Rhetorical Analysis on NY Times Article & Commentary- Melissa Martin

New York Times authors Christopher Chambris and Daniel Simons use the rhetorical triangle to explain why memory fails us and how we should react to it. THIS IS NOT A THESIS. WE KNOW THEY USE THE RHETORICAL PYRAMID. MAKE AN ARGUMENT!

Christopher Chambris and Daniel Simons’ article, “Why Our Memory Fails Us,” shows how our confidence in our memory can lead us to believe something that didn’t actually occur, and while unintentional, can still be harmful. The authors use all influences from the rhetorical triangle to share their view with the readers.

Chambris and Simon use several examples in their article including the case of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson falsely accusing George W. Bush of being prejudice toward Muslims. They also use psychological experiments and court statements by eye witnesses to support their argument. The article is primarily influenced by these facts and case studies, which gives it a logos appeal.

Toward the end of the article, the authors become more emotionally influentialAWKWARD PHRASE. They state that false memory is a common occurrence, and preach that we must admit our own mistakes and move on from them like Tyson eventually did. They praise Tyson for being able to admit his mistakes, and like all scientists, remain open to the possibility that he was wrong. They use this feeling of guilt in order for us to relate to Tyson’s situation and understand the authors’ critiques.

Chambris and Simons also use the influence of ethos so the readers can relate. They use examples of republican, George W. Bush experiencing false memory as well as democrat, Hillary Clinton CAPITALIZE. Doing this gives them an unbiased voiceBEING FAIR DOESN’T MEAN A WRITER ISN’T BEING BIASED! in which they were able to cover more ground by appealing to both political parties.

The tone of the authors starts off objectively, stating fact after fact to support their case, but toward the end becomes more authoritative by telling us to own up to our mistakes and stop criticizing others for theirs. They explain that memory fails us, but convince us that our reaction to it is more important.

After reading the article, we can browse through the comment sections, where the New York Times organized the comments by readers’ and editors’ choice, which is helpful. Rather than getting lost in spam, the comment section is now a place to intelligently exchange ideas.

The top three readers’ picks were interestingly different. The first comment was by Neil Tyson himself, which provided a link to his interview about his inaccurate quotes. This was a top pick because it gave us information that the article didn’t. He didn’t give his opinion or say much else. His comment was informative and influenced by rational.

The next comment was a humorous reminder of George W. Bush’s infamous quotes. Because of its sense of humor, it taps into our emotions making it pathos-driven.

The third pick was a comment by a man who shares his experience of false memory. The man seems well-spoken, kind and relatable. This makes his comment ethos driven. It was interesting to see how the readers’ top comments all had a different rhetorical influence.

Unlike the readers’ picks, the editors’  are all related to the authors’ point of views. Whether the commenters fully agreed and gave their story or disagreed and elaborated, each one was relative and furthered the discussion at hand.

The article and comments have a strong balance of the rhetorical triangle. Because the authors use logos, pathos and ethos influences, they are able to both inform and engage their readers.


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