Every serious act of writing is essentially an exercise in persuasion: If you describe an experiment, you want your description to persuade your chemistry teacher that this is what actually happened; if you analyze the major causes of the Civil War, you want to convince your history teacher that, yes, these were the causes; if you evaluate the merits of a Robert Frost poem, you want your English teacher to believe your evaluation. While this may seem obvious, you must remember that persuasion is also the goal of most advertisements and political propaganda; however, something rather important sets persuasion in the academic world apart from persuasion in the world of profit and politics: the use of evidence.

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