Quotations from Authorities: Support for Ideas

As you develop your Guide, you will often quote an authority who agrees with your ideas as a way of adding weight to your evidence—and occasionally to deepen your connection with others. But done without reflection, quoting can also damage both aspects of your credibility. For example, it is a common mistake to quote a philosopher, academic, or other expert without really knowing his work; or worse, to quote a person unknown to the audience, leaving them wondering about their own intelligence. You can seem arrogant and aloof when this occurs.

Consider these references to authority in Timothy Wirth’s speech. Referring to the danger of the increasing use of natural resources, Wirth said: “Professor ...

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