Rhetorical Analysis


While I believe Dr. Tyson’s mistake to be warranted by mind degradation just as Simon and Chabris, most top comments miss the purpose completely, leaving intellectual thoughts to be lost amidst the roar.

A course requirement for a psychology class I took involved participating in retrospective experiments. In particular, I remember having to witness two crimes and deciding whether the perpetrator was in the line-up or not at all. Even though the election window was after about 10 minutes, it was difficult to discern the exact culprit of the crime although I had just witnessed it. The purpose was to explore how the mind filled in important gaps and details after an event and thus it had. In regards to Dr. Tyson misremembering an event from over a decade ago, it is extremely likely that two events merged into what was remembered during the interview. Simon and Chabris use eyewitness memories along with several scientific experiments conducted on recollection to heavily enforce the fact that we cannot remember everything in perfect detail no matter how “confident” we may appear to be. However, they acknowledge that fact and praise Tyson for admitting his error and suggest that we do the same when we make mistakes, especially politicians who seem to trust their memory more than hard evidence.

The top reader picks are peculiar. While only one of the three provides valuable insight on the purpose of the article, the other two are appalled so much by the mention of George Bush being grouped as an intelligent individual, that they fail to acknowledge the rest of the article. Why they are in the top picks, I believe, can be explained by the third comment which mentions, “It’s relatively common for people to attribute a negative experience to active malice instead of honest mistake.” In regards to the former president, it can be interpreted as his decision-making to be poor, which bestows the negative relation and overall hate, as opposed to his actions stemming from malevolence. While it is effortless to antagonize, which would explain why they were top comments, it becomes difficult to acknowledge ineptitude as opposed to maliciousness. The third comment also provides valuable insight on what I think is the overall narrative of the article: We cannot rely 100% on our memory and we do often misremember and it is okay to make such a mistake. Even though Dr. Tyson was reluctant to admit his error, with the evidence piling on, he publicly admitted his confusion and moved on which ties in to what Simons and Chabris conclude what more of us should do when we make an honest mistake.

As for the NYT Picks, there is no mediocrity present. Every comment provides intellectual food for the brain to ponder upon. There are clear opinions and arguments which either agree or disagree to the overarching narrative of the article and enrich the overall conversation. We cannot thank  Heffernan enough for bringing to light the headache it must have been to seek a formulated argument, lost in the echoes  in the comments as opposed to oblivious, eye-rolling observations. The division between the three was vital in order to organize the intellectual from the ignorant.


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