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A War of two Worlds

A War of two Worlds

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Published by Sherwin Steffin
In this article the author presents a new method to evaluate the potential effectiveness of Op Ed or other expository writings.
In this article the author presents a new method to evaluate the potential effectiveness of Op Ed or other expository writings.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Sherwin Steffin on Sep 12, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A War of Two Worlds – Part 1
In this, Part I of a three part article, the author presents a new method to evaluatethe potential effectiveness of Op Ed or other expository writings. Part 2 considersthe barriers faced by activists as they attempt to influence citizen motivation toparticipate in the political process. Part 3 looks at the targets of policy change, thePoliticians, and the potential for changing their behavior.
With hundreds of Op Ed articles submitted each week to OEN and many more tosimilar sites, there appears to be no mechanism to evaluate the likelihood thatsubmitted articles will meet their objectives, (persuading readers to adopt thetheses advanced by their authors). While OEN has developed system designed toassess some perceived qualitative characteristics of submitted articles, it lacks theclarity of terms, sensitivity and objectivity required to meet this objective.One element in this process is the level of competition for the eyes and ears of theaudience. OEN is only one of literally thousands of opinion sites, each competing fortheir text, audio, or video media offerings. In that competitive environment, anauthor seeking attention to his work is required to conform to an increasingstandard of excellence, lest he be quickly discarded.A central thesis upon which this paper is premised tells us:
Op Ed media, in whatever form presented, have a lowprobability of changing attitudes of their audiences, and whenthey do, these changes tend to be transient, with audiencesreturning to originally held views after a short period of time.
Two opposing articles, “Lesser Evils,” by
 J.C. Garrett
, [JCG] and
Kevin Gosztola’s
[KG]Lesser Evils, Psychoses, and the Perils of Voting Your Conscience [Part 1],a rebuttal to the JCG posting, presented a an opportunity to test this hypothesis, usinga new procedure for rating the potential effectiveness of Op Ed submissions.
Assessing the Impact of the Op Ed Article
In an effort to assess the impact of Op Ed articles on the reader’s voting choices, theauthor offered apolldesigned to answer this question, with respect to the twoarticles being evaluated. While the number of respondents was insufficient to meetrequirements for statistical significance, the trending illustrated in the tables below,was instructive.
By a ratio of 57:43 respondents indicated an intent to vote for Obama. If this ratio isat all representative of OEN members, those planning on voting for 3
Partycandidates, or withholding their votes, is unexpectedly high.But, is it really that high? We have only to look at the disaffected “professional”delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the Clinton supporters, some ofwhom remain intractable in their decision either to vote for McCain, or not vote.They, of all people, should have the necessary data in hand to make an informedchoice.Before attempting to explain this apparent difference between reported andexpected behavior, the effect of the Op Ed postings is assessed. As noted in the rowpercentages, those who reported as being influenced by articles accounted for 21%of respondents. While the total
is small, the difference between those affectedchoosing to vote for Obama (13%) vs. those making the irrational choice (30%) isadditional confirmation of higher than expected irrational selections.
Evaluating the Op Ed Submission
The probability that an individual will be persuaded to agree to that advocated by anOp Ed position if clearly a function of two elements; (a) the readiness orsusceptibility of the individual to persuasion, and (b) the effectiveness of thepresentation of the Op Ed communication. The calculation of (a) is beyond thescope of this discussion, leaving our focus directed at the development of a methodfor objectively assessing the viability of any Op Ed article.
Description of the methodology 
While many rating systems are employed to evaluate the effectiveness of articles(as a class – no discrimination is made between Op Ed and other categories ofpostings), all have in common two characteristics.
Ratings are entirelysubjective
. When terms such as “Importance,” “Value,” “Perspective,” areemployed, none have sufficiently precise definitions to insure raters use the samecriteria for their ratings
Regardless of the clarity of rating terms, the more serious flaw, from the perspectiveof analysis, is that each rating criterion is applied to
the entirety of the pieceunder consideration
. Such an application fails to consider intra-article variations,nor the structure of its elements.Thus, the author offers a new paradigm, applicable to any expository writing. Itoffers opportunity for raters to
apply objective criteria to each sentence
the degree to which it contributes to meeting the overallobjective of the article
Finally, it allows for a comparison of multiple articles, whether by the same ordifferent authors.For those interested in the mechanics necessary to carry out this analysis, readersare referred to in the White Paper prepared by this author last year. Titled,Do it Yourself Data Mining, it develops in great detail, the theoretical issues and themethodologies related to this method.
Preparing the Text 
To prepare the text of each articles to be rated, first separate each sentence(defined by a period, question mark, or explanation mark), separated with by aparagraph. This is quickly accomplished using the Global Replace function in yourword processor.Following conversion of this format to a table, each sentence is rated, as shown inthe example below, (The “Comment” column is optional).
 Sentence Types
Each sentence is classified as being in one of the following categories:
CLASSLEGENDDESCRIPTIONANALOGAnalogous scenario used to illustrate author’s viewAXIOM
Rhetorical or Self Evident statement
. Such Statements seldom elicitdisagreement, and are used as the foundation upon which premises are constructed.

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