This paper aims to illustrate the common fallacies of informal logic; for this purpose, it is necessary to discuss the article Is the Cost of A College A Bargain?, written by Joel Schectman. To some degree, this example indicates that modern journalists tend to misrepresent the events and rely on assumption, rather than facts.
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One of the claims that the author makes is that the cost of education in the United States is utterly unjustified and in many cases they can be minimized. In particular, he says, “For more than two decades, as the cost of college has climbed at twice the rate of inflation, critics have argued that bloated bureaucracies, overpaid faculty, and unnecessary amenities are inflating tuition” (Schectman, unpaged).
This sentence exemplifies the so-called fallacy of presumption, which means that the writer prefers to discuss a certain phenomenon only from one point of view, while overlooking the others. For instance, he does not mention those expenses, which many colleges incur, in particular, the procurement of equipment, books or periodicals, compensation, paid to both faculty and personnel, the cost of academic trips, and so forth.
Joel Schectman also mentions the so-called “overpaid faculty” but he does not explain why exactly, he considers them to be overpaid. A person, who tries to determine whether the price of tuition is justified or not, would have to study the functioning of a college and pay more attention to its organizational expenses, and we see no evidence of that in this article.
Furthermore, Joel Schectman believes that in the light of on-going economic recession fewer people can avoid the cost of tuition. In his view, “college may still be a good deal, but its price is rising at a time when fewer people can afford it” (Shectman, unpaged). It is quite possible to argue that this argument may contain a factual error. In order to make such a claim, one has to carefully examine the pricing policies of the US colleges.
This article suggests that only the increasing prices, set by the administration of college is the main reason why many young people cannot afford quality education. Nothing is being said about unemployment or the increasing cost of living in the country. Joel Schectman presents a very one-sided interpretation of this problem, and this is not permissible for a journalist.
Moreover, one may refute this claim by saying that some educational institutions actually lowered the price of tuition and increased the aid package. In this article, Joel Schectman also makes the so-called argument to authority. In particular, he mentions “one recent study” that showed that “college enrollment could fall by 3.6 percent due to the housing bust” (Schectman, unpaged).
However, he does not tell who conducted this study, where it was conducted and what research methods were employed. As a rule, the allusion to a certain study or research is supposed to make the claim more convincing, but this ambiguity makes the reader to cast doubt on the validity of the author’s claims.
This discussion proves that a reader of newspaper articles has to be very careful while evaluating the quality of information, offered to him/her. It is vital that this person is able to detect bias or logical fallacies of the author. Otherwise, he/she may come to the conclusions which are utterly unfounded.