Blog Post 1: The Science of Memory Distortion

Thesis: Authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons present their scientific research in their article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by presenting examples and backing up those examples with factual findings to elaborate on the science of memory distortion. [This is a summary of the article. How did the authors use the rhetorical triangle?]

The article written by Chabris and Simons presents an interesting case against the problems of relying on one’s memory by providing examples of instances when such problems have occurred with intelligent and educated people such as Dr. Tyson, Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton [use of ethos]. It is clear that throughout their article, much of their findings are based solely on facts and studies and the science of memory distortion, relating to logos. Their tone is interesting and somewhat confident in the research they are presenting, which in turn adds a reason to believe the information.

When reviewing the top three comments in the “Reader Picks” section of the article, one comment that stood out to me immediately was by the user Keith Dow who seemed to have a true passion for disqualifying the statement, “Dr. Tyson, Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton are all intelligent, educated people” in particular Mr. Bush. His comment contains five distinct quotes in which Mr. Bush relied on his memory and as a result said certain things that were untrue or contained errors. It is no surprise to me that this comment was chosen as a top three by readers considering most Americans are not the biggest fans of Mr. Bush. Using not only logos, his quotes were followed by dates and locations of where each statement was said, as well as providing a link to review verifiable quotes by Mr. Bush, but also pathos because there is a bulk of citizens who feel a shared form of dislike toward Mr. Bush, user Keith Dow effectively connected with the thousands of readers of the New York Times and thus became a top comment.

As for the other top comments, they stress the importance of accepting the fact that our memory can fail us, but more importantly they stress how imperative it is to acknowledge these mistakes and move on. I too agree with this and find it to fall into the category of ethos [use of pathos because it’s an emotional appeal to forgive those who make innocent mistakes] because it revolves around credibility and trustworthiness. If an individual is able to accept their mistakes and turn a wrong into a right, a sense of trust and loyalty can come from it.

[How do the commenters use the rhetorical triangle to make their points?] As I turned over to the New York Times picks, I was pleasantly surprised to find how unbiased the comments were and how both sides of the argument were showcased. The approach the New York Times has to ranking comments is expert in my opinion because it allows for readers to voice their thoughts and choose the ones they find the most relevant and interesting, while also providing a section in which professionals at the New York Times can choose the comments most thought-provoking and relatable as a whole to all.

[summary paragraph not needed] In all, the article by Chabris and Simons provides a factual appeal using logos to look at the science of memory distortion. The examples provided by the authors sparked conversation with readers and the methods commenters used relates with the rhetorical triangle. The case presented by Chabris and Simons leaves readers thinking how much of their memory can be trusted and the importance of thinking before speaking.


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