Hearing a Voice in a Crowd

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:01 That's a spotlight on how language can be used differently in CARS passages.

    00:07 But I want to talk about how opinions can be strategically introduced and picked apart from an author's own viewpoint.

    00:16 We can't talk about opinions, of course, without talking about the author's own.

    00:22 There is a term in academic writing, known as "Authorial intent".

    00:27 I call this putting the author in authority.

    00:30 The root of author and authority are in theory, the same thing, right? If someone is qualified enough to author a journal article, then they should also be an authority on the topic.

    00:42 However, for most equally qualified readers, there is usually a higher standard of proving a point within an academic context.

    00:52 And to do that, we have to introduce credible and yes, other authoritative sources that are not the author's own point of view.

    01:04 But when authors do discuss these other viewpoints, they do so in kind of a one dimensional fashion.

    01:11 There was a schoolmaster named Edwin Abbott who actually in an 1884 novel, well, ahead of the theory of relativity, I would point out, discussed about how three-dimensional beings could view two-dimensional beings.

    01:26 And this book was known as Flatland.

    01:30 And right this is kind of how an author views alternate viewpoints.

    01:34 He kind of shrinks them down to a single aspect of their overall view.

    01:39 That's in fact, one way you can determine what is the author's point of view when it's treated with this kind of three-dimensional quality, well-rounded perspective versus when an opinion is from an outside source, when it's just given a short shrift.

    01:56 Now, in a letter to the editor of the journal Nature, dedicated to Edwin Abbott, a writer stated, if there is motion of our three-dimensional space relative to the fourth dimension, all the changes we experience and assigned to the flow of time will be due simply to this movement.

    02:15 The whole of the future as well as the past always existing in the fourth dimension.

    02:22 So perhaps what authors are doing when they abruptly shift focus, when they contradict well established viewpoints, when they complicate otherwise simple statements, or frame alternate viewpoints as those one or two-dimensional aspects.

    02:39 They are simply trying to create some motion for their own writing, to bring their own writing into what we might call an enduring, or classic state of affairs.

    02:53 Now, tone is one clue that authors can use for how they feel about some of these viewpoints that they are introducing.

    03:02 This goes back to Word choice.

    03:05 Did the author make this perspective fall or did they make this perspective tumble? Did something they introduce, make a noise or did it make a whimper? Be wary of tone just as you might evaluate the logic or soundness of an argument with caution.

    03:27 An author might for instance, try to place readers at ease with a neutral or even sympathetic tone before trouncing on their expectations with an alternate, harsher conclusion.

    03:42 Think of CARS like mental gymnastics.

    03:46 If you show up to the gym unprepared, you're going to get a handspring.

    03:51 Every time you take a CARS passage, you should be applying your 100% mental best.

    03:58 Even at a physical level, it's worth considering your posture, your amount of sleep and your nutrition.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Hearing a Voice in a Crowd by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Theoretical Foundations.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Nonstandard usages of language
    2. Citation of credible sources
    3. Authority, both in the passage and in cited sources
    4. Clear-cut usage of grammar
    5. Using at least three supporting points for a thesis

    Author of lecture Hearing a Voice in a Crowd

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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