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The Logic of Stupid People

Categories: People

There are many judgments about whether poor people should buy items to increase their social status. There is a saying that poor people should not buy luxury items due to their poverty. However, the author of “ The Logic of Stupid Poor People”, Tressie McMillian Cottom argues about how importance to have items that show status. In the article, Cottom appeals to logical, emotional, and ethical stances in many ways each of which continues to strengthen her argument.

Cottom declares to own certain items that can represent your social status.

She claims that owning items of status is an advantage for someone who is poor, in many ways. She describes that one of the reasons poor people buy certain items is because they want to fit-in. Cottom explains about what it means for a poor person to fit-in. She also clarifies the difference in being acceptable and presentable for a poor person. In the article, Cottom shows personal examples of the advantages of an acceptable appearance she had.

She closes her article with a bold statement referring to the fact a person would not know what they would do if she or he was poor, unless they were born poor.

Cottom first claims logic when she talks about how people view some survival skills differently. She says, “One thing that I’ve learned is that one person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill. And nothing is more logical than trying to survive” (Cottom). Here, Cottom combines her personal experience and opinion.

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She uses this in a way that strengthens her argument about poor people. Also, her statement is very matter-of-fact. Her argument is strengthened because it argues that even though some people might disagree with what someone else does to survive, that means of survival is logical. This might not always be the case, but if one takes into consideration Cottom’s argument, he or she will understand why poor people make some of the decisions they do. For a poor person buying an expensive item seems like a strategic survival choice. It will give them a better chance for survival in their minds. Cottom shows this throughout her article.

Frequently, Cottom appeals to the emotions of the reader by including stories. The story is about an older woman, who had been declined by the social service agency. She explains “ The elderly woman had been denied benefits to care for the granddaughter she was raising” (Cottom), and then received those benefits after Cottom’s mother helped her. By telling this story, Cottom creates an emotional reaction by informing her reader what the older woman was not given. Also, this story strengthens Cottom’s argument because it informs the reader that there are times when someone is denied a service. Then that person receives the service because another person, who appeared worthy of engaging to the gatekeepers and helped them. Emotional stories can be very effective in strengthening an argument when used correctly.

Another way Cottom appeals to the emotions of the reader is when she explains why poor people buy items of status. She starts with the question, “ Why do poor people make stupid, illiogical decisions to buy status symbols?” (Cottom). Cottom then states that poor people buy these items because they want to belong. This statement influences the emotions by providing the reader with something to relate to. The reader can relate to this statement because most people want to belong. By appealing to the emotions this way, Cottom strengthens her argument by allowing the reader to see more behind why a person who is poor might buy an item to increase their status. Cottom appeals to ethics by showing the reader one of the morals of Cottom’s family.

Briefly, Cottom appeals to ethics when she talks about the thoughts behind the judgements towards those who are poor and choose to buy expensive items. She states that “At the heart of these incredulous statements about the poor decisions poor people make is a belief that we would never be like them. We would know better” (Cottom). Those who are not poor believe that they can judge those who are poor. These people think that because someone is poor that means they should only save their money, regardless of the advantages that come with having items that resemble status. This is an effective way to appeal to ethics because of the morals behind the statements made regarding the poor decision poor people make. Those morals are what directly influence someone’s decision to judge the decisions made by another person.

Throughout her article, Cottom found ways to influence the reader in logical, emotional, and ethical stances. By appealing to different aspects, Cottom strengthens her argument. The appeal towards logic, emotion, and ethic was used in several different ways. Cottom appeals to logic by using evidence. She appealed to emotion by recalling stories and asking certain questions. Cottom also appeals to ethic by referring to different morals behind something. Now, the reader can view the decision of poor people through the different ways Cottom appeals to these stances.

Cite this page

The Logic of Stupid People. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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