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Video transcript

hello readers today we are going on a dangerous journey inside the mind of the author every piece of text is written for a purpose and especially in informational texts every author structures their texts words and their ideas with that purpose in mind and sometimes that purpose will be harder to see as readers our job is to consider the author's purpose as we read how is it influencing the information the author shares how is it influencing my understanding of the topic is what I think the same is what the author thinks do I agree with them do I disagree you may be familiar with the memory device of Pi persuade inform entertain as three categories of purpose but I'd like to go deeper than that I live in Washington DC which is home to an entire professional class of what are called lobbyists people whose job it is to advocate to Congress on behalf of a special interest for example the oil industry or the cheese industry this isn't always bad you can learn more about lobbyists and advocates and Khan Academy's government and politics course but frequently it takes the form of someone from an industry trying to convince Congress to give them a competitive advantage over other industries now let's pull real-world politics out of this and pretend for the purposes of this lesson that there are two warring lobby groups in DC one that represents the cake industry and another that represents the pie industry an age-old conflict so hold that conflict in your mind for a second cake versus pie now when we read informational text we should be learning new information but the author's opinions can shape the text to the point where the information becomes biased or misleading when you read informational text maintain an air of healthy skepticism ask yourself the following questions constantly what's the author's opinion what information did they include or what information did they leave out and if so was that on purpose what's the connotation of the author's word choice you know how do the words feel and what's the overall tone of the piece so now we have these questions to ask ourselves let's return to our PI versus kake Lobby fight in Washington so imagine you're reading The Washington Post and you see this opinion column kake connected to cavities and poor dental health study finds a recent study by the American Dental Association connected the consumption of cake or similar foods with a 30% increased risk of tooth decay cavities and gingivitis people who reported having consumed cake in the previous 60 days were significantly more likely to experience problems related to dental health than those people who did not cake is dangerous cake which rarely contains fruit will rot your teeth and then if we squint down at the very bottom of the column it'll say in small text the author is the CEO of circular solutions a PI advocacy Network and now let's ask ourselves those same questions again while acknowledging that this is a fake story that I made up for the purposes of this video there is nobody named Wendell apricot jam although I wish there were that'd be a great name so what's the author's opinion well it seems to me that the author really thinks cake is dangerous and poses a threat to the nation's dental health we know this because they literally say cake is dangerous they want people to buy and eat fewer cakes what information did the author choose to include well so this is interesting the author talks about the results of this study and the big takeaways about the danger of cake or similar foods and then they go on to mention incidentally that cake rarely contains fruit that's a curious thing to say it's almost like they're saying pie which has fruit in it is better for you than cake without actually saying it what information did the author choose to leave out well notice that the piece says cake or similar foods I would be hard-pressed to come up with a definition of foods similar to cake that does not also include desserts like pie but the way that this piece is written it swerves out of its way to avoid pinning the same tooth decay risks on pie the way that it blames cake I think it would be reasonable to assume that if we read the underlying study that this opinion piece is based on it would include pies and cakes in the same category of sugary desserts that are associated with bad dental outcomes why would the author do this well they want you to buy pie instead of cake but they don't want you to think too hard about it because if you did you would buy and eat both less cake and less pie and the pie Lobby doesn't want that what's the connotation or the feeling of the author's word choices well they're citing a scientific study by dentists so they want you to take their warning seriously and they're using words like risk and danger rot and problems they want you to make an association between eating cake and bad tooth health they want you to associate scientific language with trustworthiness so I'm going to put down scientific authority here what's the overall tone it's negative the author does not want you to eat cake they want you to think it's bad and they've planted a little hint here that fruity foods are better and what's a fruity food pie can they say pie is safer no not without lying out right now I want to be clear about two things sometimes an author's purpose really will just be to inform straightforwardly not everything has to be a tug-of-war between you and the author over the truth sometimes a writer just wants you to know the life cycle of a butterfly or how to make egg salad or the order the US presidents came in but most of the time there's a purpose an opinion behind the text now the second thing I want to be super clear about is that I made up this whole thing I made up the article the statistics Wendell you know all of that's fake I like both pie and cake very much and now that I've said that I'm sure you're wondering oh is David in the pocket of big dessert and the answer is no I'm in the pocket of big free education for everyone everywhere you can learn anything David out