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The passage discusses the controversial practice of allowing custom-made medical illustrations
depicting personal injury to be presented as evidence in legal cases. The author considers and rejects
several arguments against this practice, concluding that custom-made illustrations are objectively
accurate and especially valuable in cases involving complex testimonies by medical experts.
Paragraph 1 Overview
This passage begins by outlining the objection that illustrations from medical textbooks are adequate
in representing injuries that are mostly generic in nature. Although the author does not dispute this
claim directly, you should notice the use of phrases such as “some opponents…argue” (line 6) and
“they say” (line 11). By creating a rhetorical “distance” between the author’s viewpoint and the
opponents of custom-made illustrations, such phrases imply that the author will ultimately argue
in favor of using such illustrations in the courtroom. This presentation style also mixes the various
opponent arguments with the author’s rebuttals, and this “compare-and-contrast” format generates
greater complexity in the passage. To combat this, always make sure to carefully track each
viewpoint within the passage.
Paragraph 2 Overview
The second paragraph considers the argument that custom-made illustrations can misrepresent the
facts to help lawyers bolster a weak case. The author rejects this claim, (“but this is mistaken”—line
25), arguing that deceptive illustrations would be inadmissible as evidence in the courtroom unless a
medical expert testified to their accuracy.
Paragraph 3 Overview
In the beginning of the third paragraph, the author addresses the complaint that even if custom-made
illustrations are technically accurate, they can still distort the issues. The author rejects this view,
arguing that (1) custom-made illustrations are objectively accurate; (2) illustrators strive to avoid
devices that have inflammatory potential; and (3) custom-made illustrations include only information
relevant to the particular case.
The author specifically compares custom-made illustrations to medical textbook illustrations, noting
that the latter often include superfluous details that may confuse jurors. It is important to closely
examine (and notate) such comparisons, as you are likely going to be asked about them later on.
In fact, Questions #10 and #12 directly test your understanding of the comparison between the two
types of illustrations.
Paragraph 4 Overview
The final paragraph outlines the author’s argument in favor of using custom-made medical
illustrations in legal cases, particularly those involving complex expert testimonies.
The author considers and rejects several major arguments against the use of custom-made medical
illustrations (CMI) in personal injury cases. Make sure to understand each argument and counterargument
before proceeding to the questions:
- Arguments Against CMI (Opponent’s View): Illustrations from medical textbooks are
usually sufficient (¶1)
Counterarguments in Favor of CMI (Author’s View): No, medical textbooks often provide unnecessary
detail and confuse the issue (¶3)
Also, CMIs are especially valuable as a visual representation of data in complex cases (¶4)
Arguments Against CMI (Opponent’s View): CMIs can be deceptive (¶2)
Counterarguments in Favor of CMI (Author’s View): No, because deceptive illustrations would be
inadmissible as evidence (¶2)
Arguments Against CMI (Opponent’s View): Even if accurate, CMIs can subtly distort
the issues (¶3)
Counterarguments in Favor of CMI (Author’s View): No, because CMIs are designed to be (1) objectively accurate; (2) not inflammatory; and (3) contain only information relevant to the particular case (¶3)