Make a Claim That Is Contestable and Supportable

When reading an argument, audiences have certain expectations: they want to know that your claim does not simply state something obvious, but also that you can give evidence to back it up. If you don’t fulfill these expectations, then readers are likely to think your argument is unsuccessful, or worse, ignore it all together.

See the Principle in Real Life<

Watch the following clip from Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch, in which a man pays to have an argument. As you watch, consider:

  • Are these two men really having an argument? Why or why not?
  • What are the problems with their argument?
  • What exactly makes this sketch funny? What expectations aren’t met?
The portion of the clip we are interested in ends at 3:45; feel free to keep watching, however.

"Argument Clinic." < Cleese, John and Eric Idle. "Argument Clinic." Monty Python. YouTube. 14 Nov. 2008. Web. 2 Aug. 2012.< Streamed from Monty Python's official YouTube channel.

Though these two are arguing, they’re not arguing in such a way that the conversation moves forward. All they say to each other is either “yes it is” or “no it isn’t.” One of them even points out why this is funny: “Look this isn’t an argument!” he says. “It’s just contradiction!” In this lesson, you’ll learn how to write write a contestable and supportable claim so that you don’t end up looking like someone from the “Argument Clinic.”

Video streamed from Monty Python's official YouTube account, www.youtube.com/user/MontyPython