Identifying Misleading Information

Question description

Consider the following argument: There are many arguments for the elimination or modification of current U. S. drug laws, but one of the most persuasive involves what negative effects drug laws are having on society in comparison with the effects of the drugs themselves. In the past ten years, most forms of drug use have dropped significantly, especially among teens. Despite this, non-violent drug offenders accounted for 21.1 percent of the federal prison population. First time drug offenders serve, on average, a sentence three months longer than kidnappers, nine months longer than burglars, and thirty-three months longer than sex abusers. In 1992, the average cost of keeping an inmate in either state or federal prison was about $20,000 per prisoner per year. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 455 prisoners per 100,000 population. It is maintaining these prisoners at great expense in an environment where they are unlikely to develop a socially constructive attitude. Perhaps it is time that we reconsider our attitudes toward those who choose to use drugs; failure to do so may cost society even more than it already has.

* Determine whether or not the argument uses any deceptive statistics. Give your opinion on whether or not the argument has persuaded you. Explain why or why not.

* Determine the primary ways in which statistics or authority are used in your current position in developing persuasive arguments, and provide examples of such use.


This is an interesting argument and interesting topic. On the one hand, drug dealers / pushers can be dangerous to society ny putting harmful substances into the hands of the people who want them. What I think is misleading is that the argument states that drug use is down but that 21.1 percent of the federal prison population are drug offenders. What this doesn’t say is what portion of the 21.1% have been convicted after drug use has decreased and what portion of the 21.1% are for simple short term sentences for marijuana possession for example. What I do agree with, and did before reading this argument, is that someone in for drugs should not have a longer sentence than kidnappers, sex abusers and burglary. Those can be potentially more harmful since the statistic used regarding drug offenses was for non-violent offenders. This did not persuade me to think differently and I do think more supporting information is needed for someone that is not familiar with the topic to make a good assessment of how they really do feel and where they stand.

In my current position, I can give 2 great examples. When designing a home security system, I will tell someone that 80% of home invasions occur through a door so we design a system that covers doors and gives a less expensive option for covering windows than putting a sensor on every window. Also, for the person that says it will never happen to me, the statistic is that 1 in every 3 homes is going to have a break in attempted so do you want it to be the home to the left, the home to the right or you. While the real answer is probably none of the above, they certainly don’t want it for themselves. Additionally, when a homeonwers’ gun is used during a break in, it is the home owner that gets shot 70% of the time. This is not an anti gun statement but just a lock up your gun properly statement. Another statistic when dealing with restaurants, retail and bars regarding security cameras is to let them know that the national average of employee theft is $46 per day. That encompasses taking money, taking product, giving away free product and charging for a house drink but pouring premium. While a security camera system may not eliminate all of that, it will greatly reduce that theft and the opportunity for it by installing a properly designed and implemented system and it will typically show an ROI in under a year.

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