The first point that came to mind when the statement “images cannot prove argument” was a courtroom. Here, a picture, or any tangible evidence of a situation would instantly trump any verbal argument. Actions speak louder than words. A picture is worth a thousand words. The list goes on.
So I was greatly relieved when I saw that one of the main purposes of this article was to refute the misconception of images as inadequate in argumentative debate.
Context is everything. Everything. An argument that is made, either through verbal means, or in another way, generally rely on knowledge ascertained prior to said argument. According to Birdsell, the argument that David Fleming made basically is making against visual argument is totally ignoring contextually cues, but that Fleming is not applying the same criteria toward verbal argument. All verbal argument ties in to multiple facets of our experience. Images cannot be taken one at a time.
An example I can think of to illustrate this, might look like this.
Fleming: Sees a picture of a bird.
Birdsell: Sees a picture of a bird totally covered in oil.
(The image at the top of the blog is a nice visual that prompted this example.) http://www.solidprinciples.com/blog/political-cartoons-birds-coming-home-to-roost/
Though there are textual cues in this political cartoon, they are only supporting the argument which is self evident from the image itself. But it does draw heavily on contextual cues. You have to have already known that there was a large contriversial oil spill. You also have to have known that President Obama has pushed toward green energy and environmental clean up. If you are unaware of these cues you will not see the article as politically charged.
Notice also the wording I used to prove my point before I gave the example. Illustrate. Naturally we will convert, whenever possible, written word, or audible word into images in our mind. We do this to reinforce, or bring context to whatever is being discussed. From this alone, I believe that it is evident which side of the argument I stand on.
What is more effective? To say, tomatoes splat, or to look at one? Did you picture a tomato splat when you read that? I bet you did…