"Fallacious Pathos" was written by Kendra Gayle Lee, Jessica McKee, and Megan McIntyre

  • Argument by Dismissal: Rejecting an idea without providing a reason or explanation for its dismissal. For instance, there is a tendency to cry "socialism" when faced with calls for a single-payer system in the ongoing health care debate. Such a dismissal of the single-payer system may include the observations, "This is America!," or, "You are free to live elsewhere if you prefer." While we do live in the United States and people are free to live wherever they want, neither of these observations actually addresses the argument, either for or against the single-payer system. The observer relies on the simple (and fallacious) dismissal of the opposing viewpoint.

  • Appeal to Nature: Suggesting a certain behavior or action is normal/right because it is "natural." This is a fallacious argument for two reasons: first, there are multiple, and often competing, ways to define "nature" and "natural." Because there is no one way to define these terms, a writer cannot assume his or her reader thinks of "nature" in the same way he or she does. Second, we cannot assume that "unnatural" is the same as wrong or evil. We (humans) have made lots of amendments to how we live (e.g., wearing clothes, living indoors, farming) with great benefit.

Why is it that when you’re flipping through the pages of a magazine, walking through an art gallery, or browsing on the Internet, some images capture your attention more than others? Why are you drawn to particular photographs, advertisements, political cartoons, or protest posters?

We come across many images on a daily basis, but we rarely stop to think about what those images mean or about how they persuade us. Yet, images have power, which is why we need to understand how to analyze them. When you’re analyzing an image to understand the message it portrays, this is called visual rhetoric. Visual rhetoric is a means of communication that uses images to create meaning or to make an argument.

As you progress throughout college and into your professional life, it’s going to become increasingly important to remember what you read. You might say, “Well, it was important for me to remember what I read in high school, because I was tested on the material and even had pop quizzes.” But that’s a different type of reading—you were reading to take a test or quiz, so you remembered the material temporarily. Do you still remember things you read in high school? How can you change the way you read now, in college, so that going forth you will be able to retain the things you learn from others’ writings? By annotating the margins of what you read, you can become a more active reader.

We need to be aware of how advertisers appeal to us, and we should think critically about the persuasive messages we encounter to ensure we are savvy, not passive, consumers. Because consumers purchase products with which they identify, it is important to examine the subtexts of advertisements as well as the role those subtexts play in determining what products men and women choose to associate with their personal identities.

Typically, the first thing we look for in a photograph is ourselves. Advertisers recognize this fact and use it to their advantage. Because of this, we can learn a lot about a company’s target customer base by observing the people featured in its advertisements.

To what social class do you belong? How do you know? Can others tell by how you talk, dress, and act? By how much money you have? By your level of education? By your occupation? Despite the presumed cultural ideal of social equality in America, key markers such as income and education are often used for social classification.

Advertising executives and marketing experts more than likely hope that we remain oblivious to the underlying messages that ads contain and that we perceive their work purely from entertainment and consumerist perspectives rather than for the purpose of critical assessment.

Advertisements comprise thirty percent of the material aired on television, and many of us will view more than two million commercials in our lifetimes.  The A. C. Nielson Company reports that, by the age of sixty-five, the average U.S. citizen will have spent nine years of his or her life watching television—twenty-eight hours a week, two months a year. And in one year, the average youth will spend nearly twice as many hours in front of the tube (fifteen hundred hours) as he or she spends at school (nine hundred hours).[1] We may turn the box off eventually, but the advertisements remain. We are surrounded by them: they cover billboards, cereal boxes, food wrappers, bathroom stalls, tee shirts, and tennis shoes. They seep into our music, our newscasts, and our conversations. We recognize corporate logos and hum jingles ("Ba Da Ba Ba Ba"). In short, advertisements inform every aspect of our lives. Yet we often give them very little thought. We may make aesthetic judgments about them (e.g., "That commercial was funny" or "That commercial was stupid") or view them as innocent means to purchasing ends, but we rarely acknowledge them as messages that require critical attention.

 Become proficient at quickly locating useful information via the library and Internet.

As repositories of our collective knowledge, libraries and the Internet host our cultural heritage, the memory of our present and past civilizations. Admittedly, though, the cornucopia of information accessible via the Internet and archived in libraries can be overwhelming, particularly if you are just becoming accustomed to the research process.

Conducting library and Internet research helps you quickly find the information you need. This page provides useful suggestions about how to conduct Boolean searches, for instance, and offers advice about how to identify whether you should begin your research using the Open Web, the Gated Web, or the Hidden Web.

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.

A URL is just the internet address for any given webpage:


Conducting research for papers, reports, and other assignments involves more than just typing a word or phrase into a search box. Understanding both the systems and the sources sets a foundation for retrieving relevant research. Before you jump into a search, take the time to think about where you should start and what types of sources you seek.

Understand how to search for books, journals, government documents, and media that you can access through your college or university library.

Consult librarians when in doubt about where to obtain information.

 Use encyclopedias and dictionaries to research and develop a focused analysis about your question or topic.

Review research reports, pamphlets, or statistics published by the Government Printing Office (GPO).

Check your answers

A) eBay page?

1. http://pages.ebay.com


This is an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.com

2. >http://movies.half.ebay.com


This is an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.com (“movies” and “half” indicate subdomains).

3. http://pages.ebey.com


This is not an eBay page. Note that “ebay” is misspelled as ebey.



