An analysis of the comments from the NYT OP-ED article, “Why Our Memory Fails Us”, reveals that comments that appeal to emotions grab the readers attention compared to stating facts and statistics.

In the New York Times OP-ED article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, Chabris and Simons argue that Neil Tyson’s memory of what George Bush said in his 9/11 speech. Chabris and Simons go on to say that we rely on confidence as a signal of accuracy, even when the memory is completely false. They also go on to say that Dr. Tyson’s mash-up of distinct experiences have led to false convictions, and even death sentences. Their purpose for writing this article was to explain and to inform the readers of how our minds can lead us to false information.


The top comment in the “Readers’ Picks” section was by Dr. Tyson himself. He simply left two links to his Facebook page. One of the links contained an email sent to his speaking manager from Sean Davis of The Federalist (an online news magazine) with his replies. The second link was an analysis of his public talks, along with a Q&A. He used ethical appeals in both sources by his trustworthiness and his credibility by providing facts, ideas, and perspectives.

The second comment in the “Reader’s Pick” section was by Keith Dow. Dow’s comment simply contained quotes from Bush via ““. The page that he used as a source is titled “The 50 Dumbest Bush Quotes of All Time”, making this not seem as reliable as Dow explains in his comment. He also listed some of Bush’s most popular quotes, including “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on –shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” –Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002. Dow used a rational appeal (logos) by stating memorable quotes by Bush to attract an audience, even though he didn’t contribute any of his knowledge towards the article.

Finally, the third comment in the “Reader’s Pick” section was by Jacob Sommer. He used himself as an example of mistakingly using his false memory. He went on to saying that he believes that false memory is an honest mistake and that they don’t mean to do any harm, and that people should let it slide. His comment contained nothing but his personal opinion, which seemed to attract an audience, making his comment one of the top 3 in the “Reader’s Pick”. He used an emotional appeal to connect to the readers and make them realize that they’ve probably done the same thing, and that it’s okay.

The “NYT Picks” seem to be a lot like the third comment from the “Reader’s Pick” section by Sommer. The “NYT Picks” are personal and opinionated, making it easy for readers relate to them and break down their meaning THEY APPEAL TO PATHOS, RIGHT?. They don’t contain facts, and are much easier for the average reader to understand. All of them contain pathos because they contain beliefs, rather than facts. Readers seem to be attracted to the comments that they can understand and relate to, rather than those that are just facts and statistics.


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