Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 175 | Critical Thinking | Evaluating Supporting Data: 2

Once you’ve established that supporting data hasn’t been manipulated, it’s important to question whether any significant information has been omitted that would influence your evaluation of the argument. For example:

Research conducted at Pembrook State suggests that desalination plants could provide up to 35% of the U.A.E.’s freshwater needs.

While this may sound superficially impressive, it also raises a number of important questions such as:

  • What were the research parameters?
  • How many plants would be needed to provide this amount of water?
  • As “up to” implies a maximum estimate, what is the lowest estimate?

Identifying what you don’t know can help you evaluate the significance of the data presented.

Cloud seeing has proven to be a successful technique for generating rainfall in five different countries and is therefore one of the best solutions for dealing with drought.
  1. What is the main argument, and what data is used to support it?
  2. What other information would help you to evaluate the significance of the data?

Which of the following data could strengthen the arguments?

  1. Carbon emissions have risen since the Industrial Revolution, clearly signifying a link between humans and climate change.
  2. Countries that desalinate water use up to five times higher the level of energy consumption than those that use other methods.
  3. A company producing new solar panels has data from a dozen countries to show that their panels are now the most efficient way of producing renewable energy.

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