A little misdirection can go a long way – Discussion Week 5

MONDAY: A little misdirection can go a long way . . .Let’s start this week by identifying potentially misleading information in an argument. Consider the following argument:Drug use has dropped significantly; however, non-violent drug offenders account for over 20 percent of the federal prison population. First time offenders usually serve a sentence three months longer than kidnappers, nine months longer than burglars, and thirty-three months longer than sex abusers. The cost of keeping an inmate in either state or federal prison is about $20,000 per prisoner per year. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, which is 455 prisoners per 100,000 population. We need to rethink our approach towards drug users; if we don’t, this problem will cost our country more than it already does.Does this argument use any deceptive statistics? Do you see any apples-to-oranges type comparisons?Remember, the question isn’t whether you agree or disagree with the argument, but rather whether the argument is playing fast and loose with any of the facts . . .

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