So let me get one thing straight, I need to add more opposition to my paper?? I thought the point was to strengthen my argument, not add more opposition to debunk it. Well it turns out I was wrong as my professor asked the class to help him write the structure of an essay up on the white board. Hook, thesis, explanation. Okay, I’ve got those down, but why is there a separate section for opposition? And what is he writing underneath opposition, support for it?
Before this class I thought the only opposition was at the beginning of the thesis sentence. You know the classic, “Although ___ (opposition goes here) ___, thesis statement” formula. Slowly I began to realize its more than just a sentence. Through making the detailed outlines for my essay this year, I was able to think through the opposition by supporting it with research. I learned that the stronger the opposition, the stronger the argument.
The first example of a strong opposition we saw in class was in Jonathan Foer’s Eating Animals. Every argument he made, he included the voice of an opposing side. A letter was included from a factory farmer that shared the reasons why this man was participating in these practices. No matter how many opposing points Foer made, he always managed to show the flaws in these oppositions by proving his argument to be better. Another opposition that stuck with me was that farms are keeping animals safe by caging them up and it is more humane to kill them using modern ways because they would surely die more painful deaths in the wild. At first it seems valid, but Foer leads us to realize how ridiculous the opposition is.
The first essay I wrote an opposition for was about fueling my body with healthy foods so it can function properly for the day and for my favorite extracurricular, ballet. My opposition for this argument was all from personal experience; unhealthy foods were more convenient and did not require prior planning. I wrote about how there was a pizza place four doors down from my ballet studio, so when I was in a rush (which was everyday), it was more convenient to eat greasy foods. While I thought this anecdote did the trick, I was reading back over the essay a few months later and realized I needed another source or piece of evidence to fully support my argument.
The essay I was the proudest of, you guessed it, I did the most research on to support the opposition. I wrote about an ice cream company that most of my peers and Californians were not familiar with, Blue Bell. This Texas-based company had a Listeria outbreak in 2015, so I sent out a survey to some friends back home and college campuses in Texas to get their opinions on the issue.
I was shocked that a survey I thought would support my argument ended up supporting the opposition. Even though 100% of my participants were aware of the Listeria outbreak, 97% reported that they ate Blue Bell again after it was reintroduced to grocery stores. What I found more shocking was that after I informed my survey participants of all the lies Blue Bell told and all the dangers we could still potentially be in, more than 60% responded they are very likely to trust the company and continue to eat their ice cream. I believe this data supported my opposition better than my personal anecdote in the first essay because it is a lot harder to refute hard data and facts.
Supporting your opposition applies to so much more than just research papers on food. Reading about an issue from a conservative source if you are used to reading more liberal articles from the Huffington Post can help you better justify your own views as well as open up conversations. I always find it annoying when the person I’m having a political conversation with refuses to acknowledge my perspective at all, and you can always tell when someone is arguing about something just because they don’t know anything about the opposing side. Having a strong opposition is what turns a mediocre paper into something worth reading because it shows you are qualified to be writing about the topic, and it shows that you have thought through everything in order to solidify your own thesis.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York, Boston, London: Little, Brown, 2013. Print.
“Blue Bell Reports on Root Causes of Five-year Listeria Outbreak.” Food Safety News. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 May 2017.