Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students chapter eight describes logical and ethical appeals. I was most interested in a subsection titled "Data."
In this section, authors discuss the necessity of facts to be reputable and from a qualified source. In addition, they ought to be arrived through some standard empirical procedure. Furthermore, the information must be interpreted accurately; unfortunately, this can often be the most difficult component to get right. Finally, they should be consistent across most -- if not all -- reputable sources. Authors use the example of movies to highlight that "true" information can be hard to come by:
"In recent years, it has become fashionable to determine the quality of a film by the level of its box office receipts...The amounts of money made by the movies [are] statements of fact. But such facts are often used to support an inference that is not always warranted: movies that make lots of money must be very good" (Crowley and Hawhee 279).
On the list of top grossing movies is Titanic -- though we now know this to be Avatar. When compared with lists from other sources, Titanic is not even on the list of best movies of all time. One list is from IMDB, a popular movie database, and lists a poll of everyday moviegoers. The second list is from The American Film Institute and claims to have compiled their list from "a blue-ribbon panel of leaders from across the film community."
Interestingly, these two lists are not even close to the same, let alone reflective of box office success. The experts' list only has two movies that were from the 250 top-grossing-film category for the U.S.; essentially, this means none from the list of top ten movies. The experts' list also only duplicates three from the IMDB movie list. The IMDB list includes only one movie from the top-ten-grossing-film category.
"Like all statements of fact, box-office receipts make sense only when they are contextualized within some network of interpretation" (Crowley and Hawhee 281).
In general, this section reminded me to take information at face value; it is not true until I can find enough evidence. I must do a thorough, investigative analysis before taking data as truthful.