Rhetorical Analysis on “Why Our Memory Fails Us” – Serena Beze

By Serena Beze


To persuade their audience that false memories are a human mistake and more focus should be on the individuals actions after the fact, Chabris and SimonsUSE FULL NAMES ON FIRST REFERENCE build their cause with facts from documented events by media, psychologists, and experiments.


Chabris and SimonsSAME beginning their piece with the set foundation of Neil Degrasse Tyson as a well-known individual within his subject area automatically connect with the contrasted title by addressing the main example head on about one of his most stapled stories. Within the first paragraph, Chabris and Simons align themselves along a road of truth with a simple breakdown of GEORGE Bush’s quote. They intentionally set the reader up to perceive the failing memory on Bush’s part, but then expose that it was Tyson who incorrectly recalled such an event from memory. This abrupt style would shake the reader from an individual whose faults may be more believed, to one they just previously set up to be one to trust.

The tone of the writers is felt right away as strong willed and “correct”, illustrating it is meant to persuade. They continue casually as they explain the psychological reasoning behind such failed memories, but gear strongly towards facts, outside events, and other sources not only to provide as evidence, but so the reader can relate to what is being said. If one could not relate in regards to Tyson, they may relate just by seeing other familiar sources, such as movies or books. I’M NOT FOLLOWING YOU. The writers build their case based on the idea that false memories can happen to anyone, no matter how intelligent, and no matter the circumstance.

After presenting many facts directly from psychologists and varying experiments, the overall target is shown to those who may be well documented by media, such as politicians or society’s “heroes”, asking them to no longer stonewall such situations, and to just address them head on, as Tyson did by apologizing publicly.

The top three comments within reader’s picks were all very different from each other in how they appealed to the audience. The most popular comment was made by Neil Degrasse Tyson himself. The fact that he comments and addresses how he was mentioned builds trust and honor with the audience. The two links he attaches further confirm his mistake and how he apologizes, and has no further comment. Just by making his presence known and confirming what was said makes the entire impact. The second comment somewhat fact based charged by solely addressing the intelligence of Bush, Clinton and Tyson.  By listing numerous quotes made by Bush that many would see as not very intelligent, she reaches an audience who may not like Bush and therefore pushing negativity and discrediting the entire op-ed. The third comment comes off as more emotional and relatable, tackling the idea of not focusing on the human mistakes, but on the lies and covering up. By using emotion and flowing into the overall purpose of the op-ed, he addresses audiences who wish to be more accepting and less scrutinizing.

Compared to these comments, the NYT picks are more objective but abrasive to THOSE WHO HAVE MADE UP THEIR MINDS. While better quality writing, the comments also seem to go based on opinion versus facts. I believe the NYT ranking is effective to better please a wider range of readers who may read through the comments in search of something particular, but not necessarily in terms of quality since there is lack of analysis. Overall, it is needed to give more balance of audience feedback.


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