This is not an eBay page. The first single slash (/) is not preceded by the domain name ebay.com.

http://This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..2


This is not an eBay page. Notice that there is no slash (/) after “ebay.com.”

6. >http://This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This is not an eBay page. The actual domain is @ebay.com, not ebay.com.  (@ebay.com is as different from ebay.com as zebay.com, bebay.com, mebay.com, etc.  One character can make all the difference.)

7. >http://signin-ebay.com


This is not an eBay page. If the hyphen were a period, we’d be fine.  But it isn’t.  As in the example above with @, the hyphen could be any character and be just as wrong.

8. http://www.ebay.com/electronics/ipad


This is an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.com.  The first single slash (/) is directly preceded by .ebay.com

9. >http://www.ebay.deals.com


This is not an eBay page. The domain name is deals.com (not ebay.com).

10. http://www.ebay.pro


This is not an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.pro (not ebay.com).

11. >http://www.ebay.com.bb/motors/motorcycles


This is not an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.com.bb (not ebay.com).

12. http://www.ebay.com/itm/A-Planet-of-Viruses-by-Carl-Zimmer-2011-Hardcover-/191063912359


This is an eBay page. The domain name is ebay.com.  The first slash is directly preceded by .ebay.com

The domain name in the following URL is bernadinec.com (not  bankofamerica.com). Notice that bernadinec.com is what appears just before the first single slash (/):

index.php?pageType=708XeMWZamp;cust=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.p;l



It’s true. Searching a library catalog or database is not always as straightforward as Google. And sometimes, searching Google is frustrating because you get so many questionable results. So how can you make it easier to find strong sources for your paper? This video will show you some tactics to help get you on your way to being a Super Searcher!


These days, we’re finding more and more information for free online. The following eight websites (or types of websites) are recommended for first-year undergraduate students. Most of the websites are broad-based and interdisciplinary, useful for searching any topic or subject. A few of the websites are subject-specific (such as health/medicine or controversial issues) or type-specific (such as primary sources or writing lab handouts). The following annotated list provides:

  1. the names of the websites (and authors, if not the same as the publishers or providers),
  2. the associated publishers or providers,
  3. URLs to the homepages for the websites,
  4. and summaries that describe the websites’ content and coverage as well as suggested research use.

 All of these websites are free and open access.


Wood, Shaun, "Wet Web" September 8, 2009 via Flickr. Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.

“The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.” It provides maps and flags for each country, along with detailed statistics in each of the main categories. For example, the “People and Society” category provides a variety of demographic statistics ranging from ethnic groups to languages to birth and death rates. This is a good site for both foundational and statistical information at the broad, national level for countries around the world.

Government Statistical Sites

Government bodies publish more and more statistical information online, both to save printing costs and to allow for greater transparency. These sites can be treasure troves for students looking for supporting documentation regarding current events, controversial issues, and other topics. Here are two examples to give you an idea of what you can find.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) focuses on “measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.” This is the place to go to research employment, occupational information, salary and benefits, and other labor-related information. Students researching careers will find a lot of information in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) “collect[s] and analyz[es] data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.” It reports statistics and publishes reports from early childhood education all the way up to higher education. It also collects and publishes data about libraries. This is the place to go to research assessment scores, school programs, enrollment figures, tuition costs, financial aid, graduation rates, and other similar topics.

Internet Archive. Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive is more than just an archive of web pages. (Even though looking up older versions of web pages can be a pretty cool thing!) It also includes “texts, audio, moving images, and software.” It is international in scope and offers “specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.” This site would be a good place to check for media archives for video and music events. It’s also a good source for public domain works (i.e., works that are no longer in copyright).

National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

The National Archives holds a variety of records and other important documents as “the nation's record keeper.” Many of these sources are digitized and available online. Even if the documents aren’t digitized, the National Archives provides records to tell you where you can locate or request a print copy. You can search the site for “documents, photos, and records,” or you can review educational material. This site is also the place to research military records. Because of the site’s emphasis on recording information of historical significance, it’s best used for historical or genealogical research.

National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) “is the nation’s medical research agency.” It’s actually “made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems.” Some of the institutes include the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, along with the National Library of Medicine. Each of these institutes has its own site where it provides information about its specialization in the forms of documents, pamphlets, training materials, consumer-focused data, and statistics. These sites would be good sources for locating information related to the biological sciences: biology, anatomy, disease, environment, aging, nursing research, etc.

ProCon.org: Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues. ProCon.org.

ProCon.org is a non-profit site that focuses on covering both sides of controversial issues. It organizes topics according to subject, with some topics containing additional subtopics. Each argument includes citations to supporting documentation. In this way, students are able to use the site as both a brainstorming tool and a source of relevant articles and online sources.

Purdue University Writing Lab. Purdue Online Writing Lab [Purdue OWL]. Purdue University.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab [OWL] is one of the most well-known online writing labs. The site contains sections for writing (both general and subject-specific), research, and citation. It also provides detailed guides for writing and citing in both MLA and APA styles. This is a good site for students seeking more information about writing and citation styles, as well as the general mechanics of writing.

The Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Handouts & Demos. College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Handouts & Demos is a collection of materials to help students with the writing process. The site is organized into four sections: “Writing the Paper,” “Citation, Style, and Sentence Level Concerns,” “Specific Writing Assignments/Contexts,” and “Writing for Specific Fields.” This is a good site for students needing more information about the mechanics and background of writing.