Rhetorical Analysis Assignment #1

Thesis Statement: A rhetorical analysis of “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Chabris and Simon evaluate the use of the rhetorical triangle in a persuasive piece.

[This is the thesis statement.] Throughout the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, the authors utilize logos to defend why human memory is not always trustworthy. Chabris and Simon use examples from reliable sources such as research from the National Academy of Science and direct quotes from former President George Bush to defend their argument [use of ethos, too]. Quoting these sources helps appeal to the logical reasoning of their audience. Instead of appealing to their reader’s [readers’] emotion, the author’s [SP: authors] defend their case by using scientific facts and real life scenarios. The overall tone of this article is very critical of the reliability of human memory [use of ethos through appeal to justice when questioning eyewitness testimony in court cases]. Chabris and Simon challenge how reliable our memories actually are while also criticizing the fact that most humans don’t accept when our memories have failed us [use of pathos?].

Furthermore, the top three comments rated by readers all utilized ethos to appeal to the audience. The top rated comment was by Nell deGrasse Tyson who was one of the primary examples of human memory error in the article. Tyson utilizes ethos by providing a reliable source to the original article where the quotes from him were taken from. Also, a commentator named Keith Dow contradicts the claim made by Chabris and Simon that “Bush is an intelligent person” by providing quotes [use of logos] where Bush made some uneducated remarks. Keith uses ethos to appeal to his audience by providing quotes directly from a primary source.

Moreover, the top three comments mentioned in the NYT picks provide insight into varying opinions on the article. The NYT provides a variety of comments in order to portray an unbiased opinion of the article. With the very first comment from Peter being a detailed explanation of why humans need to accept memory failure. Peter appeals to ethos with his statement that we need to accept memory failure [logos or pathos?] because “… they affect our behavior, how we relate to the world and those around us so much.” [Separate topic sentences with paragraphs.] A commentator that goes by the username “magicisnotreal” voices how she completely disagrees with the arguments made in the article. The commentator utilizes pathos to argue against the article by claiming that the problem is “not a memory issue but a mental laziness issue.” This user has a complete distrust in the article and expresses how she feels about it with a passionate tone. While another reader named Elizabeth finds the article fascinating and uses ethos by giving her own example of human memory failure [sentence fragment].

All in all, the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” uses logos to persuade its readers to agree with its overall argument that the human memory is not trustworthy. While on the other hand, the top comments left on the article mostly use ethos to persuade the audience to agree with their comments. Overall, Chabris and Simon wrote a piece that sparked serious debate throughout the science world and with everyday NYT readers.




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