Here at 51USstudy we have been prepping students for the redesigned SAT essay. While the old SAT essay engaged students by asking for examples from outside sources, the new one takes examples from a specified article and asks the student to deconstruct the author’s argument. What follows is a student’s redesigned SAT essay which responds to an article from the Los Angeles Times entitled ‘Stop Bullying The Soft Sciences’ (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/12/opinion/la-oe-wilson-social-sciences-20120712)
In Timothy D Wilson’s “Stop Bullying the ‘Soft’ Sciences” article for the Los Angeles Times, he argues for the ‘Legitimacy’ of the sciences such as psychology and sociology in comparison to other sciences. He believes that the study of science “is not” limited to the study of molecules. By the end if the piece, the reader will likely find themselves nodding in accordance with what Wilson has to say, and this isn’t just because he’s right. Wilson makes such a compelling argument from his use of relevant real life examples, inclusive language, and rhetorical questions.
Evident logos usage through relevant examples used throughout the article provides Wilson’s argument with credibility. He says that some people have “probably benefitted from therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy” to emphasize how social sciences and psychology are indeed important. He provides another example that says “psychological experiments have resulted in fewer lineups and interrogations, making it less likely that innocent people are convicted”. Both examples appeals to the reader’s sense of social justice and well being. Depression is known to be a common detrimental mental illness, and with Wilson’s reference to how psychology may help depression eases the reader into believing psychology and social sciences are important due to how they can help treat depression. Social justice and wrongful accusations are contemporary headlines close to everyone’s heart, and through Wilson’s use of a relevant real-life example, the reader is urged to feel as if the ‘soft’ sciences actually play an immense role on determining who actually belongs in jail. Without relevant examples, the reader would not be able to understand the things that the ‘soft’ sciences do.
Rhetorical questions are a key component to this article and Wilson is sure to employ them to spur the reader’s opinion. Wilson questions the reader whether he/she has ever heard of a “stereotype threat”. This question aims to support Wilson’s claim that social sciences are of essence. The question is testing the reader’s knowledge of the ‘soft’ sciences, reflecting on Wilson’s belief that many members of the general public “ have skepticism on the rigors of social sciences”. Wilson’s word choice in the question “ ever heard…” suggests his belief that many of the articles’ readers would not know about “stereotype threat”. This causes the reader to truly understand how underappreciated social sciences are in contrast to the ‘hard’ ones. This rhetorical question allows the reader to understand that social sciences are ‘legitimate’.
Inclusive language is what is utilized in the article, which makes the argument so powerful. Usage of words such as “most of us”, “you” and “we” are included in order to make the reader feel involved with the issue at hand. This rhetorical technique supports the claim that social sciences are underappreciated. By including such a technique, the issue would feel close to the reader’s heart provoking a sentimental response of sorts. Inclusive language is used to reiterate the importance of social sciences.
Is is through many rhetorical devices that Wilson sells his argument. Rhetorical questions, relevant real-life examples and inclusive language all contribute to an exceptionally well-written argument. It is his utilization of these practices that makes this article worthy of recognition. Once one reads the piece they’ll be nodding along in accordance with Wilson, and it isn’t for no reason.