SEP 28, 2016


Brief Exercise

Consider these obvious and hidden claims:

When Caleb was finally screened for the severity of his TBI, Brannan says he got the second-worst score in the whole 18-county Gulf Coast VA system, which serves more than 50,000 veterans.

— “finally screened” means that according to Brannan or the author or both, Caleb should have been screened long before. It suggests that the VA was negligent in delaying his testing.
— “the severity of his TBI” clearly contains the claim that he in fact has some degree of TBI. The fact that he hadn’t until then been screened for it means nobody knew for sure that he did, but the author makes that claim.
— “Brannan says” means that the author has not independently verified Caleb’s score or where it ranked against all other screenings.
— “the second-worst score in the whole 18-county Gulf Coast VA system” is offered as Brannan’s claim that her husband is suffering more than almost anyone. Considering her vested interest in promoting this perspective, we have to be at least a little suspicious of the ranking.
— “which serves more than 50,000 veterans” gives the impression that Caleb was hurt worse than 50,000 other veterans. But let’s be clear. Many of these 50,000 will not have served in combat at all. Many will not have had active engagement with enemy troops on the battlefield. Many of those who did see active fighting will not have been near explosive devices. So we’re not comparing him to 50,000 TBI sufferers.