Individual Assignment 1: Rhetorical Analysis

In “Why Our Memories Fail Us” Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons analyze the event where a highly recognized astrophysicist and writer made a mistake quoting the former President of the United States. [This is a summary. Analyze how the authors used the rhetorical triangle.]

Dr. Tyson felt offended about something he thought President Bush said in a speech to Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Years after this this “quote” Tyson made implications that President Bush [use of ethos by naming famous people] was prejudice against Islam. He proved his point by giving facts proving the President was incorrect about this said quote. It turns out this quote Dr. Tyson was referring to was in fact false. [Separate topic sentences with paragraphs.] Chabris and Simons began by tapping into pathos explaining the possible serious consequences of implications such as those without proper facts to back them up. Then Chabris and Simons continued by discrediting Tyson by analyzing just what a false memory is and how it applies perfectly to this situation. [Separate topic sentences with paragraphs.] [Analyze rather than summarize.] Chabris and Simons appeal to logos by giving examples of case studies such as the one held by psychologists Roediger III and Desoto where they concluded that there is a direct correlation between confidence and accuracy in memory. Desoto and Roediger III “…tested how well people could recall words from lists they had studied, and how measured they were in their recollections. For words that were actually on the lists, when people were highly confident in their memory, they were also accurate; greater confidence was associated with greater accuracy. But when people mistakenly recalled words that were similar to those on the lists but not actually on the lists — a false memory — they also expressed high confidence. That is, for false memories, higher confidence was associated with lower accuracy. (Chabris & Simons).” [Separate topic sentences with paragraphs.] Chabris and Simons started by tapping into our emotions, and then swayed into logos which turned out to be the most effective persuasive tool for this kind of piece. They proceeded with numerous case studies that really made things clear for me as the consumer.

Chabris and Simons open up the article in a more serious tone when explaining how serious the consequences can be for someone’s false memory. But as the article continues, they become a little more understanding of the mistake Dr. Tyson made and give facts and examples of case studies that make it very easy for us to understand as well. They even close out the article with a more optimistic and enthusiastic tone mentioning that more people, politicians in specific, should take responsibility for their own mistakes and move on [use of pathos].

[Analyze rather than summarize. How do the commenters use the rhetorical triangle to make their points?] On another note, in the top 3 most recent comment section of the article there were comments of different varieties. One was completely pointless saying, “ I forgot what I was going to say… (Toh246)” Another was a bit more on the comedic side saying, “ if memory serves, it’s a poor servant. (sapereaudeprime)” and last but not least one that contained some substance. John Parmigiani said, “ The point is well made that the memory of person even when involved in the events that they relate is often erroneous. Erroneous witness…” Most of the rest of these comments really show how we, the consumers, were really able to digest all of this factual information in a simple way. Chabris and Simons did an exceptional job creating a methodical, and logical, yet simple way of explaining their arguments.





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