from the not-Self, and through its greatness the boundaries of Self are enlarged; through the infinity of the universe the mind which contemplates it achieves some share in infinity.”

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.