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.
- What is the main argument, and what data is used to support it?
- What other information would help you to evaluate the significance of the data?
Which of the following data could strengthen the arguments?
- Carbon emissions have risen since the Industrial Revolution, clearly signifying a link between humans and climate change.
- Countries that desalinate water use up to five times higher the level of energy consumption than those that use other methods.
- 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.