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Contradictory arguments

Be on the lookout for a person saying one thing early in an essay and then saying something different later that contradicts the first thing they said. For instance, say you are analysing an essay talking about the American War of Independence. Have a look at these sample extracts and see if you can see anything wrong with them.

... the British troops had received superior training. This became quite

apparent when they routed a much larger opposing force ...

... although outnumbered and outgunned, the rebels used their better training to frustrate the British, and carried out a series of lightning fast attack and retreat manoeuvres.

The writer has contradicted themself. Early in the essay, they talk about how the British troops have better training (presumably than the rebels) and that this allowed them to defeat a larger rebel force. Later in the essay, however, the writer says that it was in fact the rebels who had better training, which they used to defeat a larger force of the British. Make sure you keep your eyes open for contradictions like these.

The only way that these statements could make sense is if the essay is talking about the two forces at different times. Perhaps early on the British troops had superior training, but then, as time went on, the rebels received more training resulting in their superiority over the British.

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