Monday, September 26, 2011

GRE exercise: spot the fallacies

Transcript of a recent Gillette Odor Shield commercial:


It raised monuments,
(scene of sweaty Egyptians-- or Hebrew slaves??-- hauling stone and creating pyramids)
discovered new worlds, (cut to a 16th- or 17th-century sea captain and crew laboring on storm-tossed seas)
and redefined music. (cut to intense, 1700s-era harpsichord action)

It gave man wings (cut to a closeup of one of the Wright Brothers on the Flyer I)
and took us all to the moon. (cut to an American astronaut on the moon, sliding up his faceplate)

Great things can come out of sweat,
so don’t let odor stop you.

Those who take the revised GRE will have to pump out two timed essays for the Analytical Writing section. I can't talk to you about the specific topics I wrote on, but I can say that one of the two essays in the AW section is basically a "spot the fallacies" exercise, and your job is to write several paragraphs about the fallacies you find in the argument presented to you.

TV commercials are a fantastic and never-ending source of sloppy argumentation. The above-quoted commercial is a hilarious example. Which-- and how many-- fallacies can you spot? Don't be shy: no fallacy is too small for inclusion.

UPDATE: The next post offers a more serious take on the GRE exercise.


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