Rhetoric in NYT Opinion.

The opinion article “Why Our Memories Fail Us” presents all three forms of rhetoric: Logos, Pathos and Ethos.FIRST NAMES Simons and Chabris made a real effort to explain how is it possible for us to be so convinced of our false memories, while also telling us the scientific evidence behind it and using real life examples that have impacted our society one way or another.

Chabris and Simons rely almost purely on facts and research for their opinion article. They start by telling the story of a renowned scientist, who usually relies on scientific evidence to prove himself right, but made a critic mistake when relying on his memory instead. The critical recollection of thoughts, or events, lead him to believe that Mr. Bush had said something after the 9/11 attacks, when in reality he said it after the passing of two astronauts. In many other situations, the event where the comments were made has little importance over the fact; but this was certainly the exception.

After introducing their topic with an impactful story, the authors move forward by applying Logos, the most common rhetoric in this article, and explaining the scientific evidence behind the misrecollection IS THIS A WORD? of facts in part of Tyson. In one paragraph they explain how “Erroneous witness recollections have become so concerning that the National Academy of Sciences convened an expert panel to review the state of research on the topic” (Chabris and Simons, The New York Times). Statistics, facts, research and case studies are an undeniable sources of Logos, as long as the information provided is true. In other cases Logos might be suspectedA STRANGE WAY TO WRITE. EITHER THE WRITERS USED IT OR THEY DIDN’T, but then later classified as Pathos, given that the information was more emotional than factual.

The authors make a point of ending their article with the Ethos rhetoric, by explaining that most of us should react and proceed the same way Dr. Tyson did after realizing his mistake: “Stop stonewalling, admit error, note that such things happen, apologize and move on.” (Chabris and Simons, The New York Times). Ethics and morals suggest that we should be more thoughtful of other people’s mistakes, and that’s exactly how Chabris and Simons conclude their article.

When reviewing the comments’ section of this article, we see a nice surprise: the first comment is by Dr. Tyson himself. Granted, a comment belonging to the character that served as inspiration in this article will surely get the readers’ first pick. The second comment is heavily charged with emotions, a Pathos rhetoric. The commenter explains how “our memory of Bush being an intelligent person is faulty.” This comment was to be expected, given that Mr. Bush’s presidency was very controversial, and impacted society heavily in a way or another.

On the other hand, the NYT Top Pick Comments vary greatly from those picked by the readers. They are more personal approaches than intellectual, and the observances made don’t really challenge the point of view stated in the article. To my analysis, the readers’ ranking comments method is more accurate than the NYT picks.

This article is a great example on how to present a problem, explain it factually and also provide real life experience and opinions, using Logos, Pathos and Ethos to conclude all the information.

Marielisa Carbonell.

PID: 5969297


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